30.8.2022 • Behind the scenes
The idea of the test kitchen was born as early as 1891 by the wife of the company founder, Caroline Oetker. She was already conducting baking trials with baking powder at the time. To this day, the employees of the Dr. Oetker test kitchen put the products through their paces and develop recipes for every imaginable occasion.
As soon as the large wooden door opens, there is the smell of freshly cooked vanilla pudding. A woman in a red apron walks briskly to an oven. The timer has just beeped and announced the end of the baking time. One aisle over, two colleagues stand in front of a food processor, conferring about how to prepare a batter in the bowl. Next to them, someone is cutting raw vegetables into handy strips to taste test the dip of crème fraîche with herbs and garlic that has already been prepared. It quickly becomes clear that we are in the Dr. Oetker test kitchen.
Ideas for new recipes arise in different ways: someone discovers a baking trend online, friends tell of dishes from their vacation abroad, even new products in the supermarket provide inspiration. First, it's back to the desk with a new idea in mind: Which Dr. Oetker products should be used? Is the recipe suitable for beginners or does it need practice? After the conception, the practical work in the kitchen begins: Where is the right amount of ingredients so that, if possible, no package leftovers remain? Which appliances are suitable? What is the sequence of steps? The team then tastes and evaluates all new recipes together. "The important thing is that it meets the defined criteria, is visually appealing and, of course, tastes good," Silja Meyer summarizes. By the way: Recipes are developed about six months before publication - so it's already getting really Christmassy in the test kitchen in midsummer.
"We want to offer our consumers recipes for all experience levels."
Silja Meyer, Head of the Dr. Oetker Test Kitchen.
Before a recipe is published or a new product is introduced, it must finally be labeled with the Dr. Oetker ‘guaranteed success’. Company founder Dr. August Oetker pursued this claim from the very beginning: In 1893, through persistent research, he developed a baking powder which, due to the precise mixing ratio and the raw materials used, guaranteed that every cake would succeed. In the spirit of the founder, every new recipe is still prepared today by an uninvolved person using the instructions. New products are prepared with every conceivable mixing device, baked using different heating methods and temperatures, and tested with various types of fat and milk to ensure that all consumers get a good result. Together with colleagues from other departments, the test kitchen discusses appearance, taste and further development potential. "Only when products and recipes have been put through their paces are they considered safe for success," Silja Meyer emphasizes. The products then end up in supermarkets and in the Dr. Oetker online store, and the recipes are published on www.oetker.de, in recipe booklets or in Gugelhupf, the member magazine of the Dr. Oetker baking club. Around 400 to 500 recipes are developed each year in the Dr. Oetker test kitchen.
When it comes to baking and cooking, beginners and experienced hobby cooks alike are faced at some point with questions large and small. Our colleagues at Dr. Oetker Consumer Service are just a phone call or e-mail away. They are in constant contact with the Dr. Oetker test kitchen. The test kitchen colleagues use questions and comments from consumers to constantly develop the recipe portfolio. Consumer Service also forwards inquiries about special diets to the test kitchen so that the range can be further optimized. In order to offer consumers moments of enjoyment for every taste and diet, the test kitchen also develops gluten-free recipes as standard, for example, checks how to mix cooking puddings with vegan milk alternatives, and shares tips on which type of flour is best suited for which baking occasion.