Strawberry-rhubarb delight

This cake is light and refreshing, just the thing for a warm summer day. You will need some time in between the different steps of making it, but you can space it out and do other things, as each step is fairly quick. Here in Germany the strawberry and rhubarb season is from May to June 24th, St. John’s Day or summer solstice. After that you should no longer cut the rhubarb stalks.

If I am hard pressed for time, I buy a Biskuitboden at the supermarket. You can also bake the cake layer:

  • beat 3 eggs light and fluffy
  • slowly add 125 g sugar until the batter stiffens
  • carefully fold in 125 g flour, 75 g starch and 1 tsp. baking powder
  • bake at 175°C on the 2nd lowest rack for about 18-22 minutes

Meanwhile peel 3-4 rhubarb stalks, cut off the ends, cut into pieces and gently heat them with the juice of half a lemon and 150 g sugar for about 8 minutes until tender.

Pull the pot from the stove and add in 500 g strawberries, washed and without leaves, cut in half if you wish.

Take a packet of gelatine which has soaked for ten minutes in 3-4 Tbsp. of water or juice and stir the gelatine into the warm (not hot!) fruit. Let the fruit and gelatine cool until almost cold and not quite jellied.

Whip 300-400 ml heavy cream, add in some sugar if you wish. Fold the whipped cream into the cold fruit. Pour the fruit and cream onto the cake layer with a cake ring placed firmly on top. Put the cake into the fridge and let the fruit topping set over night.

Enjoy with hot coffee or iced tea!

Astounding Asparagus – quick + healthy

“Der Spargel, der wächst hoid noa so guat” – said the farmer’s wife just two days ago. (“Our asparagus is still growing so well” from the Bavarian dialect Oberbayrisch, i.e. almost a language of its own). Our best asparagus comes from the best soils called “Gauboden”, especially from the areas Pörnbach, Schrobenhausen, Abensberg, etc. to the north and east of Munich. True, meanwhile I can understand the people if I am thoroughly awake and concentrated, but I shall never be able to pronounce the phrases the way I ought, guttural and and with a certain inflection entirely strange to my U.S.-attuned-tongue.

Ah yes, asparagus! The season – which also applies to home-grown strawberries, so make sure to some as topping on a simple shortcake or make your own strawberry limes (strawberries crushed with sugar, lemon and vodka)   –  is over by June 24th, aka St. John’s Day or summer solstice, so almost everybody gorges themselves on them and then pauses till next season.

Delicious when eaten fresh, full of fibre and vitamins and Bavarian warmth (pun), you can peel them yourself or buy them ready to cook. Lots of good cooks own a special pot to keep them upright and just steam the tips a bit, since they are seasonal and my kitchen tiny, a skillet will also do the trick with the water only covering the stems and a teaspoon of salt. Choose only fresh stalks (check the cut end, must be moist and not mouldy) and of equal thickness. Depending on size, approximately 8 to 11 minutes suffice, undercooked asparagus are hard or squishy when overcooked, a bit like pasta. You can stick in a fork to test.

Leftover cold  asparagus make a tasty salad paired with tomatoes, chopped spring onions and/or chives, Italian olive oil, French white wine vinegar, a dash of sugar, salt and pepper to taste.

Great accompaniments are tiny gem potatoes, cooked ham (such as Butterschinken, lemon pepper ham, also Parma and Bayonne), also delicate sausages or veal scallopini,  fresh crunchy French bread, butter sauce with lemon or a real French-style sauce hollandaise with lemon. If I am in a hurry, I buy one from Thomy’s or in deli shops. Then again, nothing beats the real thing!

A crisp white wine (Franconia and Baden are the best in Germany or France) helps to wash it down with an ahhhh! Enjoy it all while the season lasts!