In the German wine-growing regions – whether in Baden, on the Rhine, in Mosel, Saar and Nahe, the Palatinate, Hessen, or Franken – you're never too far away from a wine festival in September when the first new wine is ready. The new wine, known as "Federweißer" or "Suser", is served with warm onion cake. The origins of the onion cake lie in the southern German wine-growing regions in Baden and Swabia. The tradition goes back to Charlemagne, who issued a decree around the year 800 stating that the wine growers must serve some of the wine they produced themselves. The new wine was then offered together with the fresh onion cake in taverns known as "Besenwirtschaften" (Swabian) or "Straußenwirtschaften" (Alemannic). These taverns still exist today. They are particularly popular in the region on Shrove Tuesday. The name stems from the fact that a broom ("Besen" in Swabian, "Strauß" in Alemannic) was hung over the door as a symbol when the wine was served. It's no longer possible to trace who "invented" the onion cake and what the original recipe was – the recipes vary from region to region. The southern German onion cake is usually a rectangular or round tray bake with a yeast-dough base. As well as onions, the topping consists of sour cream or sweet cream, eggs, and cubes of bacon. The onions are not used raw, but are sautéed in butter instead. Caraway is often used to improve digestion. Vegetarians can replace the bacon with leek or bake the onion cake with cheese at the end.
And here's how you make it:
Ingredients for the yeast dough:
300 g flour
20 g yeast
1/8 l lukewarm milk
80 g butter
1 tsp salt
Ingredients for the topping:
1.5 kg onions (it's best to use onions from a farm here, or mild onions at the very least. The normal discount bulk ones are very strong and often let out a lot of water during cooking)
100 to 200 g streaky bacon (to taste)
1/4 l sour cream
A pinch of salt
1 tbsp caraway (if you wish)
For the yeast dough, sieve the flour into a bowl, make a well in the middle, crumble the yeast, add a pinch of sugar, and mix with the milk and a little flour. Leave covered with a cloth for around 15 minutes until it has doubled in size.
Melt the butter, add to the dough with the salt, and mix everything with all of the flour until bubbles start to develop. Leave to stand again for approximately 30 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
Cut the onions into rings.
Cut the bacon into cubes and fry in a pan. Add the onions and sweat until translucent.
Roll out the dough on a floured surfaced and place it on the baking sheet.
Whisk the sour cream with the eggs, salt, and caraway, mix in the onion mix, and spread the mixture over the dough.
Leave the cake for another 15 minutes then cook on the middle shelf for 20–30 minutes. Bon appétit!