The Berliner soft serve with a sweet unconventional twist
Infusing the classic with a pinch of fun, embark on an adventure of taste when you come for the soft serve ice cream at Paul Möhring
Based on a winter family tradition rooted in Brandenburg, Paul Möhring offers soft serve ice cream
that combines Grandpa Paul’s handcraft with surprising ingredients such as olive oil, sea salt, melted marshmallows, and maple syrup infused with Habanero peppers.
We had the chance to chat with founder David, to find out the story behind soft serve that celebrates a marriage between tradition and today.
How did the shop come about? Could you share what the process of coming up with ice cream flavors is like?
David: This is a family run business, which means that everyone in the family helps where they can. My wife, for instance, does all of our graphic design; whilst my mom-in-law provided her jam recipe, and with my dad being an architect, he helped me a lot with building the shop, and so on.
When it comes to ice cream flavors, there is no one single process. I’m a foodie myself, I love eating and frequently eat out. When I come across flavor combinations that I find interesting, I tend to think about whether or not there is a possibility of translating it into ice cream. For instance, I love starters like baked peach and blue cheese and pears with goat cheese, those combinations that are sweet and savory. Why can’t you turn that into an ice cream flavor?
These are the things that I see that get me started thinking: how can you make that in to an ice cream?
It’s not there yet, but soon we’ll be launching our Ice Cream Brûlée – an ice cream adaptation of crème brûlée.
What’s the inspiration behind the shop, including the name and ice cream flavors?
D: I’m an actual Berliner, so one of only a few, there are not many of us. (Laughs) The shop is a real Berlin thing, with the idea in the heart of Berlin.
Paul Möhring was my grandfather-in-law, and he was also a farmer who would make ice cream from his produce. He made his ice cream beginning in the 1950’s and into the 60’s, living in the GDR he made ice cream in the winter with snow from the yard for cooling, because he didn’t have an ice cream machine, or even a freezer. The ice cream he made wasn’t for sale, but just for the family. Since he couldn’t stir the mix forever, the ice cream never really got solid, but stayed rather soft.
So basically he was making soft serve ice cream before it was even invented, and that’s where we come from. We took his recipes as a base to start and develop our own ice cream recipe.
As for modern inspirations, I’m highly influenced by the ice cream making scene in New York and also Australia. I have friends living in NYC, so I make trips there now and again. In New York I’ve seen ice cream that is so different in comparison to what we have here in Germany. It got me thinking that there is still a lot of things to explore here that are so different from what we are used in Germany. That the explanation behind our special: The Campfire, inspired by the classic American S’more, a combination of Graham crackers, chocolate and toasted marshmallows. We translated it into an ice cream combo, but this is just one example.
Did you teach yourself ice cream making?
D: I had never worked in an ice cream shop before I started this business, so yes, I am self-taught when it comes to ice cream. However, I did attend a course to become a certified ice cream maker. In the beginning I had just the old family recipes to go by.
Knowing how you started, it must have been quite a journey from setting out til today. How has the ice cream you're producing changed?
D: The ice cream is constantly changing, and will continue to do so, because there will always be ways to make it even better than it is already.
More than just taste, there are so many parameters that you can improve on when making ice cream. For example, with texture or perceived temperature, you can do a lot to improve the mouthfeel. I’m sure that as long as I’m still making ice cream I’ll keep changing the recipe gradually, step by step. I think you can never stop learning, and there is always room for improvement.
When you develop flavors, do you rely solely on your taste buds or is there someone else who is also influencing your decisions?
D: Flavor development is definitely a team effort. I run all of my ideas by my store manager Victoria, because she is closely involved, and my wife has very sensitive taste buds, so she tastes and ‘approves’ any new ideas and products. Ultimately I decide what goes on sale to customers and what doesn’t, but they are always there acting as a compass for me, to see whether an idea is good or not.
For example, is there an idea you had that sounded great in your head, but did not work so well at the end once you tried it out?
D: Yes! Last year I wanted to make fried watermelon ice cream, and it was a disaster. (Chuckles) I had this great salad at a barbecue with friends and family that contained fried watermelon – it was a lovely combination of sweet, savory and smoky and I thought I have to make an ice cream out of it!
Sadly, it was a massive failure. The smoky aroma I got in the salad was great, especially at a barbecue, but sadly not so much in ice cream. It just didn’t work. (Laughs to himself)
Being born and raised in Berlin, how has the food scene here evolved in your opinion?
D: I feel that today the food scene is much more open, innovative, and daring than when I was growing up. In the good old, but somewhat secluded, West Berlin that rotated around its own belly button the usual suspects were everywhere: Yugoslavian, Turkish, Italian and traditional German restaurants were basically it.
The food change came in the 1990’s after the Berlin Wall came down; Berlin opened up and attracted a whole variety of different people from all over the globe, who brought their food culture with them. The city drew in so many young people, probably for the parties, but why not? They were great! It was when those young people decided to stay and infuse their cultures that we began to see food places influenced from all over the world.
Currently there is a wave of handmade, creative and high quality food. This is something that I very much see us to be a part of: producing quality soft serve with organic ingredients, topped off with a pinch of fun and and a little bit of madness.
Last but not least, as a native Berliner, what do you enjoy doing in the city?
D: It’s illegal – so I wouldn’t promote it. However, I used to love watching the sunrise from the rooftops, walking round the block over the roofs of the houses. It’s something that I haven’t enjoyed for years now, but wow – that’s great.
🍴What to expect here?
Come for: A break from a stroll around Hackerscher Markt
Stay for: The soft serve that brightens the rest of your day
Paul Möhring - Tradition und Wahnsinn
Oranienburger Straße 84, 10178 Berlin