Meet In Your Kitchen | Daniel Schreiber’s Sourdough Waffles with Plum-Apple Jam

by meike peters

This post is part of my Meet in My Kitchen podcast series:

How did we get to where we are in life and what does food have to do with it.

Through food we connect with the world’s gift and also with the gift of the knowledge of other generations.” – Daniel Schreiber

Daniel Schreiber writes books that touch a sensitive spot. He writes about his own experiences yet these are experiences that we all share in one way or the other. In his last three books‘Nüchtern’ (Sober), ‘Zuhause’ (Home), and ‘Allein’ (Alone) – he touches the fears we know but learned to sail around, he writes about his own life but reminds us of our own.

Every word he chooses says the truth, very direct, very blunt, you can feel that, and by this, in a way that is hard to describe, he creates a fragile beauty. It’s the beauty of togetherness, that we are all in this together, that we’re not alone, we’re not the only one struggling, and that we can share our struggles and be open about them. It sounds almost too sweet but despite the pain that is present in his books, there is so much warmth. Like in real life.

It’s like your favorite tea cup, it’s cracked, it’s chipped, you glued it back together, but when you feel its uneven surface drinking your tea in the morning, you don’t think of the pain you felt when it broke. Each crack makes it even more familiar, makes it even more a part of yourself, your story, and who you are. You learn to love these cracks. Daniel manages to transport this feeling in his books. Each crack we have makes us the person who we are. It’s a long and beautiful story of life, love, and learning, and yes, sometimes it also hurts.

“When I came to New York it was quite a depressive period for me but something happened at that time in connection with food that helped me a lot. I started cooking through the Larousse Gastronomique and practically cooked every evening. I went shopping to the market or supermarket every day to try out new recipes. That gave me a lot of strength.” – Daniel Schreiber

And what does food have to do with it? Daniel’s eyes start sparkling when he’s talking about his mother’s garden in a tiny village in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania) where he grew up. When he talks about picking fruit and vegetables and filling a bucket up to the rim with the harvest to take home to his kitchen in Berlin every time he visits his parents. His mother’s cooking and recipes – some of which she keeps secret until today – laid the foundation for Daniel’s love for cooking. A love that taught him that there’s light even in the darkest of times – and he can choose to switch it on.

Food and literature were held up high in his family’s house and became his companions on his own journey. Studying literature in Berlin and New York City put the young man in touch with buzzing metropolitan life and helped him shape his identity as a young man. His original academic dreams faded and instead he worked for newspapers and magazines. He wrote a celebrated Susan Sontag biography followed by three books, weaving his own experiences into a scientific, psychological, and philosophical context.

“Most of us have problems to say what we really want to say. Society and our families don’t educate us to really find an authentic relationship with ourselves. We have to fulfill certain roles, certain expectations, that we ourselves and society force upon us, economical and social expectations. And these internalized expectations and roles are in our way most of the time.” – Daniel Schreiber

No matter how rocky his life got at times, no matter how far he drifted away, Daniel always searched for and found the way to the kitchen and with this, a way back to himself. Working as a private chef, cooking and catering for families and events in Manhattan and the Hamptons, strengthened his confidence as a cook and sparked his curiosity. Cooking through a vast collection of books, experimenting with recipes, turned Daniel into a person who knows the tastiest recipes for almost every dish you can think of.

His sourdough bread and waffles reach perfection in taste and texture, the homemade jam collection on his kitchen shelves can easily compete with a professional jam manufactory. Whatever he sets his mind on becomes his passion. His terrace looks like a dense green jungle speckled with colorful blossoms in all shapes and sizes – and he can tell you the name of every single plant there is in his green kingdom. He turns piles of wool into the favorite scarves, quilts, and sweaters of family and friends. And he puts words and letters together in ways that I want to read his books even when they force me to face my own fears.

Daniel shared two recipes with me that are perfect for an autumn brunch or cozy teatime: Sourdough waffles, crisp on the outside and spongy inside, crowned by dollops of crème fraîche and crimson colored jam made of dark plums and firm apples infused with star-anise and vanilla.

The podcast episode with Daniel Schreiber is in German. You can listen to the Meet in My Kitchen podcast on all common podcast platforms (click here for the links); there are English and German episodes. You can find all the blog posts about these podcast episodes including my guests’ recipes here on the blog under Meet in Your Kitchen.

Listen to the podcast episode with Daniel on:

Spotify / Apple / Deezer / Google / Amazon / Podimo

On Instagram you can follow the podcast @meetinmykitchenpodcast!

Sourdough Waffles with Plum-Apple Jam and Crème Fraîche

by Daniel Schreiber *

* The waffle recipe is adapted from a New York Times recipe and the jam recipe is adapted from a recipe by Christine Ferber.

For the plum-apple jam

Mind that the jam needs to sit overnight before you finish cooking it the next day.

Makes 6-7 small jars

  • 680g / 1 1/2 pounds dark plums (Zwetschgen, Italian Prune Plums), cut in half and pitted (weight without pits: 500g / 18 ounces)
  • 750g / 1 2/3 pounds firm, sour apples (Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Idared), peeled, quartered, cored, cut crosswise into very thin slices (final weight: 500g / 18 ounces)
  • 800g / 1 3/4 pounds granulated sugar
  • 2 star-anise
  • 1 vanilla pod, split in half
  • 2 medium lemons, juice only
  • 7 small jars with their lids, sterilized

The day before you want to cook the jam, combine all the ingredients in a tall, large pot and let it sit for 1 hour. Over high heat, stirring gently, bring the jam to a boil. When the jam starts bubbling and rising, immediately remove the pot from the heat, cover with a lid, and let it sit overnight.

The next day, place a saucer in the freezer. Remove the lid from the pot and bring the jam to a boil over high heat, stirring gently. Cook the jam for 10-15 minutes or until it thickens and reaches its setting point. To see if the jam reached its setting point either use a sugar thermometer, the temperature should be 105°C / 220°F, or place a small spoonful of jam on the chilled saucer that you kept in the freezer, wait 20-30 seconds then push the jam with your finger. The jam should wrinkle up. Remove and discard the vanilla pod and star-anise. Using a ladle, fill the jam into the sterilized jars, close them tightly with their lids, and store in a dark place.

For the sourdough waffles

For this waffle recipes, you make use of the sourdough starter that you usually discard every day when you refresh your sourdough starter. Just make sure that you take 240g / 1 cup sourdough starter aside before (!) you refresh your starter. Mind that you need to prepare the batter the night before you want to bake your waffles and finish it the next day.

Serves 2-4

  • 240g / 1 cup sourdough starter that hasn’t been refreshed (fed)
  • 220g / 1 cup buttermilk
  • 120g / 1 cup all-purpose flour (German flour type 550)
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar or granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, split and scraped, or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 60ml / 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

The night before you want to bake the waffles, whisk together the sourdough starter, buttermilk, flour, sugar, and vanilla seeds in a large bowl until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature overnight.

The next day, when you’re ready to bake the waffles, preheat a waffle iron (ideally a square Belgian waffle iron). Add the egg, olive oil, salt, and baking soda to the sourdough mixture and whisk to combine.

Pour a ladle of the batter into the hot waffle iron and bake until golden brown and crisp. Transfer the waffle to a cooling rack and let cool for a few minutes. Continue baking more waffles with the remaining batter.

For serving

  • Crème fraîche

Place a dollop of crème fraîche and a dollop of jam on a warm waffle and serve immediately.