No country has had more of an effect on my personal knitting history than Germany.
Mom learned to knit as a young girl from a German woman who lived next door. Her first project was a sweater for her little brother, using wool Christine brought back from her motherland. This is a picture of her knitting teacher Christine and my uncle, the recipient of the sweater. And I’m quite certain Christine knit the sweater she’s wearing!
When mom took up knitting again when I was a kid, Mutti’s was the place to go in Lawton. We spent a lot of time with Mutti. I can still remember sitting at her round table surrounded by yarn in bags stacked practically to the ceiling. While she’d stock some Brunswick (you either sold Brunswick or Unger back in those days, that was pretty much your two choices), she’d travel back to Germany and bring home much of her stock with her. I seem to remember helping mom watch the shop for Mutti while she was out of the country a time or two.
My favorite part of Mutti’s shop was the Gummi bears she’d bring back from Germany. Hey, back in the mid-70’s these were exotic and exciting. Other than the yarn shop and Schulz’s German Meat Market, they were not to be found – at least in Lawton.
Naturally mom was taught to knit continental. As far as German women of a certain age are concerned, there is NO other acceptable way to knit. I picked up continental knitting as well, which came in handy when we still had that generation of German knitters around as customers in the early days. When they’d realize I knit like a proper German girl, then I was alright in their book.
This has been a very long and difficult year. We lost mom, I had a major surgery, underwent major renovations at the shop…throw a skunk and a handicapped dad in the mix and it just goes downhill from there. Needless to say, I have not had as much time to spend in the kitchen as I would like. And trying new recipes? Yeah, that didn’t happen. So I’ve been at a bit of a loss of fresh recipes to share with you.
Fortunately in walks Jenna with what has to be the best darn coffee cake I have ever eaten. Coffee cake usually isn’t anything to get excited about, especially if you’re like me and don’t drink coffee. It can be a bit like biscotti, which leaves us non-coffee drinkers thinking ???? Biscotti is like a dog biscuit for people, but I digress.
For me to be shoveling coffee cake into my mouth along with just my Pepsi says a lot. Jenna’s recipe is not just delicious for coffee cake, it ranks up there with one of the most delicious cakes (period) that I have eaten in a long while. Jenna was so kind to share her recipe with us, which so happens to be an old family recipe. And you guessed it, they’re of German heritage too. Thank you Jenna, and Germany!
Jenna’s Old-Fashioned Coffee Cake
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup shortening, or ¼ vegetable oil, or ¼ cup coconut oil (your choice)
- 1 egg
- ½ cup milk
- 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- Topping: ⅓ cup granulated sugar, ⅓ cup flour, ½ tsp cinnamon and ¼ cup cold butter
Preheat oven to 375º. Grease and flour a 9×9 pan.
Combine sugar, shortening (or oil) and egg. Beat well. Stir in milk.
Add dry ingredients and mix until evenly moist. May be slightly lumpy. Spoon into prepared pan.
For topping, combine sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in cold butter with a pastry blender or two knives. Sprinkle evenly on top of batter before baking.
Bake at 375º for 25 minutes. Test with a toothpick, bake an extra 5 minutes if needed.
This batch can be doubled and baked in a 13×9 pan for 25-30 minutes.
Jenna finds that with shortening it has a moist crumb, and vegetable oil is okay but goes stale quickly. Coconut oil is great, stays very moist and fresh for a couple of days, may require a little less oil and more cook time as the batter seems “runny” compared to other fats.
When I asked Jenna if I could please share her coffee cake recipe, she was also kind enough to share her favorite holiday bread recipe too.
German Stollen Holiday Bread
- ¾ cup raisins
- ½ cup mixed candied fruits and peels
- ¼ cup dried currants
- ¼ cup dark rum
- 4 ½ to 4 ¾ cups all purpose flour
- 2 packages instant yeast,
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup butter
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp orange peel
- 1 tbsp lemon peel
- ½ tsp almond extract
- ½ cup chopped almonds
- rum icing
Soak raisins, mixed fruits and peels, and currants in rum. Refrigerate, overnight, or up to 3 days. Stir once or twice a day. These are not strict quantities – if you want more fruit the mix can hold up to 1/2 cup more, just drizzle on a little more rum for the fruit to soak up. Remove from fridge and allow to warm up a bit before cooking, so you don’t hit the yeast dough with ice cold fruit.
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 flour and yeast.
Heat milk, butter, sugar and salt until warm (115-120 degrees), stirring until butter melts.
Add milk to dry mix in bowl. Add eggs, orange and lemon peels, and almond extract. Beat at low speed with electric mixer to combine (30 seconds or so). Beat 3 minutes at high speed.
By hand stir in fruit rum mix, almonds and more flour (or use the dough hooks on your favorite standing mixer, set to knead dough). Knead in remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes. Shape into a ball, place in a very large greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled in bulk (about 1 1/2 hours).
Punch dough down, divide in half and cover with the towel again. Let rest for 10 minutes.
Roll each half into a 12″ x 8″ oval. Fold over the long side to within 1 inch of the other side (not exactly in half, but sort of overlapping). Pinch dough to seal the edge. Place on greased cookie sheet. Cover with towel and let rise until double (about 45 minutes).
Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes (don’t forget to take the towel out 🙂 ) When done baking, remove bread from pan immediately and cool on wire racks. Frost with rum icing and garnish with almonds. Your choice – frost while still slightly warm, or spread it on when cool.
Rum Icing: 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, and enough rum or milk to achieve desired icing consistency.
I can’t wait to try this one too! I also have another cookbook to give away today. I don’t happen to have a German one laying around, so you’ll have to settle for one by this yankee woman you may have heard me mention a time or two.
Share who or what has influence you the most in your knitting or crochet, and I’ll randomly select one lucky winner. The prize? Ina Garten’s Make it Ahead. Another great book from the Barefoot Contessa!