Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Just add water

Pinch me please, I'm in shock!

The Germans LOVE cake. Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake) seems to be part of the national psyche, and no wonder, the cake here is good. Now I know other countries all do good cake (with the exception of Blighty that is, where decent cake is pretty hard to come by whether in a cafe or a bakers) but in Germany the variety of cake that can be bought in a bakers or in a coffee shop has to be seen to be believed. It's not unusual for a cafe to have a cake counter that is two metres long and one metre deep, a trip to the cafe for K&K usually requires two cups of coffee, one to drink whilst pondering the choice of cake and the second to drink with the eventual choice of said cake.

So imagine my shock when number one son informed me that "Germans don't make cakes (at home) from scratch."

This conversation came about because I was bemoaning my inability to make a decent sponge cake with the ingredients I have readily available here. Back in England a victoria sponge can be thrown together in a matter of moments from the flour, butter, eggs and sugar that you would normally have in the house. But here the supermarkets don't stock self-raising flour, if you intend to make a nice fluffy, airy sponge then you have to plan ahead and get the self raising flour from one of the Asian supermarkets because although you can use the plain flour from normal supermarkets and add in a raising agent it just doesn't work like it ought to...

I'd forgotten this when I had to make a birthday cake for Simon and despite the amount of 'Backin' that I added to the plain flour, my sponge stayed stubbornly unrisen and was a HUGE disappointment to me.

Ben has come home from school a couple of times and declared that he has to take cake into school - this is usually a punishment for forgetting homework. I have always refused to provide cake on such occasions, how does it punish the child if I'm the one having to beat butter and sugar together and then add the eggs and flour? I'd be the one spending the hour in the kitchen. But if all the German kids have to do is go to the cupboard, take out a packet of Dr. Oetker cake mix add water & maybe an egg*, throw it in the oven then bish bash bosh (à la Jamie) it's done.

I didn't believe my son (sorry Ben) I couldn't believe that a nation of cake lovers, nay, worshippers would stoop to such depths (although it would explain the variety of ready cake mix packets on the supermarket shelves and the lack of decent flour on the same shelves) And so I did what I always do in such situations, I asked the font of all knowledge, my German teacher. And she gleefully confirmed that what Ben had said was true. Germans don't (in general) bake cakes from scratch.

I don't think I've recovered from the shock yet!

* I'm guessing here, as you may realise - if I need a cake I'll make one, following Delia's perfect instructions - or I'll buy some fancy schmancy thing from the bakers.

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