Monday, June 17, 2013
Sampling the Splendid Cakes of Germany and Austria
This is a slice of mohen torte, poppyseed cake with a almond buttercream frosting and toasted flaked almond topping. The four layers of cake sandwiched with buttercream was well done. I ate it at the Jewish Museum in Berlin, while admiring the formal garden through the sliding glass doors of the glasses in atrium. All the cakes in the restaurant here were worthy, properly made Central European, treats.
I also had a slice of excellent Sacher torte at the Neues Museum. The baker has successfully flavored the cake with alcohol, perhaps kirsch, I couldn't tell, and the cake, with only two layers and sandwiched with ganache, was moist. For my taste, there should have been more apricot jam along with the ganache, or else under the layer of poured chocolate frosting.
And I had excellent apple and plum strudel, properly served with vanilla sauce and whipped cream, in Cafe Gloria, near Karlplatz in Munich. In other places, the cakes have been underwhelming.
One of my goals in Salzburg, naturally, is to try both strudel and Sacher torte.
And, assuming I make it to Baden Baden, after Salzburg and before crossing into France, I will seek out properly made Black Forest Cherry Cake.
Several years ago I learned to make both Sacher and Black Forest Cherry cake from an Austrian pastry chef, so I know what it's supposed to look and taste like. I can feel him hovering over my shoulder as I take that first bite. He was fussy so that's why i am the same way. It was a gift to have someone like that as a teacher.
The one thing I never learned to do was to construct the cake on an initial biscuit, almost cracker-like base layer. I think pastry chefs here do that so the cake holds up to life in the refrigerated cake cabinet.
When these cakes are properly made they are exquisite. When poorly made you may as well throw them out as the calories consumed aren't worth it.
I've seen a lot of nonsense online about "the best" cakes and where to find them. The worst of these are people who claim they make the best apple strudel, with filo. Now, I like strudel made this way, but it's not Austrian in the least. I have yet to master stretching the dough on a small tablecloth and wrapping the filling. But I plan to see if anyone in Salzsburg is doing it correctly. And eating it with appreciation, of course.