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Tuesday, May 29

1 Year

1 year ago today, our plane landed in Germany and we made Nürnberg our new home.  Last year has brought unusual challenges as well as thrilling adventures.  Although at times it felt like we would never see the light at the end of the tunnel, or in our case get internet, it’s been transforming.   And in the same breath, we are grateful for what we’ve seen, done and consumed.  We’ve traveled near and far, experiencing the culture and foods of European cities.

A year into this adventure I recognize that a new culture and a new language always bring unexpected surprises and this year has taught me us to face them head on.  (Since he moved from India to America as an adult, he’s experienced cultural shock from one country to another.  Fortunately he knew the language.)

We both can’t believe 1 year has already passed.   

Here’s to few more!

To celebrate this momentous occasion, I baked a German Chocolate Cake.  Before anyone rolls their eyes, I will be the first to say German Chocolate Cake is not German.  It was invented by Sam German in America many, many years ago.  So why bake a cake that’s not German, you ask?  Because it’s a chocolate cake.  And it’s comical for couple of Indians to devour an American cake with a German name in Germany.  And because it’s a chocolate cake, did I mention that?  With pecan and coconut filling!  That’s enough of writing about the cake. 

I followed Cook’s Illustrated recipe that was posted on Leite’s Culinaria.  I trust Cook’s Illustrated knows what they’re doing when they perfect a cake like this because they test and retest a recipe hundred many times.  

I also halved the recipe since 4 layers of the cake would be way too much.  The recipe I am posting is halved.  

German Chocolate Cake

2 large egg yolks
6-ounces evaporated milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/8 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
Pinch of table salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cups finely chopped pecans, toasted

2 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/8 cup Dutch-processed cocoa, sifted
1/4 cup boiling water
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
1/3 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature 

Make the filling first
Whisk the yolks in a medium bowl over a saucepan with simmering water. Gradually whisk in the evaporated milk. Add the sugars, butter, and salt and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture is boiling, frothy, and slightly thickened, about 6 minutes.

Pour the mixture into a bowl, whisk in the vanilla, then stir in the coconut. Let cool until just warm. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool, at least 2 hours or up to 3 days. Do not add the pecans now or they’ll become soggy.  

Make the cake next 
Preheat the oven to 350°F and adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position.

Combine the chocolate and cocoa in a small bowl and then add the boiling water over. Let stand to melt the chocolate, about 2 minutes. Whisk until smooth and let stand until room temperature.

Meanwhile, butter 8 x 8 inch-square by 2-inch-high straight-sided pan.  Dust the pan with flour, and tap out any excess flour.

In another bowl, sift the flour and baking soda. 

In a large bowl beat the butter, sugars, and salt with a hand mixer at medium-low speed until the sugar is moistened, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula halfway through.

With the mixer running at medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl halfway through. Beat in the vanilla, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 45 seconds. With the mixer running at low speed, add the chocolate mixture, then increase the speed to medium and beat until combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl once. (The batter may appear broken; this is okay.)

With the mixer running at low speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the sour cream in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat in each addition until barely combined. After adding the final flour addition, beat on low until just combined, then stir the batter by hand with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl. The batter will be thick.

Add the prepared batter evenly to the prepared cake pan, spreading the batter to the edges of the pans with the rubber spatula and smoothing the surface.

Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in the pans 10 minutes, then invert the cakes onto a greased wire rack. Cool the cakes to room temperature before filling, about 1 hour.  

Cake Assembling
Stir the toasted pecans into the chilled filling.  Set the cake on a cutting board and with a serrated knife held so that the blade is parallel with the work surface, use a sawing motion to cut the cake into two even layers.  Carefully lift off the top layer and set aside.

Distribute about 1/2 cup filling evenly on the cake, spreading the filling to the very edge of the cake and leveling the surface. Carefully place the upper cake layer on top of the filling.  Dust any crumbs off the platter and serve. (The cake may be refrigerated, covered loosely with foil, up to 4 hours. If the cake has been refrigerated longer than 2 hours, let it stand at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes before slicing and serving.)


  1. Happy 1 year! I loved the description of why you chose "German" chocolate cake. Mentally bookmarked! Would you recommend just cooking two cakes instead of cutting them? I can only imagine how that would end up for me being left with a stash of crumbs, segments, and chunks. Somehow glued together with your lovely pecan icing.

    And do we get your Indian take on kartoffelpuffer?!

  2. Thanks! I don't see why you wouldn't be able to bake them in two seperate (same size) pans. As long as you can bake them together. Because, as you know, ovens in Europe (especially ours) are small so I can't bake two cakes at the same time. And I've experienced baking soda reacting with the other ingredients while it sits outside for a long period. I know this from history. I'd be concerned about that but otherwise, if that works best for you, go for it.

    Kartoffelpuffer, you mean Aloo Tikki? :) We tried it in Vienna, the only time we had it was at a greasy street cart by the station and it was okay. And here in Deutschland we haven't seen any. It might be a thing for the northerners. Now that you ask, I am doing research in finding out about the puffers near us.

  3. Congratulations on your one year anniversary!

    You'll often find Kartoffelpuffer under various names in various parts of Germany.

    A direct lift from the German Wikipedia entry on Kartoffelpuffer:

    Kartoffelpuffer, Erdäpfelpuffer, Reibekuchen, Reiberdatschi, Reibeplätzchen, Dotsch oder Kartoffelpfannkuchen (regional sind zahlreiche weitere Bezeichnungen üblich, z. B. Baggers in Franken oder Flinsen in Ostpreußen)

    So maybe you'll find them as Baggers in Nürnberg.

    1. Thanks for the tip. We have seen pfannkuchen but I thought those were dough based. We're heading to a bier fest (let the bier garden and beer festival season begin!) tomorrow, I'll see if they have them and try a bite. And report back, of course.