“Baker man is baking bread” – Baking and cooking for and with kids

During the last two weeks I stayed several days with my good friends in the Palatine Forest, where they regularly run the kitchen of a youth camp in the middle of nowhere. The ambition of them as chefs is to distance from the usual simple, neither good nor healthy and often convenience food people serve, when they’re cooking for big groups. In contrary they try to make as much as possible themselves and use natural, if possible regional products for their dishes. They try as well to involve the kids in preparing their food and to increase thereby the appreciation of food and the joy of cooking, baking and eating together.

No doubt, cooking for 48 hungry kids and teenagers is a challenge not only to your cooking skills, but also to your organising ability and as well – I had to learn this myself when cutting bacon, stirring dough or forming buns – to your arm muscles!

But then cooking still is some kind of recreation for me. All of this in a beautiful natural surrounding and together with great committed people is a pleasure. And what can be a bigger success than a teenager asking you “Is there more cauliflower?”

For lunch there is often served a soup or a salad buffet, together with some freshly baked bread … let correct me: masses of bread. Those kids could easily eat 12 kg of bread for lunch!

One of the highlights of the youth camp is when “Gisela”, the pizza oven made out of an old oil barrel, comes into action – this time we made a speciality of nearby Alsace – tarte flambée with sour cream, bacon and onions or with roquefort cheese and pears. A real dinner event!

On the “American Day” several girls occupied the kitchen baking cookies with chocolate chips and hazelnuts and made exciting discoveries, f.ex. the mystery of browned butter.

And of course we made burgers. And what burgers we made: cheeseburgers with homemade buns (about 120 of them) and homemade beef pattys. The kids were thrilled when they entered our little diner behind the house – and even Elvis Presley came alive to try one of these burgers 😉

On my last day in the camp we made “belegte Laugaweggle” (prezel bun sandwiches – normally with cheese or cold cuts and pickled gherkin) – something so typically southern german. They get their typical colour and taste from the sodium hydroxide solution they’re dipped in before baking – a bit frightening for me to handle with such chemicals in the kitchen, but with a biologist and a biochemist at my side I felt fairly save … and the taste: priceless.

As the kids were busy playing all around the camp we spontaneously started a delivery service, that brought the lunch right to the kids.After returning into civilization I am off again to new destinations, discovering Lower Saxony. You’ll hear from me…


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