Monday, June 20, 2011


When I returned home after 14 months in Germany in early 1989, I brought with me several recipes from Oma (the grandmother of the family I lived with) that included quark as a primary ingredient. Oma was a wonderful cook and one of the kindest people I have ever met, with a subtle yet wicked sense of humour. Originally from Austria, she had once cooked for the household of some bigwig American official. Amongst Oma's recipes that required quark was one for Schnecken, those delicious pastry snails filled with currants, raisins, almonds and cinnamon, and another for a pastry base used to make various fruit slices or flans, including the wonderful Zwetschgenkuchen which is topped with small, slightly bitter plums. To die for.

I love quark. In fact my main reason for wanting to learn how to make cheese is to make this stuff. Aside from the great pastry recipes, my favourite dessert in Germany was a simple banana quark - ripe mashed bananas and a little sugar or honey mixed with quark. Delicious.

For years, it was impossible to buy quark in suburban Sydney. A couple of German bakers told me that one of the upmarket and expensive delicatessens - now they seem to be called 'providores' - in Paddington stocked it. Another baker told me he sourced it direct from a cheesemaker friend. Recently I picked up a jar of it at our local IGA supermarket from well-known Tasmanian organic dairy producer Elgaar Farm. No big surprise then that the owners are German... sorry, Bavarian!

So more than 20 years after I wrote down the recipe in German from Oma, I finally made Schnecken. The pastry wasn't quite what it should be (I had neglected to write down the quantity of flour and the vanilla sugar was not Dr. Oetkers!) and some looked more like slugs than snails. Very tasty, nonetheless.

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