"Americans" and "Mahnudeln"
Culinary Delights from Niederndorferberg
It was one of those golden autumn days, when I visited Anna Bischofer on her farm called ‘Mühlberg‘at Niederndorferberg together with the peasant women Elisabeth Kalt. One has to know the area very well so that you don’t get lost. And who knows where my GPS would have sent me.
Driving to the farm was a feast for the eyes: The road winded through tree-covered hills, whose broadleaf trees glowed brightly in different shades of yellow, orange and red under the clear autumn sky. We drove along lush meadows, grazing cows and remote farms, surrounded by an impressive mountain range. Almost kitschy and captivatingly beautiful was the breathtaking view down to the Inntal valley.
We were warmly welcomed by Anna who was already waiting for us with coffee and puff pastry hazelnut sticks, one of her specialities.
After the cookies were eaten, followed by a tour of the farm, Anna talked about her career:
Spending many years on farms and the mountain inn ‘Wandberghütte‘, turned her into a true master of culinary art. As the eldest of 8 children, Anna started her career as farm girl at the age of 15. Since she suffered form anaemia, her practitioner suggested to work on a farm because of the fresh air which was good for her disease. And this was precisely what happened: After a short while, Anna fully recovered. She narrates retrospectively, ‘I was working long hours, it was real hard work. I also had to pay for the bad mood of the farmer.‘ She married at the age of 23, and since then Anna has lived on one of the most beautiful places on earth and feels very comfortable in the circle of her extended family. Her love and enthusiasm for baking an cooking have made her life a pleasant one, besides her duties that go along with a large farm.
Back to cooking
Anna has meticulously kept records and wrote down many recipes. Some of them are nearly 60 years old. I would like to share with you two of them:
"Americans" and "Mahnudeln"
Americans: What’s that? There are several interpretations about the name: Some say that the ‘Americans” were originally called ‘Ammoniakaner” and derived from ‘ammonium hydrogencarbonate‘, a baking power which was used in earlier days. Others say that US-soldiers hadn’t found the ingredients for their American style ‘cake‘ in Germany in the 1950s, therefore they created their own cake the ‘Americans‘.
- 100 g soft butter
- 100 g sugar
- 1 pouch vanilla sugar
- 2 eggs, a pinch salt
- 1 pouch custard powder
- 3 tablespoons milk or cream
- 250 g flour
- 3 tablespoons baking soda
- Icing Sugar
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice or water
Beat butter, sugar, vanilla sugar and a pinch of salt until creamy. Add eggs one after the other. Mix custard powder, flour and baking soda and stir in the mixture. Stir in the milk.
Form 6 small heaps with 2 tablespoons and put them onto a baking sheet not too close to each other and use a damp knife to reshape them.
Bake for about 15-20 minutes, top/bottom heat about 180 degrees C or hot air about 160 degrees C.
Sift icing sugar and stir with lemon juice to a thick liquid. Spread lemon icing on cooled cookies.
‘Mahnudeln‘ are a speciality of the area ‘Untere Schranne” and can be eaten sweet with icing sugar or with a soup (such as pinto bean soup or barley soup). Where does the name come from?
‘Mahn‘ derives from ‘Mowing‘. Therefore, this meal stems from times when the farmers got up early in the morning for hand mowing and therefore needed a filling meal. The term ‘Mahnudeln‘ has nothing to do with ‘noodels‘ (‘Nudel” translated into English means noodels).
- 500 g flour, 1 pinch salt
- 1 pouch yeast
- ¼ l lukewarm milk
- 30 g sugar for the ‘Dampfl‘ (leaven)
- 2 whole eggs
- 2 yolk
- 50 g butter
- 2 cl rum
Put in a bowl lukewarm milk, crumble yeast, sprinkle with sugar and let stand for a while. Add flour, melted butter, salt, eggs, yolk, rum and raisins and mix well. Sprinkle with flour, cover with a towel and let stand to rise.
Form 5 equally long small loaves on a pastry board and let them rise again.
In the meantime, heat concentrated butter (Butterschmalz) in a saucepan. Place the loaves with the upper side down in the not too hot butter. Fry them a few minutes on each side covered with a lid (preferably a wooden lid). Take them out of the pen once they are golden yellow.
Time to say goodbye
Anna’s excellent cooking and baking skills got soon around in the village. She was happy to take time away from her duties on the farm and spoiled her people ‘from the mountain‘ and various clubs with her culinary delights on the occasion of local festivals and other events. Whenever a ‘cooking hand‘ was needed, Anna was always there.
I will remember this afternoon for a long time: not only because of the overwhelming colours of these last autumn days and the fantastic view but also because of Anna’s warm hospitality and the extreme nice chat with her and Elisabeth.
Sometimes impressions or experiences cannot be put into words, but you can rely on quotations:
Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. - Robert Louis Stevenson
With these thoughts and a big thank you I say goodbye to Elisabeth and Anna.
*Picture by TBO