In Memory of Dinkie Wasserman
I had the privilege and honour of meeting Dinkie Wasserman in 2013. I was introduced by her daughter-in-law Benita who thought Dinkie’s kranzkuchen – a unique scone-like rolled up pastry stuffed with dried fruit and glazed with icing – would be perfect for the Monday Morning Cooking Club collection. I went to Dinkie’s place a couple of times, to get to know her just a little and to stand beside her in the kitchen, watching and learning every step so we could recreate her legendary kranzkuchen. She was generous with her knowledge and kitchen wisdom. She was kind and sweet. Sadly, Dinkie passed away in March this year at the age of only 83. We hope she can live on forever in our hearts and our kitchens through her heartwarming story and, of course, her kranzkuchen.
And Dinkie told us her story in September 2013, for The Feast Goes On…
“Growing up, I never entered the kitchen. It was only after I married in 1953 that I started to cook. My husband, Basil, asked that I please not make the food of my parents’ heritage (English, South African) but rather the food of his mother’s family who had come from Russia and Lithuania. There began lessons from my mother-in-law, Granny Lily, who was the most wonderful cook. I was 21 at the time and remember watching her in the kitchen, following each step closely and measuring every single ingredient after Granny had put in her ‘pinch of this’ and ‘dash of that’.
Cooking became a part of who I was, preparing food for Basil, our three sons and friends as well as catering for the Johannesburg Waverly Synagogue. Since I immigrated to Sydney in 2002 I have cherished my assigned role in preparing the meal before the Yom Kippur fast for my son and my three grandchildren every year.
Although I don’t spend as much time in the kitchen as I used to, when I do bake it is extremely satisfying. I have found solace in the kitchen through all the tough and challenging moments of my life, and through the happier times as well. I proudly baked many cakes for my recent 80th birthday party and what a pleasure it was to watch everyone enjoy them so much.
In the 1950s, when eating a kranzkuchen for the first time at a friend’s house, my husband, Basil, declared, ‘This is the sort of cake I like.’ From that moment on it became a permanent part of my repertoire. My two remaining sons, their friends, my friends and my grandkids know me for my kranzkuchen. Most have grown up eating it; it is a cake that has been with me through every milestone in my life and my granddaughter Nicole tells me I am ‘as sweet as the cherries on top’.”
– (the late) Dinkie Wasserman, 2013
- 225 g plain flour (all purpose) flour (1 1/2 cups)
- 75 g self-raising flour (1/2 cup)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 30 g caster sugar (1 1/2 tablespoons)
- 60 g butter (unsalted)
- pinch of salt
- 1 egg
- 250 ml pure cream (1 cup)
- 150 - 300 g smooth apricot jam (1/2 - 1 cup)
- 30 g Cinnamon Sugar (see below)
- 250 g mixed currants, sultanas and raisins
- milk for glazing
- 160 g icing (confectioners) sugar (1 cup)
- 1/4 teaspoon water
- 1/2 lemon , juiced
- 60 g glace cherries (1/4 cup), optional
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Line a large baking tray.
- Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, mix the flours, baking powder, sugar, butter and salt together until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Mix the egg with the cream and pour into the flour mixture. Using a knife, bring the mixture together to form a soft but rollable dough. Add a little more plain flour if it is too sticky.
- Tip the dough onto a floured board. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to form a rough oval about 35 x 45 cm (14 x 17¾ inches) in size. Spread the entire surface with the jam, sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar and then top with the dried fruit.
- Roll up, starting at the top (the wider side), to make a long log and pinch the ends together. Place the log carefully onto the prepared tray. Bring the ends down so that the log is now a horseshoe or half-moon shape. With a knife, make five or so vertical slits on the outside rounded edge. Paint the top with the milk and bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 45 minutes.
- When completely cool, make the icing. Mix the sugar, water and lemon juice to a smooth paste. Pour the icing over the top of the log and allow to drip down the sides. Decorate with the glacé cherries, if desired.
- To make cinnamon sugar, combine 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon with 1 cup caster sugar.