The hills were alive with the sound of cattle bells and gradual butterflies in my stomach as we ascended to the top of the Belchen mountain by cable car. Somehow I can’t get over my fear of heights but the views from the top made the ride worthwhile. The Belchen is the third highest mountain in the Black Forest (1414m) just south of Freiburg, its Capital.
Couldn’t you just imagine Julie Andrews running towards you in her pinafore, beckoning you to join in song? Are you ready? If you’re a fan of The Sound of Music like myself, you’ll love this page of trivia about the film.
Back down to ground level, the girls were dying to go boating on the Titisee lake, which is about 850m above sea level. Thank Goodness they’re not quite Sixteen Going on Seventeen yet. A pedalo for four did us quite nicely, thank you, as the rain drizzled on us. Pity it wasn’t chocolate drizzle.
A trip to Furtwangen was a must on this short trip, as it’s famous for its cuckoo clocks. At the Deutsches Uhrenmuseum (German Clock Museum), I’ve never seen so many of them in one place, from the traditional to more contemporary designs. Schönwald, a tiny town next door, is said to be the birthplace of the cuckoo clock, where Franz Anton Ketterer thought of combining a clock with bellows at the beginning of the 18th Century.
Our girls thought the highlight of the trip was the nature walk at Triberg, up to the Gutach waterfall – the highest waterfall in Germany – which cascades over 160m through the forest. Many royal and celebrity guests have visited the falls, including Ernest Hemingway in August 1922. Our favourite celebrities were the swooping nutcracker birds and the cheeky squirrels, as they fought over the allocated bags of monkey nuts.
On our return home, my petite Lucie turned 11 years old and another couple of shoe sizes bigger in the last month. You think I’m joking? At this rate, she’s going to tower above me in no time. The request for her birthday cake was simple: chocolate cake! I’d already made a wickedly rich chocolate cake by Patrick Roger this Easter but Lucielocks quite rightly asked to try something different.
It didn’t take long to find a perfect chocolate bundt cake recipe from Jamie Schler’s blog, Life’s A Feast. I loved the shape of this Bundt cake and simply drizzled it with plenty of chocolate ganache (recipe below) and melted white chocolate, one of Lucie’s favourite sweet things. With chocolate macarons on the side, bien sûr. Which reminds me of another of Maria’s songs, “I Have Confidence” – which is basically the main ingredient needed for macaron-making, n’est-ce pas?
As this cake was made for a children’s party, I omitted the cinnamon but if you’re including it, I would also suggest adding a good pinch of cinnamon to the chocolate drizzle, as well as a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg. Lucie doesn’t like cherries (I know, I know – scream!) so there’s not a cherry in sight, but to make a Black Forest version, I suggest adding 100g of dried cherries (even better, soaked in Kirsch) to the dough before baking and serve with plenty of cherries and whipped cream on the side.
Chocolate Ganache Drizzle
100g dark chocolate (at least 64% cacao), especially for pâtisserie
100g good quality milk chocolate
300g single cream
1 sachet (7g) vanilla sugar
Break the chocolate into pieces. Gently heat the cream in a saucepan, adding the vanilla sugar and chocolate pieces. Heat over low heat until the chocolate has melted, then stir with a wooden spoon to make a beautifully glossy, even sauce to drizzle over your cakes and ice cream.
So Long, Farewell, auf wiedersehen to you, the holidays. The French schools return next week for la rentrée so, before we’re back to routine, I’ll try to upload the latest photos. I forgot to post this before leaving for Italy last week. If anyone follows me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, you may know that I can’t sit down for long before my back seizes up, so my computer and travel visits are kind of short these days. So, here’s the second part of our Black Forest jaunt before I turned into a chair!
Holidays: one of My Favourite Things – along with chocolate, macarons, strawberries, bubbly and brown paper packages tied up with string. What’s yours?