An entry of Yoggis Hausmannskost – Yoggi’s Plain Cooking Series
To great hilarity, my husband put together bits of two sentences he had half heard and that is how the cake came to be known as Eva Ohne Sahne (Eva Without Cream).
We were at Yoggi’s birthday party and said cake was a gift from Eva (who wasn’t present). She had made it with cream and Yoggi was describing a cream substitute he would use. The latter was the variation we ended up making in one of our culinary sessions.
German cakes are wonderful. The combination of Berlin’s terrific cafe culture and eight months of cold to freezing weather served up the perfect excuse for Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake) any time of the day.
One of the first cakes I sampled was Germany’s arguably most famous cream-filled multi-layered cake, the Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (black forest cake). The Kitchen Project and German Wikipedia have entertaining histories of the fine dessert.
Trivia includes how the Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte was named, not after the Black Forest geographical region, but its specialist cherry liquor which defines its taste. Then in the 1930s, the cake somehow became synonymous with Berlin.
I never learned to bake it because Yoggi baulked at the complexity of making this or any other torte. (He did later brave his first torte for my birthday, the sweetheart.)
Cherries are among fruits such as apples, plums, apricots and strawberries featured in the popular German cake called the Obtstorte (fruit tortes).
Interestingly, rhubarb is also common, usually in Streusel (crumbles), whilst the almond-and-honey custard cake Bienenstich (literally, ‘bee’s sting’) became a favourite of mine.
A memorably delicious and rare cake we only sampled twice was a spinach cake (Ispanakli Kek), which we chanced upon in Turkish cafes.
Back to Eva Ohne Sahne, Yoggi’s cream substitute was the healthier Quark. Quark is German for ‘curd’ which, together with ‘whey’, I only ever knew as mysterious but unquestioned words in the Little Miss Muffet nursery rhyme.
(Come to think of it, I never wondered what exactly a ‘tuffet’ was either, other than as a rhyming tool.)
Quark is basically the lumps in cottage cheese, which is in turn made from skim milk. A regular of German diets, Quark is one of the bewildering multitude of milk products on supermarket shelves.
When Quark is not available, Yoggi suggests an alternative of cream cheese and yoghurt.
Recipe: A Cake Called Eva Ohne Sahne
(A Cake Called Eva Without Cream)
200g margarine – room temperature
1 packet baking powder ( 14g)
750 g Quark (curd) < 20% fat (or substitute – cream cheese and yoghurt)
1 packet cooking vanilla powder (23g)
200g canned mandarin slices – drain
200g dessicated coconut
Margarine and breadcrumbs to line the pan
1. Sift the flour and baking powder together.
2. Line a rectangular baking pan with butter, add thin layer of breadcrumbs.
3. Beat A. Make a first layer in the pan, smoothen evenly.
4. Beat B. Add as second layer on top of first layer.
5. Cover the layers with C.
6. Mix D. Add this to the layers as the top layer.
7. Bake in oven at 160 deg C for 35 min (till the top is brown).
This is part of my series on Yoggis Hausmannskost (Yoggi’s Plain Cooking), a collection of German recipes and associated thoughts. The recipes are those of my dear friend and great cook, Yoggi. Our cooking sessions – and long chats – were instrumental in my picking up and practising German and German culture.