Best Picture Baking Project: All Quiet on the Western Front

Picture of the cake unfortunately missing (except it was smushed so not that unfortunate)

I read the book of All Quiet on the Western Front when I was in high school (I think, it might have been freshman year of college) so I knew going in that it was a bleak look at life in the German trenches in WWI, which of course made it a bit awkward to try and choose a dessert to pair with it. So with the help of Alyssa, I settled on making a generic German dessert, as the movie follows the story of ordinary German school boys-turned-soldiers. So…apple cake!

Had I seen this one before?

Nope, but as I said I read the book, and I had seen the last sequence with the butterfly, but I had misremembered it as a flower, which would have made no sense.

Top 3 observations on this viewing?

  1. It was funnier than I expected it to be. Obviously the most powerful/most referenced scenes are about the horrors of war, but there are some wonderful comic relief scenes, particularly with Louis Wolheim, who plays the fatherly Kat, and has a lovely gnome-like face that mugs very well.

2. You can totally tell that this was made very close to the silent era (it won Best Picture in 1929), there are no real scene transitions it just fades to black, and a lot of the actors act more with their facial expressions than their dialogue.

3. Although I couldn’t keep all the boys straight at the beginning, I think that the fact the main character, Paul (Lewis Ayers), only emerges as the center of the film as his friends fall around him is an incredibly powerful way to show the way that WWI decimated the young male population of Europe. This message holds up, as do almost all the special effects, which is kind of cool given how old this movie is.

What did it beat? Did it deserve to win?

The Big House I’ve never seen it.

Disraeli Never seen it.

The Divorcee See above

The Love ParadeI legitimately didn’t know this existed till right now.

So clearly I can’t really speak to whether or not this should have won, but I can say that it holds up.

Bechdel Test Pass?

Nope I can only think of one female character with a name, and the only women who talk to each other are Paul’s mother and sister who discuss cooking for him when he comes home, or the French women the soldier’s bring bread (which is as euphemistic as the movie is about this scene. But honestly in this context that’s OK with me, this is a story about a very male environment, and the weird dreamlike interactions with the women who do show up are a part of the general disconnection that the soldiers deal with on and away from the front.

But enough deep thoughts about war – I made an apple bunt cake, and though I had a lot of trouble getting it out of the pan. It turned out tasting very well:

German Apple Cake

Ingredients for Cake

–          3 cups all-purpose flour

–          1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder

–          ½ teaspoon salt

–          1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

–          1 ¾ cups sugar

–          3 large eggs, separated

–          ½ cup milk

–          8 medium cooking apple (I used Honey Crisp, but Granny Smith would work well too)

Ingredients for Glaze

–          1 cup confectioner’s sugar

–          ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

–          2 tablespoons water or milk

Directions

–          Preheat oven to 350F

–          Grease a 10in Bundt pan (note from experience – grease it a lot and flour it a bit too)

–          Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

–          In a large bowl beat the butter until smooth (about 1 min.)

–          Gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 4 min.)

–          Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time.

–          Stir in the flour mixture and milk

–          Beat the egg whites until they are stiff, but not dry.

–          Fold one fourth of the whites into the batter, then gently fold in the remaining whites.

–          Pour half of the better into the bundt pan

–          Spread with half of the apples

–          Top with the remaining better, then the remaining apples

–          Bake until golden, 50 to 60 min (it took more like 70-80 in my oven)

–          Let cool in the pan, then transfer to a rack and let cool completely

–          To make the glaze: Combine all the ingredients and stir until smooth and of pouring consistency. Drizzle over the cake, and let stand until set

One thought on “Best Picture Baking Project: All Quiet on the Western Front

  1. Pingback: Best Picture Baking Project: Cimarron | I Get a Bit Obsessive

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