It's been years since I lived in Germany, but I still feel the pulse of those luxurious Sunday afternoon Kaffeestunden, the welcome infusion of sugar and wine after the exertion of that other German ritual, the Sunday Spaziergang through mountain forests. Sometimes there was something more nourishing, a plate of cheese, for example; slices of fresh fruit; coffee and wine. Friends came by to visit, and it was an easy meal, no fuss: we sat in the living room, crumbs falling into the sofa, soft lights, the youngest daughter playing piano; the gentle camaraderie of old friends, the comfortable silences of people who know each other well. Even today, as the sun is sinking into a brand new week, a slice of freshly baked pastry and a glass of wine (coffee if you want to be a purist) seems just the thing to ease the way.
If you haven't such a ritual already in your life, this lovely tart (recipe, from the wonderful, and wonderfully-inspiring pastry studio), filled with plump apricots, and topped with a streusel of almonds and sugar, might be just the one to get you started:
Apricots are not in season around here, so when I discovered that the late-season peaches I had purchased to use for this recipe were mealy, I soaked dried apricots in orange juice and used them instead. It made for a delicious cake that afternoon, but by the next morning, even carefully wrapped, it had begun to go stale: a hazard of yeasted tarts, I fear, and sundried fruit ... and a reminder that a cake like this is meant to share.
Next time, I promise, I will be more generous. We have neighbors now, hard-working organic farmers whose schedules are usually just flexible enough to accommodate a slice of cake. I'm pretty sure I could get them to stop on by. Add in a glass of wine, and I bet the deal is closed.
And next time, I promise to make a few other changes as well: I'll use juicier fruit (plums or pears), which I hope will make for a moister cake; there might be cinnamon or ground cardamom mixed in with the sugar topping; and I'm tempted to spritz the cake with a sweet Riesling, just like my Gastmutti did for practically every tart, as soon as she took it out of the oven.
One thing is for certain, though. With a cake like this, there will definitely be a next time.