Saturday 5 September 2009

From Disappointment to Delight

Usedom forest cycleI'm no longer on the beautiful Baltic island of Usedom but I didn't feel I could totally leave my lovely holiday behind until I told you about a search I made for some reputedly fantastic cake. As I've already mentioned, Coffee Boy and I were really enjoying our little cycle rides into the wooded interior of the island and our eyes lit up when we read about a forester's hut that served "the best cake on the island". Naturally we set off straight away.

We headed along the coastal cycle path and then climbed up into a series of picturesque little villages full of thatched cottages that overlooked bucolic lakes. We'd mapped out a route for ourselves that turned out to be somewhat hillier than we had intended but we were determined to reach our goal and kept pushing on. The first low point came when we realised that we had passed the turning to the cake spot about twenty minutes and two hills earlier. Undeterred we decided to continue with our route and swing back round to the cafe a little later. This we did and although the route wasn't as lovely as some we had cycled the promise of delicious cake was enough to keep us going. Finally, at about 4pm - afternoon tea time no less - we coasted down a hill through the cool shady forest until we stumbled across the little wooden forester's hut, surrounded by flowers and plants and looking every inch a dream location. But then came the second, frankly crushing, disappointment: it was shut.

Forsthaus Fangel exteriorTo say I was furious doesn't perhaps convey the full extent of my mood at that moment. We had deliberately checked the opening times in our guide book before setting off and had been pleased to note that it was open daily. When I saw that the little board outside the cafe indeed confirmed that it was "Open Daily" I was verging on apoplectic to note that beneath it was another sign reading - "Closed Mondays". After a ten minute rant about the incompatibility of these two statements I was encouraged to, literally, get on my bike and head for home.

Given that the forester's hut was some way from the village we were staying in and the cycle ride to get there hadn't been one of our favourites we mentally waved goodbye to any hope of experiencing this fabled cake-lover's dream. But a couple of days later whilst trying to purchase gifts for my family, who were very kindly dog-sitting for us, I remembered how much I hated shopping and suggested we give it another go.

We tried a different route that was thankfully an altogether more enjoyable experience and along the way discovered a lovely patch of forest we hadn't seen before. This time, when we finally arrived at Forsthaus Fangel, it was not only open but there was a queue! So thrilled were we that we'd finally made it, we simply waited our turn and when a table became free we didn't even mind that it was inside. The menu listed about twelve different sorts of cake, all of them homemade, and judging by the tables around us the most popular were the fruit tarts. With that in mind I chose a gooseberry tart with a pot of tea and Coffee Boy went for a sour cherry tart with a pot of coffee. As it had taken so much effort to get there we further rewarded ourselves with a side order of whipped cream.

Ordinarily, when a teapot arrives with a little string coming out of it denoting some mass produced tea bag hiding inside my heart sinks a little. But this time the cake that accompanied said tea looked so amazing I hardly even noticed. Both of our fruit tarts were about three inches thick, with most of that being fruit. My beautiful green gooseberries were offset by a topping of candy pink icing and the sour cherry tart had a thick dusting of icing sugar. The cakes tasted just as delicious as they looked: not overly sweet thanks to the sharpness of the fruit but rich and of the absolutely perfect consistency. My Assam tea wasn't much more than warm and wet but Coffee Boy let me try a sip of his coffee which was so good I had to concede that coffee and cake wasn't a totally terrible idea.

Forsthaus Fangel Usedom afternoon tea kuchenAs the sugar rush hit all the trial and tribulations of getting to that point were forgotten. And as we finished off we noted with some smugness that the homemade cakes were only sold there in the cafe which made it all seem even more worthwhile. In fact, I don't know if it was the energy from the, likely thousands of, calories we'd consumed or just the joy at having found such fantastic cake so far off the beaten track, but the cycle ride home was one of the most enjoyable of the holiday. So my advice is this: if one summer you find yourself near the Baltic coast in Germany, make the effort to visit this cake paradise. I cannot believe that any of you would be disappointed. Just one reminder: don't go on a Monday.


  1. I was fearing that this would turn out to be a food disappointment of Rough Guide proportions but I was so glad to hear of a happy ending! Did you buy cakes to take home and if so which?! x

  2. It certainly had all the makings of one of our merry jaunts. Sadly take-aways were also a non-option. It will just have to live long in the memory - and also on the thighs...

  3. Ack! You're converting to coffee! Ha. It strikes me when I read this how much easier it is for a little cafe to produce a decent cup of coffee than a comparable cup of tea. The tea just demands a lot more attention than the coffee could ever benefit from. I've gotten to where I don't even want tea offered by a cafe anymore but instead bring a Pu-erh Tuo Cha with me when I go out. I order just hot water and brew my own tea as long as it's allowed. Let them bring out the cake; I'll provide my own tea. --Spirituality of Tea

  4. I'm impressed by your high standards Jason! A combination of not being organised enough and also being endlessly optimistic about the quality of tea I might get stops me bringing my own. The only exception is at work when, as I've mentioned before, I can basically guarantee that the only option will be disgusting machine tea. I'm still keeping my eyes peeled for a great vegan tea recipe btw.