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German Traditions: The Schultüte

The first day of school for any German child, even those that are far away in Australia, is a hugely important step! It’s a rite of passage!

Arguably THE most important part of a child’s first day of school is the Schultüte. A paper cone, often homemade, filled with sweets and presents. Germans believe that the thought of attending school for every day for the next 12-13 years needs to be ‘sweetened. Really, it’s much more than that: it’s a ritual that honours the child’s changing status and the many changes this entails for the rest of the family.

It’s filled with sweets, school supplies, little gifts and trinkets and the Schultüte itself is closed at the top so the child can’t see into it. It only gets opened once their first day at school is completed. Myself and many of my German friends here in Australia love this tradition. And I spent today making a Schultüte for Max, who starts school next week.

I just wanted to share these sweet pictures from 4 years ago when Luke started school. Often a sibling will get their own smaller Schultüte.

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Xmas Biscuit Recipe: Jam Heart Sandwiches (Marmeladen Herzen)

Jam Sandwich 2

Makes about 30

125g flour
125g ground almonds
125g cold unsalted butter
1 packet of vanilla sugar (check German or Turkish shops, or Lidl)
60g sugar
1 pinch of salt
2 egg yolks

Any red jam for in between the sandwich
Icing sugar for rolling out and for the top.

Jam Sandwich 1

Mix up all ingredients with a mixer at first and then knead thoroughly. Wrap the dough in cling film and put in the fridge for two hours.

Preheat the oven to 180C, 160C Fan, Gas 3.

Roll out using the icing sugar, about 3mm thickness. Cut out using your preferred cookie cutter and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 8-15 mins.

Warm up the jam and brush on one side of one biscuit and place another one on top. Cover with icing sugar and let them dry.


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Xmas Biscuit Recipe: Cinnamon Stars (Zimtsterne)


Makes about 50

3 egg whites
250g icing sugar
1 packet of vanilla sugar (check German or Turkish shops, or Lidl)
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 pinch of cardamom
350g-400g ground almonds

Icing sugar for rolling out


Whisk egg whites until stiff. Sift in icing sugar slowly, whisking in between. This creates a meringue consistency. Put aside 3 table spoons of this mixture. Add the vanilla sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and enough of the ground almonds so that the dough isn’t too sticky.

Roll into a ball and leave in the fridge for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 130C/100C Fan/Gas 1.

Roll out the dough using the icing sugar to ensure it doesn’t stick to the rolling pin or surface. Use star shape cookie cutters to cut out stars, dunk in icing sugar to make sure the dough doesn’t stick. Put on baking paper lined baking trays. Use a brush to put the meringue mixture on the stars (make sure you use it sparingly and have enough for all stars).

Bake for 15 minutes. Then turn the temperature down to 100C/80C Fan, Gas 1, and bake for a further 15 minutes – the dough should keep its light colour.