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Zwetschgenkuchen für Basti

Posted Jul 03 2012 12:46pm

Three years ago, the 2nd of July was a bright and sunny summer day. You could feel the heat early in the morning, and not a single cloud was in the sky. The whole town of Bellingham seemed to awake with a smile on their face. Yet my brother, my mother, and I had a different fate for the day, one that still vividly replays in my mind.

I remember, a phone call, something along the lines of "Selva, you need to come home now." I could sense the urgency in the tone of the voice, one that gives you shivers down your spine. I knew something had happened, but what I found on the other side of my parents door, was not to reckon with. Two policemen where in our home and Wendelin was already with my mom. I remember how they both walked towards me, shock in their eyes, yet calm as an evening before a storm. My head was spinning, and the adrenaline was pumping through me veins, I wanted and needed an answer. My mom looked at me and calmly said, "Basti died."

What happened next, all just seems like a blurr. The heat of the sun and the bright blue sky, seemed too intense for my skin and my eyes. Who would have thought that on that beautiful summer day, my father would pass away.

Its been three years, and we all are just "chugging along," yet there is not a day when I don't think about you. You were and still remain an inspiration in my life. I only wish I could share my footsteps on this earth with you.

So for this special day, I decided to bake a German Zwetschgenkuchen. It is a prune tart, on a yeasted dough, lightly sweet with a sprinkle of almonds. It is not heavy, nor is it very dessert like. The tart itself is very simple. It was my father's favorite. Zwetschgenkuchen was his main food group during prune season. He would pick them like crazy, and even made his own jam. Every time a prune tart was eaten, my mother baked another. It was as if he knew he only had so much time to enjoy this delicious late summer treat. I never really understood his love for the prune, until I grew older myself. I now enjoy a piece here and there, and am reminded of him.

We love this tart as is, or with a dollop of homemade whipped cream. Usually it has eggs, butter, and low fat milk in the recipe, but so my whole small family could enjoy this treat, I made a vegan version. I replaced the butter with coconut oil, the milk with almond milk, and just omitted the egg. It turned out great, although it was made from last years frozen prunes. However, the best way to eat the tart, is during prune season, when they are full of sweetened juice. Wash and dry the prunes and then remove the pit. To decorate this simple tart, just cut two slits in the top of each halve prior to placing them on the dough.

Zwetschgenkuchen (German Plum Tart)
Makes one cookie sheet
Ingredients300 g whole Wheat Flour
100 g unbleached wheat flour
25 g active Yeast (about 4 tsp)
1 cup lukewarm almond milk
1 egg (optional)
1 Tbsp sugar
1 dash salt
100 g sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
100 g coconut oil
1/3 cup chopped almonds
Dried bread crumbs (stuffing, rusk)
2 kg prunes

Directions1.  Mix together the two flours in a large bowl. Make mound with the flour and create a deep hole in the top (like a volcano). You want to be able to pour the milk into this hole.
2.  Mix the yeast, 1 Tbsp sugar, and lukewarm almond milk together in a cup and set aside for about 10 minutes to let the yeast bubble.
3.  Pour the yeast milk mixture into the flour mound, and sprinkle some of the outside flour on top. In circular motions around the flour mound sprinkle the sugar, salt, and baking powder. Mix together.
4.  Add the coconut oil (softened) and 1 egg (optional) and knead everything together in an elastic, smooth dough. If it seems a little wet, you can add a little sprinkle of unbleached flour.
5.  Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and place in a warm spot. Allow the dough to rise for about 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the room temperature.
6.  Meanwhile, butter or oil a cookie sheet and dust the bottom evenly with flour. Shake off any excess flour.
6.  Once the dough has doubled in size, remove from bowl, quickly knead through, and roll out onto the cookie sheet. With your fingers pull the dough up along the sides to create the crust. With a fork poke holes evenly across the dough.
8.  Preheat the oven to 385 degrees.
9.  Evenly sprinkle the dough with the rusk bread crumbs or even quick oats will do. Then the almonds.
10.  Now place the prune halves onto the dough in row formations. Make sure you overlap them slightly and tightly arrange them on the dough.
11. Bake for 35 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Sometimes the prunes create a lot of juice and the dough underneath may need a few more minutes to be done. Enjoy!

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