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Cook's Corner

  • Juice shop owners have big dreams
    Dani McGuire and Julia Haller are excited about Friday. The two will celebrate the grand opening of their business, Jai Juice and Cafe, of which they are co-founders. It’s located at 1301 Lafayette St.
  • Juice shop owners have big dreams
    Dani McGuire and Julia Haller are excited about Friday. The two will celebrate the grand opening of their business, Jai Juice and Cafe, of which they are co-founders. It’s located at 1301 Lafayette St.
  • Baker feeds customers, family from the oven
    Krysta Young of Fort Wayne has been baking cakes out of her home for a while.
I still want to learn…
A. To make really good from scratch pizza. My sister-in-law makes a really good pizza dough from flour, yeast, salt and water. I like to top it with fresh vegetables.
I can’t wait to…
A. Go to Michigan. We have a family reunion in Michigan. We have fun coming up with food for the reunion. It’s a big family.
Diana Parker | The Journal Gazette
Fort Wayne resident Nicoline Dahlgren shows her Marmorkuchen.

Bake-off winner relies on German recipes

– We’re in the middle of the festival season.

So along with bratwurst and Italian sausage sandwiches, elephant ears and lemon shake-ups there are the bake-offs.

Named this year’s first-place winner of the Germanfest bake-off was Nicoline Dahlgren, 46.

Dahlgren, a Fort Wayne resident who hails from Munich, Germany, was one of 22 entries, the most the festival has ever received.

“This year was so many entries than I’ve ever seen and I won first place,” she says adding, “It’s definitely fun. It’s a challenge. It’s fun to do.”

The recipe Dahlgren entered was “Prinzregententorte,” an eight-layer torte created for Prince Regent Leopold of Bavaria – each layer representing the eight districts of Bavaria at the time. The recipe is difficult and time-consuming.

Each item submitted for the bake-off is judged on overall presentation, difficulty in preparation, serving ability, texture and taste. The three judges from this year’s Germanfest have some guidelines they hope future entrants will remember.

Jim Sack, the founder of Germanfest, says that it’s the taste.

“There is simply no single, overriding standard other than how it tastes. And, taste is different for each person. I also consider proximity to German tradition because what my great-grandmother cooked is different than I find in my village confectionary today, or in a fine Munich restaurant,” he says.

Of the 12 to 14 cookbooks she owns, Dahlgren says she still relies on her German cookbooks for baking recipes.

“I use a lot of my German books. I have one American book that’s really good, ‘The Complete Book of Desserts.’ Other than that, I would have to give you one with a German name – ‘Bayerische Leibspeisen’ which means ‘Bavarian Favorite Foods’,” she says.

Dahlgren has an interior design degree from Academy of Arts in Munich and is the owner of Ready to Show (, a home staging and redecorating business. She and her husband Darwin have three daughters, Selina, 18, Juliet, 15, and Madeline, 9 The family tries to visit relatives in Germnay as often as they can. “My mom, Elisabeth Pollach of Amberg, Germany – that’s a small town in Northern Bavaria – is a really good cook. When we take the kids there, they don’t want to eat out. They want to eat her food,” she says.

Marmorkuchen (Marble Cake)

10 ounces butter (2 1/2 sticks)

1 cup sugar

1 package vanilla sugar or 1 teaspoon vanilla

4 eggs

1 3/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 tablespoon rum (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt cake mold. In big bowl, mix butter, sugar and vanilla sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Mix flour and baking powder in separate bowl. Use an electric mixer, alternate adding flour mixture and milk to egg mixture. Pour half the mixture into greased bundt cake mold. Mix remaining batter with cocoa and add rum (optional). Add to mold. Use a fork to make a pattern in the cake by moving it through the batter in up and down circular motions. Bake in oven on second rack from the bottom for 50 to 60 minutes. After taking cake out of the oven let cool for 10 minutes before removing it from mold. Makes 12 to 16 servings.

Elsässer Apfelkuchen (Alsace-Lorraine Apple Tarte)

For the crust:

1 1/8 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

9 tablespoons butter

1 egg

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoons baking powder

4 1/2 tablespoons sugar

For the filling:

3 to 4 tart apples (Granny Smith are best)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream

3 eggs

1 package vanilla sugar or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 tablespoons sugar

To make the crust, mix flour, salt and baking powder in bowl. Cut cold butter in small pieces and mix with the flour. Add eggs and sugar and knead everything into a ball. Put in refrigerator for at least half an hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel and core apples and cut into quarters. With a knife, carefully cut several slits lengthwise into the outside part of the apple quarters, without cutting through them. Roll out the crust and line a pie or tart shell with it. Pierce crust several times with a fork. Then place the apple pieces (round side up) on top of the crust, as many as will fit in one single layer. Brush the apples with some lemon juice. Bake in preheated oven for about 20 to 25 minutes. In the meantime make the filling. Mix cream, eggs, vanilla sugar and sugar in bowl until well blended. Take tart out of the oven and pour the cream/egg mix over the apples. Bake for another 25 to 30 minutes until filling sets. If crust browns too much during that process, cover with aluminum foil strips. Makes 12 servings.

Almond Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate

2 sticks butter

5 eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

1 cup ground almonds

1 teaspoon baking powder


1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate

1 stick butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt chocolate and butter in hot water bath. Separate the eggs and beat the egg whites until soft peaks start forming. In a bowl, mix sugar with egg yolks and almonds. Add baking powder and melted chocolate mix. Then carefully stir in the egg whites. Fill in round, greased spring form and bake for 45 to 60 minutes. To make the glaze melt chocolate with butter and pour over cooled down cake while still warm. Let cool. Makes 12 servings.

Cook’s Corner is a weekly feature. If you know of someone to be profiled, write to Cook’s Corner, The Journal Gazette, P.O. Box 88, Fort Wayne, IN 46801-0088; fax 461-8648; or email