Some time ago, I had the worst of nightmares. I was in a tram in Zurich, trying to make it to Sprüngli’s to get some Himbeer-Rahm-Torte, their famous raspberry cream cake, my very favourite, it’s so very rich and heavy with raspberries, yet light and fresh like air, but that damn streetcar wouldn’t take me there, for some reason, it was taking the wrong turn, totally wrong direction, I wanted to get out, but it just wouldn’t stop, it just went on and on, still, I had to get out to make it in time before closing hour, missing it was not an option, I had to have that cake, I just had to, I don’t know how I finally managed to take another tram, I think I ran them all down somehow, but the other one wasn’t the right one either, I started panicking, I was way too late now, all of a sudden night had fallen, it was completely dark outside, the time was 6:25 pm – hadn’t I left at noon? – and that streetcar had just passed the Zurich opera house to make it home to Seefeld, like it was mocking me, I just had to get out, but even if I managed to, how should I ever make it to Sprüngli’s in time, with five minutes left at my hand? Any suggestions? Any? Well, neither had I, instead, I woke up screaming. Still without any cake, but at least safe and sound. I made it to the fridge and had noisette yoghurt. No raspberries, but quite yummy.
My grandmother used to travel and bake a lot after retiring, she had all this time on her hands and filled it with some culinary creativity, and as she was fond of red wine and Spain, she ended up baking but one cake only, her masterpiece, her Rioja cake, commonly and less specifically known as her red wine cake, as in the 1970s, Rioja was quite uncommon a beverage in Germany and she didn’t feel the urge to explain her extravagances to just anybody she had over for tea and sympathy, she was a teacher, the most loved one of her village, her funeral was crowded with former students, she must have been a hell of a teacher, anyway, I, being more into France than into Spain, have always replaced Rioja with some Bordeaux when I made that cake, but now, just to cherish her memory, I opened a bottle of Rioja, the batter takes a quarter of a litre, as well as vast amounts of cocoa, chopped dark chocolate, this one is from Venezuela, quite fitting an origin, it’s a Spanish speaking country after all, anyway, the cake‘s obviously soaked with flavonoids from all that red wine and cocoa, kind of an anti-ageing approach to baking. I think, I’ll have another slice just now.
An apple a day is supposed to keep the doctor away, but with the current cases of influenza the news keep talking about, I felt two apples were more reliable to do the trick than just one, or yet even more, trust is good, overdosing is better, and so I pelt, cored and sliced lots of apples, lots, an awful lot, actually, laid them out on some yeast dough, quite fatless a dough, I once read when you feel like having some cake, if you really, really need to have some, you are to have yeast cake as it is much less sinful a cake, much less calories, but we’re talking influenza prevention, not dieting, anyway, with some calvados sprinkled on it and dusted in vast amounts of cinnamon – cinnamon, by the way, is quite healthy, too, I forgot what good it actually does, but you can’t have enough of it, believe you me – it looked and smelled very yummy before I put it in the oven, and even yummier when it came out. As I’ve had several pieces, I think I had enough apples today to declaim in full health (and with kind of a Shakespearian accent): Influenza, where is thy sting?
If I were a raspberry, I would hope to end up on a tiny little cake by Sprüngli. You don’t live long when you’re born a berry, you grow, you get plucked, you get devoured. Hence, it is of the utmost importance to achieve some importance, to make yourself heard, to be recognized as the wonderful individual that you are and make yourself unforgettable. You have to rise from the raspberry fields and seize culinary power in Zurich, if you play it right, you end up on Sprüngli’s Himbeertorte before you get eaten by some self-styled gourmet, just like Napoleon rose through the ranks of the military, seized political power and crowned himself emperor of France before he was devoured by Europe.
If you want to gain weight, for whatever reasons, do the following: buy three packages of assorted chocolates, pick your favourites from each package, arrange them casually in a bowl and serve them with at least four episodes of any show interesting enough to make you stay put in front of the TV no matter what happens or who’s at the door. Wash each chocolate down with a generous helping of non-skimmed milk, Baileys or, why not, some banana milkshake. Repeat. Bon appétit and bonne chance!
When God came up with cocoa beans, he must have been in a very good mood. Cocoa beans are the best beans there are—sorry, Heinz, no offence, but your bean cans were portrayed by Andy Warhol, this is as far as your fifteen minutes of fame go. Anyway, cocoa beans are so very rich in healthy flavonoids, but more importantly, without cocoa beans there was no chocolate, and without chocolate there were no chocolate glazed marzipan cakes, especially the one in my fridge (keeping it in the fridge is important to make the thick chocolate glaze as crunchy as possible), the one I just devoured out of sheer lust. And now I am in such a good mood, the best of moods, actually, just like God himself the day he came up with cocoa beans.
It’s been just another grey winter’s day in Berlin, quite depressing. The moment, I woke up, I knew I needed something to cheer me up big time if I wanted this Saturday to be a day worth living. That’s when I started thinking of cake. Some very special cake. A cake, I couldn’t bake myself. A cake, I had to get out of bed and run into town to buy it from some French people answering to the name of Lenôtre. A cake so yummy, I would not dare to wash it down with milk or tea or coffee, not even champagne, just to make it linger on my tongue. A dough rich of pistaccios and cherries to make it irresistible, some vanilla custard to make it creamy, a crumble topping to make it crunchy, and some maraschino cherries and powdered sugar on top to make it look fancy. That was the cake that got me through the day. I’m still high on serotonine, so I guess, it’ll get me through Sunday, too.