When I arrived here at the Süßes Löchle, I was 15. And you can imagine: serving in the café and chatting with the customers, that was nice enough. But I was much more interested in the confectionery and the chocolate cakes and the sugar bunnies. And I soon found out how they were made – back here in the bakery, by my friend Heinrich, the confectioner. Come on!
Well, Gardi? Have you come to give me a hand? Or do you just want to watch? Or maybe try some? But don't let your aunt catch you.
No, I wasn’t planning to try any... or maybe just a nibble. I’ll need to learn how you make all these things, if...
...if you want to run this place yourself one day, huh? No problem!
No, I didn’t mean... well... I just want to learn how you make them. What do you do on this table, for instance?
This is where I make the chocolates. Or the sweets ... it depends.
Depends on what?
It depends on what I’m making on the day. Just kidding. We use the table to make chocolates and sweets. Because in both cases, the basic mixture, that is, the big, gooey sugary mass or the melted chocolate – has to be cooled down in a controlled way. That’s especially important when you’re dealing with chocolate. It has to be tempered properly, to make sure it forms nice cocoa butter crystals. If it’s done right, the chocolate has a smooth, glossy surface and breaks with a snap.
Wait a minute! Tempering? What's that?
Tempering, from Old English "temprian". It means “to bring to the desired consistency”.
To bring to the desired consistency?! And you do that on the table?
Exactly. On this table right here. It’s a special table for making chocolate and sweets. Most such tables are made of marble, but the one we have is a very distinctive design. Do you see the pipes running in and out of the sides of the table?
Those are cold water pipes. So the cold water chills the table, specifically, the cast-iron table top... from beneath. Put your hand on it. Pretty chilly, huh?
Yes, it is. But why do you need it to be chilled?
To control the cooling process. Look here: the melted chocolate goes on to the table at exactly 45 degrees Celsius. We check with a special thermometer. And then you take two big spatulas and you push the chocolate back and forth and hither and thither, always working it from the edge to the middle and back again. And because the table is cold, it cools down the chocolate and makes it firmer... and allows cocoa butter crystals to form. Back and forth, back and forth on the table. And that's called “tempering”.
I see. And you need to do that if you want the chocolate to break with the right snap...
Then you can use it as a coating for cakes, or to make Easter eggs, or shells for chocolates. They’re supposed to break with a snap when you bite into them. The temperature is not quite as important when you’re making sweets. But the basic paste, made of sugar, water and glucose syrup, also goes on to the refrigerated table here and is worked and worked and worked and then rolled out...
... and cut into strips. And those toffee strips are put through the press with the two heart-shaped rollers to make a lot of little toffee hearts. White ones and red ones. I watched that the other day.
And you were even paying attention. Excellent! So do you know why the refrigerated table is so important, here in our little bakery?
Because it's usually quite hot in here, and the whole chilling process would never work. The oven is right next door, and once that’s roaring away, it heats up the whole room. Would you like to have a look at it?
Foto: © Wagner Roland und Adelheid, Lahr