Tasty Tuesday–Apple Strudel

Since Reformation Day is this week, here’s a nice German-ish dessert to add to your menu!

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  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • powdered sugar (optional)

Thaw the pastry sheet at room temperature for 40 minutes or until it’s easy to handle. Heat the oven to 375. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Stir the egg and water in a small bowl. Mix the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add the apples and raisins and toss to coat.
Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll the sheet into a 16×12-inch rectangle. With the short side facing you, spoon the apple mixture onto the bottom half of the pastry to within 1 inch of the edges. Starting at the short side closest to you, roll up like a jelly roll. Place seam-side down on the baking sheet. Tuck ends under to seal. Brush with the egg mixture. Cut several 2-inch long slits 2 inches apart on the top.
Bake for 35 minutes or until golden. Cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Slice and serve warm. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.

Tasty Tuesday–Black Forest Cherry Torte

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I wanted to try something new for our Oktoberfest celebration this year…usually I just make apple strudel. So, I decided to try an authentic Black Forest cherry torte. By authentic, I mean that it had to be made with kirschwasser, in the traditional German way. It was a bit of a challenge finding kirschwasser, but I did finally track it down. I also had to splice together several recipes in my quest for authenticity, but I was very happy with the result, and my family requested that the recipe go in my “permanent file,” so I guess it was a success!

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  • 2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 15 oz. cans pitted sour cherries
  • 3/4 cup kirschwasser (or a little less, if you want a more subtle flavor)
  • 1 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.
In a large bowl, combine flour, 2 cups sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, milk, oil, and 1 tablespoon vanilla; beat until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake for 35 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Loosen edges, and remove to racks to cool completely.
While cake layers are baking, drain cherries. Combine cherries, kirschwasser, 1 1/4 cups sugar and cornstarch in a 2 quart saucepan. Cook over low heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Cool before using.
After cake layers and cherries have cooled, combine whipping cream and confectioner’s sugar in a chilled medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form. Reserve 1 1/2 cups whipped cream for decorating cake; set aside.
With long serrated knife, split each cake layer horizontally in half. Tear one split layer into crumbs; set aside.
To assemble, place one cake layer on cake plate. Spread with 1 cup frosting; top with 3/4 cup cherry topping. Top with second cake layer; repeat layers of frosting and cherry topping. Top with third cake layer. Frost side of cake. Pat reserved crumbs onto frosting on side of cake. Spoon reserved frosting into pastry bag fitted with star decorator tip. Pipe around top and bottom edges of cake. Spoon remaining cherry topping onto top of cake.

Tasty Tuesday–Oktoberfest 2013

Over the weekend, we had our annual Oktoberfest celebration. It’s nice to have one holiday with a somewhat fluid date, so that I can fit it into our schedule, instead of the other way around!

We made soft pretzels, and a cheddar-beer fondue to dip them in:

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For dinner, there was Jaeger schnitzel with noodles and sauerkraut:

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And, the real star of the day, Black Forest cherry torte for dessert!

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Wunderbar!

What Gives?

If I remember correctly, a few years ago, I told my family I was no longer going to make an Oktoberfest feast, because it’s just too much work.

Since then, our Oktoberfest observation has gotten more complicated. What gives?

The menu tomorrow includes appetizers of homemade soft pretzels and cheddar-beer fondue, with a dinner of Jaeger Schnitzel, noodles (the spätzle really is too much work–I’ve tried it!), and sauerkraut. And, for dessert, I’m make a Black Forest cherry torte for the first time. And it’s authentic…I tracked down the very hard-to-find kirschwasser to make it!

This is pretty much the opposite of not celebrating Oktoberfest anymore. I guess I’m suffering from a combination of “I-love-my-family-and-like-making-special-celebrations-for-them,” and “I’m-proud-to-be-German-and-don’t-get-to-recognize-it-often-enough.”

Oh well. I had given up the idea of having a quiet time of year, celebrations-wise, a while ago. There’s always something fun to do, even if it does mean a lot of work for me!

Reformation Wrap-Up

Today marks the end of our month-long study of the Reformation. Here’s a review of all the things we learned and the fun we had!

We read lots of books, some out loud, and others as book basket selections. One of our favorites every year is the Luther biography by Paul Maier.

We made eight lapbooks, one as an overview of the people and events of the Reformation, and the other seven focusing on different Reformers.

We also learned about seven rulers (plus Pope Leo X), and completed a notebooking sheet for each.

Of course, everyone’s favorite part of our studies were the crafts. We designed our own coat-of-arms:

Made stained “glass” windows:

Illuminated letters and practiced being scribes:

Made a banner to hang in our school room:

And, of course, made Luther’s Seal:

We also listened to a lot of music, some by Luther, some by Bach, and some by other Lutheran hymn writers.

We were supposed to go on two field trips this month. The first one was a visit to the Saxon Lutheran Memorial Fall Festival in Frohna, MO, I had to cancel that on account of fog, which was disappointing because it’s one of our favorite events every year. Our other field trip, that actually worked out, was going to the Seminary in St. Louis to hear Ryan sing “Ein Feste Burg” with the American Kantorei as part of the Bach at the Sem series. That same day, we also got to attend a fun Reformation Celebration at our church.

We even enjoyed a German meal at home on Reformation Day! Jägerschnitzel with buttered noodles and sauerkraut for dinner (with Leinie’s Oktoberfest beer for those of drinking age!), and homemade apple strudel for dessert…delicious!

This was a fun way to spend the month of October, and I’m glad I finally came up with an in-depth unit for us to learn all about the Reformation!