Despite my great proclamations of being unproductive – and I really am with anything related to actually getting my shit together, I guarantee you that – it seems lockdown finally unleashed the
inside of me and whilst I’m not gonna join the sourdough society, I am doing my fair share of baking and I am willing to share the better results and best recipes with you. As always, feel free to adjust and as always, each and every recipe comes with a story. I’ve read somewhere that food bloggers write such long introductions to make it more difficult (for AI?) to steal their recipes. Well, you may steal mine, I don’t care, I’m here to share, recipes and life stories and what not, unleashing my poet within (who lives right across the street from previously mentioned baker cat, and they get along just fine. Most of us do, in here) and maybe, hopefully, and upmost, for your entertainment. So Allons-y, vamonos, let’s head to the kitchen and travel back to a sweet treat from my childhood, a national treasure even, suitable for Nicolas Cage and really, it should be printed on the US Constitution. In the States, they are known as Harlequins, Half Moons, or Black-and-White-Cookies (editor’s note: they are not cookies), here we’ve got to known and grown to love them as Amerikaner. So I thought since I cannot hang out with my real-life Americans, I’m gonna bake myself some. Others bake their knight in shining armour, or, German idiom, sich seinen Traumprinzen backen, and quick question: why do we bake a prince of all people? So many royal duties. I prefer a knight. Quite more useful when in distress and also he’s gonna be off a lot and I need my independence and alone time. Anyway, I bake new friends to hold and hug while I meet the old ones online. Which tasted amazing and were gone soon enough. The former, not the latter. When we were kids, we always got to choose if we wanted an Amerikaner or a Berliner for coffee. Not that we liked coffee back then, it was usually hot cocoa or tea. Berliner are a some sort of sweet dumpling, fried and filled with jam, and have as many different names as buns or rolls have in English. Don’t order a Berliner in Berlin, that’ll lead to a lot of confusion or you end up with an escort from the capital. In Berlin you order Pfannkuchen, which down here in the south of Germany are the name for pancakes, the lovechild of crêpes and American Pancakes -, elsewhere they’re called Krapfen which is not to be meddled up with Karpfen, because that’s fish and nothing you wanna have coated in sugar and filled with jam. Unless you get the Mardi Gras one with mustard inside. That could go well with carp. Back to the States, though! Amerikaner are called Amerikaner in most of Germany. Apparently, as I learned during a thorough and intense research, that name was a no-go in the GDR (surprisingly), so they referred to them as Ammonplätzchen, where Plätzchen equals cookies and Ammon is short for Ammoniumhydrogencarbonat, some specific baking soda used in the original recipe. Wikipedia says, the name “Amerikaner” either derives from said tongue twisting soda, too, or from the typical WWI Brodie helmet because it resembles its shape. It is also starring in a Seinfeld episode as a metaphor for racial harmony so I say let’s bake in the name of equality and against racism!!
For 8-10 Amerikaner we need:
lots of patriotism, 50g soft butter, a Star Spangled Banner, 40g white sugar, 1/2 package of vanilla sugar, a pinch of salt, 1 egg, 125g plain flour (I usually like to use spelt but I am convinced that this one calls for wheat), 1/2 tbsp of starch, 1/2 package of baking soda (or, I guess, Ammoniumhydrogencarbonat) and 40ml of full fat milk. Which all goes into a bowl and gets whisked up until smooth and gooey. The texture should be less liquid than for example pancake batter but still batter-y and not dough, though.
If you follow the recipe measure for measure (don‘t be Julia), it should be perfect. Also, have the oven preheated at 180° Celsius. Also, always read the whole recipe from beginning to end first so now you don’t have to wait for the oven to be heated up. With the oven and our batter ready, we take a baking tin, put some parchment paper on it – pro tip: if you put a dash of water in each corner on the baking tin, the paper will stick to it. Parchment paper has a tendency to try and fly and flatter around. You’re welcome. Now, the well-equipped kitchen probably has a piping bag buried under other hardly ever used stuff in a kitchen cabinet drawer somewhere. Go search for it. The less well-equipped kitchen-owner does not need to despair – all it takes is a little plastic bag, like a ziplock bag but without ziplock. Simply put it over a measuring cup and fill the batter into it. Pull up the sides and tie it up with a rubber band. Pull the filled bag out of the measuring cup, tilt it and cut off one of the bottom corners – et voilà, there is your improvised piping bag!
Pipe out 8-10 turds onto the baking tin, like the Maulwurf, der wissen wollte, wer ihm auf den Kopf gemacht hat,
and then bake for 13-15 minutes until golden.
Let them cool on a rack turned over and prepare the icing in the meantime. The traditional Amerikaner is covered half in icing sugar, half in chocolate. Which is how I did it. However, the sugar icing is compulsory and from there you may go anywhere – your imagination is the limit! Especially for or with kids, decorating with gummy bears or Smarties and such is gonna be great fun. If you wanna stick to the basics, you’ll need approximately 150g of icing sugar and 2-3 tbsp lemon juice whisked up. It’s important that the mixture is thick and white before spreading it on one half of each Amerikaner (or all of it if you wanna decorate or have an all-white supremacy). For the black half, take a pan, fill it halfway with water, put a metal bowl in and melt baking chocolate in it and spread it thickly and smoothly. Ideally, you have a brush for that but I’m from the bad-equipped kitchen squad so I used the convex bottom part of a teaspoon and the result leaves no ground for complaint – I definitely have said it in an earlier post: when it comes to cooking and baking, I improvise like a Jazz musician. So let our impro session cool down and dry, and then best eat them the same day or otherwise store them in ziplock bags (with zip this time) in the fridge and they‘ll still be soft and delicious the next day. And that‘s that.