German home-cooking – regional, frugal, seasonal and northern without the Nordic – hasn't had much to say for itself. All this may change with Anya Dunk's sparkling mutti- makeover, Strudel, Noodles and Dumplings (Fourth Estate, £26).
Anya, born and bred in the Welsh valleys, is a talented professional cook who learned her craft from her Bavarian grandmother. The result of this grannycooking for the millennial way of life is a book of family-friendly recipes with stories to match. Instructions are given for preserving, pickling and salting in manageable small-family quantities. How about a litre of sauerkraut, ready for storage in 15 minutes?
Most unusual, however, are elegant combinations of fruit and vegetables in side-dishes, soups and salads. Seasonal dishes include green bean and pear soup with speck; a salad of endive and grapefruit-segments to serve with cold ham; a dish of pitted ripe grapes, rocket and tarragon as an accompaniment for roast chicken – or as a light lunch with buttered rye bread and blue cheese.
So take a break from Brexit and celebrate the season of goodwill with a batch of traditional German gingerbread cookies just in time for Advent. The scent from the oven is known as Ofenduft – as if you didn't know.
Anya bakes a big batch of gingerbread cookies for the run-up to Christmas. Flour-free and butterless, they'll still be good at Easter if stored in an airtight tin. German cooks can buy a spice-mix, Lebuchengewürz – a blend of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, mace, clove, anise and allspice – though Anya says cinnamon and ginger will do. Marmalade can also replace the honey and mixed peel combination.
Makes about 45 biscuits
2 medium eggs 200g light brown sugar 2 tbsp runny honey 150g ground almonds 100g ground hazelnuts 100g mixed peel, finely chopped 1 unwaxed lemon, grated zest (save the juice for the icing) 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp ground ginger 1/2 tsp baking powder To prepare for baking: edible rice paper or filo pastry cut into rounds To finish: Icing sugar and lemon juice Melted dark chocolate
Beat the eggs with the sugar with an electric whisk till light and fluffy. Warm the honey in a small pan. Fold the rest of the ingredients into the eggs and sugar, adding the honey last, and mix to the consistency of a stiff cake batter. Spoon into a bowl, cover with clingfilm and set in the fridge overnight. Preheat the oven to 160C/gas 3. Divide the rice paper or filo rounds between 2 baking sheets (line them with baking parchment in case the mixture runs). Spoon teaspoons of the mixture on the rounds. Bake for about 20 minutes, till the tops are golden. Meanwhile, prepare the icing: mix 8 tablespoons of sifted icing sugar with the reserved lemon juice to make a runny glaze.
Paint the biscuits with the glaze as soon as they come out of the oven. Let the cookies cool before you spread on the melted chocolate (Anya suggests a teaspoon of coconut oil to keep it shiny).