samedi 22 octobre 2011

Seven days

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In seven days, the sky turned from deepest grey to the lightest blue. Through my parents' visit, I rediscovered the joys of seeing Berlin with fresh eyes, returning to places half forgotten or which somehow fade into the background of everyday life.The heavy drizzle the first day left us cold and wet and after sighing at the enormous queue, the idea of a visit to the Pergammon museum was abandoned and we did what any sane person would; head for Marzipantorte and a large cup of coffee in the plush salon of the (soon to close - sob!) Opernpalais. The whimsical delights of an afternoon screening of Midnight in Paris left me humming Cole Porter and wanting to re-read a Moveable Feast. Some mornings there were a breakfasts of scrambled eggs with chives, dark bread with quark and mini Windbeautel or cream puffs with a view towards Alexanderplatz and the TV Tower with its disco ball. I discovered that from the top of that the trains look like something from a model railway set and the city glides by over lunch as the restaurant turns. There was the pleasure of afternoon tea at Café Einstein where the waiters wear long aprons and the sunlight filters in through half closed blinds. A large portion of borscht at Datcha followed by a warm blini with almond quark and cherries made the perfect autumn dinner. I got used to cooking in the evenings for them, making large pots of pumpkin, cauliflower and tomato soup, with plum crumble or Zupfkuchen for dessert. One of the best things about having visitors is the pleasure of preparing a breakfast table crammed with the most delicious things; fresh rolls, quark, apple and cherry juice, goats' cheese, cheddar, large bowls of porridge and of course, a cake (see below). In the evenings we'd move to the red sofa in the living room with candlelight to watch a Woody Allen film. It was all over much too quickly, and exactly seven days later I found myself once again at Schönefeld saying goodbye. Even if the UK is only a couple of hours away by plane, I'm envious of Berliners who can visit their families on Sundays and wished it could have been one week earlier, even if it would have meant exchanging sunshine for rain. The city seemed somehow emptier when I got back, in spite of the autumn glow that strange, hollow feeling washed over me knowing that I would only be cooking for myself that night. Luckily there was still cake, one with quark, streusel and apples from my parents' garden, the bramley ones that give you stomach ache and are only suitable for cooking. I thought of my dad, making masses of stewed apple from them, of my mum's apple pie with single cream, of the blossom on the tree in the spring and felt glad that at least a part of Derbyshire was in my kitchen.

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Early morning at Senefelderplatz

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Statue of a socialist worker near Alex

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At Schloss
park Charlottenburg

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At the Russian memorial on Straße des 17.Juni

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The TV Tower and the view from the top

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Cheesecake and Sachertorte at Café Einstein

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The Jewish memorial

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Apple quark Streselkuchen (from Heimwehküche Backen)

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For a 26cm springform tin


280g all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
125g cold butter, cubed, plus some more for greasing the tin
80g sugar
a pinch of salt
1 large egg


1 kg cooking apples (or non sweet ones like russets)
100g sugar
1 cinnamon stick
250g low fat quark/fromage blanc/curd cheese
2 egg yolks
50g cornflour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1. To make the dough, sift 250g of the flour and baking powder together into a large bowl. Add the cubes of butter, the sugar, salt and the egg and mix together (you can also do this in a food processor but I find it more satisfying by hand).
2. Grease the springform tin. Take two thirds of the dough and flatten it with the palm of your hand and your fingers to create a base and sides for the cake. Prick with a fork.
3. To make the filling, peel and quarter the apples, discarding the pips. Place the apple quarters, 150ml water, 50g sugar and the cinnamon stick in a saucepan and cook over a low heat for a few minutes until softened but not mushy. Drain the apples and save the cooking juice.
4. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Whisk together the quark with the remaining sugar, the egg yolks and cornflour. Add in 4 tsp cooking juice and mix again. Pour the quark onto the streusel base and scatter the apples evenly over it.
5. To finish, mix the remaining 30g of flour and the cinnamon into the remaining stresel mixture in the bowl until you have large pieces of crumble. Sprinkle over the quark and apples.
6. Bake for 35-45 minutes until golden.

19 commentaires:

  1. Lovely post. It all sounds wonderful and delicious. So sad when family leaves...the last piece of cake is always a comfort (although sometimes eaten with tears).

  2. Another lovely post! I always love your pictures and how moody they are. Great places, monuments and amazing cakes. *drool*



  3. Ah, how right you are about the breakfast table when guests are about. I miss that. I loved the photographs & descriptions, as always, EV.


  4. Que j'aimerai prendre le petit déjeuner chez toi avec toutes ces bonnes choses réunies sur la table ! C'est tellement agréable de partager ce moment entre amis ou en famille... pas étonnant que tu ressentes désormais un vide. Et heureusement qu'il te reste des pommes pour trouver un peu de réconfort :-) D'ailleurs c'est drôle car j'ai lu ton billet en mangeant la compote faite avec les pommes de mon jardin... Elles ont maintenant un petit goût de Derbyshire elles aussi ! Bises et bon week-end à toi !

  5. I know the feeling; my family coming over from Greece, having such a great time, rediscovering (much like you) the beauty of the city I now live in, and then, in a blink of an eye, they leave. There's an emptiness there. Sunday lunch was always a date between me and my family and these past 4 years I miss that the most.
    Wonderful photographs Emily Vanessa and I love your new banner!

  6. @Catherine - Ah, how right you are about the tearfulness over cake, but still it's definitely a comfort. Thanks so much for your comment.
    @Rosa - I think we're both drawn to atmospheric photos and I so love the ones on your blog too so thanks.
    @Susan - There's something wonderful about preparing all those goodies so early in the morning, going out to get fresh bread and making tea. Hopefully they'll come back soon. Take care.
    @Julia - Oui, c'est drôle ça, surtout parce que je pensais à ton billet sur des pommes pendant la préparation du gâteau! Nos pensées se croisent.
    @Dzoli - Thanks a lot!
    @Magda - I know how hard it must be for you too, living as an expat but that's the choice we have to make and it's sometimes hard. Sunday lunch is also a special time and I can imagine how delicious all the food must have been. It's these little things that count the most. So glad you like the new banner, I wanted to give a blog a fresher look.

  7. This post is lovely. It has inspired me to fill the kitchen table with more than just coffee and english muffins this morning.

  8. Stopping by again to say...Thank you so much!

  9. Have I ever mentioned how much I love yor blog?
    It makes me miss Berlin even more.

    I just made your lovely streuselkuchen, I believe you forgot to write "add sugar" in the first step. :)

  10. @Tracy - I'm sure your breakfast table is simply wonderful. English muffins sound a perfect addition so thanks for the tip - I'm thinking eggs benedict maybe.
    @Catherine - You're welcome and I'm so pleased for you :-)
    @Emma - Oh thanks, it's so nice to hear that. I'm flattered you made my cake and thanks for pointing that out about the missing sugar. It's very important and I've now corrected the recipe.

  11. So true that you see your city with new eyes when showing company around. But then, I've always thought your photographic eyes see everything, Vanessa! :)
    What a lovely visit, rain aside. Movies, food, family, love! I bet the 7 days just flew by. It's such fun to fill the breakfast table with things you don't normally make, isn't it? What a marvelous looking apple coffeecake.
    And that cheesecake from Café Einstein! Oh my!

  12. Your parents seem such wonderful companions. What fun. I'm quite curious about your cauliflower soup. I wish I could try a bowl.

  13. I'm glad you had such a nice time with your parents...I know what you mean about wishing you could spend Sunday afternoons together. xo

  14. I know how you feel, I miss family terribly, and I wish they weren't on the other side of the world. But it sounds like your parents had a great visit.

  15. @Barbara - If only I could capture everything Barbara, but you're right that I certainly do my best. Of course it'S a good sign that the time went so fast because it shows how much we enjoyed being together and I'm already looking forward to the next visit. That cheesecake has to be one of the best I've tasted and I'm sure you'd love it.
    @Denise - I always worry about how things will work out before visitors come but everything was so easy and fun. That cauliflower soup is a favourite of mine and so easy. I promise to post the recipe soon so you too can enjoy it.
    @Lecia - Yes, Sunday afternoon is a magical time. Luckily I can look at your blog if I'm missing the comforts of home.
    @Hila - Lots of us have those experiences and compared to the distance you have to travel to see your family, I definitely can't complain. But somehow it'S nice to think of them in the same city, looking up at the same sky.

  16. Tout du long, jusqu'a la recette finale, je me suis demande que diable pouvait bien etre le "quark"? J'ai encore appris quelque chose, en plus de passer un bon moment devant ta table de petit dejeuner en compagnie de ta famille.

  17. You've completely captured the magic of Berlin. I can't wait to return- in fact- reading you piece makes me almost feel like I have. Thank you!

  18. @Gracienne - C'est vrai, je n'avais pas songé ce que c'est qu'un Quarkkuchen! Ca s'appelle quark aussi en anglais mais ca se mange moins qu'en France. Merci de tes commentaires vraiment gentils!
    @Tori - That's the best compliment so thanks a lot. I'm heading over to your blog now to get another look at that cheesecake but it looks like you did some great things in Berlin.