One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.
~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story
Its new year.. 2009 has officially unfolded itself. Like all true foodies, I begin this new year with 'sweet somethings'.
Thats the tradition in almost all Indian families..we call it "muh meetha karana". Loosely translated it means, 'sweetening the mouth'. Whenever there is a fresh start we celebrate it with sweetness...like I did when I started my blog. So in keeping with the tradition I made an Austrian torte.
A torte is a cake made with many eggs and usually ground nuts or even bread crumbs instead of or in addition to flour.Tortes are Central European in origin. The word torte is derived from the German word "torte", which was derived from the Italian word "torta", which was used to describe a round cake or bread.
I remember when I was a school going kid, my mum used to say that whatever I do on the first of January, I would keep doing that the entire year, so I studied well my favourite subject for sure, apart from having fun that is. I ofcourse was made to believe that then, but now it has stuck with me all these years. I still conciously try to do something nice , share smiles and have fun.
Hence, the torte comes as no surprise, given that I have never tried baking one ever. So something sweet and something different. (A good omen-probably I would be trying new and nice things this whole year!)
Austrian Walnut-Strawberry Torte
For torte layers-
6 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups walnuts
1 cup fresh fine breadcrumbs
2 1/2 tablespoons your favourite brandy,(I used rum)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
For strawberry whipped cream-
1 cup heavy cream, well chilled
1 teaspoon strawberry essence
a pinch/dab of red food colouring
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
a few strawberries, chopped- for layering
For icing- (optional)
1 1/2 slab of dark chocolate (70% cocoa), it should give you half cup liquid chocolate when melted
1 tbsp softened butter
1 tbsp whole milk
1 tbsp confectioners' sugar
In a bowl with an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with 3/4 cup of granulated sugar until the mixture is doubled in volume and forms a ribbon when the beaters are lifted (about 5 minutes).
In a food processor or blender, pulse the walnuts with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar until ground fine.
(Although coarsely ground worked fine for me. Only it becomes a little difficult when it comes to slicing the cake, but I prefer the 'surprise' walnut chunks in my mouth!)
Add the walnuts, the bread crumbs , cocoa powder and the rum to the yolks and fold gently.
In another bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg white just to stiff peaks.
Gently and gradually fold the whites into the yolk mixture.
Pour the batter in a greased 9" tin/mould and bake for 20-25 minutes in a 350°F oven, until the sides pull away from the pans and the tops spring back when pressed gently.
Cool on rack.
When cooled, slice the cake carefully in two halves to get two layers.
(Don't worry if the torte is a little crumbly, it is supposed to be that way.)
In a large, chilled bowl, stir together the cold heavy cream and the strawberry essence, food colouring and sugar. Beat until cream forms stiff peaks.
In a double boiler, melt the sugar, milk, butter and chocolate, till smooth and glossy.
NOW, place one half of the torte on your serving plate. Layer with the whipped cream.
Add the chopped strawberries next. Place the second layer of torte on top.
Pour the icing on top of the layered torte. Garnish with fresh sliced strawberry and dust with confectioners' sugar.
Feast all your five senses!! ;p
Heres' a little "interesting" something I read just recently while helping my sister on her school project work......
Before Luther there was no need for sugar in Europe, because there was an overproduction of honey. This traditional sweetener was a by-product of the apiaries, the main function of which was the production of wax for candles. This product was a monopoly of the Catholic monasteries and convents. Wherever these were closed or abolished, there emerged a market for something that, up to that time, had been a scarce luxury (that came originally from India): sugar. Coincidentally, the discovery and conquest of a New World in the tropics opened up the possibilities for the large scale production of sugar.It became the ideal component for the preservation of fruits.
Another by-product of the Protestant Reformation, due to the newly created scarcity of honey and widespread availability of sugar-cane, was obviously the large scale production of rum and other sugar-cane brandies like the Brazilian cachaça. Earlier brandies were mostly made of wine and, being quite expensive, were consumed only once in a while by aristocrats and the royalty.
This lovely dessert has often been the featured pastry at "Jause" --a lovely old German/Austrian custom of pausing in the afternoon for cake and coffee and conversation.
Cheers to 2009!