When I thought about German food and what to cook for the German GP the first thing that came to mind was sausages! After a moments consideration I decided that I wasn’t really equipped to make my own sausages and so I tried to think again. The next thing that sprang into my mind was the ever kitsch and wonderful Black Forest Gateau. I also wanted to cook something savory, and after a little bit of internet research I decided up spatzle (with some rather less German roast chicken and Madeira sauce).
The first thing I made was the Black Forest Gateau. I had made my own version of this a university without the benefit of a recipe by making a basic chocolate sponge and smothering it with cherries, whipped cream, booze and chocolate. This time I thought I’d try and go for something a bit more authentic and spent a while looking up recipes. It turns out that Black Forest Gateau is actually a torte and subsequently the recipes contain very little flour and the batter is extremely runny!
The recipe I used required me to beat 150g of caster sugar into 6 eggs (no double yokers this week!) for 5 minutes until I had a light fluffy mixture. I then added 125g of self raising flour and two tablespoons of cocoa powder to the mix ending up with something that looked like a thin chocolate soup. This mixture then needed to be split between three greased and buttered tins. Rummaging through my cupboards the best I could manage was two identical tins and one a little larger – not a great start. I divided up the mixture as instructed and was disappointed to find that this resulted in only a very thin layer in each. The mixture barely covered the bottom of the tins!
The cakes went into the oven at 180C for about 30 minutes. When they came out of the oven I could see straight away that I had a problem. Completely ignoring the fact that one layer was about an inch wider in diameter than the other two I could see that although the cakes had risen a bit in the middle (although nowhere near as much as I would have liked), the edges were extremely thin – about 1/2cm thick at best!
While my little ‘pancakes’ were cooling I whipped up 150 ml of double cream, de-stoned and halved my cherries and combined about 4 tablespoons of the cherry syrup with 4 tablespoons of kirsch. I then poured the syrup/kirsch mixture over the cakes slowly allowing it to soak in (and making a bit of a mess!). Finally I set to work assembling my cake. I placed the first layer on a large plate and spread 1 third of the cream over it. I then placed ½ my cherries around, put the second layer on top of this and repeated the process. Finally I added the top layer of my cake, spread with the remaining cream and grated chocolate on top to finish everything.
The result was not the sumptuous looking tower of chocolate cherries and cream that I had envisaged but more a rather sparse biscuity looking cake. Cutting a slice things did improve a bit, at least towards the middle where the cake had risen things were a little thicker and less gappy, however overall I found that cake far too dense, not sweet enough and heavy. The cherry syrup and liquor helped to give a soft moistness to the cake, but overall it was a bit dry and cloying in the mouth. Defiantly not a triumph! I think next time I want to make a Black Forest Gateau I’ll stick my less authentic conversion of a basic chocolate sponge!
Later on, with my cake hidden in the corner, I cooked my savoury meal. The first thing I had to get on was my roast chicken. My chicken was only little and so took about an hour to cook through. I tucked some cloves of garlic and springs of thyme (from my balcony!) between the legs and the body to give a bit of flavour then put salt and pepper on the skin before pouring over some olive oil and putting the bird in the oven.
When the chicken was nearly done I started on my sauce. I sautéed two finely chopped shallots in some olive oil for 5 minutes until they were translucent. I then added 100ml of Madeira, a sprig of thyme and a bay leaf and let the mixture reduce for another 5 minutes or so. Next I added the roasting juices from my chicken, topped up with a little bit of chicken stock (from a cube) so that it came to 150ml and once again reduced the mixture. The final addition to the sauce was 150ml of double cream and once this was in I left the sauce to simmer gently for another 5 minutes of so.
While the sauce was reducing and simmering I prepared my spatzle. This was the one German element of my main course and the bit that gave me the most trouble! Things started easily enough. I mixed 2 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks with 500g of plain flour, 35 ml of olive oil and 100mls of water. This was supposed to give a “firm paste” but I found that a lot of my mixture hadn’t even come together. I added some more water (another 50ml or so) until it came together as a, rather sticky, dough. This dough then needed to be put through some sort of hole and boiled to cook the spatzle. The recipe I used recommended a piping bag, but after struggling to get my mixture into the bag I found that the dough was for too dense to squeeze through the nozzle. After much struggling I gave up and scraped as much of the mixture as I could out of the piping bag (I think that kit may need to go in the bin, this mixture did not want to come off!).
Not giving up I decided to have a go with a potato ricer. This was slightly more successful, but did require a strong man and an awful lot of effort to get the dough through the holes. When we had strings of about 2 inches we cut them from the holes with a knife, but this caused the stings to clump together! In the water I mixed things vigorously and poked at the clumps to try to get them to separate. In fairness, about 2/3rds of the strands did come apart and I thought things were finally going in the right direction. To finish the spatzle you are supposed to fry them in some oil and butter and so I drained them, dried the pan and attempted to do this. Unfortunately, despite the addition of plenty of oil and butter (about 2 tablespoons of each) the spatzle did not crisp of turn a lovely golden brown but instead stuck to the bottom of the pan! Giving up at that point I went ahead and served my meal.
This turned out to be a rather beige and rather unappetizing looking meal, however it tasted okay. The spatzle themselves had an okay texture despite not crisping, but not a lot of flavour, however I wasn;t expecting them to taste great on their own. The chicken was lovely, still moist and with plenty of flavour. The star of the show (and indeed the whole day) was the non-German Madeira sauce! This was rich and sweet and absolutely divine. It lifted the chicken and the spatzle and made the whole dish delicious, in the end it saved my day!
The race itself was easily the best of the season. Hamilton snuck into the lead at the start and the top three then proceeded to tussle for places for the rest of the race! Much shouting and cheering at the happened throughout the race as the drivers fought with one another. Hamilton eventually won the GP and for the first time this season Vettel was missing from the Podium!