‘Bienenstich’, a yeast-cake, filled with a lot of thick custard and topped with buttery crumbs. This is what my mum was very good at baking. She used to bake this cake every weekend while we lived in the country towards the end of WWII.
After long searching I have found what I wrote a few years ago about our Saturday nights during 1943/1944:
“Mr.T. and Mrs.T., as well as Tante Ilse and Mum were all good friends. Every Saturday night they came together for some card games. Eight year old daughterEva and I were allowed to stay up late on those nights. For hours we were watching the adults playing cards. At the same time we entertained ourselves with doodling on bits of paper. At around ten o’clock some cake and hot chocolate as well as coffee were served. But the maids did not have to do the serving, They were already in their rooms at this hour. The cake was usually freshly baked, very fluffy yeast cake topped with delicious butter-crumbs and filled with a thick custard. Hmm, yummy!”
So I did mention this yummy cake. A bit further on in this blog I mention that mum did bake this cake every Saturday. It was usually served late at night. Here I mention how mum would like to bake this cake. (Maria made some potato salad every Saturday!)
“Mum was always impressed how quickly Maria worked. Any dirty dishes were washed immediately. She was indeed capable of doing all the housework. Mum was happy to let her do just about everything. An exception was the baking of a large cake on Saturdays, which Mum loved to do herself.”
Following I copy some childhood memories about our landlord, Werner Man:
OUR LANDLORD FROM SEP 1943 TO JAN 1945
“Our toilets were “plumps-closets” some distance away from the house. Water for cooking and washing had to be fetched from a pump in the backyard. Fetching water from the pump kept both maids, Maria and Katja, very busy indeed. For lights we had kerosene-lamps, for heating there were coal-fired stoves which could also be used for cooking. Everything was very basic.
Gradually some changes were being made. The first big change was that our landlord had electricity laid on. All the workers who lived with their families in the other part of the building, received the benefit of electricity at the same time. This certainly was a very welcome improvement for them.
The ‘Ausbau’ was built close to a dirt-track which meandered through wide open barley-, oat- and potato-fields. On the track it was a good half hour to walk to the next village. Bike-riding however made it a bit quicker.
Werner Mann, the owner of all those fields that went on for miles and miles, was an acquaintance of Tante Ilse. People said he was a millionaire. Apart from these Ländereien he owned extensive brick-works (Ziegeleien). He was our landlord and he liked to spoil us. With no strings attached! Tante Ilse only had to voice a wish and Werner Mann immediately did whatever he could to fulfill her wish. He spoiled all of us by constantly getting produce delivered to us such as: Potatoes, cabbage (for making sauerkraut), wonderful treacle made of sweet-beets, and coal for our stoves.
Even I, as a nine year old, could see that sixty year old Werner Mann was hopelessly in love with Ilse. I also was quite aware, that she always kept him at a distance. He was happy to just be invited for ”Kaffee und Kuchen” on weekends and to spend some time with all of us. He always came to visit on his bike. On his daily inspection tours of the workers in the fields he also went around on his bike. He owned coaches with horses, but hardly ever used these to go anywhere.
Occasionally we were invited to his place (which people called ‘Schloss’), Then he sent a coach with a coachman to pick us up. Once in winter when there was plenty of snow, Werner Mann sent a ‘Pferde-Schlitten’ (horse-drawn sledge). On this sledge we were wrapped up in blankets under a clear night-sky with the moon and lots of stars shining on us. It was unforgettable and one of the rare highlights in our otherwise pretty dreary country-life existence.
The place, where Werner Mann lived, did not look like a castle at all, even though people called it ‘Schloss’. It was not even a mansion but a rather large, but fairly plain house. There was a huge, fenced in veggie garden next to the house. I have seen the veggie garden only once. However I was very impressed by it, because it seemed to be very large.
When we moved to the ‘Ausbau’, Ilse had already been divorced from her first husband. It was obvious that Werner Mann would have liked to marry Ilse. However, it never came to that. Tante Ilse married Onkel Peter aka Helmut Lorenz on July 20th, 1944.”
So I mentioned in my blog that Werner Mann ‘was happy to just be invited for ”Kaffee und Kuchen” on weekends and to spend some time with all of us.’ And I say he usually came on his bike. I think he did come just for afternoon coffee and cake. Well, as far as I remember mum baked a large enough cake that would have lasted for afternoon and evening. I am sure WM never joined in the evening card games. But he was there for our Christmas Eve celebrations and somewhere I published a picture to prove it.
The following I copied somewhere about the German ‘Kaffee und Kuchen Tradition’:
Germany’s kaffee und kuchen tradition
“You’ll find plenty of cafés scattered across almost every town in Germany. On any given afternoon, you’ll likely discover them bustling with people sharing a tradition that’s become a core of everyday German life.Kaffee und kuchen (coffee and cake) is an afternoon ritual where friends, family, or coworkers will meet for an hour or two to enjoy coffee, cake, and socializing. . . .”
My thoughts about this German Kaffee und Kuchen Tradition are not all that straight forward. Peter for one likes very much to stick to this tradition. The exception is when we go out for lunch. We often have then a cup of coffee straight after lunch. And later on at home we might decide to have some tea instead of coffee.
Usually we have lunch at home. I often feel like having a cup of coffee soon after lunch at home. But then Peter usually talks me out of it and makes me wait till about 3pm so that we can have coffee together. And since Peter is a great cake lover. a bit of cake is what has to come with the afternoon coffee as well!
Something else comes to mind. When we travelled to Australia in 1959 on that huge ocean liner ‘STRAITHAIRD’ we always had a cup of coffee after lunch in one of the ship’s elegant sitting rooms. I think afternoon tea was soon after four o’clock. The children had their own evening meal session probably already at five, since later on there were two different dinner session for the grown-ups. We were told at one stage that late at night there was also some yummy supper to be had. But we never stayed up that late. Unfortunately we misssed out on that! But maybe this is just as well. With yummy breakfast and mid-morning refreshments before lunch we were all too well fed anyway. I’d say, it was a luxury voyage for some poor English and German migrants! Hm, hm, how lucky can you be, I ask myself. It was the voyage of a lifetime, for sure.