Agnes Bernauer Chapel

Discovery of a beautiful Bavarian “witch” and of a cake

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blutenburg 201Halloween is just around the corner! It’s time to put together the final pieces of your costumes, pick out pumpkins to carve, and do some decorating. Treats for your friends and for yourself with an excellent historical cake to get in the Halloween spirit.pumpkins

The discovery of a beautiful Bavarian”witch” and her cake

Last week because the weather was so marvellous I decided to go for a ride tour in Bavaria. First I visited the botanical garden of Nymphenburg but because of the crowd I left for the adjacent village called Pasing. On my way suddenly I saw a small but very beautiful fortress which I haven’t noticed so far. So I stopped there I got off my bike and entered. Soon I learned that the castle was built in the 13th century and it had a very ominous name: Blutenburg which means in English “Bloody fortress”. Must be some tragedy happened here.-I thought and I was right. The mansion belonged to Albert III, the Duke of Bavaria. It was built in 1438–39 as a hunting-lodge, replacing an older castle burned down in war. (The origin of this fortress was a moated castle in the 13th century). Albert’s frequent residence at Blutenburg Castle beginning in 1433 because he fell in love with a beauty from Augsburg.

The witch and her cake

Agnes Bernauer was probably born around 1410; but nothing is known of her childhood and youth. She is traditionally considered to have been the daughter of the Augsburg barber surgeon Kaspar Bernauer, whose existence has, however, not yet been proved. Since the son of the Bavarian duke Albert III participated in a tournament and carnival in Augsburg in February 1428, it is generally assumed that he met Agnes on that occasion and shortly thereafter brought her to Munich.In a Munich tax roll dated 1428, a “pernawin” is listed as a member of his royal household, which is probably a reference to Agnes Bernauer.

In summer 1432 at the latest, Agnes Bernauer was an integral part of the Munich court. She took part in the capture of the robber baron Münnhauser, who had fled to the Old Court in Munich, and she annoyed the Palatine Countess Beatrix, Albert’s sister, because of her self-assured manner. It is possible that Agnes and Albert were already married at this point, but there is no concrete evidence of a marriage ceremony. There is no evidence of joint residence in Albert’s county of Vohburg, and there are no known descendants of the couple.blutenburg 212

But Duke Ernest, Albert’s father, was infuriated by the threat to the succession posed by his only son’s unsuitable liaison. While Albert was on a hunt arranged by his relative Henry of Bavaria-Landshut, Duke Ernest had Agnes arrested and drowned in the Danube River on 12 October 1435 near Straubing. When Albert discovered his father’s intrigue he became so upset that he didn’t want to see him again so that he went to Ingolstadt to Duke Louis VII (his cousin’s), but after a few months he was reconciled with his father and married Anna of Brunswick in November 1436. The feared military conflict between father and son did not materialze; it is possible that Emperor Sigismund (Hungarian king) exerted a restraining effect on Albert. But Albert couldn’t forget his great love. In December 1435, he endowed a perpetual mass and an annual memorial celebration in the Straubing Carmelite Cloister in memory of Agnes Bernauer. In 1436, his father had an Agnes Bernauer Chapel erected in the cemetery of St. Peter Straubing, probably to appease his son. It is not known whether Agnes was buried in the Carmelite cloister, which was her wish, or whether Albert arranged for the transfer of her mortal remains to the chapel dedicated to her. In any event, a tombstone of red marble with an almost life-size effigy of Agnes Bernauer was fitted into the floor of the chapel. The relief shows her lying with her head on a large pillow. In her right hand, on which she wears two rings, she holds a rosary, and two small dogs at her feet are there to guide her on her way to the hereafter. It was probably an oversight that the year of her death is incorrectly given there as 12 October 1436.

Agnes’s life and death have been depicted in numerous literary works, the most well known being Friedrich Hebbel’s tragedy of the same name and the folk musical Die Bernauerin by the composer Carl Orffblutenburg 196

Agnes Bernauer cake

If you visit Straubing you can find not only streets and sacrelidge places that are named after Agnes but you can also enjoy the world famous piece of cake the Agnes-Bernauer-Torte. How can I describe? It is a layered cake, filled with almond meringue and mocha butter cream, and on the top roasted almonds and nuts feature in this rich, but “oh so good sweet treat!” It is heavenly but extremely filling. How interesting that such an awful story be commemorated with cake but I’m glad for it because the cake is sooo delicious!

Ingredients: 200 gr almond, 350 gr powder sugar, 80 gr flour, 2 kk cinnamon, 7 egg whites, 500 ml milk, 1 pack of vanilla  pudding, 2-2 tbsp of instant coffee  3 tbs sugar, 250 gr butter, 200 gr almond for the top

Directions: Combine the ground almonds with the sugar, flour, pinch of salt and cinnamon together. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites by adding 150 g sugar until stiff then add to it the dry ingredients. Mix everything together well . Prepare 5-7 pieces of wax paper, depending on how many layers you want for your cake, and smear to parchment papers evenly. When you are ready then place the bases into the preheated oven and bake them at 170 ° C. You must bake each layers first for 20 minutes, (covered with waxed paper) then without waxed paper for further 5 max. 10 min. Allow doughs to cool.

Meanwhile prepare the pudding according to the instruction, add the milk to the custard powder with 3 tablespoons of sugar, 2 teaspoons of coffee powder and mix with a fork until smooth. Then, whip the butter by adding the powdered sugar.  add butter cream to the cooled pudding (making sure that the butter is at room temperature). Lubricate each layers in butter cream pudding.

At the final touch: roast almonds in a frying pan without adding any fat. Coat the top of the cake with the remaining cream and sprinkle the top of the cake with the roasted almond. Let it stand at least for 2 hours in the refrigerator. Before serving sieve some powder sugar over the top.