10/08/2011 07:26:00 PM

Guten Tag und Grüß Gott!  I am most certainly back in Australia now, and have been for about a month, but have only just finished all my Europe posts.  Phew!  I've been cooking and baking heaps since I got back, and am really excited to share lots of Melbourne-based deliciousness with you!  Funnily enough though, my first post back in Australia happens to be a German-themed one: our second annual PORKTOBERFEST party.

I think I improved greatly on the first PORKTOBERFEST, and not just thanks to the cute decorations!  We bought these super-cute paper napkins and cups online, and they arrived just in time for the party.  (We'd also ordered a blue and white tablecloth, which, unfortunately, didn't make it in time - boo).  When I was in Germany, Dirndls and Dirndl-style dresses were available in the stores, and I desperately wanted to buy one.  Perfect for PORKTOBERFEST, Halloween, and other beer-drinking occasions! However, I was told in no uncertain terms: "Das ist verboten!  Only drunk tourists and Bavarians wear those!"  Hehehe.  Perhaps next year I'll have better luck.

Of course, PORKTOBERFEST is all about the food, and when I say I improved on the first on greatly, I really mean it!  This year I went all out and baked my own pretzels, I made a Black Forest Cake from scratch (and it didn't fall apart this time - yay!), and splashed out on a lovely rack of free-range Berkshire pork.


Selbstgebackene Brezeln / Freshly-baked Pretzels

Schweinebraten / Roast rack of Berkshire Pork
Semmelknödel / Bread Dumplings
Rotkohl / Red Cabbage
Apfelmus / Apple Sauce
Soße / Gravy 

Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte / Black Forest Cake
Rüdesheimer Kaffee / Rüdesheim Coffee

The whole meal was actually quite easy to put together - I made the pretzel dough and cake layers the night before, I baked the pretzels in the morning (blogpost to come!), and prepared and assembled everything else while the pork was having its slow roast in the oven.

Let's have a look at that beauty...

I bought the pork at Prahran market - they didn't have any racks on display, but the butcher there kindly got a slab of pork from out back, and deftly cut off a neat rack, trimming away the excess fat and scoring the rind.  Lovely!  I'd never had Berkshire pork before, and was really keen to try it.  Now, I didn't follow a specific recipe, but just sprinkled the meat with salt, fennel and caraway seeds before roasting it.  Easy!  Although I must say I was a bit confused about actual times and temperatures for cooking.  I have lots of recipes for roast pork rack, but they all seemed very different - most were variations of: high blast, then a long, slow cook, then a high blast again; one simply said to cook at 200C for 90 minutes (for a 2.6kg piece) - but I couldn't find any guides that gave a specific time-to-weight ratio.  In the end, I kinda winged it, cooking my 2kg piece at 220C for 30 minutes, then at 200C for about an hour, followed by a 20 minute blast at 230C.  Luckily, it came out perfect.  Tender and juicy meat, encased in a crisp, shattery layer of crackling.  Woo-hoo!

While that was cooking, Sandra made the bread dumplings (Oma Resel's recipe) and red cabbage, while I assembled the Black Forest cake.  I had much better luck with the cake this time, (no more flat pancakes for me!)

I did most things the same as last time, except I made it 23cm instead of 28cm, and used this recipe for the cake layers.  Because the cake itself was smaller, I had more cherries to go around, and put them in the 2nd layer as well.

Since my first Black Forest Cake attempt, I've learned that it's much easier and neater to pipe cream onto layer cakes, rather than spreading it on with a spatula!  Ta-dah!

You'll notice that I didn't put any chocolate flakes around the side - the kitchen was already very messy by that stage and I didn't want to be flinging chocolate flakes everywhere!

And with that, lunch was ready.

Mmm... crackly.

Pork rack is easy to carve - you just slice it into individual chops along the bones.

Check out the crackle: when the rind gets all light and bubbly and aerated, and no longer looks like a solid slab, you know you've hit the jackpot.

With gravy...

And a whole plate!  Here is one of my pretzels - yay!

I totally loved the pork!  Very juicy and flavoursome.  It was pretty pricey, at $32/kg, but I thought it was worth it for a special lunch.  The cut also had the perfect crackling-to-meat ratio - I think pork rack is the new pork belly, hehe.

We had a nice, long, lazy lunch; laughing and chatting while we picked at the remains of the meal.  And then, for reasons I don't understand but for which I will be eternally grateful, my friends jumped up and started doing the dishes!  Everything got cleaned while I stood in the corner drinking my wine.  For a girl without a dishwasher, I thought that was pretty amazing.  Love!

And here is dessert.  I just want to state explicitly: even though we had a can of cool-whip for the coffees, the cake was covered and filled with 100% fresh cream!

We even made Rüdesheimer Kaffee, setting brandy alight in the coffee cups, and adding strong coffee and cream.  I'm glad to say it worked!

I finally got my cross-section photo of a Black Forest Cake!  I was really happy it maintained its structural integrity and didn't collapse.

Can't wait for next year's PORKTOBERFEST!

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My email address is sarahcooks [at] hotmail [dot] com.