The other day, apropos a post I’d written on my blog, Notes on a family, an old school friend, Gillian, sent me this message.
‘I still have your mum’s recipe for fruit cake with chunks of dark chocolate in it – to die for !’
What could she have meant? So I thought. Then I thought some more. And suddenly I remembered. Bischofsbrot.
I remembered helping my mother make this cake from time to time: not often, it was expensive. I remember chunks of chocolate, nuts, cherries, dried fruit… lots of eggs. And I wanted to make it again. Like Gillian, I liked it – a lot. I hunted through my mother’s old notebook, crammed with recipes from old friends or clipped out of the paper. Nothing doing. None of my own recipe books helped out. I turned to the net, and found a few there, but none of them seemed quite right. I settled on this one, because it was at least measured in grams rather than the dreaded cups, and here it is.
We’ve just eaten a slice each. I’m not happy. It’s nice enough, but it’s not startling me with memories of what the cake, bright with jewelled candied fruits, nuts and satisfying chunks of dark chocolate, ought to taste like.
I need help. Gillian? You claim to have the recipe! Stephan over in Germany? Heidi, half-German pâtissière extraordinaire with friends who bake with you in the Clandestine Cake Club? Patty, with your German heritage? Sarah, adventurous seeker after new recipes? Someone must have the definitive version, the one that will summon up that long-forgotten taste from childhood. I can’t even get a straight story about this cake. Is it German? Or Austrian? Is it a cake for Christmas? Or something else? So many different stories. Someone must be able to put me right. Get in touch. This is becoming urgent. I want Bischofsbrot, and I want it now.