10 July 2010

Obazda. Bavarian beergarden cheese spread.

My god, there she comes again with some funky Bavarian stuff... First that strange sausage salad, and now this... And it even comes with tons of butter...

Obazda means - roughly translated - hodge podge, and basically that's what it is. Legend has it, a Bavarian innkeeper was standing in his empty (post-war) kitchen, with VIP guests sitting in the pub and waiting for something to eat. He thought he couldn't serve a half-eaten cheese to those people, so he decided to mix it together with butter, onions and paprika powder. And like many of those dishes born in desperation, it was an instant success.

You can find it nowadays in every beer garden in Bavaria. There are of course a million recipes, but I think this is the most basic and original one: 1 part butter, 2 parts cheese, onion and some spices. Simple and delicious.

This is perfect for that rest of Camembert that has gotten too pungent to eat. But you can use any intense and soft cheese, in some regions of Germany they use Romadour, Limburger or even Harzer. And stretch it with cream cheese if you find the taste too strong.


150 g / 5 oz overripe Camembert cheese
75 g / 2.5 oz butter, softened
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon paprika powder
1 small onion, very finely diced
2 tablespoons beer
1 teaspoon caraway seeds, optional
salt and pepper
chives, for garnishing
pretzels, either soft or hard ones

Start by weighing the cheese - as this is meant for leftover cheese, this should be your base measure. Then you measure half the amount of butter, by weight of course.

Check the cheese rind: if the edges are very hard and dry, maybe even getting some funky colors (red and yellow being the most common), you could cut some of it away. Leave most of the rind on, just remove anything that doesn't look too good anymore.

Cut the cheese and the butter into cubes, this makes the mixing progress much easier.

Add the cream and start mixing together the Camembert and the butter into a rather sticky mass. Either take a fork or use your food processor - or even the mixer with a paddle attachment - depending on the quantities you are making.

See, some bits are still left, especially some rind bits: that is wonderful. But it still looks a bit bland, doesn't it?

Not to worry, just add onions and lots of paprika powder. It will seem too much at the beginning, but once you mixed it in, the spread will have a wonderful color.

Still doesn't taste right? Add a bit of salt and pepper - and the secret ingredient: beer! You have to try it to believe it, but the beer gives some taste nuances that are very hard to describe.

Cover it and leave it in your fridge for a couple of hours, so that the flavors have time to mingle (but serve on the same day, or the onions will become unbearable). Serve sprinkled with some caraway seeds and lots of chives. Depends on what you like and what is available in your region - both hard and soft pretzels are traditional around here. And of course, don't forget to serve with an adequate amount of beer!

Note for lactose intolerance sufferers: overripe Camembert contains a very low amount of lactose, as the fungi on the cheese break it down. But test for yourself if you can handle it or not.


  1. mmmm i absolutely love this and of course, the first time i had it was in Bavaria - covered in onion rings and served with some bretzels and pickles. i will definitely be trying this recipe!

  2. hope you like it - as with many classic recipes, there are many versions. This one tastes rather strong, as I don't like the mild versions.