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Bregenzerwald? Smells like Sig

Bregenzerwald? Smells like Sig

Bregenzerwald? Smells like Sig

For cook Milena Broger, Sig, also known as “Bregenzerwald Chocolate,” is typical of the smells and taste of her homeland. But why does she serve it with apricot dumplings?

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to come to the Bregenzerwald for the first time. What would be my first impression? What would I notice? And above all, what would I make of the smell? I remember our previous holidays to Wachau. Every year during the “apricot season,” we got into the car and drove to my mum’s home. Naturally, the vegetation, climate, architecture and culture are quite different from the Bregenzerwald, but what I remember most of all is the difference in smell. Every year, the flowery, almond-like smell of the Wachau proved to be a big surprise.

From the moment I got out of the car and took a deep breath, I knew: This is the smell of our family holiday, this is smell of Mum’s former home. Just as this scent of the Wachau can still inspire a feeling of freedom in me today, I am always amazed when I come to the Bregenzerwald after a long time. It’s the smell of arriving, of being at home. It smells – how best can I describe it? I wouldn’t say cows per say, but there is certainly an animal smell of milk and grease. When I breathe in this smell, it brings a satisfied smile to my face and I am reminded of how important the senses are and how strongly the nose, tongue, ears and eyes are involved in our feelings. From one smell to another: Packing every free space in the car with ripe apricots was the annual ritual at the end of our trip to the Wachau. Boxes piled full of fruit were stacked between my brother and me. It smelled sweet, fruity and entirely Wachau.

In addition to being from Wachau, my mum is also a fanatic for quality. Walking through the aisles of the supermarket, she complains about what passed for an Armenian plum or an apricot. After all, the greenish, firm and sour example of what was being sold could hardly pass as such. “A really good apricot has red cheeks,” says Mum. Small pressure marks are not to be mistaken as bad; on the contrary, the more worn out the fruit looks, the sweeter and more intense the taste. The first dish we always cooked after returning to the Bregenzerwald was apricot dumplings.

This is how my mum used to make them: with choux pastry, plenty of sugar crumbs and the smallest of ripe apricots threatening to go past their prime. There is absolutely nothing like mum’s apricot dumpling. However, I also enjoy breaking traditions and testing boundaries. These cottage-cheese dumplings with “Sig” filling and stewed apricot are a prime example. Sig, which is typical of the Bregenzerwald, serves as a contrasting ingredient to the sweet fruit. After cheese production, the remaining protein (called Ziger in local dialect) is removed from the whey so that the whey is mainly lactose. The boiling down process continues until caramelisation. This is how Sig, also known as “Bregenzerwald Chocolate,” a round brownish caramel dumpling, usually decorated with a heart, is created. When I first tried Sig, I had to spit it out again because of its peculiar taste. It doesn’t taste of sweet caramel as expected but is instead a mix of sour, sweet and salty, combined with intense whey flavour. It’s a real challenge to the senses, which is what makes Sig such a true taste explosion in the right amount. It’s the smell and taste of the Bregenzerwald in a highly concentrated form! After all, we use our senses to create feelings. For me, the apricot is the taste of holidays and my mum. Similarly, Sig, the concentrated taste of the Bregenzerwald, gives me the feeling of being deeply rooted.

Preparation:

For the dumpling mixture, knead the cottage cheese with all remaining ingredients to a smooth dough. It is important that the cottage cheese is very dry. If necessary, wrap the cottage cheese in a cloth, place it in a sieve and let it drip-dry overnight in the refrigerator. Leave the finished dough to simmer in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (top/bottom heat) for the stewed apricots. Place the apricots (frozen or freshly cut in half) in a deep baking tray and cook in the oven for 15 minutes. Add sugar and half a cinnamon stick and continue baking for 15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. For the sugar crumbs heat butter until it starts to foam, add crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt and stir briefly. Remove the dough from the fridge and form small balls from it. Shape small dumplings from the cottage cheese mixture and fill them with the Sig balls. Boil water in a wide pot, add a dash of milk, and a pinch of salt. The water must not come to a boil! Let the dumplings steep for approx. 8 minutes, then bathe in sugar crumbs and serve with the stewed apricots.

Author: Milena Broger

Edition: Winter Travel Magazine 2018-19

Recipe: Cottage-cheese dumplings filled with Sig and stewed apricots

Recipe: Cottage-cheese dumplings filled with Sig and stewed apricots

Ingredients for 4 portions:
To make cottage-cheese dough:
- 500 g cottage cheese (very dry, if necessary let it drip dry overnight in a sieve)
- 2 small eggs
- 100 g bread crumbs
- 40 g flour
- 60 g liquid butter
- 40 g sugar, pinch of salt, vanilla

For the filling and the crumbs:
- 50 g Sig
- 100 g butter
- 100 g bread crumbs
- 60 g sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, pinch of salt

For the stewed apricot:
- 800 g apricots (frozen or fresh)
- 200 g sugar (more or less, depending on the sweetness of the apricots)
- ½ cinnamon stick

Preparation:

For the dumpling mixture, knead the cottage cheese with all remaining ingredients to a smooth dough. It is important that the cottage cheese is very dry. If necessary, wrap the cottage cheese in a cloth, place it in a sieve and let it drip-dry overnight in the refrigerator. Leave the finished dough to simmer in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (top/bottom heat) for the stewed apricots. Place the apricots (frozen or freshly cut in half) in a deep baking tray and cook in the oven for 15 minutes. Add sugar and half a cinnamon stick and continue baking for 15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. For the sugar crumbs heat butter until it starts to foam, add crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt and stir briefly. Remove the dough from the fridge and form small balls from it. Shape small dumplings from the cottage cheese mixture and fill them with the Sig balls. Boil water in a wide pot, add a dash of milk, and a pinch of salt. The water must not come to a boil! Let the dumplings steep for approx. 8 minutes, then bathe in sugar crumbs and serve with the stewed apricots.

Author: Milena Broger

Edition: Winter Travel Magazine 2018-19

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