German Baking Today, 304 pp.
by Dr Oetker
Dr Oetker Verlag, Bielefeld Germany, 2003
Cooking on page 32
I have two cookbooks by Dr Oetker—this one and German Cooking Today. Both were gifts from former German exchange students who are very special to us.
This cookbook is loaded with delicious temptations. This recipe starts on page 32 and spills over, just a bit, to page 33. There is no photo. Page 132 has a recipe for a ‘typical Saxon cake’, and page 232 has the introduction to the chapter on Christmas pastry. Page 234 has a recipe for Christmas stars. Very tempting.
Guess I’ll be revisiting this book.
Preparation time: 80 minutes, excluding cooling time
Baking time: 8 minutes per layer
Needs: 26 cm springform tin, baking parchment, some fat
For the cake mixture:
250 g/9 oz (1 1/4 cup) soft butter or margarine
250 g/9 oz (1 1/8 cup) sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar (or 2–3 drops of vanilla essence or 1–2 tablespoons sugar)
1 pinch salt
4 medium eggs
200 g/7 oz (1 3/4 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
50 g/2 oz (1/2 cup) cornflour (cornstartch)
1 level teaspoon baking powder
For the butter cream:
45 g/1 1/2 oz (4 1/2 tablespoons) chocolate-flavoured custard powder
500 ml/17 fl oz (2 1/4 cups) milk
250 g/9 oz (1 1/4 cups) soft butter
For the chocolate coating:
200g/7 oz plain chocolate
2 teaspoons cooking oil
Preheat the oven (180°C/350°F). Grease the base of the springform tin and line it with parchment.
To make the cake mixture, work the softened butter or margarine with a hand mixer with whisk until it becomes smooth and homogenous. Gradually add the sugar, vanilla sugar and salt. Continue mixing until the mixture thickens. Add 1 egg at a time, whisking each egg for about 1/2 minute at the highest setting.
Mix together the flour, cornflour and baking powder, sift and add to butter or margarine and egg mixture is two stages, briefly stirring with the mixer at the medium setting. Now bake 7–8 layers as follows. For each layer, take 3 generous tablespoons of cake mixture and coat the base of the springform tin, making sure that the layer is ot too thin at the edges or it may become too dark. Bake each layer on the base of the springform tin, without the ring, on a shelf in the oven until light brown. Repeat until all the layers have been made. (There’s a note here to remind you that each layer should bake for 8 minutes and to say that temperatures in a fan-forced oven should be lowered to 160°C/325°F.)
Remove each layer immediately from the base and put on a rack to cool down separately, then remove the baking parchment.
To make the butter cream, make the custard following the instructions on the tin, but with the addition of 100 g/3 1/2 oz (1/2 cup) sugar. Let the custard cool down but do not refrigerate, stirring occasionally. Stir the softened butter or margarine with a hand mixer with whisk until it becomes smooth and homogenous. Then stir the cooled custard, a tablespoonful at a time, into the softened butter, making sure that the butter and custard are both at room temperature because the butter cream may curdle otherwise. Spread each layer with butter cream and assemble to make a gateau, the top consisting of a layer with butter cream (but of course, you can’t finish with butter cream on top!).
To make the chocolate coating, coarsely chop the chocolate and melt with oil in a bain-marie over low heat, stirring all the time. Pour the chocolate coating on the cake in the middle and let it spread evenly all over the top and sides by ‘moving’ the cake. If necessary, use a knife to smooth out the chocolate coating along the sides. In order to have an even top surface for the chocolate coating, first ‘flatten’ it on a board. (Flatten what? and how?) Allow the coating to set and refrigerate the gateau until serving.
How it played out
First off, I have to say some of the instructions are like double-Dutch. Perhaps the problems lie in the translation. An inexperienced cook might falter on this recipe.
Fortunately, Libby and Daniel, one of my daughters and her boyfriend (now husband, and you can read about that here), took up the challenge to make this cake. And what a challenge it was.
They both agreed it wasn’t too hard to make, but it took all afternoon. So don’t be fooled by the indication that it will take 80 minutes.
Lib and Daniel pretty much followed the instructions—except that we didn’t have chocolate-flavoured custard powder. Libby mixed up a version using 3 tablespoons of plain custard powder, plus 1 tablespoon of baking cocoa.
We also didn’t have a 26-cm springform pan. I own one, but couldn’t find it anywhere. Secretly, I think Libby borrowed it and has now ‘moved’ it to Sydney.
But leaving that aside, the layers were cooked on the base of a 22-cm springform pan. She points out, and rightly so, that cooking time would be streamlined if we’d had two 26-cm pans.
That said, Libby reckons it would be impossible to get 7–8 layers on a 26-cm pan. She made only 6 layers on the smaller base. And each layer was a nice thickness.
Once all the layers were cooked, the assembly was a breeze.
Libby dashed out to see a friend, so Daniel was stuck with the chocolate coating. Applying the coating was a bit of a wrestling match. ‘Rotating’ the cake didn’t seem to do the job, so Daniel used a palette knife to urge/ooze/coax the coating around the top and sides. He thought it was much easier to scoop the icing up from the plate, than down from the top.
All in all, the end result was a success. It went off to another house as a birthday cake, with Happy Birthday written in white icing and in Swedish!
We got some of the leftovers, and thoroughly enjoyed them. The birthday recipient was mightily impressed, but the bottom line is that Libby thinks the cake is best made for special occasions. ‘It’s all about the presentation,’ she says. She’s the family baker and she has plenty of cake recipes that are faster and more delicious, just not as showy.
Personally, I will be eternally grateful that she and Daniel got this recipe out of the way for me. Thanks so much to you both!
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