Expat Diaries

Baking in Germany is a Nightmare!

Baking is not one of my biggest passions, but sometimes I do get the urge to start whisking eggs and folding flour into things. Usually when I am feeling anxious or stressed and feel like my life is falling apart. For a short while, baking a recipe allows me to have control over something.

This is probably why you’ve seen so many people turn to baking during the current global crisis. It’s cathartic and soothing and allows things to rise when the rest of the world is crumbling down.

So you can imagine the upset I experienced when my first Pandemic Banana Bread™ did not go as planned. I used my favourite recipe from BBC Good Food and followed it to the letter (I tend to take creative liberties with recipes – I see them more like guidelines than rules). 

Of all of the cultural differences between Germany and the UK (of which there are far, far more than I ever imagined there would be), I did not expect the biggest one to come in the form of home baking ingredients.

Here are some of the top differences I have noticed in the baking world of Germany:

Baking powder is not the same as British baking powder

Baking powder is baking powder, right? WRONG! It took me foreverrrrr to realise that German baking powder is different from the stuff we get in the UK.

I think it’s…weaker somehow? I found this great blog post that suggests using 1.5 to 2 times the amount of baking powder if using a British recipe. Sadly, this did not work for me on round two of the Pandemic Banana Bread™ but I now think it is because of my flour. Speaking of…

Where is the self-raising flour?!

It quite simply does not exist here. Plain flour and about 4000 different types of bread flour, but absolutely 0% chance of self-raising flour. 

I have also found plain flour also comes in a variety of different types, and you have to learn the grading system. The Germans love a system.

Photo credit: Eat Explore Etc. Blog (linked above)

Having done some research, I discovered that Germans simply add their own raising agents to make their flour rise. How quaint.

Why all the little packets?

In the UK, you decide to bake a recipe. You write the list of ingredients. You go to the supermarket. You buy an indescribably huge packet/tub of the one ingredient that you need 1tsp of and then it will sit in the back of your kitchen cupboard until you move house or die. That is the British way and that is how we like it.

Here, everything comes in handy little portion-sized packets. Like it makes sense to only possess the amount you require for a single recipe. STOP BEING SO EFFICIENT.

For real though, I use yeast regularly, so if anyone knows where to find large bags/tubs of it here in Augsburg, let me know!

You can’t use any old recipe

It probably is possible, if you’re a baking whizz kid and you understand how to “translate” any recipe so it works with German baking items. 

However, from my previous experience, I am having to *sob* ditch BBC Good Food for the time being. Websites like chefkoch.de and other German cooking blogs are going to have to become my ‘go-to’ for baking recipes.

I will be trying out some German baking recipes over the coming weeks. Fingers crossed the results will be better by playing along with German rules instead of trying to sneak in the British recipes!

bis zum nächsten mal!

Steffi x


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