Fort Wayne – Erin Baumgartner, a 30-year-old social studies teacher at North Side High School, likes to use food to teach.
I taught my class to make sushi, brownies, tamales (and) crepes, she says. I did a World War II unit and made bangers and mash. I made African foo foos – its a banana pancake. That was the African unit.
To give students an understanding of what it was like to live through the Great Depression, Baumgartner had them go through a soup kitchen line where they received meatless vegetable soup.
Students were asked to make hemisphere cakes for geography class. Each cake was to be decorated like one of the hemispheres.
I like to have fun and get creative with food in my classroom. I guarantee every student remembers each activity we have done that involved food, she states.
Baumgartner and her husband, Chris, enjoy traveling during their down time.
Weve gone to a lot of cool places. My favorite was Southeast Asia, Cambodia and Thailand. The food is fantastic. That is my favorite type of food, though, she says.
Baumgartner jokes that it was her pie baking that got her husbands attention.
I tease my husband that he only married me because I can make pies. That and I can carry my own canoe, she says. We cook together a lot. Weve been married almost seven years.
This week, Baumgartner is planning to enter the Germanfest Bake-Off. The event begins at 10 a.m. Saturday at Headwaters Park. She thinks this will be her fifth or sixth time.
You dont have to be German to be in the bake-off, she says, adding, My husband is from Berne. I thought about entering the bake-off for Swiss Days, but my husband said, I dont know, honey. Those women are the real deal.
Someday, she says, thoughtfully. Its on the bucket list: Enter the Swiss Days bake-off.
Q. Have you ever won at the Germanfest bake-off?
A. I just know Ive placed first, second or third. I was not in it last year.
Q. Where do you find your recipes?
A. I think Betty Crocker is a genius. I have gone online and searched recipes.
Q. Whats your favorite cookbook?
A. Betty Crockers Best of Baking and Dutch Delight III.
Q. Whats your favorite food?
A. I love food. My husbands pineapple fried rice. It has shrimp, pineapple, peas. Its a Thai dish. The secret is the jasmine rice.
Q. Who would you say is your cooking idol?
A. Does it have to be someone famous? OK, Lou Coppola. When he lived in Fort Wayne, he managed Aramark and he had cooking classes at IPFW. I was friends with his son through high school and even today. Awesome, awesome stuff. He taught another friend and me how to make his familys recipe for pizza dough.
My aunts are awesome, too. During my familys get-togethers, theres 15 pies. His mom and aunts are phenomenal cooks, too.
Rhubarb Custard Pie
4 to 6 cups chopped rhubarb
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 heaping tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put chopped rhubarb in unbaked crust. Mix together remaining ingredients; pour over rhubarb. Bake for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake until done, about 50 minutes. Makes 8 servings.
2 cups unbleached flour, sifted
4 tablespoons butter (no margarine)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon lemon zest, optional
3 cups cottage cheese
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon lemon rind, grated
1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
1 cup raisins, soaked in rum
To make crust: In a large mixing bowl, blend all the ingredients, cutting in the butter and working the mixture with your hands until it is well mixed and workable.
Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Use one half to line the bottom of a greased 9-inch springform pan, the other half to line the sides of the pan. Either roll out the dough or press it in with your fingers. Chill before filling.
To make cheesecake: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Press the cottage cheese through a sieve. Combine the cornstarch and the baking powder and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cottage cheese with the sugar, eggs, lemon rind and vanilla. Beat until very smooth. Add the dry mixture to the cheese and blend well. Stir in the sour cream and raisins.
Pour the cheese mixture into the prepared crust and bake for one hour or until done. The center will remain soft. Turn off the oven and prop the door open. Allow the cake to cool to room temperature. Makes 10 servings.
Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cake)
6 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or essence
4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
1 cup flour, sifted
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons kirsch (cherry brandy)
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons kirsch
2 cups canned sour cherries, drained
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
To make cake: Beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla together until thick and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Alternately fold chocolate and flour into the egg mixture, ending with flour. Pour the batter into three 8-inch cake pans that have been well greased and floured. (Do not use oil to grease the pans: use butter or Crisco or a similar solid fat. If you use oil, the layers will probably stick to the pans. Also: make sure you do the greasing and flouring even if you have nonstick pans.)
Bake the layers in a preheated 350-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans for 5 minutes; then carefully turn out on racks and allow to cool completely.
To make syrup: Mix sugar and water together and boil for 5 minutes. When syrup has cooled, stir in kirsch. Prick the cake layers and pour syrup over all three layers.
To make filling: Beat together sugar and butter until well blended. Add egg yolk; beat until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Fold in kirsch.
Cake assembly: To assemble cake, place 1 layer on a cake plate. Spread with butter cream filling. Using 3/4 cup of the cherries, which have been patted dry, drop cherries evenly over cream. Place second layer on cake. Repeat. Place third layer on top.
Fold 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar into the whipped cream. Cover the sides and top of the cake with whipped cream. Decorate top of cake with remaining 1/2 cup cherries.
Grated chocolate is perfectly acceptable as a topping, but if you prefer to make chocolate curls from a chocolate bar, shave them off the bar (at room temperature) with a vegetable peeler. Refrigerate the curls until ready to use. Press the chocolate curls on sides of cake; sprinkle a few on the top.
Chill the cake until serving time. Because of the cream, keep the cake in the fridge until its finished. Makes 10 to 12 servings.