I'll make you a cake, I said to Roger, as a thank you for my new blog banner. You choose what sort of cake. Usually this means chocolate, or for the less sophisticated, more chocolate.
I'll have to think, he said, and consult Tim. I'll get back to you.
We would like mohnstrudel, they said; we loved it when we lived in Vienna.
Mohnstrudel? Wossat? Poppyseed roll. Took a while to find a recipe for that, or at least one that didn't require a staff team of five. Yeasted dough, not pastry. Large amounts of poppy seeds. A true relic of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, with more (complicated) Hungarian recipes online than Viennese. My heart sank. Yeasted anything was not my forte, and it was clear that expectations (and faith in my abilities) were high.
And then, in a little-used recipe book , I found the very thing, named as a Polish confection, but looking just right. R & T agreed - this would do nicely, minus the non-Viennese additions to the poppy seeds and the iced topping. I had a pack of ground poppy seeds already, a gift from Roger some time ago, that with hindsight I could now see had an ulterior motive. R & T came back from their Saturday jaunt to town bearing some fresh yeast from Fenwicks, so I was all set up.
And what yeast! Costing all of 24 pence, this was wonderful yeast, just bursting with vim and vigour; the sweet dough rose so enthusiastically that I was moved to send Roger a warning email about it before it took over the warm spot (upstairs sitting room) and smothered the cats and I in its pillowy bosom.
It seemed like a crime to knock it back, and it put up a fair fight. Rolling it out into a rectangle wasn't easy either - like rolling a bouncy castle - with dough determined to carry on towards the ceiling: no, no, let me rise some more! I have so much more life left in me yet! The warm poppy seed, butter and sugar mixture was spread over it, to pin it down as much as anything, and with difficulty, it was rolled up and popped into the oven.
Delicious smells ensued, but a rather unprepossessing loaf resulted, which wrinkled slightly when glossed with a little butter. This is where icing and toasted almonds would have come in handy. So far, so good - perhaps. But what would it taste like? Would it meet the expectations of Roger and Tim, with their experience of real Viennese bakeries and the genuine article, their very favourite, ever?