When I can, I like to check out books from the library about European baking: recipes from Austria, the Nordic countries, of course France, and Germany. I recently I found a book on Classic German Baking by Luisa Weiss. “German baked goods are generally less sweet than American ones. “Germans don’t eat cake for dessert,” Luisa says. “Baked goods are eaten in the afternoon as a separate meal, not after the meal as a treat. So, the cakes have to be a little more wholesome.”
One of the most widely practiced traditions is the afternoon coffee and cake break called Kaffeezeit. This tradition dates back to Germany’s agricultural times when laborers were hungry by the afternoon and in need of a snack to sustain themselves until dinnertime. “My father-in-law eats cake every afternoon,” says Luisa. “Every day around 3 or 4 p.m., he and his team at the auto shop will put down their tools, wash their hands, and troop across the street to the local bakery to get a cup of coffee and a slice of cake before they go back to work. It’s part of the time-honored German tradition.”
Recipes in her book use plenty of nuts, spices, interesting combinations of flavors, and most are simple, homey and unpretentious. These are similar to the cakes and cookies I grew up with, and needless to say I got inspired.
I decided to start with a spiced chocolate cherry cake. Luisa uses canned sour cherries, but I had fresh dark sweet cherries at home and I chose to use those – they are still in season. I substituted my Simona’s Flour Mix for regular flour, added a couple of teaspoons of glycerin, and a gluten free version of the original cake was born.