The Great German-American Baking Show
My memories of spending time with my grandmother, or even my great-grandparents, revolve around food. My grandmother was a chef, my grandfather was a chef, my brother’s the chef, and my mother was a great cook. Since her passing in 2012, I've taken up the torch. At least once every two weeks I make an elaborate German inspired meal, be that bratwurst, rouladen, sauerbraten, or schnitzel. This last weekend was no exception. I took on the three hour project of constructing a 20 layer German Schichttorte. The ingredients weren’t cheap, so the pressure was on to make sure that instructions were followed to a tee.
To build a 20 layer cake, I needed make sure at least three minutes of time under the broiler was provided for each layer. In addition, I needed to add time to cool the cake, glaze the cake with rum-infused apricot jam, and finally drizzle on the chocolate ganache icing. And even after some refrigeration, I had to then wait until the glaze cooled enough to add the white stripes. It was quite a project, but I had a lot of fun and was rather proud of myself endeavor was completed.
The ingredients I had to purchase were golden syrup, vanilla bean paste, a dozen organic farm fresh eggs, Baker's chocolate, caster sugar, and unsalted butter. The recipe also called for rum, but we have a cupboard full of alcohol on hand for such occasions so I saved money there. Each layer was ladled into a springform pan lined with parchment paper and placed under the broiler for no longer than 2 minutes each.
The time in the oven was important because each layer needed to be baked at a slightly different time so the color of each layer would stand out from the previous and succeeding layers. The dough itself was made up of 12 eggs, unsalted butter, vanilla paste butter, flour and caster sugar. The eggs were beaten separately; the yokes into a creamy substance before being poured into the flour mixture. The egg whites were beaten until they held stiff peaks and were then folded into the batter. This was the only leavening agent in the cake.
It took at least an hour to get all the crêpe layers situated one on top of the other. Of course, the best part of the cake was eating it. My husband and his friend and I sat and ate a small piece to start with, followed by a second small piece, and then followed by a rather large one. Within a very short time the cake had completely disappeared, but we were the better for it. One of the things we noticed was how important good fresh whipped cream can be to the taste of this deliciously decadent cake. So my advice is don't even try this unless you have some extra money and time. It's also helpful to have some extra friends to help you eat it, because once you start, you won't be able to stop!