Thursday, 6 May 2010

Apple And The Pips

Recently, while travelling to cake land (aka bread heaven) and back, dodging volcanic ash and convincing my mum of my baking skills, I inadvertently entered a parallel universe. One where cakes are secrets and apples do magic.

Item 1: the curious incident of the forbidden photo

I have been travelling internationally for too long as not to appreciate airport food that makes my heart and tongue go ‘wheee!’. Some German airports (dreary, clinical affairs with high security like anywhere else in the world) have a little oasis in the form of Moevenpick cafes: latte macchiato, fruit tartlets, proper sandwiches (crusty bread and aromatic cheese), freshly pressed fruit juice… you hanker for it, they have it.

Generous being that I am, I wanted to share the visual wow with my faithful blog readers, hence pointed my camera and clicked – only to be told off by staff – twice in different cafes! I could not help but ask for the reason. You guess: was it

     a) an airport security measure;

     b) the protection of trademark cake concepts; or

     c) the rule that photos of employees
         must not be circulated without their permission?

Leave a comment. He/she who is the first to guess correctly wins.

Item 2: The book

Apples and their pips feature in a wonderful book which, alas, is not yet available in English translation: Katharina Hagena’s Der Geschmack von Apfelkernen. In fact, I wonder whether it is possible to translate it. Sure, you’d get the plot: twenty-something librarian inherits her grandmother’s house in northern Germany and tells her family’s history, in all its mundane and wonderful parts, while reminiscing about a tragedy that hit her cousin when they were both teenagers. You would also pick up on the suspense, seeing as the circumstances of each character’s fate and background are only revealed as the present-day plot (involving a steamy love affair) move along. But what you might miss out on reading this in any other language than the German original, or indeed if you do not know Germany, is the acute, almost invasive observation of the sensations that come and go with the seasons, the consummation of food and the flavours of individual lives. The title of the book, ‘the taste of apple pips’, captures the bitter, or rather indescribable, unique taste of hidden things. Go, learn German, read the book! 

Item 3: The Cake (aka Ther Cake, as in Winnie Ther Pooh)

This cake, the piece de yum at a recent brunch of mine, combines apples and cakes. I nicked the recipe from Food52, but customised it (less sweet, more bite). It is absolute perfection. Try it if you don’t believe me!

Apple meringue cake 

Preheat oven to 170C/350F/gas mark 3.5, and prepare a round tin (26cm diameter) or an equivalent square-ish one (do the math, as they say).

2 large egg whites
1/2 cup brown sugar             Make a meringue mass and set aside.

1/2 cup unsalted soft butter
3/4 cup brown sugar             mix together, whisking like mad, then add
 2 egg yolks.

                                             Now stir together the dry ingredients:
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves            and add them together with
2 large, grated apples            into the sugar-butter. Finally stir in

1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts
1/3 cup raisins

Put all of this into the tin, then pour the meringue mass on top and bake the whole thing for ca. 45 minutes. If the meringue goes dark too soon, cover with some parchment paper or foil, so it can bake to perfection without being scorched.

Ain't that heaven on a cake fork?

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