The Saga of my Reform Torte
One Sunday after church friends gathered in our small living room on Parkman Ave in Los Angeles……Stefi Tant brought a cake that looked all chocolate and the aroma waved all the way to my bedroom where I sat at my desk studying for Monday’s exam.
The exclamations from our guests were so loud that I finally got up to see what all the excitement was about. Coming closer I saw that a cake was the center of everyone’s shouts of joy and surprise. I quickly walked closer and saw that the cake was cut and the multi-layered slices were the reason for the enthusiastic and complimentary words for Stefi Tant and her creation of a most beautiful pastry.
Well, it tasted as good as it looked! As a matter of fact, it melted in your mouth with the bitter-sweet chocolate and the nuttiness of the walnuts which counteracted the sweet melted heaven to a sublime moment of culinary science……
Many years later, after I was married Stefi Tant came to visit us, and in one of our conversations I asked her about that particular cake on that special Sunday when she surprised all of us with the most delicious Torte. She then told me that it was called Reform Torte…….and that it was named in memory of the Reformation Period which happened in the 15 hundreds in Germany and Austria.
She shared the recipe right then and there at the kitchen table where we sat while I wrote down every word and instruction that she gave me.
After her visit I made the cake and it was just as delicious as it was when I first tasted it so many years ago. The incredible thing was that her directions and instructions were so exact that I could not have made the cake without them…….it was her baking expertise that she conveyed to me with which I could claim my success in reproducing this fantastic cake.
Reform Torte Recipe
Preheat oven to 350 F
On 2 sheets of parchment paper draw a circle using a 10 inch spring form bottom.
Turn the parchment paper over in order not to bake on the drawn side.
10 egg whites from extra large eggs
¼ tsp cream of tartar
1 ½ cups sugar
4 ½ cups finely ground walnuts
2 Tbsp unseasoned bread crumbs…..optional
2 Tbsp corn starch (if the bread crumbs are not used add 4 Tbsp corn starch)
Beat the egg whites slowly together with the cream of tartar for the first 5 minutes, then increase the speed to a medium speed for the next 5 minutes. Now add the sugar slowly and increase to high speed and continue beating until the whites are quite stiff, but not dry.
Look for stiff peaks.
Remove beaters and add the walnuts, corn starch and bread crumbs (if used), and mix these ingredients with a spatula gently until the batter is well mixed.
Now spread a layer of that batter onto the rounds of the parchment paper…….it should be about ¼ to ½ inch thick. Stay within the circle as much as you can.
Pull the parchment paper with the walnut batter onto a cookie sheet and bake it at 350 F for 10 minutes…….then decrease the heat to 300 F and bake until lightly browned.
While the first layer is being baked spread the batter on the second round on the parchment paper, and proceed with the baking instructions as with the first layer. Continue until all the batter is baked and you have about 6 or seven layers. If you spread the batter thicker you will have fewer layers……which is not a problem.
These layers can be made a couple of days ahead and stored in air tight containers.
2 cups milk
2 tsp Instant Espresso coffee
2 egg yolks
¼ cup cornstarch
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
2 ½ cups of unsalted butter at room temperature
Use a sauce pan and put the instant coffee, the egg yolks, cornstarch and sugar into the cold milk, and mix well. Heat this mixtures to boiling while mixing continuously…..as it begins to simmer and then boil……quickly remove the mixture from the heat and mix vigorously until the cream has become thick and shiny.
If you feel more comfortable you can make this pastry cream over a water bath.
When the cream has thickened add the chocolate chips and stir until they have melted into the cream.
Now add the butter and also stir until well incorporated and completely blended into the cream.
Transfer the chocolate cream into a plastic container and seal it with a lid.
Place it into the refrigerator overnight to be completely cooled.
Stack the walnut layers with adding the chocolate cream between them. The layers of the chocolate cream need to be quite thin, because you need to have enough cream to ice the cake with it as well.
To decorate the cake one can take walnut halves and place them around the edges of the cake or simply dust the top of the cake with cocoa powder.
The cake needs to be refrigerated until it is served.
The meringue layers will soften with the chocolate cream and will have a very smooth and creamy consistency while you and your guests savor every morsel.