Apple and Pumpernickel Trifle, a slightly lighter alternative to the heavier Lübeck-Style Trifle. From The German Cookbook

The surprisingly bookish origins of German trifle

Discover a story of rich lives and tragic decline behind the sweet Lübeck-style trifle in The German Cookbook

Today we know the great German writer Thomas Mann for his books such as The Magic Mountain and Death in Venice. However, Mann first found fame with his debut novel, Buddenbrooks, which won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1929.

The book’s influence didn’t end there. Buddenbrooks, which describes the lavish lives and tragic decline of a wealthy merchant family living in Mann’s hometown of Lübeck, also helped change German dessert menus.

Rich food and decaying teeth serve as a symbol for decadence in the book, and one of its dishes has since found its way off the page and into German kitchens.

Germans enjoy a few different trifles; some, such as the Apple and Pumpernickel Trifle (pictured, top) aren’t especially unhealthy. However, the Lübscher Plettenpudding, or Lübeck-Style Trifle, is a decadent dessert straight out of Mann’s novel.

“Originally known as ‘Diplomat Pudding’, this dessert took its current name after featuring in Thomas Mann’s hugely popular novel Buddenbrooks set in Lübeck and published in 1901,” explains chef and author Alfons Schuhbeck in The German Cookbook. “It is made of sponge cake, raspberries, raspberry jam, macaroons, custard, gelatine and sherry or raspberry brandy.” 


The German Cookbook
The German Cookbook

You may want to brush your teeth after that, lest you end up like one of the characters in Mann’s great story. However, it is delicious. You can find the recipe for this, as well as other trifles and plenty more in The German Cookbook. Order your copy here.