For the past three years instead of migrating somewhere warm for Winter I head off to cold (the second year temperatures dropped to -20) and snowy Wolfsburg a.k.a. VW ville (as I call it). VW has it’s headquarters, factory and Autostadt (= car city) in the town of Wolfsburg which is situated an hour train ride from Berlin or half an hour from Hannover.
For the month of December Autostadt (imagine an amusement park but VW themed with rides, restaurants and other automobile fun) puts on a Winter market. You can find Christmas markets in pretty much every German town (also in Austria and Switzerland) which usually consists of huts selling Glühwein (warm mulled wine), sausages, sweets and other Christmas goodies. Autostadt’s Wintermarkt picks out a country/theme for each year. In my first year it was American, last year Scottish and this year 1001 nights. Hence my research trip to Marrakech. They also have an ice rink and an ice skating show (Wizard of Oz the first year, Canterbury tales last year and this year four different 1001 night tales).
Working on this project already starts in May with researching ideas, testing recipes (I had a little practice in Milan) and then doing a formal presentation in October. A whole behind the scenes team works on the logistics of getting all the equipment and ingredients set up as the Pâtisserie is only set up for Christmas. I rock up a week before the market kicks off and get baking with my assistant. It’s no longer baking one cake now we’re talking double or even triple digits a day. When we make cheesecake we don’t make one cheesecake we make 120 in one go. We then bake continously every day for the next five weeks.
I have a lovely team of sales assistants who despite the -10 temperatures still manage to sell the cakes with a smile. Last year we had -20. The cheesecake was warmer in the fridge. All the ones on display were frozen. Luckily this year we’ve got heated cake plates, so no frozen cakes this year
On the menu are more of less the same cakes as I tested in Milan:
1. Cornes de gazelle
2. Mint & coconut cakes
3. Walnut baklava
4. Cardamom, pistachio and semolina cakes
5. Rosewater and lemon yoghurt cakes
6. Morrocan strudel
7. Chocolate and moroccan orange cakes
8. Cinammon raisin and walnut rolled biscuits
9. Black & white pinwheels
10. Rosewater cheesecake