Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Baking like a German Housewife: Sauerkirschkuchen

The first thing I have to tell you about Germans is that they looove cake. I'm talking serious, let's get married and spend the rest of our lives together, love.

Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake) is to the Germans what afternoon tea is to the Brits. It's most common on the weekends when between 1 and 4 pm everyone around you seems to being settling in to a nice piece of cake and a steaming cup of coffee.

The art of baking cake is therefore highly revered and well...a necessary skill for any hausfrau or hausman to have under their belt. Many Germans frequent cafes and Konditoreien but the real love happens inside the home. That's where the magic happens.

I was initially shocked by how frequently cake is consumed in this country. Where I come from cakes are limited to birthdays, graduations and er...birthdays? I remember always wanting to bake cakes as a teenager but the response I always got from my mother was, "Who's going to eat it?"

That certainly isn't ever an issue in Germany.

Sauerkirschkuchen, or sour cherry cake pretty much sums up how Germans feel about cake. Cake isn't reserved for special occasions here, it's meant to be enjoyed daily. Therefore it's simple to make, not too sweet, and most of the ingredients you'll find lying around in the pantry. Sounds good, right?

Sour cherries tossed with melted butter

Sour cherries are very popular in Germany. Eaten with everything from waffles to ice cream, in my opinion they by far surpass their Maraschino counterparts. Sour cherries should be available in most large supermarkets but you could always substitute mixed berries.

The beauty of this cake lies in its simplicity. It reminds me of a giant blueberry pancake in the very best of ways- no maple syrup on this though! All it needs is just a light dusting of granulated sugar and a dollop of whipped cream. Guten Appetit!

Recipe modified from Dr. Oetker Backen Macht Freude

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Baking time: around 45 minutes

For the spring form pan:
1 T butter

For the filling/topping:
2 T butter
1 jar sour cherries (about 8-10 ounces)

For the dough:
1/2 cup plus 2 T soft (room temperature) butter
1/2 cup plus 2 T granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
3 medium eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1-2 tablespoons milk

1. Grease the spring form pan with butter and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Melt the butter for the topping in a small pan over medium heat. Drain the cherries and pat dry. Toss the cherries in the pot with the melted butter. Remove from heat and set aside
3. Using a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or hand mixer, cream the butter with the sugar. Add the vanilla extract and salt, beat until light in color.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until each egg is fully combined. Then whisk together the flour and baking powder. With the mixer running, add the dry mixture and milk in two portions. Alternate between the two. 
5. Spoon the batter into the prepared springform pan and scatter the cherries in an even layer. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 45 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.

The Start of Something New

Guten Tag! 

My name is Carly and I am an American woman living and working in Germany. Among other things though, I like to cook, bake and eat.

It has to be said though: German food has something of a bad rap.

Coming from California I tend to gravitate towards light, flavorful dishes- maybe with a bit of avocado thrown in :)  In general, traditional German cuisine is stick-to-your-ribs fare, with meat and potatoes making regular appearances.

There is, however, a lighter side of German cooking. Delicate technique and complex flavor profiles have modernized rustic country cooking and now provide that quintessential German profile.

I think that one of the best ways to experience a new culture is to experience it through its food. Which is something that I plan to explore on this blog. Every week I will cook or bake a traditional German dish or pastry. Some weeks I might try and lighten the dish, I may substitute ingredients, or I could simply leave it alone. This is a learning process. For me, and hopefully for you too!

All the recipes I use will be written originally in German (I've got to stay authentic here!)  I will translate them into English for you here and perhaps teach you a thing or two about the German language, but certainly about the food!

Here's to a new adventure!  (and Spring!)