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From potato cakes, which can be spread with jam or liverwurst, to deep-fried quark balls, without which the Rhineland carnival would be unthinkable: almost every region in North Rhine-Westphalia has its own sweet specialty. In each one, there is a lot of love in the preparation - and you can taste it! 

We begin our journey in the northeast of the country in Westphalia, more precisely in the Teutoburg Forest. A region with a lot of unspoiled nature, meadows and secluded places protected by two nature parks. Here in the countryside the Lippische Pickert has its origin. In the past, the thick pancakes were a poor man's food. The word Pickert probably derives from the Low German word "pecken", which means sticky, which describes the dough quite aptly. The dough for the "national dish of the Lippe" consists of yeast, milk, potatoes, flour, sugar, eggs, raisins and clarified butter and, formed into round talers, is baked in a hot pan until golden brown. In the past, the dough was fried directly on a stove top rubbed with a bacon rind. Pickert is still prepared fresh at many weekly markets in the region. You can also often find it on restaurant menus. Opinions differ on the question of how Pickert should be eaten. Some like Pickert sweet with jam, cream or hot cherries, others prefer the savory version with salted butter and Lippische liver sausage. 

In the video you will learn how to prepare the classic from Westphalia and the Teutoburg Forest. Our tip: Be sure to try both versions. 

From Westphalia, our culinary tour continues west to the city of Soest. Here in the Wiesenkirche, there is a colorful window with a motif that you probably wouldn't expect to see in a church: it shows the "Westphalian Last Supper". The classic scene with Jesus and the twelve apostles. But not with wine and unleavened bread. But with ham, beer, schnapps and pumpernickel. The artwork from the year 1500 shows how deeply rooted pumpernickel bread is here in Westphalia and even more so in the Münsterland region. No wonder, then, that it is used not only for hearty meals, but also for sweet dishes. Probably the best known is the Westphalian jelly. Right off the bat, it has nothing to do with the gooey, red or green dessert you know from the refrigerated section. It is a layered dessert consisting of a curd cream with vanilla, cherries and caramelized pumpernickel crumbs. The three components are layered one after the other in a tall glass and decorated with chocolate sprinkles or small meringues. Not only visually a culinary highlight of the region. 

Even the Romans liked to snack

Admittedly, after the noble layered dessert, our next sweet treat seems to be at a bit of a disadvantage, at least in name. But you should by no means underestimate the Poor Knights. They are particularly widespread in the Neanderland and Ruhr regions, but various variations of them have now conquered the whole of North Rhine-Westphalia and even large parts of Germany. The Romans were already familiar with slices of bread dipped in milk and baked in fat. The oldest written German-language recipe for Arme Ritter can be found in the "Buch von guter Speise" (Book of Good Food) from the 14th century. In the Ruhr area, people had always worked hard, so the food often had to be hearty and rich and quick. So the Poor Knights should not fail because of the calories - there are about 250 calories per 100 grams. And the preparation is very simple: Take slices of bread from the day before, roll them in milk, egg and breadcrumbs and bake them in clarified butter until they are golden brown. Finally, cover them with a layer of cinnamon and sugar. They go well with hot cherries and cream, but they are also a treat on their own and worth the small calorie sin. 

In the video you can watch the individual steps again:

Our journey takes us from the Ruhr region to the Rhine. It runs through the country for 230 kilometers and shapes the Rhineland above all with its numerous fruit-growing areas. The "fruit and vegetable garden of Cologne," as the area between the Rhine plain and the Eifel foothills has been called since Roman times, is the largest fruit-growing region in North Rhine-Westphalia and the third largest in all of Germany. It is therefore hardly surprising that desserts here are often prepared with apples. There are several varieties of appeltate, which vary from city to city. In Cologne, it is a round apple pie with a yeast dough base, filled with applesauce and covered with Riemchen, a pattern of dough strips. In Cologne this cake is therefore also called Rhenish Riemchenapfel or Apfelriemchen. In other regions of the Rhineland, Appeltate is a covered apple pie from a baking sheet. Regardless of the shape and size, the locals at least agree on the origin of their apples: they have to be from the Rhineland. 

No carnival without muzen

Let's stay in the Rhineland, where there is a dessert that is particularly popular at carnival time. You could almost say that Rhenish Muzen, or Mutzen, are as much a part of Carnival as confetti and the Hoppeditz. Here, too, there are regional differences: They are available as deep-fried slices of yeast dough or as small balls of curd dough, which are often called Mutzen almonds. Both variants are taken care of with cinnamon and sugar before eating. The eagerly celebrating and swaying carnivalists may of course not care about the form and origin of the sweet pastry, the main thing is that there is enough of it at carnival time. 

In the video you can see how to make the delicious muzen:

It's only a stone's throw from the carnival strongholds of the Rhineland to the neighboring Bergisches Land region. Here, a true classic among desserts awaits us: the waffle. In this region, where cycling and hiking are wonderful, wafers are the perfect reward after a strenuous tour, and their aroma can spur tired athletes on to a final sprint. Unlike their Belgian counterpart, the mountain waffles are traditionally heart-shaped, rather flat and are prepared with buttermilk and honey. Milk, eggs, flour, salt, sugar and butter are also added to the batter. In the past, waffles were eaten on weekdays with rice pudding, cinnamon and sugar. On holidays they were served with hot cherries and whipped cream. Today, fortunately, you are no longer bound to weekdays and holidays, but can enjoy your waffles in all imaginable variations. 

Aachen Printen
What takes a long time: the dough for Aachen Printen has to lie for several months before it can be processed © Andreas Herrmann

From the Bergisches Land we travel to the last stop on our culinary journey. We're heading all the way to the south of the country, to Aachen. Here, the smell of gingerbread wafts through the streets every year during the Christmas season, because that's when Aachener Printen are in high season. By the way, only gingerbread that is produced in Aachen itself and in the neighboring towns of Alsdorf, Baesweiler, Eschweiler, Stolberg and Würselen according to the recipe from 1820 can be called original Aachener Printe. They are even certified as a product with a protected geographical indication. In the 15th century, gingerbread dough was pressed into elaborately carved wooden molds, in English "print," which is where today's name Printen comes from. In the meantime, the pastry has become so popular that it is offered in Aachen all year round. However, the peak season is and remains the Christmas season.

By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Aachen: Plan arrival.

Cover picture: With a hap in the mouth: The Rhenish Muzen are the perfect pastry for in between © Tourismus NRW e.V._Miss Gliss

In collaboration with Tourism NRW e.V.

Reasons for a Vacation in North Rhine-Westphalia there are plenty - the living Cities, the old Castles and palaces and the unique Nature are just a few of them.


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