Saturday, April 21, 2012

the coveted pastry

I fingered the money in my pocket, just a few bills and some coins, but enough to have a couple of Marks left over.  I smiled in anticipation.  I knew exactly what I would buy with those extra Marks.  I headed up my street and turned down a narrow road that led me up a hill towards the town square.  My shoes made a satisfying tromping noise on the cobblestones as I wove through the old buildings to the small bakery tucked at the edge of the square.  I looked up at the tall houses to see window boxes snuggled in between old shutters, overflowing with bright, red geraniums. Their long tendrils hung lazily over the sides, crowded with bright, green leaves.

Looking ahead, I could see the open square: an empty gathering place with picnic tables, always crowded on weekends in the fall when Oktoberfest was in full swing.  Along the edges of the square were all of my favorite stops: the Gausthaus that served spicy goulash soup and huge cuts of breaded schnitzel paired with fluffy, handmade spaetzle; the gelato shop shining with rows of aluminum bins, packed with a rainbow of creamy colors; the narrow gift shop crowded with stickers, cards, pens, clips and desirably useless gadgets of all sorts.

And then there was the bakery.

The storefront was lined with windows just begging to be leaned upon by passers-by who fell into a food trance at the sight of golden apple strudels, stacked chocolate cakes, twisted egg breads, pyramids of sweet buns, creme-filled pastries, dark loaves of sturdy rye and almond tarts loaded with homemade jam.  Once inside, the counter of glass cases revealed an endless array of pastries, while shelves on the wall behind were stacked with fresh loaves of bread - some hearty and crusty to sop up the juices of a good roast and others delicate and sweet to nibble on with a cup of strong coffee.

Mom sent me to get a nice loaf for dinner - something with a good personality that's soft inside with a crust that will crack and flake when you tear into it.  As an added bonus, she gave me a little extra to get something sweet.  Now you may be thinking that with such an overwhelming variety of options, I might agonize over which pastry or tart to choose.

You would be wrong.

I coveted one pastry over all others. 

I anxiously searched through the glass cases.  And then, I found it.  Light, fluffy chocolate cream slathered thickly between two triangular pastry cookies - piped choux paste baked to golden perfection.  But wait - there's more!  Each corner was then dipped in bittersweet chocolate to create the perfect pastry: creamy, crunchy, chocolaty heaven.  My mouth watered at the sound of the thin, waxed paper crinkling around the large sandwich cookie.  Fortunately, I remembered my task and selected a fresh, round loaf with a dark brown crust as well.

I barely stepped out of the bakery before I reached into the bag.  The first bite stopped me in my tracks.  I had to stand still to savor each layer and catch each precious crumb.  If I had the willpower to make it home, a glass of cold milk would be the perfect companion.  But it never happened.

I remember the look, the smell, the taste of that sandwich cookie as if I devoured one just yesterday, but, in reality, my last trip to the bakery was in 1989.  My father was stationed in Germany, which brought us to the town of Oppenheim, right along the banks of the Rhine River.  One of many food memories of our three year stay in the country, this one remains one of the most vivid.  I don't know if that bakery is still there, nestled into the corner of the small town square, but I often dream of returning to get just one more chocolate cream triangle cookie, dipped in bittersweet goodness...who am I kidding?  I would get at least a dozen to tide me over until my next trip....the next day.


  1. Oh, the bakeries of my youth. You remind me! Thank you (and could you bake one of those triangles? YOU could!).

    1. It's on my summer "to do" list: recreate this pastry! When I do, I'll share!

  2. Molly-way to go!!! I love the blog and your first two entries! I have a few questions about the blog too--can I comment on the site without attaching a comment to a particular story? How do I subscribe? Also, I clicked on the "Pink Salmon" link and got a little confused--is it another blog that you like? Finally, I'd love to see a short description of the blog underneath the subtitle--a 'what you can expect to find here' sort of thing, and how to navigate the site (who is Molly, what's your goal for the blog, what you'll find where, eg. recipes, stories, links to other cool sites). New fodder for our writer's group!

    Looking forward to reading more!


    PS. Feel free to delete my post when read--I just wanted to give some immediate feedback!

  3. Now I finally know what your quest was at the bakery! Deliciously written, Molly! I agree with Tara's ideas about and introduction/organization.

  4. Yes Yes Yes, you did it--the intro is perfect! And, I really want to try your coconut fish! Love the description of the SF market too...

  5. Thanks for the feedback, Tara! More recipes to come soon...