Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Obama interferes with my sleep and Quark!

I have been here for a month now and I can honestly say that I do not miss waking up to the sounds of the highway 80yards away from our house. I also don't miss hearing the screaming high school kids hanging out at the store across the street, or waking up to 120F and 98% humidity.

I love to sleep and there just can't be anything disturbing my lala land.

Unicorns and sparkly things
Imagine my surprise when this morning, it was not only hot, but there were also helicopters circling above our house! It was rude, let me tell you!

There is nothing wrong with this picture in Baltimore, where you should expect dying from a heat stroke at 7am, or being caught by a spotlight of a helicopter any given second. But in Berlin, this is wrong. So wrong.

Then it quickly dawned to me. Mr President is paying us a visit and the entire city is in Alarmbereitschaft ("high alert", I just really like the German word much better, because it expresses "being ready to be alarmed" all in one word).

I had big plans to take my bike to where he is giving his speech, but it is hot here today - and I just saw a picture of the lines of people, waiting to get some water while waiting in the sun. I decided to stay on the couch, watch the whole party on TV, and have myself a few "Flutschfinger"-popsicles (still, you can't know what this means in English).

Yes, I have to bite the finger off first thing. That's how you have to eat it. It's the law. 

All I have to say to this visit is: Holy crap, Angela Merkel must be sweating in her thick crochet blazer. Give that woman some ice cream!

"Barack, speak faster! I am DYING here!"

Lets talk about important things now.

A few days ago, I gave you a list of things essentially important items you have to have if you want to survive in either the German land or the American land.

There are a few things that deserve extra attention (aka a post that is only shared with the President of the United States).

(sometimes called "Magerquark" or "Speisequark")

Since I came to the U.S., I have been very concerned about the fact that this major food item is missing in the beautiful country on the other side the ocean. How do people survive without it? I just don't know.

What is it? You may ask.
It is a milk product that you can get with less (Magerquark) or more (Sahnequark) fat. It has a consistency that is much more solid than yoghurt, but softer than cream cheese. This is how I would classify it, too: It's somewhere between a cheese and a yoghurt - and we call it "quark".

Coming from Germany, there are many many things we create with quark and it is beyond me, how you can make those without having access to this fluffy, tart, milk product.

The first thing that came to my mind is cheese cake (Käsekuchen). I still remember the day Nick told me that cheese cake was made with cream cheese. It was traumatizing. I felt violated.


Therefore, I made it my mission to find quark. If you have a "Wegmans" store near you, you probably know, if they don't have something, they will order it for you. So I asked them to order quark for me. But what I got from them was the wrong kind! Tragic.

This picture comes from

The quark they sell is "Sahnequark", which is much creamier and not good for making the cheese cake that I wanted to make. However, if you ever happen to buy it, please don't throw it out! Instead, put it on toast (or fresh baked bread) and top it off with jam or honey. Trust me. You will never want to eat anything else.


Then something amazing happened. Greek Yoghurt happened.
It is the closest you will get to quark when you are not in Germany. It is not quite 100% like it, but I would give it a 91.7%.

Of course, now you will say: So, you make Käsekuchen with quark. Does that mean, I can make it with greek yoghurt?
The answer is: Yes, and don't wait another minute to do exactly that!

I have made it plenty of times while living in the U.S. and it turned out really, really similar to the German Käsekuchen made with quark.

To completely make your day, I am now sharing the Käsekuchen recipe with you.

Where I found this

I promise that it is the best cheese cake you will ever eat. It will change your whole perspective on the world of cheese cakes and it's filled with healthy greek yoghurt! You can basically eat the entire cake and it will be good for you! :o)

I had planned to make this recipe and take pictures during the process, but then I realized that I don't have a scale. Yes, that's how much I suck at planning.

But I am putting in pictures that will show you what it looks like if proper adults make this cake.

First, you need to pull up a converter on your phone or laptop. Maybe you have a fancy kitchen scale that will let you choose between grams and ml and oz, then you are already good to go.
(I am putting all the ingredients in bold, so that you don't get lost in this ridiculously long post.)

You want to mix:
175g flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
65g sugar
1 tablespoon of water or milk
2 egg yolks (keep the egg whites in a separate bowl) 
100g of softened butter

Yes, hand held mixers are in fact very popular in Germany.

After you mixed all these things together, you knit it with your hands and form it into a ball.

Just like this person does it.

Then divide the dough, take 2/3 of it and cover the bottom of a greased spring form. Then you take the remaining third and put it on the side of the pan, creating a 1-1.5 inch rim.

Take a fork and poke your dough in the pan a few times before baking it  at 160 Celsius for 10 minutes.

I speak from experience when I tell you that burning this cake is incredibly easy! So you may want to keep an eye on it to prevent it from turning dark. You want a golden-ish color. Not a charcoal-ish one.

Take the pre-baked bottom out of the oven and set it aside (leaving it in the pan) to let it cool off a bit.
Reduce the heat of the oven to 140 Celsius.

Now you get to mix the creamy part!

2 packs of vanilla pudding powder (in the international section of many stores, they sell the "Dr Oetker Vanilla Pudding powder", if you don't find it, take any other kind that normally needs half a liter (500ml) of milk per pack and is unsweetened)

Where I found this picture.

140g sugar
500ml milk 

Just cook the pudding as you would normally do, but only with 500ml of milk for both packs and 140g of sugar (instead of what the package tells you).

Then you add: 750g of quark (or, if you can't get quark, greek yoghurt)

Mix the quark into the warm pudding mass.
I only take a spoon or a whisk for this, not an electrical mixer.

After this, you are almost done! (- To speed this up, you can take a big spoon and just eat the pudding mass straight from the pot. If you have guests, give them cookies.)

If you decide to finish baking the cake: Remember the two egg whites? You now add one more egg white to those two and keep the extra yolk in a cup.

Mix the egg whites until they have transformed into a wonderful fluffy white mass (to test if you have beaten it long enough, you can turn your bowl upside down. If it stays in there, it's perfect. No joke!)

Take your whisk or spoon from earlier and gently fold the whipped egg whites into your quark/ greek yoghurt - pudding mass.
This is exactly how it looks when I do it! 

Then you pour the mass into the spring form, on your pre-baked bottom of the cake.

Then take a spoon full of milk, mix it with your remaining egg yolk (the one you put in a cup earlier), and careful brush it on your cheese cake mass.

Now you put the whole thing in the oven, bake it at 140 Celsius for 60 minutes, and find someone to clean the kitchen for you.

I hate to say it, but it's truly worth it to prepare the cake the day before and put it in the fridge over night.

Then, when the next day finally arrived, you have to sing this song while eating your delicious Käsekuchen. Yes, it's written in the same law than the Flutschfinger one.

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