Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Advent - Anja Dunk

Yesterday was one of those days when almost everything goes badly, but I did manage to book a booster vaccine shot for 9.20am this morning - maybe not the best way to start a day off, but at least 24 clear hours for possible side effects before I go back to work. So far it's fine apart from probably unrelated indigestion (coffee and a chunk of chocolate orange are almost certainly responsible for that) and feeling a bit woozy immediately afterwards. 

Since then I've made my Christmas puddings and had a good look through Anja Dunk's 'Advent' accompanied by an online order for some of the harder to get ingredients (bakers ammonia and pottasche, along with ground mace and anise - which I could probably find locally, but after drawing a couple of blanks this morning I'm going to let a*azon bring it to me). 

I was excited about this book from the moment I heard about it. I love 'Strudel, Noodles and Dumplings', I'm always up for a good baking book, and I'm keen to adopt some of the German traditions that my grandmother would have known but didn't pass down to us, and a more Scandinavian approach to Christmas and advent generally.

December is a tough time for a lot of us, and one of the things I struggle with, especially after years in retail is how much emphasis goes into one day. It makes a lot more sense to me to spread the cheer across the whole of advent. There's more room for treats and less chance of overeating on one day and not being able to enjoy what's in front of you by the time you've worked around to pudding and cheese.

'Advent' is every bit the book I'd hoped it would be - it's split into days, each with a particular theme. My birthday is dedicated to macaroons, and making some is how I might decide to spend the day. I'm also inclined to get some Christmas schnapps on the go and am absolutely planning on making Springerle, as well as some of the marzipan cookies, and a couple of the breads. I've already warned my workmates that I'll be adopting them as family for biscuit eating purposes and I'm looking forward to leisurely baking on cold, grey, days off.

I really like that the emphasis is on food here too, and particularly the sort of food - it's kind of a biscuit bible without being limited to biscuits. Even if you're a household of only one or two this is great for giving and sharing with your wider circle. Advent doesn't pay much head to Christmas day either - and I already have a lot of Christmas cookbooks so it's something of a relief to avoid more crossover. 

It's a beautiful book to look at as well - Anja's woodcuts preface each day of the calendar and the green and gold cloth cover is really nice too. It feels like something special to be bought out each winter, something that will be a source of inspiration when it comes to trying things and establishing new traditions. It's just what winter needs. 


  1. This isn't out here yet but I'm very excited to get my hands on it. Bit frustrated by the NA release timing as it doesn't allow for much baking before Advent - and therefore competitive cookie-sharing season - begins. I'll be interested to see how it compares/compliments Luisa Weiss's Classic German Baking, which has an amazing chapter with the Christmas classics.

    1. I should check, there are definitely things in common. So far I've assembled the specialist ingredients (ammonia and potash) and started making some Christmas schnapps (shaping up well). I have very good biscuit intentions but might run out of to to do as much baking as I'd like. Partly I'm in love with the idea of any book that so neatly covers December and which so basically covers my fantasy of what the month should be like. Just having it is comforting me.