German word of the day: Schmalzkuchen

For today’s word of the day, we have chosen a special Christmas treat that is best found on Christmas markets and which name varies depending on where they are eaten. And they taste better than they sound, promise!

German word of the day: Schmalzkuchen

If you’ve spent a holiday season in Germany, chances are high that you have stumbled across a bag full of Schmalzkuchen on one of the numerous Christmas markets.

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Schmalzkuchen translates to “lard cakes” and is basically fried unsweetened yeast dough, covered in powdered sugar. So Schmalzkuchen is basically just tiny squared donuts in a bag.

And nowadays, lard isn’t the traditional way of frying them anymore. As vegetarianism is continuously rising in Germany, it becomes more and more common to fry the cakes in vegetable fat.

Schmalzkuchen can be bought in different sized bags – from the small “I’ll just have a nibble”-portion to the big “enough for a family of five”- portion – mostly for quite reasonable prices for a Christmas market. 

Caution, though: There’s a lot of powdered sugar on the cakes. And a lot in this case means A LOT. If you try to cool down the cakes by blowing gently in the bag or even if you let out an uncontrolled breath, chances are high that your face, your clothes and everything in a one-metre-radius will be covered in sweet powder. 

Now, people that are not from the north of Germany might not even know what this article is about based on the title. That is because the greasy donuts are one of the things in Germany which name varies depending on the region you’re in. For everybody who is confused, here is a short overview: 

In parts of Northern Germany (especially Lower Saxony and Bremen, they’re called Schmalzkuchen or Schmalzgreben. If you’re from Potsdam or Lübeck, you might know them as Mutzen.

In Saxony, where cooking the cakes in lard is more common than elsewhere, they are called Kräppelchen, which is connected to the word Krapfen (a jam-filled donut.) If you are based in Franconia, however, you might know them as Striezel.

A woman indulges in Schmalzkuchen at a Christmas market in Hanover. Photo: DPA

Example sentences:

Hast du Lust auf Schmalzkuchen?

Would you like some donuts?

Mein Lieblingsessen auf dem Weihnachtsmarkt sind Schmalzkuchen.

My favourite food on the Christmas market is donuts. 

In Leipzig werden Schmalzkuchen “Kräppelchen” genannt.

In Leipzig, the donuts are called “Kräppelchen.”

Do you know more names for Schmalzkuchen? Let us know in the comments below!

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Do you have a favourite word you'd like to see us cover? If so, please email our editor Rachel Stern with your suggestion.

This article was produced independently with support from Lingoda.

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German word of the day: Rücksicht

Here's how to take this thoughtful word into consideration.

German word of the day: Rücksicht

Why do I need to know Rücksicht?

Because it’s a commonly used word and knowing what it means – and practising it – will make you a better person.

What does Rücksicht mean?

Rücksicht is a feminine noun which means “consideration” or “regard”. It’s made up of the shortened form of the word zurück meaning “back” and Sicht – which means view. So literally, it means, back view, or looking back.

This literal meaning tells you something about how the word is used in German – if you look back to see what’s happened to your friend, you are taking them into consideration.

If you want to really make sure you don’t forget what Rücksicht means – you can watch the following video of Germany’s 1983 Eurovision song contest entry. The catchy ballad – called “Rücksicht” – came in place 5 of the competition that year. 

How to use Rücksicht

When using Rücksicht, bear in mind that it is usually paired with specific verbs and prepositions.

The most commonly used set phrase is Rücksicht auf etwas/jemand nehmen, which is used to mean “to be considerate of” or “to take care of” someone or something. For example:

Radfahrer müssen auf Fußgänger Rücksicht nehmen.

Cyclists must be considerate of pedestrians.

Er nimmt Rücksicht auf die Bedürfnisse seiner schwangeren Frau.

He takes care of his pregnant wife’s needs.

Rücksicht is usually followed by the preposition auf, but it can be preceded by a number of prepositions to compose different phrases. 

Mit Rücksicht auf for example, means “in view of” and ohne Rücksicht auf means “without consideration for”, while aus Rücksicht auf means “out of consideration for.” 

Here are some examples:

Führungen dürfen aus Rücksicht auf die Teilnehmer nicht aufgenommen werden.
Out of consideration of the participants, tours may not be recorded.
Er will tun, was er möchte, ohne Rücksicht auf die Anderen.
He wants to do what he wants, without considering other people.