Thursday, 24 December 2015

RECIPE: Zimtsterne (cinnamon stars), vegan and gluten-free

I interrupt this series of South-East Asian adventures to bring you a little festive deliciousness because OMG IT'S CHRISTMAS DAY TOMORROW!!!

How did that spring up on us? I don't even know.

Not having had the whole build-up to the big day back in the UK this year, I've had to try and go intense on my Christmas cheer after getting home. Understandably, Asia ain't the most Christmassy of places. D'you know where does Christmas the best though? Germany.

Yes, my beloved Germany.

And if you're going to go to Germany at Christmastime, I'm going to insist you go to Bavaria (remember all the magical places I showed you on my year abroad?).

Twinkly lights, cobbled streets, delicious treats... it's the best. Everyone knows about the joys of Gl├╝hwein, Lebkuchen and Stollen (right? Correct me if I'm wrong), but I believe most Brits are a little less familiar with Zimtsterne.

The name translates literally as "cinnamon stars", which I rather like.

My days, these are so delicious.

I remember the first time I tried them at Nuremberg Christmas market and the love affair began. They're soft, chewy, nutty and bursting with Christmassy flavour - yes, cinnamon, but with a hint of orange too.

Not only are they delicious but they could not be simpler or quicker to make. Mix everything together, roll out, cut stars, bake for five minutes (not a typo, it's genuinely that quick), ice and you're done!

Perfect for a bit of spontaneous Christmas Eve baking.

And they're also vegan and gluten-free, so there's that. What with being largely nuts, they're also pretty good for you. Well, as baked goods go. We can just ignore all the sugar because Christmas.

It's not super easy to find ground hazelnuts in the UK, but if you have a food processor you can just make your own in minutes.

So crank up the Christmas tunes, whack out your rolling pin and get some Zimtsterne in your life. You won't regret it!

This recipe make 20-22 stars, depending on how much of the dough you eat. (Guilty.)


For the stars:

100g icing sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
4 tbsp water
100g ground hazelnuts
75g ground almonds
1/2 tbsp orange zest (about half an orange)

For the icing:

75g icing sugar
A sprinkle of cinnamon


1. Preheat the oven to 220C and mix together all the ingredients for the stars until a dough forms - I started with a spoon then used my hands.

2. Between two sheets of baking parchment, roll out the dough until it's about 5mm thick. Cut out star shapes and place them on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Re-roll the scraps and keep going until all the dough has been used up.

3. Bake for just five minutes until firmed up but still a bit soft when gently pressed with your fingertip. Leave to cool on the tray for at least five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool fully.

4. Once fully cool, you can ice your stars. Simply mix together the icing sugar and cinnamon and gradually add water in little drops until you reach the desired consistency - it should be thick enough that it looks opaque and won't run off the stars. Carefully spread the icing onto the stars and leave to set fully.

And there you have it! Traditional German Zimtsterne. Guten Appetit!

Oh, and I wish you all the merriest of merry Christmases! May your days be filled with love and joy and peace (and presents and food and drink...)

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