10 German baked goods you have to try

Diplomats spend much of their year away from Germany. Away from family, away from outstanding public transport, and most dramatically—away from German baked goods. If you have not yet visited Germany, your sweet tooth would like you to. With bakeries abound, in train stations and around the corner, you are never much more than an arm’s reach from something delicious.

But don’t get us wrong! The best part about German baked goods are their subtlety. Slightly sweet but not overly so is the way of the German baker. So here are 10 items you must eat from a bakery in Germany one day!

Brötchen

Brötchen © picture alliance | Roman Kasperski

We’re going to ease you into the world of German baked goods with the staple of a German breakfast/Abendbrot/snack/anything—Brötchen. Loosely translated this a “roll” but gosh that just does not capture it fully. These are often fetched fresh from the bakery, in varieties with seeds and salt and all sorts of add-ins, sliced in half, and decorated with meats, cheeses, and spreads. It is essentially a delicious vehicle for more food.

Mohnkuchen

© picture alliance/dpa | Stefan Sauer

Here we’re getting a little adventurous for American palates. Mohnkuchen is poppy seed cake. Though bagels and muffins seem to have cornered the poppy seed market here, it’s more often found as a sweet filling in baked goods in Germany.

Bretzel

© picture alliance / blickwinkel
You just have to love a Bretzel. Originally a Lent dish, and intricately shaped. So simple, goes with everything. What else can we say.

Bienenstich

© picture alliance | CHROMORANGE / Barbara Neveu
The “bee sting” may have a fear-inducing name but is made with nothing but love. It is a softer cake with almond slices on top and whipped filling in the middle.

Marzipan

© picture alliance / imageBROKER | J. Esch
Also not a familiar treat in the U.S., marzipan is a thick paste of ground almonds, sugar, and egg whites. But Germans take it to the next level. Sometimes marzipan is shaped in such realistic forms of fruit and animals it is hard to tell that you are supposed to eat it.

Käsekuchen

© picture alliance / Zoonar | Bradut Sirbu

Vorsichtig friends. When Germans say cheese cake they mean kind of actually cheese tasting. If you are used to the sugary cream cheese American version, it’s German cousin may give you pause.

Berliner

© picture alliance / Zoonar | Ingrid Balabanova

“I am a jelly donut.”  Made famous to Americans by one JFK, the Berliner is typically eaten for New Year’s Eve and Karneval in Germany but are hardly a staple of German breakfasts. People in Berlin call it Pfannkuchen.

Vollkornbrot

Vollkornbrot © picture alliance / Zoonar | JIRI HERA

Hope you have an appetite. As Omi would say, the dense and hardy Vollkornbrot sticks to your bones and a loaf weighs that of a small child.

Streuselschnecke

“Streusel” are on all sorts of cakes. They are crumbly round balls of sugary dough. A “Schnecke” is a snail, and refers to the curling backside, like in a cinnamon bun. These have zero nutritional value but oodles of mental health benefits.

Stollen

Stollen © picture alliance / St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Laurie Skrivan

We will leave you with a traditional German sweet to add your must-try list. Stollen is a fruit-cake like bread, often with Marzipan, eaten at Christmas time.

Adapted from our Tumblr

Word of the Week: Mettigel

© dpa / Markus Scholz

The Mettigel isn’t quite as unappetizing as it sounds. Mett is ground meat, usually pork, and an Igel means “hedgehog”. And while a Mettigel definitely isn’t made of hedgehog itself, it is shaped to look like one, hence the name. With this dish, pretzel sticks or sliced onions are often used to form the spines of the edible hedgehog.

© dpa / Andrea Warnecke

The Mettigel was quite popular in the 1950s in Germany, often showing up on appetizer trays at parties and served with toothpicks for easy consumption. It seems like what old is new again, because these strange German appetizers are enjoying a sort of renaissance and are once again popular in the hipster scene in Berlin and Hamburg.

In Northern and Eastern Germany, the Mettigel is often called a Hackepeterigel instead. In these regions, Hackepeter means “minced meat”. Have you tasted a Mettigel before?

By Bradford Elder, German Embassy