Thursday, May 30, 2013

Rote Grütze (Red Fruit Pudding) and a trip to the island of Sylt

Today I have a traditional German dessert for you, and it's the Rote Grütze. It is basically a fruit pudding thickened with tapioca pearls, and sometimes corn starch. You can use your favorite fruits and berries for this. The most popular choice is a mix of cherries, currants, strawberries and raspberries.

Rote Grütze is probably the most popular dessert on the island of Sylt, situated in the German North Sea. It is often served with heavy cream or crème anglais, but you can also serve it as a topping for waffles, cheesecakes, rice pudding or ice-cream.

Sylt is one of the popular spots for Germans to spend their holidays. A over 40 km long, unbroken chain of sandy beaches and mud flat makes up the island's coastline. There are many protected nature habitats for fishes and birds to feed and rest. Majority of the houses are decked with traditional north German thatch roofs which gives a very rustic characters to the island. There are also many, many fine restaurants. It also has some of Germany's most expensive real estate, and is also known as a place for the rich and famous. Therefor you can probably say that it has a similar feel to the Hamptons.

I am in love with this beautiful place. The landscape is unbelievable. Everyday we were greeted with a clear blue sky and refreshing ocean breeze. I felt connected with this island, even though I have not been there for a long time, probably because I am born in north Germany, not too far from Sylt.

Since the land is mostly flat, one of the most popular tourist activities is cycling. There are plenty of shops where you can rent bicycles. You can probably travel around the island that way within half a day or so. Where bikes are not accessible, it is still very comfortable to reach these destinations at walking pace. There are hiking trails for those who wish to experience nature.

Another regional icon for Sylt, and perhaps north Germany, is something called Strandkorb. It literally means "beach basket", but are basically the Cadillac of beach benches. Traditionally built with woven wickers, the Strandkorb comes with accessories such as sun shield, collapsible mini-tables, and pull-out foot rests. You can see these little boxes peppered over the island, and they are a very comfortable place for spending a day on the beach.

Rote Grütze (Red Fruit Pudding)

- for about 8 portions -

450 ml red fruit juice (I used half black currant juice and half sour cherry juice)
90 g tapioca pearls

1250 g mixed red berries & fruits:
250 g rhubarb
250 g sour cherries
250 g strawberries
250 g raspberries
250 g red currants

225 g sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 vanilla bean
peel of 1 small organic lemon

To serve: 250 g heavy cream (or crème anglaise)

Clean the fruits. If using frozen fruits thaw them and use the juice for the base sauce. If using fresh cherries take the pits out. Cut the rhubarb into small pieces, about 1 cm. Also cut the strawberries.

Bring the juice together with the cinnamon, the vanilla bean plus its seeds and lemon peel to a boil. Turn down the heat and add the tapioca pearls. Let simmer for about 20-30 minutes until the pearls turn translucent. Don't forget to stir once in a while.

Add the sugar and the rhubarb to the juice mixture. Bring to a boil and let simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. Then add the remaining fruits and let cook for another 5 minutes.

Fill everything in a glass bowl and let cool. Stir once in a while, so everything is evenly distributed. The Grütze (fruit pudding) has to be cooled for at least 4 hours or better overnight.

Remove the vanilla bean and lemon peel before serving. Serve with cooled heavy cream or crème anglaise.

Enjoy and Guten Appetit!

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