* This article was written in cooperation with KitchenAid. We were remunerated for it, yet we share our own unaffected opinion. We had free reign over content and text in this article. Thank you for the wonderful cooperation!
Crumble cake with sponge mixture is our absolute favourite cake. It is prepared fast and is incredibly versatile if you change only a few ingredients. With seasonal fruits alone you get a vast variety of cakes. Quite rightly, the crumble cake is a true classic!
Just like the machine we use to prepare our doughs: the KitchenAid Artisan*. Uncountable cake and bread doughs have been kneaded and moved. As a faithful companion in many households, KitchenAid celebrated its 100th anniversary. Crazy, right? We celebrate with the limited collection Queen of Hearts. The food processor shines with a new nuance, Passion Red, and nails the perfect combination of tradition and modern design. The band is studded with hundred red hearts. What would be more fitting than bright red cherries in our crumble cake?
Pit the cherries and mix them with the sugar.
Preheat the oven up to 180°C upper/lower heat. Grease a springform pan with 18cm diameter.
For the crumbles, roughly chop the walnuts. Mix flour, sugar and salt. Dice the butter, add it to the flour mix and work the dough with the food processor until it crumbles. Work in the walnuts and cool the crumbles in the fridge.
For the dough, froth up the butter with the sugar until it is creamy. Bit by bit, add the eggs. Afterwards add flour, baking powder and salt. Only stir until the ingredients are well mixed.
Fill the dough into the baking pan and even the surface. Spread the cherries without the juice on the dough. Afterwards, add the crumbles. Bake the cake for about 60 minutes on the middle rake (test with a chopstick if it is done yet). Temporarily check if the crumbles do not get too brown. If so, cover the cake.
When we look at our garden, we feel a little bit like our grandparents who tousle their grandchild’s hair and say: you’ve grown so much! There is pride, an enormous fascination for nature, her small and big changes, and also bliss.
Before we give insight in what we’ve been doing the last weeks here, we want to show you a most notably enrichment to our vegetable garden.
As you already know, we planted a few hundred edible perennials on over 40m² around our green house in spring. We hoped to improve our garden visually and culinarily, but also to provide a playground for all kinds of insects. However, to look a lush blooming beauty after only a few weeks we never dared to dream. The perennials look like garden veterans already. And when we watch the busy activities of wild and honey bees, bumble bees and other insects, it was one of the best decisions we made for the relocation of our vegetable garden. We did not even had to research or plan, we only discovered the already composed perennial sets by durchgeblueht.de. It is a cooperation by Michael Simonsen and Olaf Schnelle. We decided on „Gruß aus der Lausitz“, „Kräutermischung Halbschatten“, „Mediterrane Kräuter“, „Essbare Blüten blau-weiss-rot“ and „Pizza“. The biggest patch was reserved for the beautiful „Teemischung Blütenelixier“.
We always harvested the herbs fresh for our daily need. Especially the tea herbs grew rampant and needed a first pruning back. We used this opportunity to dry huge share of anise-hyssop, lady’s mantle, java apple, various mints and melissa, sage, lavender, and thyme.
On a warm, sunny midmorning we harvested the herbs in whole sprouts. Before noon, the herbs have the most essential oils. Since we wanted to conserve these with easy air drying, we did not wash the herbs. Shortly shaking them out is enough. By doing this, the drying process is kept short and the flavour is the strongest.
Depending on the herbs, we loosely bound ten sprouts maximum to two dozen bouquets with yarn and hung them on our attic heads down. What a scent! The optimal temperature for drying is about 35°C. When it’s over 45°, some of the essential oils already get lost. Who wants to dry the herbs in a dehydrator or in the oven should not exceed this temperature. When the herbs rustle and brittle easily between the fingers, they are ready. Depending on the temperature, this can take days or weeks. Pluck the leaves as a whole, if possible, from the stems, fill them in dry, airtight glasses and store them light protected. This way you can conserve the summer feeling all year round.
It’s the end of May already and finally, everything in our garden comes together. Since our last report a lot happened. The patches are all encircled and ready for planting. While preparing we encountered a few surprises which cost us hours, ah, days of work. Not to mention our nerves. But we want to spare you from the horrific details and us from the memories. It is way nicer to talk about the most plants being planted and growing great. Diverse herbs, fennel, radishes and spinach were already harvested galore. Peas are twining up the climbing support, and bit by bit the late vegetable kinds are planted. This year, we have over 150 different varieties. 12 different kinds tomatoes alone, and 8 varieties of potatoes. We especially stressed on rare heirloom vegetables. Ideally, the seeds are regional. This way, the plants are adapted perfectly for the climate in Mecklenburg.
Beside the many kinds of vegetables, we also planted a lot of edible perennials on over 40m² around our green house. The count 360 plants, including varieties like adder’s wort, daylilly, echinacea, lavender, anis hyssop, mallow, bluebell, lady’s mantle, sweet cicely, common violet, horned pansy, just to name a few. The perennials are well-matched so we have edible flowers, petals and seeds all year round. With their different leaves and heights the plants not only add to a beautiful scenery, they also go well with their neighbours. They will be a great addition to our cuisine, but also have an effect on our garden. The perennials won’t be planned and planted new every year, unlike our vegetable patches, but are planned for years, thus showing their splendour every year again. The shifted and thus long blooming time will not only bring us joy, but also to the many wild bees we see here again and again. In Germany, there are over 500 different types of wild bees. Crazy, right? However, as you might know, a lot of them are endangered or even at the brink of extinction already. This is mainly due to the specific plants the bees specialised on to feed. Most bees are also specialised on their nesting place and need special building material and other details, which disappear more and more.
Instead of biodiversity the bees only find monocultures. We can see the beauty in the rich yellow rape fields. However, this is barely nature, actually, they even add to the environmental destruction. Don’t even get us started on gen technology, chemical fertilizers and pesticides. In our little cosmos, we want to do things differently. We want to see ourselves what it means to enrich nature with our possibilities instead of just exploiting it. Sometimes, that’s not easy. Especially, since we need to gather experience and knowledge to act and live sustainable.
Maybe you remember our first thoughts, over a year ago, concerning our kitchen garden. We had the idea, inspired by books on permaculture, to give every plant the perfect spot on our 3.000m² and create little habitats in which flora and fauna could grow in accordance with and enrich each other. However, already last year we decided on a more classic cottage garden. Clear geometrical structures not only help us with the cultivation but also with the care for and harvest of our vegetables. Of course, we did not tally the idea of permaculture completely. We actually see it more as a philosophy rather than a concrete way of gardening. We want to follow the core idea of this philosophy: with nature, not against it. In a close-to-nature cottage garden a lot of permacultural aspects are important, anyway. Natural cycles can also have structured forms. For us, a deliberate crop rotation and intercropping are part of it as well as a thick layer of mulch made of grass on the patches, the preparing of natural resources as muck, broths, and teas. This just as a quick note, since we wrote about that somewhen else already.
Working with nature also means to provide space for useful creatures. Before we finally find the time to rest in a hammock in our garden, we probably build another house for wild bees, pile stones and wood for hedgehogs, insects, small reptiles and amphibians. Maybe it’s just a drop in the bucket. We can’t stop the drastic changes of our world. But maybe we can inspire one or another to act like us and to discover the fascination for nature’s routines.