Reminiscing: Nussschnecken in Heidelberg (Germany)

23 March 2010
by Phuoc

Anti-clockwise from top left: The Heidelberg Monkey; The Mice; Heidelberg Castle at dusk; Walking through the forest of Heiligenberg (Saint's Hill); A good warning sign; Lowenbrau pub sign; A stein of bier in a ceramic glass; River Neckar

Deciding on where to spend our time in Germany was pretty hard; we wanted to do a cruise up the Rhine Valley River to visit the many castles along the river (there are 30 in total) but they weren’t offered during the time that we were there. How cool would it have been to stay in a castle like this overnight? Oh well.. There’s always next time. So our next option was of course Berlin (for the history) and Munich (for the bier halls). What’s a trip to Germany without visiting these two cities? But when we looked into it a bit more we decided to scrap Munich as it was similar to Berlin (urbanised city-wise) and Ant chose to spend our time in a quiet old town Heidelberg instead; this had got to be one of the best decisions we made as it did allow us to see a different side of Germany that we didn’t think of.

We spent 3 days here and there was quite a bit to see and do. When we checked into our hotel we were warmly greeted by a friendly, cheerful German. He gave us a rundown of activities to do here and a map to guide us on our way. By the time we were done with this little intro to Heidelberg we were starving so before we did some exploring we needed to grab ourselves some fuel. The city we visited before was Luzern (Switzerland) and it was so expensive to eat there so when we came here and found that everything on the menu was less than €15 we were jumping for joy.

After lunch we walked around the many cobble-stones streets, into the few squares and made our way onto the main street (Hauptstrasse). This street was packed with shops and people! As we were walking along this street we were stopped by a delicious aroma of waffles; we HAD to find out where this smell was coming from. We followed our noses and it lead us to a cafe called Schmelzpunkt; here we saw waffles being freshly made, many delectable chocolates being displayed and many happy customers digging into wonderful desserts. At €2 a waffle who couldn’t resist getting some of these babies? We had waffles on two occasions; both times with chocolate sauce and vanilla bean ice cream. Ant really liked the ice cream, I mean, you can’t go wrong with a good vanilla bean ice cream. The waffles themselves were marvellous. This was my happy place for the next few days.

Clockwise from top left: The gates of the Old Bridge; Inscriptions and portraits found in the Studentenkarzer (Student's Prison); Wooden toys; More graffiti; View of Heidelberg from the Philosophenweg; Nazi-built amphitheatre; Heiliggeistkirche (Church of the Holy Spirit) and surrounding markets; Golden statue of Mother Mary in Kornmarkt; Luscious greenery along the Philosophenweg

The second day we were here was a killer! Why? Well Ant had plans for us to go to the castle AND to visit the Nazi-built amphitheatre; Thingstätte. Did I tell you that both these places were located on top of a hill? There were three options to get to Heidelberg Castle 1) use the funicular 2) go up the massive slope or 3) climb the 308 steps. It was just our luck that the funicular wasn’t operating that day so we decided to go up the slope and down the stairs on our way back (because it’s so much easier to go downstairs than up them). We managed to get a little tour of the castle; which is pretty much left in ruins due to wars, lightning strikes and a major fire, however it is still a very enchanting place to be as you can’t help but imagine all the commotion that would have happened in this castle. This visit also allowed us to see The World’s Biggest Wine Barrel which can hold up to 220 000L of wine!

We quickly grabbed some sandwiches and pretzels from a bakery for lunch before we embarked on our 2 hour walk to the Thingstätte. To get here we had to cross the Alte Brücke (Old Bridge). Before the entrance to the bridge, two bronze creatures could be found to the side; a monkey and 2 mice. It is said that if you touch the outstretched fingers of the Heidelberg Monkey it would ensure you return to Heidelberg, touch the mirror for wealth and touching the mice will ensure you have many children. Once we crossed the bridge we had to make our way over to the Philosophenweg (Philosopher’s Walk) where we got magnificent views of Heidelberg. The walk however was a pain in the butt as we had to climb steep steps and it took us a good 30-60mins to make it here. By this stage I was complaining and whinging to Ant as I could feel my feet almost falling off. The funny this was that we were about half way to the Thingstätte! The next half of the trip was spent going through the forests of Saint’s Hill which was nice as most of the trees were bare and I loved listening to the sounds of crushing leaves as I walked. We also visited a few watchtowers, a monastery and played on a rotating swing along the way.

So why did I have to endure this walk just to see some amphitheatre you may ask? Well it’s not just some amphitheatre.. It’s an open air amphitheatre built by the Nazis using forced labour. The acoustics of this amphitheatre is astounding! I couldn’t be bothered to do more walking so I stayed down at the stage and Ant climbed about 110 steps to the top; and at this distance (about 200m) we could speak to each other without raising our voices. (Oh I should also mention that you could get here by car as well.. And there’s a bier garden nearby but we didn’t get to go there because it was closed.)

Clockwise from top left: View from Heidelberg Castle overlooking River Neckar and Saint's Hill; My happy place; We felt sorry for this man as he was flat out rushed on his feet but made wonderful fresh waffles; Can anything get better than this?; Ant's view 110 steps away from me; World's largest wine barrel; Guarded by Perkeo (the court jester); Parts of the ruined castle

By now you could imagine how sore my legs would have been at the end of the day and the following day so we decided to keep strenuous activities at bay the next day. All we did was visited a few churches, shops and also the Student’s Prison; Studentenkarzer. Located in Heidelberg University (the oldest uni in Germany), this apartment-sized prison kept misbehaved students off the streets for 3 day to 4 weeks! So what activities would warrant you a stay at this lovely place? Violations included: disturbing the night-time peace by drunkenness, extinguishing street lamps and chasing citizen’s pigs and their piglets through the alleys (these were only minor offences). To kill time they decorated the walls and ceilings with self-portraits, inscriptions and the coat of arms of their fraternities.

I loved Heidelberg. It was such a lovely quaint town with so much to see, do and of course eat! The bakery that we visited on the second day had huge fresh pretzels for some ridiculous price of €0.50 and this was the first time I stumbled upon Nussschnecken (pronounced nuss-shnek-en). Funny name hey? Schnecken is German for “snail” and they are similar to cinnamon scrolls. This was my second attempt as the first time I made them they had too much filling mixture and I overworked the dough as I was rolling it out; so it was hard to roll up and there wasn’t that many spirals. My second attempt was a bit better but still not good enough (I’m a perfectionist) as the dough didn’t rise properly because my kitchen doesn’t get warm enough but it was still tasty netherless. I got the recipe from a workmate who translated this recipe from German so it has to be authentic right..? Thank Angie! I hope you guys enjoy it as well.

Recipe

Makes about 20 pieces


Dough

30g fresh yeast or 2 tsp (7g) dried yeast

1/4 cup warm water

60g sugar

60g butter

1/4 cup milk

350g flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg, lightly whisked

Filling

25g soft butter; melted

100g sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup nuts; finely chopped

Sugar syrup

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup sugar


For the dough

  1. Combine the water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl and stir until combined. Set aside in a warm place for 5 minutes until frothy.
  2. Heat the milk and butter on low heat until butter has melted. Take off the heat to cool slightly (until warm).
  3. Place flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour the yeast and milk mixtures with the egg into the well and mix until well combined.
  4. Transfer dough onto a floured surface and knead the dought for 10 minutes until smooth.
  5. Lightly oil a bowl and place the dough into it. Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

For the filling

  1. Place the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and mix until combined.

For the sugar syrup

  1. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat until sugar has dissolved.
  2. Turn the heat up to medium and let the mixture bubble for about 2 minutes. Take off the heat.

The assembly

  1. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
  2. On a floured surface, roll the dough to a 30 x 40cm rectangle (about 1cm thick).
  3. Brush the melted butter over the top of the dough (reserve some to brush over the scrolls) and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
  4. Sprinkle chopped nuts on top and use a rolling pin to slightly roll over the top of the dough.
  5. Starting from the long side, roll the dough up to form a sausage.
  6. Cut into 2cm slices.
  7. Roll slices until slightly flattened (about 1cm thick).
  8. Transfer scrolls to baking trays and cover with a tea towel.
  9. Set aside in warm place for 30 minutes until doubled in size.
  10. Preheat oven to 190C (370F).
  11. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes until golden brown; alternating the two trays after 5 minutes.
  12. Remove from tray and place on wire rack (over newspaper) to cool.
  13. Brush the scrolls with syrup and serve.
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29 Comments

  1. Anh

    Such a beautiful place. The photos and the writing really make me feel that I was there.

    Plus, I love scrolls like these!

    PS: I’ll email you about Hanoi eat some time soon. Lots of work here.

  2. Simon Food Favourites

    Güten Morgen! Germany is on my wish list for travel one day during Oktoberfest :-)

  3. betty

    these look great & sound VERY authentic if u had to get them translated :D

  4. Helen (grabyourfork)

    The nussschnecken look pretty good to me. Too much filling? No such thing! lol. I love that you’ve used a genuine German recipe too – you can’t beat that for authenticity!

  5. Phuoc

    Anh: Yeah it is such a lovely place. Nothing beats walking through cobble-stone pathways. Thank you for your comments and help :)

    Simon: Auf Wiedersehen! People are always surprised to hear that we enjoyed Germany; it’s such a lovely place to be. Oktoberfest would be crazy! Although, our old German friend (from Munich) said it’s not like how it use to be (due to all the tourists), which is a shame…

    Betty: Why thank you.. I hate working with yeast so I hope to perfect them one day…

    Helen: Thanks for dropping by. Haha.. I’m still playing around the the proportion of filling required for these nussschnecken but then I probably made it the wrong way by combining all the filling ingredients which formed a blob and made rolling the dough even harder.

  6. Larina

    This looks really tasty! I can’t wait to go to Europe and experience it all myself :D

  7. FFichiban

    Oohhh looks soo goodd! I have to make my way to Germany get some beer, waffles and snails hee hee

  8. Phuoc

    Larina: Can you take me in your suitcase please?

    FFichiban: Thanks dude! Germany is the bomb!

  9. foodwink

    The Nussschnecke look absolutely droolicious. Well done!

    And talking about Germany, I just love their castles. The first one I went to was the spectacular Neuschwanstein Castle which was the inspiration for Disneyland’s Castle. Looks like you’ve had a great time.

  10. Belle@OohLook

    Heidelberg Castle is so pretty. I went there in the early morning, and the ruined bits were really beautiful. Thanks for bringing back the memories :)

  11. Phuoc

    Foodwink: Thanks for your lovely comments. I love castles too! That’s one of the things I’d do next time when I’m there; to visit all the castles along the Rhine Valley River. It would be magical indeed.

    Belle: Thanks Belle! Every time I write up these posts or go through the pictures I have the sudden urge to drop everything and want to go back.

  12. Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella

    I do love these travel photos! I’ve never been to Germany, only Austria so I love looking at photos of lands that I’ve never visited and then finishing off with a pastry ;)

  13. Trissa

    Sounds like you had an amazing trip! Heidelberg looks like such a serene and idyllic place… and with great food. Thanks for sharing the nussschnecken recipe – as soon as I can pronounce it I will try and make it! :)

  14. Phuoc

    Lorraine: Thanks Lorraine! I hope one day you’ll be able to go to Germany to experience this lovely country.

    Trissa: HAHA! Yeah.. The german language is pretty crazy.. Wait til you hear the Dutch! Now repeat after me, “Nuss-sch-neck-en” :)

  15. Peter G @ Souvlaki For The Soul

    Heidelberg is truly a great place…I’ve been there a number of times and have enjoyed it every single time. Your post brings back so many memories…and that nussschneken is to die for!

  16. Phuoc

    Aww thanks Peter! Well I rubbed the Heidelberg monkey (I forgot where though) so one day I should be back soon..

  17. Mark @ Cafe Campana

    Mmmmm your Nussschnecken look so good. The glaze makes them looks soo sugary and sticky.

  18. Phuoc

    Thanks Mark!

  19. Y

    What a great holiday! I’ve only managed to see Berlin so far, and would love to travel more extensively around Germany. When I’m there, I’ll have to look out for nussschnecken too.

  20. xia

    looks amazing love! Talented as always =)

  21. Phuoc

    Y: I liked Berlin as well. Walking through the streets made me think back to what it could have been like 60 odd years ago. I would also like to see alot more of Germany next time I go; it’s such a beautiful country.

    Xia: Thanks love, I hope to perfect it soon. I’ll bake more cakes when I’m done with Honours for us to indulge.. :)

  22. Paris Pastry

    Wow you made the snecken! Delicious isn’t it? I love German food! I live 20 minutes from Germany, but I’ve been to that part of Germany. I’m going to Hamburg this summer!

  23. Angie

    Aww the cloest I’ve been to Germany is the German Bakery up at Macquarie Centre =D Definately can’t wait until Europe next year however we won’t have time for Germany. It’ll be Italy, France and Spain for us.

  24. Phuoc

    Paris Pastry: Indeed it was delicious.. Too bad it wasn’t as fluffy as I hoped for (most likely due to the yeast not working properly). I heard Hamburg is suppose to be lovely as well! You are SO lucky to live so close all these fantastic countries. I’m so jealous!

    Angie: The German Bakery does do nice pastries; have you tried their chocolate and hazelnut croissants? Absolutely delicious! How long will you be in Europe for?

  25. Angie

    Nah I havn’t yet, I actually havn’t tried much, for fear of the high carbs! I will have to pay a visit on one of my “off days” where there are no rules as to what I eat for lunch. When I go for lunch I try and pick the healthiest option I can find, usually a salad.

    Nothing is set in concrete yet but Ryan wants to go to World Youth Day in Madrid next year (August) and we thought we might as well do some of Europe while we are over there so probably about 6 weeks or so in total.

  26. Phuoc

    That’s how long we spent there too! You might as well make the most of it since the flight is so long! I want to go back!

    Carbs.. Why is everyone so scared of them? Am I the only female food blogger that has no limitations on what I eat? :) I don’t think about all that, I just eat.. Speaking of eating, I have a MASSIVE day of it this Sunday! Italian feast for lunch and then Turkish banquet at Efendy for dinner… Oh yeah!

  27. Angie

    Haha because carbs go straight to my hips! (And thighs and bum and tummy and cheeks, everywhere really). Do you have a high metabolism? Or maybe you’re the active kinda girl. Haha I am cursed with a slow metabolism, chubby genes, and I am not that active sitting on my bum in an office all day hence why I try and gym it as much as I can (it’s hard!).

    Definately sounds like a massive day of feasting you have on Sunday, looking forward to your posts ;) Did you win the spot with Simon?

  28. Julia @ Mélanger

    I loved Heidelberg. It was one of my favourite towns when traveling around Germany many years ago. The Germans certainly know how to bake. These nussschnecken are no exception. Yours look delicious!

  29. Phuoc

    Thank you very much, it means a lot coming from a baking queen like yourself.

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