One of my favorite aspects of exploring the culture of tea is researching and learning about different tea traditions worldwide. We've explored from the Caribbean to Norway, and now our tea pursuits are taking us to the beautiful country of Germany, where tea and cakes are beloved and famous. So, brew yourself a cup, treat yourself to a piece of cake (it is Friday, after all!), and come with us on a virtual trip across the world.
Home to many cakes that have gained notoriety around the globe, Germans covet time to relax with loved ones and enjoy conversation along with a helping of something sweet. Black Forest Cake, made from layers of chocolate cake and whipped cream. Cherries soaked in a cherry brandy as well as chocolate shavings for garnish all make up the signatures of this decadent teatime refreshment. There is also Gugelhupf, a simple sheet cake baked with sugar and butter, and then topped with almonds, fruit, streusel, or meringue. More generous in butter, but more conservative in sugar, German cakes distinguish themselves from the sweet offerings of the United States. And while we are on the subject, German Chocolate Cake is not actually German--it's actually American. It owes its namesake to the surname of the baker's chocolate that went into the first cake, made by a woman in Texas.
The Saxon world is populated with devout coffee lovers but you will see a definite evolution of tea love in certain regions of Germany. With origins in the 17th century, tea was sold as medicine and available at the local apothecary while it assimilated itself into the daily lives of Northern Germans in the 18th century, citing Hamburg and Bremen as two cities where tea flourished. In fact, a quarter of the tea imported into Germany is consumed in East Friesland where the proportion of tea drinkers is on par with that of England.
While the teatime spread in Germany mirrors that of England, however, the manner in which Germans prepare their tea is quite unique. First, a piece of sugar is dropped into the bottom of the teacup and then sweet cream is added to create that recognizable "cloud" in the cup. Stirring is a faux pas, however, as one is expected to experience all three taste sensations that this experience creates. Another fun fact? Tea served in cafes sometimes come with a timer so that steeping times can be accurately calculated.
We are enamored with the role tea plays in German everyday life. Teatime is a practical yet thoughtful affair full of comfort food and a sweetly delicious way to enjoy our favorite beverage. In a demanding world, German teatime is an age-old respite from the daily hustle and bustle.
In closing, consider this: If you choose to make a cup of tea in the German style with Tea Drops, you can leave that timer in the ktichen, where it will be put to great use tracking the minutes until that Black Forest Cake can be popped out of the oven and onto a plate. Yum!
Black Forest Cake
Makes: 1 cake
1 box dark chocolate or devil's food cake mix
1 TSPN red food coloring
1 TSPN pure vanilla extract
3 C heavy cream or whipping cream
1/3 C confectioner’s sugar
1/4 C Kirshwasser (Cherry Brandy)
1 container whipped icing
1 (21-ounce) can cherry pie filling
Maraschino cherries for garnishing
1 to 2 ounces shaved semisweet chocolate
Bake chocolate cake according to directions on your packaging, adding the food coloring and vanilla extract, and dividing the batter between two 9" cake pans. Allow finished cakes to cool before wrapping in parchment paper and chilling in refrigerator for 1 hour.
Whip heavy cream in electric mixer, combining with sugar.
Ensure that the cakes are chilled before slicing horizontally, creating the four layers of the cake.
Pour cherry brandy on first layer of the cake and then pipe a ring of whipped icing around the cake, filling with some of the cherry pie filling. Place the second layer on cake, piping icing around this one and filling in with cherry pie filling like the first. Repeat this for the third. Secure fourth layer and ice the entire cake. Garnish with chocolate shavings and dollop the top with whipped cream. Top whipped cream dollops with Maraschino cherries.
Recommendation for preparing chocolate shavings: use quality block of semi-sweet baker's chocolate that is chilled. Create chocolate shavings with a vegetable peeler.
Posted by Erin Schwartz