Saturday, December 10, 2016

Classic German Baking with Rum

It's my birthday next week which is as good a reason as any to bake a cake, and in turn an excellent excuse to spend another evening leafing through 'Classic German Baking', instead of writing Christmas cards (though I really can't put that off for much longer).

I'm really inspired by this book (the sunken apple cake is so good I keep craving it) and determined to thoroughly explore it. I said when I first posted about it that I'd been looking for a really appealing book on German baking (and cooking generally) for a couple of years, this one has ticked all the boxes for me (I should probably order Weiss' earlier book too). It's the perfect combination of reassuringly familiar flavours and new recipes. It is genuinely the most exciting baking book I've got my hands on in years.

As for the cake - I had thought about making a sachertorte, but it looks like a bit more effort than I think I'm going to have time for, however, a spiced chocolate-cherry cake sounds like a great alternative.

I had assumed that if there was a spirit involved in German baking it would be kirsch, but it's Rum that keeps cropping up. I'm not really a Rum drinker so it's not a spirit I've really given much thought to beyond noting that it's becoming more popular, with an ever increasing range available on the high street and in supermarkets. 'Classic German Baking' is giving me a timely push to think about it a bit more. (I'm also wondering how and when Rum became such a popular ingredient in German baking - there's an interesting bit of history to trace).

It's dark Rum that's called for here, I've gone for Gosling's Black Seal as it was the most interesting (the one reviews suggested was reasonable to sip neat as well as to mix) easily available Rum I found, and I see no point in having a bottle I wouldn't drink on it's own in the house, or in using something I wouldn't consider drinking for some sort of pleasure as an ingredient. It's quality over quantity every time.

So, maybe not the first book you might think of to go with Rum, but if it's the book that's going to get me to engage with the stuff I'm not complaining.


  1. Happy Birthday to Desperate Reader. I wish you many Happy Returns, and thanks for all the fascinating posts.
    Even the Blog List on your page has taken me to other realms, those realms of gold.
    As a latecomer to blogs and the internet, I have only just discovered Desperate Reader.
    Rum rather frightens me as a subject.
    I had no idea that rum rather than kirsch was a staple of German baking.
    Would rum have come in from the Baltic ports to the Hanseatic cities?
    Might rum have been an exotic drink during bitter German winters?
    Perhaps the taste of molasses made them think of sunshine and the Caribbean.
    I can almost see Martin Luther as an occasional rum drinker. He needed to lighten up.
    How about Goethe? Or the Kaiser?
    In A Moveable Feast, Hemingway writes of ruined 'rummies' in Paris. Why was rum so cheap then?
    My elder brother lived in Los Angeles for over 20 years and is a heavy drinker.
    On a trip home to Scotland he 'fixed' me a drink as they say over there.
    It was dark rum with soda, a little ginger ale, a generous squeeze of fresh lime, ice and a lime twist.
    'If I had drunk this as a young man,' I said, 'I would have been as big an alcy as you are.'
    A lethal drink.
    We were watching a video of Room At The Top that night, a favourite movie of mine.
    For several years after I would follow Simone Signouret and Laurence Harvey with a large rum and lime.
    Happily I broke that lethal habit.
    The great thing about reading is it can only be done sober.
    J Haggerty

  2. Thank you for the birthday wishes. The questions you ask about Rum are one reason I find the world of alcohol interesting. In this case it's the way it raises all sorts of historical and sociological questions - a way of looking at history that's very human in the end. I try a lot of things (in a work context that means spitting) but I don't drink very much at all, and when I do it's always about quality rather than quantity. Alcohol is dangerous if underestimated or overindulged in, but in moderation can be a great pleasure. Moderation is key!

    1. I agree. Public moralists always fall from grace. Straight into the tabloids.
      Dean Martin said, 'I once shook hands with Pat Boone and the whole right side of my body sobered up.'
      I spent several months in Catalonia, in the summer of 1970.
      There were drinkers at every cafe table, in every town and village.
      But I never saw a drunk. Not even at 3 a.m.
      Enjoy a well-deserved glass or two at your birthday party.
      J Haggerty

  3. Well now, I have probably missed your birthday so I can but hope that you had delicious celebrations.

    That was an interesting exchange between you and J Haggerty which I enjoyed greatly.

  4. Thank you! It was a lovely birthday, not even marred by my mother's dog being so pleased to realise I'd spent the night and was still there in the morning, that she jumped up and accidentally head butted me, splitting my lip in the process!