Prunes

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The elderly couple that owns the garden moved away a few years ago. Or better the children cleared the house before the parents followed. All of this happened in a hurry, the parents disappeared  nearly as quickly as the carpets, cupboards and porcelain cats, who sat for a lifetime on the broad  windowsills. The children were not interested in the garden that still today is not directly attached to the house. The garden once a paradise lies a bit backward behind a wooden fence. Still today, the keys for the garden are in the brown bowl close to my door. Being absent during the summer months means to find the garden in a state of wilderness. I would not be surprised when soon monkeys and tigers will appear from the depths of the thick and green grass and shrubbery. Last year the children sent a company and the men who brought beer bottles and heavy machinery, cut down all the trees beside of one, old-aged plum tree. The plum tree looks exactly like one of those trees you can admire on Japanese prints. Often I come in spring to sit under its crown and I spent countless hours reading while leaning with my back against its trunk. Every September I search in the cellar for the two big brown baskets and the wooden ladder and for long hours I lean half on the ladder and half on the tree, filling my apron with plums till the two brown wooden baskets are overloaded with plums. I make plum juice with lemon, I make various kinds of plum jam with vanilla or lemon zest. I make plum soup and a few hands full of plums I fish and raw, the sweet juice dripping down from chin. Three glasses of plum jam I send to the elderly couple that lives so far away now from the tree and its shadow and I honestly doubt if they ever get to see fresh plums in their residence. But the two last kilogram of plums I use to make a cake. But it is not an ordinary plum-cake but my attempt that- of course- always fails to make the exact same plum cake as my grandmother did. My grandmother was the most impatient person that was ever born, but when it came to baking she had patience enough for a world to last. A swiss roll she said, is the quickest cake ever made, not longer than half an hour from making the dough to the oven, an excellent idea for guests coming at short notice. Whenever I make a swiss roll, I fight for hours against the stubborn dough that never is as smote as it should be to make a  nice looking roll. My grandmother just shook her head whenever I cursed yeast that did not want to rise or laughed at my inability to whip cream the way she did. My grandmother’s whipped cream was as hard as concrete and consisted of a secret ingredient she never told me. However, the plum-cake was another of those cakes prepared at short notice. Two large bowls of flour you need, that should make together 400 grams. Take handful then and make a hollow, for the yeast either dry or fresh, warm up a cup of milk and stir the ingredients carefully together with your fingers. This is of importance my grandmother and I swear she was the queen of the plum-cake, only ever used her fingers to prepare the dough. „The dough, my child she said, is living thing.“ Let the prepared piece rest for fifteen minutes. In fifteen minutes you can read Bert Brechts poem the plum-tree or you can read the poem while removing the stones from the prunes. Cut the prunes from both sides on the top and while doing so eat one or two and lick up the juice from your chin. Then get back to your dough and add one egg, two egg yolks, orange zest, 80 gram of brown sugar, the rest of the flour and a good, big cup of lukewarm milk, knead the dough again with your hands, not too angry and not too soft, then let the dough rest again and rest yourself. Twenty minutes later you spread the dough on a greased baking tray and arrange the prunes as you like them best. Bake the cake in the preheated oven ( 180 Degrees ) for twenty minutes, but five minutes before you take out the cake of the oven, sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the cake and be careful prune juice tends to think he is a cousin of the Vesuvius. Lukewarm and fresh out of the oven, the cake tastes as its best. Even if it still does not taste the same way as when my grandmother made it, looking at me, smiling and saying that nothing is easier than this.

9 Gedanken zu “Prunes

  1. You have a very kind heart, Read on. I’m pretty sure the elderly couple love your parcels with the plum jam.

    Perhaps your grandmother used something like that for the whipped cream for the swiss roll.

    • Oh, I am not quite sure of what my heart consists, but I feel very sorry for the couple I knew quite well and who have been living with this garden for such a long time just to loose it from one day to another, so plum jam I am afraid is not much to give.

      I am not quite sure if my grandmother used such a fascinating thing- I never heard of it before- but she whipped the hell out of the cream, she had arms as strong as a heavy weightlifter.

      • She did. She was very determined in this regard. Interesting, this magic whippead cream stabilizer, my grandmother was a firm believer in dairy products but I definitely will give it a try!

  2. Grandmothers are such a treasure. Mine, too, could bake, whipped cream by hand, and assured me how easy it all was. I never did manage to make anything as good as my memory of the marvels she produced. But each and every time I try, she stands beside me just as yours did with you.

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