What is it about a trip to Germany that beings out the apple cake in all of us? I don’t know but on my first day in Heidelberg I was on the hunt for a good cup of coffee to help shake off the jet lag from the eleven hour non-stop flight from San Francisco. I ended up enjoying a pastry break, the first of many on the trip, with a giant slice of apple cake along side my strong cup of coffee. So I guess I was a little bit hungry. Apple cake and coffee – just what I needed to make it till sundown before falling into my hotel bed on the first day of my European adventure.
My travel adventure to both Germany and the Alsace region of France started with a favorite food blog and an announcement from Kirsten at My Kitchen in the Rockies. Kirsten, along with her friend and another Colorado food blogger, Michele at Cooking with Michele were organizing a food and wine trip. The trip would be starting in Heidelberg, Germany; they would be going down the wine route that travels through the Palatinate wine region, with stops in Baden-Baden, including a cooking school experience in the Black Forest and ending in Strasbourg, France. A food and wine trip in Germany and France…Where do I sign up?
The timing of this trip worked out perfectly in my schedule with the added bonus of Lufthansa flying non-stop from San Francisco to Frankfurt where the train to Heidelberg leaves directly from the airport..ok..double sign me up and I’m so glad I did. Another added bonus to the wonderful itinerary of the trip – the small group of fellow food and wine travelers were a delight to meet. In addition to myself, Kirsten and Michele, the lovely, Lea Ann at Cooking…On The Ranch, another Colorado food blogger, joined the trip. Our group of inspired food, wine and cooking devotees showed up in Heidelberg ready to learn and have a good time.
Just like the company, the cooking schools were all fun. The menus were always delicious, we made our own dinners together under the direction of a chef, twice in Germany and once in Strasbourg, France. I came home with so many recipes that I’m going to be trying and sharing here over the next few weeks. I picked the title My Trip to Germany Part 1 because I know there will be more than one post on my trip… I couldn’t help thinking how many of the recipes I picked up would be perfect for holiday entertaining this year.
The night before we left Heidelberg, we attended our first cooking school at Kochschule Eppelheim, that is where I’m going to leave you for now. I have a few recipes from that night I want to share, so I’m going to have to spend some time on that project next week.
Please enjoy a few photos and an apple cake tartlet recipe inspired by my trip to Heidelberg.
One day into Heidelberg and we found ourselves on a guided tour headed up the hill to the Old Heidelberg Castle. Lucky us, we had gorgeous views of the Neckar River, Old Stone Bridge and Old Heidelberg as far as the eye could see from the Castle.
Not so mini ancient castle homes dot the hills surrounding Heidelberg castle.. the views that go on forever are one of the rewards after a long steep walk to the top. We took the funicular to the top, so I had to imagine that difficult hike up the hill.
We saw so many layers of history in Heidelberg Castle, from Gothic to Renaissance and everything in between. At one point in the castle’s history, after being in ruins for many years, it was used as a quarry with stones being taken to build new homes in Heidelberg. Up here at the top overlooking Heidelberg, there is construction going on everywhere-talk about upkeep on your thousand year old home. Honey, the moat’s dry and the walls are falling down, time to move to Florida.
Sometimes really old castles just fall down, especially when they’ve been ravaged by the French during the war of succession of the Electorate of the Palatinate, as we learned on our guided tour of Heidelberg.
The second day I was in Heidelberg I discovered a memorial for a synagogue destroyed by the Nazis on Kristallnacht in 1938 directly across the street from my room at the Hotel Villa Marstall. The outline of the walls of the synagogue were set in white paving stones with 12 cubes with lights, representing the 12 tribes of Israel marking the location of the pews.
I imagine that the best time to explore the cobblestone streets of Old Heidelberg is on a crisp fall day. The light was beautiful and I noticed fallen leaves collected around the bicycles parked on the streets. I was really out looking for another slice of apple cake.
I found the picturesque old houses with little modern cars parked in front perfectly wonderful, when can I move in? Notice the tiles, flowers and the shutters, sweet!
Kirsten ordered our special welcome dinner for the first night of our trip at the Gasthaus Backmulde in Heidelberg. We started with the most flavorful tomato mousse (Tomaten Mousse mit Parmashinken and Rucola), a pork roast plated with house made spatzle, chantrelle mushrooms and spinach, delicious local wines, followed by a slice of apple strudel with a rich vanilla sauce. This meal was the beginning of some serious wining and dining.
Working up a good appetite for a special dinner is easy to do after a day of exploring Heidelberg. which brings me back to another (closer) look at my apple cake tartlets, followed by the recipe. Please stay tuned for my trip to Germany part 2 with recipes and photos from my cooking school adventures.
Adapted from a recipe for 'Old World Apple Cake' by my mother-in-law Raynee Price's friend Hanne Schatz.
- for the apples
- 3 lbs (7-8 apples) Granny Smith Apples
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 lemon slices, plus 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to sprinkle on sliced apples
- for the pastry
- 2 cups sifted all purpose flour
- 1 & 1/4 cups sugar
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- for tops of tartlets
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, mix the cinnamon and sugar together
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- to make the apples
- Peel and slice the apples, sprinkle with tablespoon of lemon juice. Simmer the apple slices in the water with sugar and lemon slices. Cook until just tender, don't overcook as apple slices will become mushy.
- Drain off any leftover liquid, cool and remove lemon slices.
- preheat the oven to 350F and spray 6 4" tartlet pans with baking spray, place on parchment lined baking sheet
- to make the pastry
- Mix together flour, sugar and baking powder.
- Cut in the 10 tablespoons of butter with pastry blender or hands, until the mixture is crumbly.
- Mix in the egg yolks.
- Reserve 1 cup of the pastry mixture for the crumb topping.
- to put together the apple cake tartlets
- Divide up the remaining pastry mixture, evenly press into the bottoms and up the sides of the tartlet pans.
- Fill each tartlet with apple slices and top with the reserved pastry (crumb topping) mixture.
- Dot each tartlet with butter and sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
- Cool on the baking sheet until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.
- Remove the side rings and continue cooling until cool enough to remove the tartlet pan bottoms, continue to cool.
- Serve slightly warm, vanilla ice cream would be a good thing.