Friday, August 7, 2009

Torten und Kuchen, II

Last night was the last session of the baking classes I have been taking... We didn't actually bake so much last night because we had already made the cake and now needed to assemble the tortes...Below is an example of Frankfurter Kranz, Frankfurt Wreath, a traditional German torte. (note: this picture is our portion of the cake we took home! AHHH!)
Below: Michael stirring chocolate...they told us that at Lindt they stir their chocolate 24 hours! :)

First up: we made omlettes: with a sponge cake recipe we baked thin rounds, then filled them with cream and fruit.Below: an omlette

The finished Zwetschkenkuchen (which will be named differently depending on your region, but Zwetschken is the southern German word for this kind of plum, a bit more narrow than a round plum).
Below is the Bäckermeister, our instructor. For the really tricky things he showed us how it's done...which maybe isn't the best way to learn how to do something, but I think it helps to see once the good technique and he explains a million different tricks and tips while he goes.
As we all stood around him, mesmerized by the patterns created by the cream as his expert hand pushed it out of the bag and onto the torte, I couldn't help but think of this recent article I read by Michael Pollan, about how we love to watch people cook. It really was like watching a show, it's such an art to be able to make pastries and cakes this beautiful.
Below: Frankfurter Kranz
Below: Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, Black Forest Cake
Below: Ananas-Sahne Torte, pineapple cream torte
Below: the fridge in the community ed kitchen when we had finished all the cakes! Clean-up time!
Then we divided up the finished product and came home with waaaay too much torte! Everyone said they had invited friends over for the next day, knowing they would have leftovers!
And I can't believe it, but I don't have a picture of the Mozart-Torte! With layers of chocolate cake, cream, nut-nougat, pistachios on the sides, topped with a layer of Marzipan and then Chocolate...mmm!

politisches Kabarett

We went to a political cabaret on Karl-Marx-Allee, the former Stalin-Allee of the DDR. It was a really fun experience, three really talented actresses did the whole thing, with a mix of songs and skits thematizing various contemporary political issues: the German school system, immigration and politics, military spending, elitist tax evasion, US relations, East- and West-German relations... The title was "Deutschland peinlich Vaterland" (peinlich = embarassing) Really funny and at times really scathing satire.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Kuchen und Torten, I

Last night was the first night of the second session of the baking class...we moved on from "breads" to "Kuchen und Torten"...cakes and pastries and tortes.
In our overly-ambitious program for last night we made about five or six different items... We made a yeast dough which was used for the "Streuselschnecken" (small round pastries), and for Gugelhupf, and then we made Biskuitteig (sponge cake) which is used for the cake rolls and for layered cakes. We had to already start making some cake for next week, when we make layers.

Gugelhupf (the lower picture above) is a very traditional kind of German cake. We call a similar cake pan in the US "Bundt" which is a stepchild of the German cake. Traditionally Gugelhupf has a soft yeast dough, raisins which have been soaked in rum, and almonds.

In the top picture you can see the Streuselschnecken, which is a round yeast dough, sprinkled with "Streusel"...we made three kinds: once with chocolate streusel, once regular, and once with a brittle topping of almonds cooked with honey, butter and sugar. They are filled with Creme, which is a butter cream we made ourselves...intense process but sooo lecker!