I'll be brief, because the smell of baking sweetness is making me dizzy here. I have to slip away and savour a slice while you meet this week's guest chef. I'll hand over my toque to Angela–we call her Geli–and let her tell you of her beautiful German island and her everyday adventures. Pop over to her lovely blog Letters from Usedom to read more of her wonderful stories on the intelligent and witty children she teaches, her love for education, her passion for gardening, nature and... Kuchen!
Geli, the kitchen is yours.
My lovely friend Lola sticks her head through my kitchen door. “What cake are you baking today?” She is always drawn by the smell. Lola likes to visit me in my kitchen, and I am always happy to welcome her. If there is one who can appreciate good food–the making, the looks, the taste, the presentation–there is no one like Lola! Her blog is an adventure for the palate and the eyes, and even I–not one for garlic–am overwhelmed by the wish to sit at Lola's kitchen table and share a plate with her of ANYTHING she has to offer!
My own joy lies in the baking of cakes. In Germany, it is a nice custom to invite friends over for afternoon coffee and have some home-baked cake to present.
“Look, I made a Pflaumenkuchen today, late September is the time of the ripe plums!” This is my husband's favourite cake, made with a yeast dough. Do you know how to make a yeast dough? Some are afraid to try it because it involves some time, but actually it is the most adaptable and easy-to-make dough.
Before I continue chatting I must tell you that Lola is also not here personally. We can only visit each other virtually, but by visiting each other's blogs and then starting to e-mail and sending pictures, we have become good friends, although she lives about 2000 km away from me in Rome, while I live in the far North-East corner of Germany, right next to the Polish border. Our island is situated in the beautiful Baltic Sea and is called Usedom (pronounced oo-za-dom).
If you had come to visit me in July, I could have offered you an angel-food cake, filled with whipped cream and my own garden-grown strawberries.
Or in winter, when snow is lying on the ground and you have to take off your boots and scarf and mittens before sitting down by the fireside, I would treat you with my favourite chocolate cake, along with a mug of hot chocolate.
The recipe for that one you can find on my blog post Chocolate and other cakes.
When my blog friend Fire Byrd visited me last month, she sat in our beach basket and enjoyed a piece. Paco was counting every bite!
Now, in the fall, my family also likes apple cake, which I make of a short pastry, filled with soft-cooked apples, and covered with a grating of pastry, and after baking, with an icing of powdered sugar and lemon juice.
But today it is Pflaumenkuchen, plum cake. Here you can see how it looks when waiting to be eaten. Of course, when you invite guests, they will look at you expectantly to see if you also provided for some whipped cream! Pflaumenkuchen und Schlagsahne, that's just unbeatable!
Here comes the recipe:
20 g yeast
1 teaspoon of sugar
250 ml (1 1/4 cup) lukewarm milk
400 to 500 grams (2 to 2 1/2 cups) of wheat flour, depending on stickiness of dough
75 g (2.6 oz) sugar
3 tablespoons oil, or 50 grams (1/4 cup) of soft butter,
A pinch of salt and some cinnamon, some powdered sugar if you like.
Put the teaspoon of sugar, 2/3 of the flour and 5 tablespoons of milk in a bowl. Then add yeast and stir together. Cover with a cloth and let rise at a moderately warm place for half an hour. Then add the rest of the ingredients. Stir with a spoon or work with your hands. Add flour if necessary but not too much. Dough must remain soft. After having kneaded it thoroughly, cover again and let it rise double its volume. Try if it is sweet enough for your taste.
Spread it on a greased baking tray.
Now prepare the plums (you may also use peeled and sliced apples). Remove the pits and cut in halves. Then put them closely onto pastry, insides up. If you skimp on the quantity of plums, it will show later because the dough will continue to rise and there will be uneven, empty spaces!
When you are finished, put the tray in a warm place again (the oven at 50° C) and wait till the dough has become soft and fully risen.
Now put a heat-proof dish with water inside the oven, underneath the tray, and heat it up thoroughly (220° C). The water will create clouds which will cover the cake and make it soft.
After ten minutes open the oven door so the steam can escape, then remove the heat to moderate temperatures (170 °C) and bake for further 15 or 20 minutes.
When the pastry is well done, remove tray with mittens onto a wooden plate or a cloth, let it cool.
Only AFTER fully cooled, add sugar or icing. If you do it before baking, or right afterwards, the plums will draw too much juice, and the cake will become too soggy.
Now, please sit down and put on your napkins!
Thank you for participating, Geli!