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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 1 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 44
A little taste of Deutschland in Seattle
Section One
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A little taste of Deutschland in Seattle

by Susan B. Gemson - Special to the SGN

Kaffeeklatsch is a two-and-a-half-year-old German bakery in little old Lake City. What makes Kaffeeklatsch special are its owners, Annette Heide-Jessen and Brian Hensley.

A WORD ABOUT BRIAN
For 25 years, Brian, from Monroe, Washington, held a steady hammer in the construction business. 'I have been doing this [baking] for three years,' revealed Brian, who went on to say that he needed a change from his previous occupation. As to the very first pastry he ever made, Brian reminisced, 'I used to make a lot of pies, like apple and cherry pie.' Brian later went on to enlighten me that the piecrust recipe he uses is his grandmother's.

Brian's day starts at 4:10 a.m., when 'I open things up and have my first cup of coffee.' He begins with the breads, getting his sourdough starter going by giving it water. 'It is made up of natural organisms, a natural form of yeast.'

I asked this young pastry chef what his most time-intensive bakery item is. 'That would be the triple ginger cookie,' he said. 'It has a lot of different ingredients.' Brian doesn't 'eyeball' his ingredients when he bakes - everything is carefully measured.

Brian even told me about the ovens he uses. 'The top oven I use in baking pastries. It is always at 350 degrees. The lower oven I use for breads and sweets.' The lower oven, Brian explained, is set at a higher temperature.

LET'S HEAR IT FOR ANNETTE
Let's go back to Annette Heide-Jessen, the female counterpart of Kaffeeklatsch. She told me that she and Brian opened Kaffeeklatsch in January 2011. Annette is from Berlin and has German citizenship. 'In Germany, a hyphenated last name is very common,' she says. 'Heide is my maiden name and Jessen is my married name.' Annette let me know that she used to be a nurse before opening her successful Lake City bakery. One of the reasons Annette changed careers was that the nursing education she attained in Germany was not accepted in the United States. So in 2000, Annette decided to pursue a career in the bakery business. Commented Annette, 'I brought in ideas from German recipes that came from family cookbooks.'?

A CHEF'S INSPIRATION
Brian told me that one of his most inspirational chefs is Andrew Meltzer, who also works at Kaffeeklatsch. 'He used to teach in New York 20 years ago,' he told me. What advice would Brian Hensley, pastry cook extraordinaire, have for anyone thinking about going into the bakery business? 'It is important to enjoy what you are doing, because it is a lot of work.'

What does Kaffeeklatsch translate to in English? 'It means a social gathering around coffee,' said Annette. And with that, I bade Kaffeeklatsch a hearty Auf Wiedersehen. I felt a kinship to Kaffeeklatsch that welcomed my Canadian and Eastern European heritage. And that's not a half-baked idea - it's 'completely baked,' to quote Dustin Hoffman from The Graduate. Ah, what a school of thought is Kaffeeklatsch, a little bit of Germany in Lake City.

Kaffeeklatsch is located at 12513 Lake City Way N.E., Seattle. Their e-mail address is info@kaffeeklatschseattle.com, and their website is www.kaffeeklatschseattle.com. Bis zum n?chsten Mal! (See you next time!)

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