When one has spent a little time in Thuringia it is easy to understand why the Thurigians are so attached to their roots and are patriotic to this region. It is beautiful fertile country covered with rolling hills, thick lush forests and it boasts of rich cultural history. The story of the Leuchtenburg castle probably ideally depicts this devotion and dedication often found in people here. The Leuchtenburg is one of the most beautiful castles erected on a mountain in Germany. Unfortunately, during the GDR it was neglected and after several misused purposes the castle was supposed to be auctioned off in 2007.
However, the people living in Kahla and other towns around the castle were very certain that their castle was not to be exploited and under the guidance of Sven-Erik Hitzer, who at the time was running the castle tavern at the Leuchtenburg, established the non-profit foundation "Leuchtenburg" at record speed with private money. This foundation bought the castle facility a short time later and, consequently, saved it.
Several concepts for the castle were devised; ideas that would bring the castle back to its lustre. The vision of the “Porcelain Worlds” was established, highlighting the stark contrast of the fragile and graceful porcelain and the distinct and robust medieval castle. Soon, the castle underwent extensive renovations and unique architectural accents were emphasized and castle was brought to life.
Sven was not only the driving force behind saving the Leuchtenburg’s fate but also one of the forces behind bringing cartwheel sized cakes to the castle!
While Thuringia is famous for its sheetcakes … here in the region around the Leuchtenburg it is the cartwheel sized cakes baked in traditional wood ovens that have made a name for themselves. Karin Weiland, was one of the first bakers at the Leuchtenburg and together with Sven-Erik Hitzer, developed new ideas based on old traditional recipes. She baked the cakes in her small kitchen in an old wood oven bringing the natural smoky aromas to the cake and giving it a moist texture. Both Karin and Sven worked together for eighteen years. Today at over 70, Karin looks back at her years spent at the castle, with over 11000 cakes backed in 6 variations: poppy seed and quark and a variety of fruit cakes – gooseberry, plum, cherry rhubarb, she can truly call herself the Queen of the Castle!
The ingredients for the cakes were sourced directly from Karin’s garden: the eggs from her hens, the wood for the oven from her own woods, and the fruit for the cake from her orchards. The tavern brought the quark and flour to her doorstep. To ease her back pains, Sven installed a kneading machine in her kitchen, Karin however got him to pick it up again – according to Karin hand kneaded dough tastes best!
Karin has retired from cake baking and has passed on her knowledge to others, like Rico Hamisch, who now bakes for the Leuchteburg castle in Karin’s traditional way. There are plans for a castle bakery where these cartwheel sized cakes will be baked directly on location and where visitors can enjoy slices of the hand-made cakes and even order these oversized cakes for home.
My day at the Leuchtenburg was exceptional as I got a tiny peek at how these cakes are made and got an exclusive tour of the beautiful porcelain world. Meeting some of the people behind the scenes once again reinstated how passion and devotion can literally move rocks. When the sun rays catch the glimmer of the shell limestone on the hill where the castle rests grandly, the Leuchtenburg truly shimmers in all its majestic sheen.
My own creation is very much inspired by the cakes and the castle of Leuchtenburg. I’ve given my cake a unique and slightly more modern kick. There is no baking involved and is the perfect dessert after a grand dinner. The article in German was published on the blog of the Thüringian Tourist Board and here is the teaser video for the desserts.
Recipe: Honey Roasted Rhubarb Chevre Cheesecake DessertMeeta K. Wolff
- Rhubarb Mixture
- 300g rhubarb, cleaned and cut into pieces
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 vanilla bean, seeds removed
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Nut mixture
- 250g flour
- 170g butter
- 110g pistachios
- 110g almonds
- 110g muscovado sugar
- Chevre Cheesecake mixture
- 225g goat cream cheese
- 125g crème fraiche
- 250g cream
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 leaves gelatin
- 50g pistachios, finely chopped
- To make the rhubarb mixture mix all of the ingredients (listed in "Rhubarb Mixture") in a clean bowl. Heat the oven to 150 degrees C. Transfer the honey rhubarb to roasting pan and roast for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool at room temperature. Leave oven on.
- For the nut mixture put all of the ingredients (listed in "Nut Mixture" into a food processor and process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Spread the mixture on a baking tray and bake for 30 to 35 minutes making sure to stir the mixture every 10 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.
- For the chevre cheesecake mixture soak gelatin in cold water for 5 minutes. Place in a saucepan with about 2-3 tablespoons of cream and gently heat to melt the gelatin. Set aside to cool slightly. Whisk crème fraiche, goat cheese and honey together until smooth. In a separate bowl whisk the cream until stiff peaks have formed. Fold in the cooled gelatin into the goat cheese mixture, then using a spatula fold in the whipped cream until totally combined.
- Assemble: Spoon a generous layer of the nut crumble into a glass or dessert bowl, add a few spoonfuls of the chevre mixture. Refrigerate this for approximately 30 – 40 minutes until the cream has set. Just before serving spoon some of the honey roasted rhubarb over the top and serve sprinkled with finely chopped pistachios.
Notes: this is a very versatile dessert and can be made in different variations. Try poached plums, or spiced cherries or roasted gooseberries.
My travels with the Thüringen Entdecken for the Kulinarik project are extensively enriching and enlightening. Stunning landscapes and thrilling history are just part of this project. Priceless is having the opportunity to meet so many people and listen to their stories. Each person adds zest to the stories with their own personal touch and for me these people have added so much more to the projects, inspired me on so many levels.
These glasses of tarty sweetness with the rhubarb and savory chevre have an exquisite taste on its own but when you add the story to the dish and the stunning views from the castle this becomes so much more than just a dessert. Rico Hamisch was kind enough to give me the recipe of the traditional poppyseed and quark cake we made (pictured above) together at the castle, including how to bake smaller version ins normal ovens ;) and I hope to share the recipe here soon. Exciting for me is that throughout the rhubarb season my own creation, this honey roasted rhubarb chevre cheesecake dessert is being served at the castle’s gorgeous restaurant where visitors can enjoy the dessert along with the view after their historic tour through the castle and the Porcelain Worlds - I am stoked! So to my friends and readers in the region or those visiting do make your way to the Leuchtenburg Castle and indulge in a memorable day in the history of porcelain, breathtaking views and walks, and treat yourself to my rhubarb chevre cheesecake dessert.
Don’t miss your chance to sign up for one of the upcoming workshops this Spring! Join me for an awesome, fun and hands-on food experience!
|Vienna, Austria |
17-18 April 2015
Details & registrations
|London, UK |
1 - 2 May 2015
Details & registrations
If you liked my rhubarb cheesecake desserts in a glass I am sure you will love:
- Simone’s Raspberry and mascarpone cream
- Tieghan’s Sweet Balsamic Strawberries w/Whipped Ricotta Cream and Maple Glazed Seeded Nuts.
- Jeanne’s Blackberry cheesecake in a glass
- Denise’s Moscato Sabayon
You might like these desserts from What’s for lunch, Honey?:
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