The aromas wafting from Monika Ridge’s kitchen in Blackmans Bay aren’t found in the average Australian home, bringing a European culinary experience into the heart of Blackmans Bay.
Originally from Tübingen in the south west of Germany, Monika moved to Tasmania with her husband Matthew in 2015 and was inspired during the lockdowns to share her cultural cuisine and love of baking with Kingborough.
“When we came to Tasmania I noticed that I really liked Tasmanian coffee but I also noticed that the cafés sell more or less all the same kind of cakes and I missed the variety of German cakes,” Monika said.
“German baking is quite varied.
“The cakes are made with lots of different ingredients with many different styles and the same applies to German bread and rolls.”
Although Monika is passionate about early childhood learning, she found her German qualification was not recognised in Australia and she decided to begin offering Tasmania a taste of Germany.
Three years ago, she began by attending local farmers markets with her baking, but the fickle Tasmanian weather would often affect sales and Monika found it was difficult missing time with her young children, Helen and Phillip.
In the intervening years, Monika has taught German at schools and through adult education classes but recently decided to revisit her baking using a different method.
With the lockdowns forcing many businesses onto digital platforms, Monika launched a facebook page offering a variety of traditional German cakes and breads.
Tortenwunder has proved popular with the community and has been more compatible with the family’s lifestyle.
Monika can now bake to order, with some cakes being made at her home and some at a commercial kitchen, allowing her to still spend time with her husband and children.
“I chose to start with the most famous German cakes like Black Forest or Bee Sting, and also cakes which are different to Australian cakes like cakes with lots of fresh fruit or German cheesecake,” Monika explained.
“I love to work with yeast dough and my favourite cakes have lots of fresh fruits, not just a few on top as a garnish.
“Rhubarb is one of my favourites; not too sweet, but sweet enough.”
Monika said that the most requested items are those which had already gained some popularity in Australia such as German soft pretzels and Black Forest cake although some customers are keen to try less familiar options.
Although her children aren’t allowed to help with cakes for Tortenwunder, Monika said they love to help with baking for the family, especially when they get to sample the end results, which she feels is an important step in keeping them connected to their German heritage.
Monika said that making her children and her customers happy with her baking is one of her goals, alongside keeping German culture alive for her children and spreading it through Kingborough.
“My dream is to one day have a little bakery/café with German cakes, pretzels, rolls and of course, Tasmanian coffee!” Monika said.
Pictured above: Monika Ridge is bringing a slice of her German heritage to Kingborough through her business Tortenwunder. Motivated by the lockdowns to launch her facebook page, Monika offers a variety of traditional German cakes and breads, including favorites like her Apple Dream cake, which is packed with fresh fruit. Traditional German Brezeln (soft pretzels) are a favourite of Monika's customers. The pretzels have a unique flavour which comes from the slow rising process of the yeast dough and an applied lye solution.