Category Archives: Rehrücken

Making Rehrücken 2

Alright. All you men out there, take a knee.

Gentlemen, let’s face it, it can be hard to hold your head up high when you tell people you make cakes for fun. Pastry has certain pantywaist associations that can be hard to live down. But right here is a cake that any man would be proud to lay on the table: a rehrücken. Just saying the word makes you feel manly. And what about that presentation? On the one hand it makes you want to try a piece, on the other it makes you wonder whether the experience might leave you with a dueling scar. Yessir, a rehrücken is man’s cake. So puff out your chests and let’s do this thing. Start by turning the cooled cake out of the pan. If you’ve buttered and floured your mold, it should release easily.

Next, trim up the sides. Cutting away the edges not only gets rid of the driest part of the cake, it adds a little verticality to the shape, which is a very good thing.

Save those trimmings for later with tea…er, I mean BEER.

Position a serrated knife high on the cake, about where the curved top meets your trimmed sides.

And gently saw the top off. You can take your time with this. There’s nothing that says you have to make the cuts quickly. Cut a little, look on both sides to check your angles, and cut a little more until the deed is done.

Slide the top off and set it aside on the board. Repeat the process, slicing the remaining cake into two layers. You’ll get crumbs. Spongecakes are a little on the dry side.

Spread a thin layer of raspberry jam onto the bottom layer.

Replace the middle layer…

…apply more raspberry jam…

…and put on the top.

Cover the cake with apricot glaze. Why so much jam? Because, as I said, spongecakes can be a little dry (they make up for it with flavor and texture).

Once that’s done, insert the slivered almonds. Some people prefer to do this after the chocolate glaze has been applied. I like to do it before. In part because it’s easy to mess up the chocolate coating by touching it, in part because it’s easy to crack the coating if it’s cool, and in part because I like the way the almonds look with some chocolate on them. Call it a style thing.

Melt your chocolate glaze in the microwave as you did when you were preparing the cake. It should be barely warm to the touch. Let it stand and thicken a little, maybe ten minutes, then apply it to the cake. You may need to tip the rack slightly to get the glaze all over. Make sure you glaze the ends as well.

Let the cake sit for twenty minutes or so to firm, gently slide an offset spatula underneath to loosen it, and slide it onto a platter of your choice.

Uncut, the glazed cake will keep at room temperature for days if need be. It would never last that long in my house, but I’m just sayin’.

Men, enjoy.

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Making Rehrücken 1

I say this a lot, but it bears repeating: the biggest secret to making great pastry is leaving yourself plenty of time to perform all the tasks involved. Trying to cram everything into one afternoon on the day of your dinner party is a recipe for disaster. Which is why a conscientious baker takes care to spread out the phases of an ambitious cake over several days. A project like a rehrücken should be a two-day affair: components on day one, building on day two. Not because you’ll need all day to do either, but because you’ll have the space and time to concentrate on doing each part well. There, sermon over. On to the cake. Start by preheating your oven to 400. Next, prepare your pan. A rehrücken pan like this can be acquired quite cheaply online:

Grease it with butter…

Then pour in some flour and tap it around until all the contours are coated.

Now lay out your almonds on a sheet pan and toast about 10 minutes until just barely browned, about like so:

Pour those into a food processor along with the flour, baking powder and instant coffee.

Process until the nuts are ground finely.

Chop the crystallized ginger…

…combine it with the flour mixture in a bowl…

…and whisk it all together. Set the mixture aside while you prepare the chocolate.

Combine the chopped chocolate and butter in a bowl and zap it in a microwave on high for 10 seconds. Repeat until the chocolate is mostly melted, then stir until it’s all smooth.

Like so. The chocolate should be barely warm to the touch. With your pan and components ready, you can proceed to the mixing.

Combine your eggs and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whip (notice I have five eggs here…I was experimenting with a larger quantity of batter…in reality you only need four).

Whip until the mixture is very light and thick, about 12 minutes.

With the machine running, add the chocolate mixture. Dude! Where’s my volume? It’s toast, kiddo, but don’t worry, everything’s alright. That’s just the way the rehrücken crumbles.

Now add the almond mixture all at once…

…and fold it in.

Scrape the mixture into your pan…

…and bake for 50 minutes, until a knife insert in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool completely on a rack. You can leave it out on the counter in the mold overnight, no problem. Now go relax, there’s a football game on.

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Rehrücken Recipe

There are lots of recipes out there for rehrücken if you start hunting around a bit. Most are simple bundt-style, extra-moist chocolate cakes that just happen to be made in a rehrücken mold. I prefer this formula by Austrian pastry chef Stephan Franz since it’s a spongecake, which makes it closer in spirit to the rehrückens of the 19th Century. Purists will be disheartened to discover that the recipe calls for a small amount of chemical leavening. What can I say? Franz’s willingness to meet modernity half way is one of the things I like about him.

For the Cake

3.5 ounces (3/4 cup) slivered almonds
1.75 ounces all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon instant coffee
2.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2.5 ounces (5 tablespoon) unsalted butter
4 large eggs, room temperature
3.75 ounces (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons) sugar

To Build the Cake

1/2 cup raspberry jam
1/2 cup apricot jam
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 ounces unsalted butter

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Lay the slivered almonds out on a sheet pan and toast them for about 10 minutes until lightly browned. When they’re completely cool, put them into the bowl of a food processor along with the flour, baking powder and instant coffee. Process about 30 seconds, until the nuts are finely ground. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and whisk in the ginger.

Turn the oven down to 350 and butter and flour a rehrücken mold. Put the butter and the chocolate together in a bowl and melt them in the microwave using 10-15 second bursts on high power. Use as many as it takes to get the chocolate mostly melted, then simply stir it the rest of the way. You want it just barely warm to the touch when you use it, so if you’ve overdone it on the heat, allow it to cool.

Combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whip. Whip on high speed until the mixture is very thick and tripled in volume, about 10-12 minutes. With the machine running, add the chocolate mixture and whip until incorporated, about a minute more. Add the nut mixture all at once and fold it in. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake about 50 minutes until a sharp knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake completely before proceeding to assembly.

To assemble, turn out the cake and trim the edges down the length of the cake. Bring the apricot jam to a simmer and strain out the fruit. Gently, with a serrated knife, cut the cake into three layers. Fill both layers with a thin smear of raspberry jam, reassemble the cake, and move it to a wire rack. Cover the entire cake with a glaze of apricot jam. Stick slivered almonds into the cake around the radius and along the length, protruding about half an inch.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in the microwave, applying ten-second bursts as you did with the chocolate and butter mixture in the cake batter. Again, it should be just barely warm. Allow it to sit and thicken slightly, about 10 minutes, then ladle it over the cake, gently tipping the rack if need be to get every spot coated with chocolate. Allow the cake to stand until the chocolate firms, then transfer to a platter. The cake will keep well, uncut, for several days.

Reader Tom writes in from Vienna:

The Rehrücken is traditionally part of the Austrian confection of pastry, like Sacher Torte. Yet I have no evidence to prove it except it is really traditional. [Your recipe] is kind of strange because of the ginger, which is definetly not part of any Rehrücken-recipe here. Same goes for raspberry or apricot jam. Same for instant coffee. And we don’t “fill” the Rehrücken with any jam. We glaze the *whole* thing with (a rather sour tasting) red currant jam and then one more time with chocolate, and we insert the almonds always after glazing… otherwise the almonds will look dirty, and they have to be pearly white. Oh, by the way… we insert whole white almonds, not slivered ones.

Other than that, my version was 100% authentic.

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