About Falko

Falko is from Heilbronn, near Stuttgart in Germany, a fine wine-growing area where some vineyards' wines are often sold-out before the grapes have even been harvested. He is a Konditormeister, a state qualified Master Pastry Chef, who moved to Edinburgh in 1998 because he loved the city but found that the types of cakes in most places were somewhat different to his German and Austrian baking style.

His style is all about restrained amounts of sugar and subtle, natural flavours. He has no interest in technological armoury used by most modern bakers, refusing, for example, to use a proving machine to speed up the making of his breads and insisting that all sponges are raised by hand in the orthodox Viennese manner by beating air into the eggs, not with the addition of raising agents.

Falko is old-fashioned in his instincts. He is both passionate and inspiring in his belief that time-honoured, labour-intensive, traditional skills can never be replaced by machines. He elevates taste over aesthetics. 'I want to eat cakes, not look at them,' he says. 'A cake should have balanced textures and flavours; it shouldn't be overly decorated and overly sweet to make up for the blandness inside.'

In Germany, cake-baking is a highly regulated profession. In order to open a cake shop, employ apprentices and call yourself a Konditormeister, or master pastry chef, you must have served at least five years in the trade and have passed demanding craft exams. "Being a Konditormeister is not simply about being able to bake, it's much more complicated," he explains. "We learn chemistry and physics, we learn how to teach apprentices and how to do the accounts as well as which ingredients to use. We have to follow German baking rules. Everything is set down in law that you have to have certain amounts of this, the right amount of that."

"For example, a Black Forest Gâteau, must have a certain percent of Kirsch in the whipped cream; strudel must be made with layers of bent dough so fine you could almost read a newspaper through them, not a puff pastry like you often find in the UK."

"This is what annoys me about some supermarkets - they call products these names but they are not right. It's important that people get a taste for the real thing."

 

Konditormeister der; ~s, ~ /kɔnˈdi:to:aˈmaistɐ/ the highest state qualification for a pastry chef in Germany; a master pastry chef