Tomorrow is the official beginning of Oktoberfest in Kitchener. It’s the largest Bavarian festival in North America so those of us living here either hide out for the next 10 days or embrace this festival of polka, beer, and bratwurst. Although the following recipe from the 1906 Berlin Cook Book doesn’t sound particularly German the contributor Mrs. Geo. Rumpel calls it German Apple Pie.
I was going to reduce this recipe but it calls for just one egg yolk so I decided I will simply feed the extra cake to any workmen who show up tomorrow. I first made pastry (among my least successful cooking tasks). I used the pastry recipe from Day 94 and lined a pie plate as suggested. Next I peeled and grated eight of the apples I bought at the Kitchener market on Saturday. The grated apples were quickly turning brown so I squeezed a lemon over them. I like lemon and I have a “naked” lemon from yesterday. I used the rind in the Turkish delight but hadn’t found a use for the lemon until now.
I added a cup of sugar to the bowl of grated apple but was a little unsure if the currants were fresh or the dried variety available year round. I opted for the regular dried currants since that’s what I had on hand. Next I mixed in the cornstarch. I separated an egg and carefully added the yolk to the mixture. Once everything was mixed together I spooned it into the pie plate and baked at 400 degrees F. for 45 minutes.
Various members of the Rumpel family contributed recipes to the Berlin Cook Book. Mrs. George Rumpel is the mother of Hilda and Olga Rumpel and mother in law to Mrs. Oscar Rumpel. Mrs. George Rumpel was born Wilhelmine Hartman in 1853 in Germany. She was about 15 years old when she came to Canada. She was also known as Minna. At the time of the 1911 census she and her husband are living at 39 Cameron Street along with 20-year-old daughter Hilda and 18-year-old granddaughter Emma Hoffman. There are two female domestic servants in their 20s too. One of the servants has recently emigrated from Germany. The other servant is Catholic but the rest of the household is Lutheran. This family is comfortable as I imagine Mr. Rumpel does well as a manufacturer and he was also a mayor of Berlin and director of an insurance company. The Rumpel Felt buildings can still be seen along Victoria and Wellington streets in Kitchener.
Shoofly Pie is a local Mennonite specialty. It is a cake. German Apple Cake is a pie and an interesting one at that. I like it but next time I’d use just half a lemon. A modern cook might try adding a few traditional apple pie spices like cinnamon. The pie is rather golden in colour with the dark dots of currants. I suspect anyone unaware of the name of this dessert might expect the taste of pumpkin based on appearance. The texture of the pie is a bit odd. It looks like it should taste smooth but since it is grated apple rather than apple sauce it is a bit lumpy. I think another 15 minutes of baking time might improve things. I’m curious to taste it again tomorrow when it will have set up more firmly. Is it better cold than hot? I liked it hot although it is difficult to slice. I suggest trying this when you are feeling just a little adventurous and yet want something comforting too.
GERMAN APPLE CAKE
This is baked like a pie. 8 sour apples peeled and grated. Mix with 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup well washed currants, add 2 teaspoons of cornstarch, yolk of 1 egg, stir this together, flavor to suit with lemon (I prefer no flavor), line pie dish with a good rich crust, fill in the above mixture when done, frost it with the following: Beaten whites of 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons of sugar, return at once to oven and bake a light brown (good).