Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My Tradional "Birthday Cake"

For my girls, elephant head peticolaris!

Well, it's that time of year again, MY BIRTHDAY!  In a lot of ways, a mid-summer birthday is not the best.  School is not on so in my earlier days, I never got to have cupcakes or cookies at school for my birthday.  A lot of people were on vacation so no big party, although the neighbor kids were usually around for a fun time. When I got married there was no time for a celebration, since I was cooking for a hay crew!

On the plus side, I always got the best birthday cake!  We got to choose what we wanted and I always chose Strawberry Schaum Torte!  I still love it and make it on occasion but not usually for my birthday any more.  When my foods classes studied eggs I usually had some group make it.  Most of us loved it, although I remember up in Owyhee someone telling me "this is NOT an Indian thing!"

I have some great memories of a few of my birthdays.  On my fifth birthday I received my first ring.  It was a ruby (not sure if it was real but I loved it!)  That year a few neighbor kids and my siblings got to go swimming in a nearby lake for my big day.  (I think it was at Whitnall Park, but not sure).  Nothing would do but I had to wear my ring while swimming and, you guessed it, I lost it in the water!  I cried but we never did find it and Mom and Dad decided I was too young for a ring so I didn't get a replacement.  Well, not until after I got married and Bob got me one at Stern & Co. when we were in Rio De Janiero.  It is beautiful, but it has come loose where one side of the ring connects to the setting.  I need to get it fixed but people have warned me to know the jeweler well or they might  switch rings on me! 

On my 18th birthday I celebrated in Berlin, Germany, when I was an exchange student.  I was living with a family in the French sector of Berlin (this was before the wall!).  My family consisted of a single mother and her two daughters.  The father had been a soldier in WWII and had been killed on the Russian Front.  The family did not have a lot of money but they had a lovely party for me with a typical German cake and, of course, mit sahne(sp?) -- with cream (whipped).  I remember a neighbor girl who had been an exchange student and whose father was a champagne salesman, brought over some champagne to help with the celebration!  I think I gained 10 pounds that summer from all the great food!

Another birthday I celebrated in China!  Bob and I were on a People to People trip with a group of farmers and ranchers. We were in Canton and had a very wonderful meal with a lot of my most favorite foods.  I had bought a beautiful bottle of some kind of Chinese liquor ( I got it for the bottle) and we decided to have it to celebrate.  We drank a toast and that was it! The wine -- or whatever it was -- tasted awful!!!!  Some of the people on the trip then tried to trick me by putting some of it in a small dish and telling me it was a great dipping sauce for our egg rolls.  Way to ruin my favorite thing!  They got a great laugh out of it, though!

One last memory was of a birthday when I woke up to our clock radio on a Sunday morning about 6 AM.  I was dozing since I didn't have to get up too early.  I realized that the usual Sunday programs were not on and the announcer was talking excitedly about something.  I finally learned it was a terrible disaster in the Big Thompson Canyon.  A huge flash flood had come down the canyon at night and had washed away campgrounds, families in cars, state patrolmen who had driven up the canyon trying to warn campers, and many summer homes!  A lot of people lost their lives that day and it is still talked about even after thirty years!

Here's the recipe for Schaum Torte the way I like it!

Strawberry Schaum Torte

4 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla
Dash of salt
1 cup sugar

3 cups sliced strawberries (I had to use frozen ones but they were still good).
Ice cream
Whipping Cream (optional)

1.  Place egg whites in a large mixing bowl at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Beat egg whites, cream of tartar, vanilla and salt on medium speed until soft peaks form.  Gradually beat in sugar about 2 TBSP. at a time, on high until stiff glossy peaks form and sugar is dissolved about 7 minutes.  Peaks should stand up straight without bending over.

*2.  My way is this:
Spray 2 or 3 cookie sheets with Pam or other cooking spray or use parchment paper to line them.  If you use paper, you can draw 8  4 1/2-inch circles on the paper.(I traced around an inverted custard cup)  Either use a pastry bag to pipe meringue onto the circles building up the sides to form shells or use the back of a spoon to spread meringue over the circles building up the sides.  If you don't draw circles just use your judgment to get kind of uniform sized meringue shells.  I sometimes make more meringue and make an equal number of small peaked blobs to use to put on top of the whole treat! (I actually made 8 4 1/2-inch meringues and 5 small blobs with this recipe)

Bake in a 300 degree F. oven for 35 minutes.  Mine were done in 25 and because I spread some pretty thin they got too done(burnt!) so check on them.  Turn off the oven.  Let shells dry in the oven with door closed for at least an hour. Mine were plenty dry right out of the oven but if you live where it is humid you might have to let them dry in the oven.   At this point you can store these in an airtight container for about 5-7 days. (at least in this dry climate -- maybe only 3 days if it is humid!)
3.  To fill:  Take a shell, put a scoop of ice cream in it, and top with a generous amount of strawberries.  Then you can put the peaked blob you baked on top or if you didn't make a topper you can top with whipped cream or with nothing!
Makes 8 Schaum Tortes.

* you can play with this recipe and make them larger or smaller or make a large one in a springform pan as well.  If you make one large one you need to bake it for 45 minutes.  Fill it and then cut into individual servings.

That's my favorite birthday cake!  I hope you try it and enjoy it as much as I do.

PS:  I really had planned on making a Darn Good (Raspberry Filled) Chocolate Cake for my birthday and had even bought the ingredients but now I just might have to put that off and have my usual!

Let egg whites come to room temperature for 30 minutes.

Add vanilla, salt, and cream of tartar.

Beat to soft peaks.

Add sugar slowly as you continue to beat on high.

 Beat for 7 minutes!  Yes this is right!

Meanwhile draw circles on parchment paper using a custard cup for the pattern. Or not if you don't have the paper.  Some people suggest using brown paper bags but they are hard to find anymore!

Beat until stiff and glossy.  Don't get in a hurry!  PEAKS SHOULD STAND UP STRAIGHT.

Spread the mixture out in a circle building up the edges, don't make the bottoms too thin or they may burn like some of mine did!

Meringues are ready for the oven.
Bake for 35 minutes.  Mine only took 25 minutes so be watchful.

The finished toppers.

Out of the oven and ready to fill.

MMMMMM! Bob reports that it was delishI couldn't have any due to my pulled tooth!

One last look.  It is so yummy even though I didn't have vanilla or strawberry ice cream and had to use mint chocolate chip!

Have fun with this great summer treat and enjoy it!


  1. I remember the Schaum Tortes for your birthday.
    I also have fond memories of pulling taffy although I can't remember the occasion.

  2. It was Halloween! Caramel apples, too! I'll have to dig those recipes up come October!

  3. That was looking good until the mint chocolate chip ice cream. Not too sure about that combination. Too bad you didn't have any strawberries to use from the Strawberry Festival! How's your tooth, or should I say mouth feeling?

  4. I think we need to have some schaum torte for your b-day since Jim and I will be there. I will bring some Vanilla Ice cream though.


  5. Bob liked the mint choc chip ice cream with it but I DO prefer vanilla! I'm still looking at the chocolate cake pretty closely since I now have had my schaum torte fix! It has a ganache frosting and I've never tried that before.....

  6. I remember the reports of the Big Thompson flood in July '76. My folks were driving my brother, cousin and I back from a 10 day backpacking trip after us boys (aged 15 and 17) ventured into the Wind River Wilderness high country in Wyoming. The radio broadcasts reported a higher death toll every hour and it was pretty scary to hear that....