"Good afternoon, Miss Rhubarb. You look gorgeous today!"
And she blushed the most beautiful red I had ever seen.
Ever since I arrived in Germany, I had this idea of a Datschi topped with spring ambassadors: tart rhubarb and juicy, sweet strawberries. As it's Datschi we're talking about here, it was clear that there also needed to be streusel. Lots of it.
Have you ever heard of Datschi? I basically grew up eating this treat. It's a type of sheet cake, which is especially enjoyed in Bavaria and the Allgäu. The topping alternatives for a Datschi are endless; an apricot version won my heart last summer. The most known variation of Datschi is, however, Zwetschgendatschi. It is, as its name says, made with Zwetschgen, Italian Prune Plums.
Until a few years ago, there was an old, big Zwetschgentree growing in my grandparents' and uncle's garden. [...yes, until someone got the brilliant idea to cut down the tree. I'm still a bit mad.] There was always a baking sheet of Zwetschgendatschi waiting for me when we came to visit. My Oma kept the Datschi in the oven. Piece by piece, crumb by crumb, it disappeared.
And so it was time to make a new one.
I was beyond excited when my Opa told me there was rhubarb growing in the front yard garden, waiting to be harvested. So I put on some boots I found in the house and walked into the small garden. A garden full of treasures. A place where joy resides. "I want to have a garden like this one day", I thought to myself.
It was raining slightly. It was a gentle, almost meditative kind of rain, not a stormy one. One that was gratefully welcomed by nature and farmers alike. It had been such a dry winter and spring so far which could be seen just by looking at the mighty Alp on the horizon: the peaks were almost snow-free. As I walked into the garden, I listened how the wet, soft ground sounded under my feet. I had to be very careful not to step on all those snails. Some of them even carried their home with them, on their backs. Small, yellow homes looking both solid and fragile. To carry all your belonging with you...it reminded me of the months spent traveling the world with nothing more than a 10 kilo (22 lb.) backpack on my shoulders.
One by one, I harvested the very thin, delicate stalks. With every stalk, the feeling of joy in my heart grew bigger. Often, it's the small, humble things that make you smile so hard that you don't know how to stop. I also knew that in less than one hour I would have something delicious to share with my loved ones. Food is most beautiful when it's shared with others.
So I made a Datschi. I swear it didn't survive the first half an hour. Slice by slice; crumb by crumb.
Next day, I made a second one. It proved to be equally popular. Just like the ones my beloved Oma used to make in this house.
Rhubarb Strawberry Datschi
dough adapted from delicious:days
The rhubarb and strawberries as well as the thin crust make this Datschi the more sophisticated, elegant sister of the traditional Zwetschgendatschi. I made two slightly different versions: with and without cinnamon. It was, however, impossible to decide which one was more delicious so I will leave it up to you. I strongly encourage you to serve it with whipped cream, although, I'm sure coconut whipped cream or vanilla ice cream would be wonderful as well. On a different note, I like to make this dough by hand, but you can definitely make it in your stand mixer if you wish to.
Oh, and sorry for giving weight measurements only (except for the milk). There weren't even measuring spoons in this house... But, thankfully, a scale. On a quick note, you should definitely get a scale if you don't already have one. It makes cooking, and especially baking, so much easier: fewer dishes, more constant and accurate results. Need I say more?
for the dough:
1 dl ( ⅓ cup + 1 ½ tbsp) lukewarm milk
14 g (0.5 oz) fresh yeast [or 4,5 g / 0.16 oz / 1 ½ tsp (intant) active dry yeast, used according to packet instructions]
55 g (2 oz) granulated sugar
pinch of fine sea salt
~ 300 g (10.6 oz) all-purpose flour
55 g (2 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
for the streusel:
130 g (4.6 oz) all-purpose flour
70 g (2.5 oz) granulated sugar
large pinch of fine sea salt
70 g (2.5 oz) unsalted butter
for the filling:
~ 350 g (12.5 oz) rhubarb, sliced
~ 350 g (12.5 oz) strawberries, hulled & sliced
2 tbsp granulated sugar
To make the dough
In a medium-sized bowl, combine milk and crumbled yeast. [If using instant active dry yeast, skip this step. Combine yeast with some flour and add to warm, about 42°C / 108°F, milk mixture just before adding the rest of the flour.] Stir until yeast is completely dissolved. Add sugar, salt, and egg. Whisk until combined. Gradually add most of the flour and knead. Add butter and knead until well combined. Continue to knead and add flour until the dough comes clean off the sides of the bowl and doesn't stick to your hand.
Shape into a ball and cover with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until it's almost double in size.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C / 355°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
To make the streusel
In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, and butter until you have a crumbly mixture. If not using immediately, put the bowl into the fridge.
To assemble the Datschi
With a rolling pin, roll out the dough until roughly the size of the baking sheet. Spread out on the baking sheet and pull into shape. Spread the rhubarb and strawberries in an even layer over the dough. Sprinkle with sugar and, optionally, with some cinnamon. Sprinkle the streusel over the fruit.
Bake for 25–30 minutes, or until the edges are dark brown. Let cool and cut into squares and serve with a generous dollop of whipped cream.