Betty from Allouez, WI (2018 Week 4: Desserts)




Allouez, WI

Baking Challenge

Torte Cake

Give your dessert a clever name – and tell us about your recipe.

Cherry-Goumi-Almond Torte (East meets West in a Torte) – The recipe I used was from "The Settlement Cookbook," copyright 1901 in Milwaukee, Wis. The recipe was called "Filled Torte, Cherries." Mrs. Kander, the author, writes, "Torten are cakes that contain no butter, but are made rich with nuts and light with eggs, while bread or cracker crumbs usually take the place of flour." The recipe I used did ask for flour and butter. This two-layer torte is baked one on top of the other with a filler of fruit in between. The first layer, baked first, called for only one egg yolk, whereas the second layer called for six yolks and six whites. The first layer is also different in that it called for two teaspoons of brandy. Instead, I used sweet cherry wine. I attribute the darker color of that layer to this, and also that it baked longer. Whereas the first layer was rolled out like cookie dough, the second layer was a sponge with the egg whites folded in at the last. The recipe called for canned cherries. I used chopped, fresh picked tart cherries and also a Guomi (see below for definition) jelly made by extracting the juice away from the pits and pulp, adding sugar and bringing to a rolling boil. In keeping with the challenge, where it called for (wheat) flour in the first layer, I used almond flour instead. The almond flour was also used for the grated almonds in the second layer. For the icing, I used the egg white left from the first layer, mixed in powdered sugar and added two tablespoons of sweet cherry wine for flavoring.

What was the biggest surprise during your baking journey? Did you use any unconventional approaches? What did you learn along the way? Tell us about it!

The biggest surprise was in the slicing of the torte and discovering the consistency of the two layers, one somewhat dense and the other fluffy and light. I learned that historic recipes present an added challenge to baking. For instance, the first layer did call for 5 oz. of butter… well, how many tablespoons is that? In fact, I also had to figure out how much 1/2 lb. of flour and 2 oz. of sugar was for the first layer, as well as 1/4 lb. each of sugar and grated almonds in the second. Rather than googling the answers, I used a kitchen scale and weighed them out, as someone using this recipe in the early 1900s would have. There were no details in the recipe to indicate temperature of oven or time to bake – which we would consider important these days. That was all guesswork for me, based on careful watching and decision-making… scary!

How did you add a Wisconsin twist to your flavors or decoration?

Besides the historic cookbook from Milwaukee, I used two types of Wisconsin-grown fresh picked cherries – Montmorency and Guomi. The standard cherry (decorating the center of the torte) came from a tree here in Allouez. The guomi came from a permaculture garden at a home in Port Washington. Guomi cherries (each a one-centimeter oval ringing the edge of the torte) are native to China, Korea and Japan. Montmorency were cultivated early on in France and have since became the favorite tart variety grown in the United States… so there we have East meeting West in a torte. The Sweet Cherry Wine came from Door Peninsula Winery in Sturgeon Bay.

How did you do?

Pleasantly satisfied.