My subtitle reads “From Leipziger Lerche to Cupcake and anything in between”. You might wonder now: “What is a Lerche?” By now, I am sure, you’ve guess right…it’s something German.
“Lerche” is the German word for lark. What do larks have to do with baking? Well, read carefully.
My hometown Leipzig (in Saxony/Germany) was well know for it’s migratory birds, especially larks. They moved through the area in thousands and people in the 18th century loved a delicacy, namely lark cooked, broiled, steamed, in any way possible (singing birds have been eaten in Europe since the Middle Ages). Of course that was food for well doing people, not the common man, but Leipzig was a rich city (it’s doing pretty well these days too). So, larks were caught, a lot, almost to the point of extinction. In 1876 the Saxon King Albert I. passed a decree that prohibited the hunting of larks.
If there is a delicacy that a lot of people like and then all of the sudden it is no longer available a substitute is always welcome. There is always someone who is smart and will invent just said substitute. The invention can not be assigned to a single person, it was probably the work of several bakers and pastry chefs. The result: a little cup cake shaped specialty, made of shortcrust, marzipan (almond paste), strawberry jam and some other ingredients.
You will find that delicacy in Leipzig’s bakeries, maybe not all, but downtown for sure. It is quite a lovely dessert and much better for the larks anyway. I haven’t baked them myself yet, probably because I am not a big fan of marzipan (almond past) but I think I will try and make some, at some point. I’ll let you know the recipe and how difficult it is (or not) to make it.