The Feast of St Martin

The Feast of St Martin is upon us: time to bake “Martinswecken”!

German recipes for Martinswecken are legion, this is the hugely versatile curd cheese pastry recipe that I use to make them:

https://anediblelandscape.wordpress.com/2014/11/21/making-baking-and-mellow-fruitfulness/

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Flammkuchen Orchard Style with Pumpkin and Quince

Related to roses, apples and pears, the tantalising quince was almost certainly the “apple” of the Garden of Eden fame say those more expert than I.

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For me, quinces are all about “…the scent of buffet tables laden with bobotie, breyanis and bredies, sambals and salads, frikkadels and Cape Dutch Chicken Pie, melktert, Malva Pudding and koeksisters… in cool, character-filled rooms set in rolling green sunny spaces…

Thousands of miles and many thousands of days… all it takes is a quince.”

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Heralding the start of the quince season here north of the Alps,

Flammkuchen with pumpkin, quince and bacon:

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Wild Strawberries (Fragaria vesca)

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These little nuggets of flavour and colour (also known as the woodland strawberry, or Walderdbeere here in Germany, the Alpine strawberry, the European strawberry of fraise des bois to use the French name) are the strawberries indigenous to Europe – the rest are derived from 18th century imports from the Americas.

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Seldom if ever available commercially now, they used to be a welcome sight at the markets of old but between me, Hermann the German, Mini-Kraut and the many meadow creatures at home in our orchard I am never left with more than about a handful of wild strawberries – still enough to make these quick and easy cream cheese tartlets though:

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I make the pastry shells out of

Almond Pastry

225g plain flour

pinch of salt

110 g butter

140 g ground almonds, blanched

45 g sugar

beaten egg

  1. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

2. Add the ground almonds.Stir in the sugar and add enough beaten egg (probably one whole egg) to just bind the mixture together. Knead lightly. Chill before use.

I then roll it out, stamp into circles and drape these over the inverted hollows of an upside down muffin tin to bake at 200°C for about 10 minutes.

These quantities make about 18 pastry cases.

The cream cheese filling comprises

500 g cream cheese

250 g icing sugar (or to taste)

few drops of vanilla essence (to taste)

beaten together.

Once they have cooled completely, fill the almond pastry cases with about two teaspoons of cream cheese filling each, dot them with your harvest of wild strawberries, dust with icing sugar… and put the kettle on!

I personally don’t like my strawberries baked – only fresh will do for me, but if you do go in for baked strawberries and happen to have access to about half a kilo of wild strawberries then this is for you, taken from a delightful little cookbook translated by yours truly a couple of years ago (details below):

Wild Strawberry Tart

 

Makes 12 pieces

For the pastry:

100 g chilled butter

200 g flour + extra for the work surface

50 g sugar

1 egg

Butter for greasing

For the filling:

Approx. 500 g wild strawberries of small strawberries

3-4 tbsp sugar

4 cl light dessert wine (e.g. Malvasier, Vin Santo, Madeira)

To make the pastry, cut the butter into pieces and quickly combine with the flour, sugar and egg yolk to form a smooth dough. Press the dough ball flat, wrap in cling wrap and leave to rest in a cool place for 30 minutes.

Grease a pie dish (28 cm ø). Roll the pastry out thinly on a floured work surface and then line the pie dish. Prick the base with a fork and again leave to rest in a cool place for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180 °C (fan oven 160 °C). Back the pastry in the centre of the oven for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, carefully wash and hull the strawberries and then pat dry. Remove the pastry base from the oven and layer the strawberries close together over the base. Sprinkle with sugar and bake in the centre of the hot oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, drizzle with the dessert wine and bake again for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before removing from the pie dish. Serve either warm or cold, ideally with freshly whipped cream.

Agnes’ tip: strawberry season at last! At the market this morning there was a farmer’s wife with a basket of freshly picked wild strawberries on offer. I snapped them up at once of course and I am going to use them right away to bake this lovely tart. Washing the little berries does mean rather a lot of work but the result is simply heavenly. We are not yet familiar with large strawberries, unfortunately. These plants were only to come to Europe from Chile at the beginning of the 18th century. I actually prefer the small wild strawberries with their tempting flavour anyway. By the way, the little red berries are said to be a symbol of desire. I’ll mention that to Albrecht, perhaps he will then paint a few…

Taken from:

Dürer’s Little Cookbook
Yesterday’s recipes for today’s food lovers
Compiled by Petra Teetz, Translated by Katherine Taylor, Published by ars vivendi verlag
Original edition © 2009 English edition © 2013 www.arsvivendi.com

Considered the greatest painter of the Northern Renaissance, Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) came from Nuremburg where the Albrecht-Dürer-Haus remains as a museum and memorial to the man and his times.

This little cookbook takes a look behind the scenes in the Dürer household with seasonal recipes of the kind that would have been known to Albrecht Dürer’s wife Agnes, adapted for easy cooking in the modern kitchen, a number of them having since become set features of Franconian culinary tradition: Schäufele (Roast Pork Shoulder), Krumme Krapfen (Crooked Fritters) and Storks’ Nests… Accompanied by interesting details about life at that time: what foodstuffs where available to the Nuremburg housewife in around 1500, what were the different meals served during the course of the year, and what were table manners like?

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Puff pastry for pragmatic purists

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Too much of a purist for ready-made puff pastry with its ethanol, palm oil, emulsifiers and acidity regulators (check it out if in doubt: http://www.tesco.com/groceries/product/details/?id=266524232)?

Neither the time nor the inclination for all the rolling and re-rolling required for making your own?

Then I have the pragmatist’s solution for you, from the family of curd cheese pastries – buttery, light and perfect for pairing up with jams and jellies out of the orchard!

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Puff pastry for pragmatic purists

Prep. Time: about 10 minutes

Cooking time: about 15 minutes

Makes about 15 pastry pieces i.e. croissants, or 1 tart base

Quark or ricotta                                             200 g

Butter, cold                                                    200 g

All-purpose flour                                            200 g

Pinch of salt

Pinch of sugar (or 1 tsp for a sweeter pastry)

1) Combine the flour with the salt and sugar. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until you pretty much have a breadcrumb texture.

2) Make a hollow in the middle, tip in the quark/ricotta and quickly work into the flour mixture to form a soft, fairly moist dough (do not over-mix).

3) Cover and chill for 30 minutes before using.

4) Use as you would puff pastry i.e. for croissants or sweet & savoury tart bases. Bake at 200°C for about 15 minutes (180°C fan oven).

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