In our almost 18 years together, the prominent German food brand has not only become a reference for my husband but he has also learned to slowly pronounce the name with its consonant cluster, Doc-tor Oet-ker, without stumbling, which is not so easy for an American.
We both laughed, reminiscing about the first time when I dished up a Dr. Oetker chocolate pudding from a package, and our then 10-year-old son asked whether it was a real doctor who made it.
Dr. August Oetker was a Bielefeld-based pharmacist, who in 1891 developed Backin baking powder with a consistent quality, and based on its success built a food emporium with international presence that is still family-owned.
Growing up in Germany, the products with the blue-and-red logo with a woman’s head at the bottom were omnipresent. And it wasn’t just the products; the cookbooks were part of daily life, too. My grandmother mostly cooked from her 1939 edition of the Dr. Oetker Schulkochbuch (Dr. Oetker School Cookbook), a yellowed paperback that had literally been through the war and looked like it.
In the early days of our marriage when I started to introduce my new American family to German dishes, I brought back a bunch of Dr. Oetker products from every trip to Germany, even cake and bread mixes. Then, in the early aughts, when I wrote my German regional cookbook, Spoonfuls of Germany, I transitioned to making many of those things, such as vanilla sugar, vanilla pudding and vanilla sauce, from scratch because I wanted American home cooks to be able to recreate authentic German dishes with readily available ingredients. And besides, the homemade version often tastes much better.
However on trips to Germany I still load up on a few Dr. Oetker essentials that are not available in the United States, first and foremost pectin for jams and jellies. As I wrote in a previous blog post, I much prefer it to American pectin.
I got an American friend so hooked to German pectin that I had to bring back some sachets for her as well. Hence my suitcase was already quite full. With Easter coming up, I found room to sneak in a package of Dr. Oetker marzipan carrots.
A popular carrot cake in Germany is Aargauer Rüblitorte, which hails from Switzerland. It is dairy-free and lighter than American carrot cakes.
4 large eggs
¾ cup + 3 tablespoons (185 g) sugar
1 cup + 1 tablespoon (250 ml) canola oil
2/3 cup (100 g) finely ground raw unpeeled almonds
6 small or 3 large carrots (12 ounces/340 g), peeled and grated (to make 3 loosely packed cups)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of ½ organic lemon
1 2/3 cups (225 g) all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
Icing and decoration:
1¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon orange extract
12 marzipan carrots to decorate
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line the bottom of a 10-inch (25 cm) springform pan with parchment paper and grease the sides.
- In a large bowl or the stand mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the oil and beat for 1 more minute.
- Mix ground almonds, carrots, vanilla extract and lemon zest in another bowl. Add to the eggs and stir with a spoon until well combined.
- In the second bowl mix flour, salt and baking powder and add to the mixture. Stir well until no traces of flour remain.
- Pour the mixture in the prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour. If the top of the cake turns too dark towards the end, cover it loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil.
- Remove the cake from the pan and let cool on a cake rack.
- For the icing, stir the confectioners’ sugar, orange juice and extract until smooth. The icing should be very thick but spreadable.
- Evenly cover the cake with the icing and decorate with marzipan carrots while the icing is still soft. Let set before cutting.
Makes 12 servings