Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Grape Crumble Cake

Here’s what I finally did with those grapes I processed. (Remember that earlier post?) I didn’t have enough grapes for a pie, so I decided to “wing it” and adapt a recipe from Dr. Oetker’s book of German baking. (See “Books . . .” at the bottom of this post.)

Dr. Oetker, the company, is the German equivalent of Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines—a manufacturer of packaged baking and pudding mixes, which you can easily find at international groceries. There was a real guy behind the name: Dr. August Oetker developed and sold baking powder in the late 1800s, and it kinda grew from there. His descendants still run the now-international company.

So there’s this cookbook, too—Dr. Oetker’s German Baking Today—whose recipes are all from scratch, with good descriptions and photos of technique. Which I for one need.

The following is adapted from Dr. Oetker’s “Cherry Crumble Cake,” on pages 88–90 of the book. Don’t be put off by all my text—it’s not a difficult recipe. I don’t know how much of a professional baker you are, but I’m intimidated by “pastry” and always appreciate such explanation.

Grape Crumble Cake

You will need a springform pan for this.

First, process about 2 cups of Concord grapes (see my earlier post for pictures): Pluck and measure grapes, slip skin from each grape, reserving skins and putting grape-innards into a small saucepan. Simmer the innards until the tissues start breaking down and seeds start coming loose. The use a food mill or sieve to strain seeds out of the pulp. Recombine the innards with the skins in the saucepan; throw away the seeds.

Next, make the dough for the crust; it will need to chill in the fridge for half an hour, giving you more time to mess with your grapes and the crumble topping.

To make the dough for crust, start with:

1 1/3 c. flour
1 pinch baking powder

Sift together the above into a mixing bowl; then add the following:

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla dissolved in a tablespoon of sugar
1 pinch salt
1 egg
3/4 stick butter, somewhat softened

Combine with a pastry cutter until a dough is formed; shape into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and put into the fridge for half an hour.

While the crust dough chills, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Finish preparing the grapes. To the processed grapes in the saucepan, add the following:

2/3 c. sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch (dissolved in a little grape juice or water first)
dash salt
dash nutmeg
1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Heat slowly to boiling, then simmer a few minutes until thickened. Turn off heat; set aside.

Prepare crumb crust from the following:

1 1/3 c. flour (sifted as above)
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla dissolved in 1 tablespoon of sugar
3/4 stick of butter, slightly softened.

Mix together with a pastry cutter until desired crumb texture is achieved. Set aside or better yet in the fridge.


Grease the springform pan and take it apart. Take the dough-for-the-crust out of the fridge and roll out like a pie crust. Then, using the bottom platform of the springform pan as a stencil, cut out a circle of dough to fit it. Place that dough circle onto the bottom of the greased springform pan, and then put the springform pan back together. Press the edge of the dough so that it lightly seals around the edge. Lightly prick all over with a fork.

Bake just this bottom part for about 10 minutes or until it’s just cooked; remove from the oven, place on a wire rack, and let it cool down some.

Once it’s cooled a bit, roll/shape the rest of the crust dough into a “snake” (or snake segments), and press it lightly against the sides of the springform pan to form an edge, sealing it against the bottom crust. It should go about 3/4 inch up the sides of the pan.

Pour/scrape the grape mixture onto the pastry base and spread evenly. Top with the crumble topping, and place the whole shebang into the oven. Bake for about 20–30 minutes or until done and attractively golden on top.

Let the cake sit in its pan on a wire rack for about 15 minutes. Then run a knife or thin spatula carefully along the edge to unstick it, and carefully remove the ring. Next, run the knife or thin spatula carefully underneath the cake to free it from the springform base, but don’t take it off the base. Finish cooling on a wire rack.

Then, you have to think of something special to have for dinner, to go with this awesome dessert. I leave that part to you—but make it light, fish or salad or something—because this cake is full of buttery goodness!

(If “grape pie” sounds familiar, you might recall another recipe for grape pie I gave you last year; here’s a link to it!)

Books Admired in This Post

Dr. Oetker, German Baking Today (English edition) (Bielefeld, Germany: Dr. Oetker Verlag, 2003).

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