Books I’m Cooking From Now: German Baking Pro Luisa Weiss

November 30, 2016

When buying a new cookbook, the "Classic German Baking" author says, good writing comes first. Photo: Aubrie Pick

Born in Germany to an Italian mother and an American father, Luisa Weiss spent much of her early life shuttling between countries—and subsequently trying to find her place in the world.

As an adult, Weiss eventually made a home in Berlin, but she didn’t just set down roots. She also found the inspiration for her new cookbook, Classic German Baking, which was released this fall (Ten Speed Press).

Although it’s her first cookbook, Weiss has long been in the food business. Back in 2005, before the Internet was saturated with food blogs, she started The Wednesday Chef, in which she wrote methodically about her massive collection of clipped recipes. The blog helped her land a job editing cookbooks and ultimately led her to write her first book, a food memoir called My Berlin Kitchen.

As a writer and editor, Weiss has never shied away from the details that make a recipe—and thus a book—a success. That ethos is on full display in Classic German Baking, which features an exhaustive number of recipes that stick to tradition. She says she wanted the book to be the “definitive kitchen companion for people who want to really understand German and Austrian baking.” This meant an intensive plunge into breakfast rolls, weekday cakes, complex holiday recipes (some of which require weeks of forethought to get right), and the understanding of the Kaffeezeit Sunday coffee hour, akin to Swedish fika.

With the recipes down pat, the biggest challenge was to make the book double as a guide, in essence, to Germany. “I wanted the book to be as delicious to work from as it is interesting to read,” she says. It’s exactly what she looks for when shopping for cookbooks herself.

“First of all, I look for good writing,” Weiss says. “If the writing is sloppy or unappealing, I lose interest pretty quickly.” Lively writing combined with practical, inspiring recipes are what she finds in the three titles below, which travel regularly from her kitchen counter to her bedside table.

Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes

Lucky Peach: 101 Easy Asian Recipes

Filled with easy, approachable recipes, Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes is exactly the kind of book Weiss trusts. “My family loves Asian food,” she says. “It’s fun to have such a simple handbook for so many of our favorites.” The miso clay-pot chicken is high on that list. “The chicken is incredibly tender, the rice is gorgeously seasoned, and the mushrooms and scallions are silky and delicious,” she says. The writing is equally satisfying. “It’s wry and silly, not too precious, and really makes you want to do nothing else but get into the kitchen and start cooking.” ($35, Clarkson Potter)

Do Preserve: Make Your Own Jams, Chutneys, Pickles and Cordials


Though “spare and slim,” Do Preserve: Make Your Own Jams, Chutneys, Pickles and Cordials covers all the essentials, says Weiss. There are only a handful of photos, but they’re instructive, and the headnotes, while short, really help you understand what you’re making and how to serve it. “It’s not a snoozy preserving book with recipes that we’ve seen a hundred times,” she says. Instead, the authors share unexpected sweet and savory preserves, including brandied prunes, pickled peaches, green tomato chutney, and black fig jam with vanilla and lime. “I’m obsessed with filling my pantry with more of [their] goodies,” Weiss says, singling out the pear butter with juniper berries as a particular must-have. ($17, The Do Book Co.)

Dinner Solved! 100 Ingenious Recipes That Make the Whole Family Happy, Including You!

Dinner Solved!

“I love the peppy, can-do attitude of this book and its supreme practicality. It’s full of great, easy recipes that are meant to please the whole family—and they do,” says Weiss, a mother of one. A bit more more sophisticated than your average family cookbook, Dinner Solved! offers building-block recipes that can be adjusted for palates of various ages. Whether it’s tortilla soup or Korean sesame tofu and mushrooms, Weiss says the recipes are surprisingly spectacular for their simplicity. “She’s made my mouth water on numerous occasions for things as basic as egg salad and sloppy Joes.”($40, Workman)

Lauren Salkeld is a French Culinary Institute–trained writer, editor, and recipe developer. She has worked for Epicurious and Bon Appétit magazine and on cookbooks including The Yellow Table by Anna Watson Carl, Asian American by Dale Talde, and A Girl and Her Greens by April Bloomfield.

CookbooksCookbooks of 2016Luisa WeissWhat I'm Cooking from Now
Classic German Baking

From her cheerful Berlin kitchen, Weiss shares more than 100 rigorously researched and tested recipes, gathered from expert bakers, friends, family, and time-honored sources… Read more »

Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes

Beholden to bold flavors and not strict authenticity, the editors of Lucky Peach present a compendium of 101 recipes that hit the sweet spot… Read more »

My Berlin Kitchen

“The new Julie & Julia!. . .You’ll finish a chapter and find yourself in the kitchen.” –Marie Claire The Wednesday Chef (and author of… Read more »

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