Introduction: Obatzda - Bavarian Savory Cheese Spread

About: I like to divert stuff from its intended use. Most of my crafting is based on re-use and recycling due to my urge to use resources consciously (and my small wallet). As I like to consume ideas rather than prod…

This instructable is about how to make Obatzda a Bavarian cheese spread specialty.
It's pretty hearty in taste and a nice snack for Brotzeit.
In Bavaria Obatzda is a common snack served at Biergarten and it's also one of the foods you can get at Munich Oktoberfest...

The word Obatzda is a Bavarian dialect expression which literally means squashed or mashed. And in fact it is nothing but spiced up, mashed Camembert cheese.

This recipe is based on my mothers way of preparing Obatzda - and since she is of Bavarian origin I consider this recipe kind oft authentic :) (although I did a little bit oft research and it turned out there is a variety of options to prepare Obatzda- more about this in step 8.)

When I was child my mum used to make this cheese spread pretty regularly for Brotzeit and it also was "her thing" to bring it to potluck-like events.
The recipe came back to my attention just recently. At the moment I'm taking care of my 99 year old grandma and since her taste buds lost some of their sensitivity over the years she favors hearty food. l made some Obatzda for her - turns out it's her new favorite thing for Brotzeit and meanwhile she learned how to make it herself. In fact she helped me to make this instructable :)

Step 1: Ingredients

1 small Camembert (125g - that equals about 4.5 ounces)

1,5 heaped teaspoons of powdered sweet paprika

0,5 teaspoon caraway seeds

1 tablespoon of fine diced onion (I cut them as small as possible, the smaller they are the better they integrate / dissolve into the spread...)

3 heaped tablespoons cream cheese (we used a chili spiced variety but any cream cheese will do the job - you can also use sour cream, your obatzer may just become a little softer)

1 or 2 dashes of salt and pepper

The Camembert should be ripe/aged and soft. There is no need to use fancy imported French Camembert for this recipe, I always use the cheaper German Camembert. You could use other Camembert-like cheese like Brie as well.
I don't recommend using low fat cheese for this recipe, it's consistency isn't creamy enough to get the Obatzda right.
I highly recommend to allow the Camembert to come down to room temperature. If you take the cheese just from the fridge it will be much sturdier and harder to mash (also the aroma evolves at room temperature).

My mother used to add butter (about two tablespoons) and also sometimes used processed cheese (about a tablespoon) and therefore she reduced the cream cheese to about one tablespoon.
But my grandma should watch her weight so "our" recipe replaces the butter with cream cheese - and because processed cheese gives me itchy teeth we don't add it either...

This recipe is pretty forgiving, in fact before I wrote this 'ible I always just eyeballed the amounts and always turned out nice. So feel free to experiment with the different ingredients and find your own favorite mixture.

Step 2: Dice

Place your Camembert on a plate and find a pretty Hand model who cuts the Camembert into little dices. No need to be especially accurate, it will be mashed soon anyway...

Step 3: Mix

Add 1,5 teaspoons of sweet powdered paprika, half a teaspoon on caraway seeds and about a tablespoon of super fine dices onions. Mix everything together.

Step 4: Mash

Add about three tablespoons of cream cheese. Continue mishmashing squishsquashing everything together. Use a tool according to your preferences: My grandma prefers to use a knife, I like to use a fork.

I never used a food processor or a hand mixer for this process (nor did my mother) I'm not sure if machines are a able to "batz" as nicely as humans do...

Step 5: Squash

Mix and mash and squash until the spread reaches your desired consistency. It usually takes about three to five minutes to get it right.

Step 6: Shape It

Traditionally the Obatzda is served on a plate and shaped like a dome, but my grandma prefers to shape it like a disk. Use a knife to shape the cheese spread according to your styling preferences. We use the same plate for mixing and serving, you can use a paper towel to clean up the rim of the plate. And of course you could as well serve your Obatzda in a bowl.

We like to sprinkle some chive on top - it looks nice and also the aroma fits well...

Step 7: Enjoy

I enjoy Obatzda the most one or two hours after it's mashed together, I think the flavors develop even better after a little resting time. But you can consume it right away as well. (Obatzda tastes the best the day it is made, the next day the flavors are even more advanced - which is still fine for my grandma, but maybe not for everyone)

In the third picture you can see my grandmother and me enjoying Obatzda with some fresh pretzels ;)

Step 8: Serving Suggestions and Variations

This rustic hearty snack goes very well with a glass of beer or Radler (beer and lemonade).
Pretzels and lye rolls are a perfect base for this spread. Rustic dark bread fits as well.
You can serve it with fresh radishes, they are a nice company for Obatzda.
You may sprinkle some chives on top enhance visual appearance and flavor.

If you don't like onions just skip them, but I think onionless Obatzda is just half as nice as the original...
Another option might be to slightly stew the onions to melt down their harsh flavor.
Some people like to garnish the Obatzda with onion rings instead of integrating diced ones, this may be a good option if an onion lover and an onion hater want to share a portion of this spread.

Some people like to use stronger soft cheeses (German Romadour or Limburger). If Camembert isn't hearty enough for you you might to try those.

Some Obbatzda recipes integrate a splash of beer into the mix but I've never tried this myself. As long as you don't share your Obatzda with children you might give this it a try. (In Frankonia they add a splash wine instead of beer - feel free to experiment)

Fun Fact: Originally Obaztda was just used as a way to use up overaged cheese.

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