Saturday, January 1, 2011


Slice of Apfelkuchen
Welcome to the first event in the Viennese Pastry Challenge!  Even though its name translates to "Apple Cake," this Apfelkuchen is a rustic tart with a sweet, lemony shortcrust pastry.  You'll want to use a crunchy, flavorful apple for this recipe--I used Honeycrisp apples for my Apfelkuchen, but you can use whichever variety you want (as long as it's not something tasteless like Red Delicious).  Obviously, you could have Apfelkuchen for dessert or a snack, but I think it works particularly well for breakfast because of the high fruit to pastry ratio.

A few recipe notes:

  • I used almonds in my Apfelkuchen, but the original recipe calls for either almonds or walnuts.  It's up to you!
  • I bought both my pastry blender and bench scraper from Williams-Sonoma.  Be sure to buy a pastry blender that has sturdy blades or it will be worthless.  Here's a link to the one I have. 
  • Be sure to use a high-quality unsalted butter.  Don't use margarine!  Remember that the quality of the ingredients is very important and will affect the taste of the final product.  
  • If you only use one organic ingredient for this recipe, make it the lemon, because you will be using the zest, which is where most of the pesticides in conventionally grown lemons reside.  Eeew.
  • Wondering what to do with your leftover egg white?  We'll be using it in the next event!  By the way, my wonderful eggs come from Morning Harvest Farm.

First layer of apples
The finished Apfelkuchen

Read about the contest here.  If you bake your own Apfelkuchen, please submit your comment (on this post) by 11:59 p.m. CST Monday, January 31, 2011.  Good luck!

Also, "From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2011" on Great Performances airs tonight on PBS.

Gold Diggers of 1933

I posted a video from this film previously (Ginger Rogers's "We're in the Money" number) but I had yet to see the film in its entirety.  I highly recommend it for its fascinating mix of licentiousness (ah, pre-Code Hollywood) and social consciousness (evidently the Warner brothers were FDR supporters*).  In addition, you absolutely have to watch it for the Busby Berkeley production numbers.

Although tame by today's standards, Gold Diggers is risqué in comparison with films that would be forced to adhere to the Hays Code only a year later.  This clip, "Pettin' in the Park," has several code violations including nudity in silhouette (horrors!).  Film trivia alert: the lascivious "baby" is Billy Barty, the unlucky Bible salesman in Foul Play.

Gold Diggers of 1933 is no mere fluff piece.  Although following most of the conventions of musical comedy, the film comments explicitly on the hunger, unemployment and alienation caused by the Great Depression, especially in the "Remember My Forgotten Man" number.

*Special Feature:"FDR's New Deal...Broadway Bound"


  1. Your apfelkuchen looks great! Loved the clips - I've never seen this one.

  2. I'm in! I'll be posting later this month. I had to order new pastry equipment from William Sonoma & it's on backorder. I'll keep you updated on the culinary adventures!

  3. Wow Lauren! I love the new look!
    I'm getting a new look on my blog in a couple of weeks as well.
    I'm printing out the recipe right now....


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