When most people think of German cake, I think black forest cake is probably top of the list. Creamy and choclatey with the extra kick of coffee and sour cherries. But all that rich creamy layered gateau kind of thing always seemed (to me, anyway) very southern. Something that belonged in Bavaria, or maybe over the border into Austria and Switzerland.
In my household, things were different. The Germans who were part of the immigrant group my mother was part of were largely northern. A bit more austerely Protestant, perhaps (except for that northern German tendency to being completely unfussed about naked skin, and a tendency to not realise that in Geelong in the 60s, sheisse (shit) really was a swear word, especially when a woman said it).
But some things were sacrosanct. When our kaffeeklatsch convened, there was cake, cream and coffee aplenty – and a positive roar of chatter – but not a black forest cake in sight.
There were three kinds of cake you could reliably expect to be present, though there were usually others as well. A gugelhupf of some kind, a colourful fruit flan on a shortcrust base, and most prized of all (in my eyes, at least) was the kind of cake I’m cooking today: streuselkuchen – a soft, yeasted base with fruit on top, and then streusel (like a crumble topping) on top.
There was a seasonal variation where the yeasted base was topped with fresh plums, which was stunning. My aunt-by-affection Helga made the best of these I’ve ever had.
The streuselkuchen could also come with extra streusel but no fruit at all. It was revered for its simple, classic state (though secretly, I disapproved). My favourite had apple. That bit of tartness seemed perfect.
I’ve never made many of these. As a kid, my part was usually the shortcrust fruit flan with the clear glaze on top (courtesy of Dr Oetker, of course).
But the time came for me to give it a go. I went with blueberries, and it was really good, but apple is still better, at least in my memory.
Any of them are brilliant eaten hot out of the oven with icecream.
Put in a bowl:
I cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
7g dry yeast
Heat in a saucepan until hot but not boiling:
3/4 cup of milk
Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and beat for two minutes (I used a hand mixer at this stage).
Add I cup of flour and 1 egg, and beat (I switched to a wooden spoon at this stage) until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Turn onto a heavily floured board and get it to a kneadable state. Still soft, but firm enough.
Roll it out gently and place it in your chosen tray. Put it somewhere warm and allow it to double, about 1½- 2 hours.
1/4 cup cugar
1/4 cup soft brown sugar (packed down)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup flour
115g butter, cut into small pieces.
Use your fingers and mix the butter into the other ingredients, until it is well mixed and forms small balls.
Heat oven to 175C
Top the base with a good layer of your chosen fruit (mine was blueberries). Top with streusel. You can certainly choose to have more streusel on top, but for me the ideal is the fruit peeking through.
Bake for 45 minutes.
Verdict: yeasty and delicious.