Being abroad comes with a responsibility to see the sights and soak up the local vibe. Cake Girl duly set off to visit a must-see destination in Munich, where cakes take on a higher art form.
And indeed, why should fine art and spectacular architecture be limited to museums and local landmarks?
Sightseeing never looked so delicious!
Cake Girl was lured by the exquisite beauty of this rhubarb and strawberry filled sponge layer cake, decorated with soft meringue and pistachios, and sitting on a shortbread base. A promising combination but sadly overwhelmed by incredibly sweet meringue.
It has probably become apparent that Munich is full of cake: mostly good ones and almost all are a sight to behold. Cake Girl thinks it is only fair to show there are also plenty of inedible beauties in delight the eye in Munich.
Let’s start with chocolate box houses …
And slighter grander versions of humble dwellings …
Here’s how the locals sunbathe in this land-locked city …
Although who needs a beach when the River Isar running through Munich is so pretty? …
Oh and there are lots of flowers , some of which transport rather well in a basket on a bicycle …
Plus plenty of churches but Cake Girl will be kind and only post one …
Goodness, how did this cherry cheesecake get here?!
Cake Girl accompanied brother-in-law on a cycle trip to get fresh bread from his favourite bakery, where the food is wholesome, organic and made to the highest quality standards. It did necessitate Cake Girl being upright, dressed and in charge of a bicycle at 7.30am on a Saturday morning. Lovely bro-in-law knows the world revolves around cake so Cake Girl got to choose a sweetie from the laden cabinet. It seemed proper to gravitate towards a simple almond florentine. And what a fine choice!
It was a little more than a centimetre thick, with honey toffee binding the almonds and tiny squares of candied orange. The chocolate bottom thoughtfully played a low-key role, letting the rest of the ingredients shine. And that is surely the sign of an excellent florentine, further endorsed by a repeat purchase the next day but don’t tell bro-in-law because he’ll think Cake Girl is a piggy.
… Sting like a sweet bee. Behold the bienenstich, which translates literally to ‘bee sting’ although Cake Girl can assure you this one is all pleasure and no pain. Imagine soft bread sandwiched together with vanilla-flavoured whipped cream and topped with crunchy honeyed almonds. That’s a bienenstich, where the sum of the whole is more heavenly than the parts. The sweet toffee-like nutty topping contrasts beautifully with the plainness of the bread and billowy smoothness of the cream. Truly divine and perhaps more deserving of a prettier name.
When Cake Girl comes to Munich, the rule is not to eat anything that could be eaten at home - otherwise what is the point of travelling 20,000 kilometres to another hemisphere? The downside of this arrangement is that it means eating lots of sausages, sauerkraut, bretzels and cheese - all things Cake Girl’s Munich family would instead enjoy a break from. Luckily there are other ethnicities of food available, like this Turkish lahmacun. It’s similar to a kebab but a million miles better. Each lahmacun is cooked from scratch: dough rolled out, spread with tomato-meat sauce then baked flat in a searingly hot oven. Once cooked, salad stuff like red cabbage, onion and lettuce are added, along with yogurt sauce. The ensemble is then rolled up, ready to be eaten. Delicious!
The next highlight was being treated to an Ethiopian meal - a first for Cake Girl. Lentil curries, beef cooked with tomatoes, spinach-like greens with crumbled feta, and the most intriguing bread called injera - a spongy pancake. The proper way to enjoy this dinner is to line a plate with a piece of injera bread, then spoon on the yummy food and use rolled up pieces of injera to eat with. Of course, the best bit is that all the juices and saucy goodness from the lentil curries and beef dish soak into the bread lining the plate, making an especially delicious ending to the meal. It’s a bit like the crunchy bits at the bottom of the roasting pan!
Cake Girl has sincerity issues with the poppyseed-laden baking that abounds in Munich. Eating concentrated amounts of poppyseeds (known as mohn) requires a dedicated love that goes far beyond black dots sprinkled on top of a bread roll. Let’s blame the locals who bake sweet treats packed with a mammoth hit of wee black seeds. The abundance of such baking leads Cake Girl to think an excess of poppyseeds must be delicious. And so time and again, a poppyseed-packed treat makes its way into Cake Girl’s sticky hand … just like this custard poppyseed streusel. There were extenuating circumstances, being a whole tray of this streusel was spotted at a favourite bakery one morning. A whole tray indicates it is freshly baked. Cake Girl exercised sensibility and didn’t purchase, but did spend the next five hours wondering if it had been foolish to snub a fresh streusel. So come the afternoon Cake Girl ventures back, only to launch into immediate panic upon realisation that a mere three pieces of the freshly-made streusel remained. Clearly that meant it was approved by the local cake eaters. And who would question their judgement? And so it came to be that an overdose of black dots accompanied Cake Girl out of the bakery - and quite quickly too so as to avoid being recognised for a double visit in one day. The custard in this particular streusel was a pleasant change from the usual quark cheese layer but as always, those dratted poppyseeds dominated. Please, no more!
Despite New Zealand being home to four sheep for every person (thereabouts), sheep cheese doesn’t commonly feature on menus or in supermarkets. So when Cake Girl sees sheep cheese abroad, it has to be sampled. This sheep cheese quiche in the Austrian town of Melk came with nettle dip - an irresistable combo given nettles aren’t common in New Zealand either. The dip didn’t taste of anything in particular but the quiche had a lovely tangy flavour from the sheep cheese (schafskäse), not unlike a mild goat cheese.
This simple plate of olives, sheep cheese and bread was yummed up at an Italian cafe in Munich. It was washed down with a refreshing rotweinschorle, which is red wine and soda water.
There’s an unwritten rule in Cake Girl’s family that food - especially sweeties - shouldn’t be wasted and if not delicious enough to eat as is, then re-purpose it into something better. Such was the case with a packet of shop-bought hazelnut biscuits filled with white mystery cream. The biscuits were good but the creamy centre dubious. Most people would have either persisted or found the nearest rubbish bin. But not in this family. Instead, Munich sister whipped up a version of Nigella’s icecream cake, making the vanilla icecream from scratch. Nuggets of goodness were added in the form of choc-coated hokey pokey (from New Zealand) and the crushed hazelnut biscuits minus their cream filling.
This decadent icecream cake was served with peanut butter chocolate sauce and extra biscuits crumbs. Yum yum!
Another night’s pudding was Sachertorte - this version had cherry jam between the chocolate cake layers and a marzipan coating under the chocolate icing. So it wasn’t a traditional Sachertorte but perhaps a Bavarian twist given it came from a Munich bakery. These modifications got the thumbs up from Cake Girl.
The plethora of bakeries and cake shops that abound in Munich encourage lots of looking and plenty of tasting. Cake Girl’s record - to date - is visiting four such treasure troves in one day. It was part of a bribe for washing Munich sister’s windows, which involved perching precariously on a narrow balcony. Hungry work! Apricots continue to reign supreme and are celebrated in this Aprikoseblumen, which literally translates to apricot flower. It was kind of bread-like but in a good way, with firm crust, sweet glaze and intense apricot jammy centre.
Cake Girl was delighted to find this Schokotraum, an incredibly chocolatey chocolate cake that translates as chocolate dream.
It is more ganache than cake, divinely good and not for the faint-hearted. It is very rich and most people would recommend a strong coffee as the ideal accompaniment. But in Cake Girl’s family, we like to offset rich cake with a piece of cake that is tart. Luckily this zingy cherry cake was on hand. It had a nutty oaty base, moist cherry filling and crunchy almond top. Cake Girl is sorry it didn’t photograph as scrummily as it tasted.
The disappointment of the day was this promising-looking Schokokuchen: dark chocolate cake. Sadly it was dry and not particularly flavoursome. Thankfully there are plenty more cakes in Munich.