"Are we lost?" I ask my husband, trying to keep the rising edge of panic out of my voice. We had left the luxurious comforts of the Hotel Bareiss in Baiersbronn, Germany, nearly half an hour ago and have been hiking uphill for what seems like ages. We quickly realize that our hand-drawn trail map is a random squiggle bearing no relation to the topography of the tracks twisting through the Black Forest. The trees seem to be closing in.
I have good reason to be concerned, as this township of around 16,000 people, spread out over 35 miles (57 km) along the Murg River, is heavily wooded and riddled with 350 miles (550 km) of hiking trails. Somewhere around here is the small but luxe Sattelei wanderers' hut and my motive for venturing into this wilderness: to find the best Black Forest cake in the Black Forest.
Finally the trail magically opens up to a clearing and an inviting log cabin. At the Sattelei, young women in traditional dress serve up beer and sausages in the rustic dining room with romantic views over the hills. Then they bring over a slice of heaven, with handmade sour cherry preserves and curls of dark chocolate floating on clouds of whipped cream. This cake comes from the three-star kitchens of the Bareiss, but it tastes even richer up here on the forest track. My quest may have started out like a Brothers Grimm fairy tale, but this Black Forest cake gave it a storybook ending.
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