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Homemade Pretzels

I haven't made homemade pretzels since we were in Alabama and I had forgotten how easy they are if not a little time consuming. I made these last week for Oscar night. They keep a long time in an airtight container. 1   (.25 ounce) package   active dry yeast 1 tablespoons   brown sugar 1  teaspoons   salt 1 ½   cups   warm water (110 degrees) 3   cups   all-purpose flour 1   cup   bread flour 2   cups   warm water (110 degrees) 2   tablespoons   baking soda 1-2   tablespoons   butter, melted 2   tablespoons  kosher salt Line two or three baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Place the yeast, brown sugar and salt in the 1.5 cups of warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in the flour. Knead for about 7-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and cover. Let it rise for an hour (I place mine in the oven with the light on). Combine the two cups of warm water with the baking soda in a square shallow pan. After the dough has risen, cut it into 12 equal pieces.  Roll each section into a

German Chocolate Cake and Merry Christmas!

I wish everyone a merry Christmas and happy new year. For some reason, the spirit has just not hit me this year and I can't believe Christmas is tomorrow. I do have all of my shopping done but the excitement isn't there.

I wanted to share photos of the German Chocolate Cake I made for Christmas dinner. This is Michael's favorite cake and this is the best recipe I have found for it. It is rich, moist and has a wonderful flavor. Dutch process cocoa makes a big difference so I highly recommend that you use it. It is hard to find (I order mine from Penzey's) and I've yet to find it in a grocery store. Our new Publix doesn't even carry it. :(

This recipe comes from the "Baked" boys - Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito, who own the Baked bakery in Brooklyn. The recipe is included in their first book Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. Their new book is on my Christmas list - I wonder if I will be getting it? :)

Here is the recipe:

For the German chocolate cake layers:

  • 2¼ cups cake flour
  • ¾ cup dark, unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup hot coffee
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1¼ cups (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2¼ cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate, melted and cooled

For the coconut pecan filling:

  • 1 1/3 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/3 cup toasted pecans, chopped coarsely

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter three 8-inch cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust with flour, and knock out the excess flour.

Sift the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium mixing bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the coffee and buttermilk.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Add the vanilla and beat to incorporate. The mixture will look light and fluffy.

Add the flour mixture, alternating with the coffee/buttermilk mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the melted chocolate.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the rack and remove the pans and let cool completely. Remove the parchment.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Spread half of the coconut evenly across the pan and place in the oven for 5 minutes or until the coconut begins to brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

In a large saucepan, stir together the sugar, butter, evaporated milk, vanilla, and egg yolks. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. After the mixture begins to boil and thicken, remove from the heat and stir in the toasted coconut, regular coconut, and pecans.

Place the pan over an ice bath (a large bowl filled with ice) and stir the mixture until cool.

Place one cake layer on a serving platter. Trim the top to create a flat surface and evenly spread one third of the filling on top. Add the next layer, trim and frost with one third of the filling, then add the third layer. Trim the top, and frost with the remaining filling.

The cake will keep in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 2 days.

© 2008 Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Merry Christmas Phillip to you and Michael. May you find much joy in the coming new year and a big green thumb. Mary and the Hooligans

  2. Oh forgot, my favorite cake that Mom makes is a German chocolate.

  3. Merry Christmas Eve Phillip and Michael! I am also lacking in Christmas spirit this year & didn't even decorate at home. Even though Thanksgiving was early this year, it seems like Christmas came way too fast. Oh well, there's always next year since the end of the world didn't happen on the twenty-first.

    Thanks for the recipe, your cake looks delicious!

  4. Oh Wow!! More Deliciousness!!!

    Merry Christmas, dear Phillip & Michael!!

    Hope Michael will share the cake?! Lol!!

    gerri XXOO

  5. Definitely a favorite in my family. I made it last Thanksgiving, but not this year. I will try your recipe the next time I make it. Merry Christmas to you!

  6. What a beautiful presentation of the cake. My hubby's favorite cake is German Chocolate as well.


    Merry Christmas!

  7. Wonderful specimen, Phillip! guess you're not going for that prime rib, potato galette, Yorkshire pudding... I'm preparing, and you bring the cake. ;) Merry Christmas to you and Michael. May 2013 bring you joy and well being.

  8. Merry Christmas Phillip! I have that second book and there are some great recipes in there! I made a pumpkin cheesecake this year for my family. Can't wait to tuck into it tomorrow.

  9. I love German chocolate cake, and this one looks amazing! I love how thick that frosting layer is. Merry Christmas!

  10. Hi Phillip, Thanks for the recipe - it looks delicious. Sorry you didn't get the spirit this year. Before we know it, it'll be spring again!

  11. Phillip, thank you so much for your blog. I enjoy it so much.
    I hope you and Michael can come by to see my yard, someday garden, and share ideas with me!

  12. Merry Christmas to you Phillip, too! Oooh my gosh, how I would love to have a piece of that German Christmas cake! It looks so delicious! Enjoy it tonight with your love!

  13. My mouth is watering just looking at the pictures. Merry Christmas to you and Michael. I hope you have a good one.

  14. This absolutely makes me drool! German Chocolate is my favorite too, and every year my mom makes me a fabulously decadent one. I'm sure Michael will love it!

  15. I hope you found the Christmas Spirit. :0) I was bubbling over with it this year. The cake is gorgeous. :0)

  16. P.S. The recipe seems complicated!

  17. I love to bake and that cake looks like a winner!! Happy holidays!

  18. DH would like that cake, he loves coconut. It looks beautiful. I've heard of Baked. I bet their cookbook is awesome.


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