14 Jun 2019
Many travel writers rave about the Black Forest gateau at Café Anton in Swakopmund and about the amazing fact that the most German of all cakes is available in Africa, on the edge of the Namib Desert in Namibia. Café Anton, just a few hundred metres from the Atlantic Ocean, is well-known beyond Namibia’s borders, but not only for that particular gateau.
Desirée Snyman runs the family business Hotel Schweizerhaus and Café Anton together with her mother Heidi and sister Silvia. The 31-year-old is in charge of the patisserie. Her grandparents built the hotel and café, and Desirée became interested in baking at an early age. After obtaining her school-leaving qualification she trained as a hairdresser, however, and worked in that profession in South Africa for five years before returning to Swakopmund in November 2009. She continued to work as a hairdresser but also helped in the hotel and in the bakery. One day her mother asked her to bake Easter bunnies. Desirée started to become more interested in baking again. She made use of the opportunity to bake with her grandfather Manfred Anton at his house, as he had retired from the business by then. Later he gave her his old handwritten recipes and she diligently practiced her baking skills with him.
Grandpa Anton then sent his granddaughter to Koblenz in Germany for five months to learn more in the bakery of Sven Holtzmann. Desirée also spent a week in Wuppertal where she baked and moulded cakes with “Stefan the Cake King”. Brimming with ideas and enthusiasm she returned to the family business in Swakopmund.
Using Grandpa's recipes, she now bakes his popular dark bread, the famous Black Forest gateau, various pastries and cakes as well as local classics such as melktert (milk tart). Shortcrust hearts embellished with the Namibian flag are currently a hit with visitors, and so are the colourfully decorated cookies and the assortment of meringues in different flavours. Gateaux and cakes are also baked to order for weddings, birthdays and other festive occasions.
Café Anton opened its doors on May 7th, 1966 and has since had numerous famous patrons, including German comedian and TV personality Dieter Nuhr, who had his picture taken in the pastry shop with Black Forest gateaux and bakery assistant Junius Wilpard.
Enjoying a coffee and a piece of cake on the terrace or in the cosy interior of Café Anton is almost a must do for any visitor to Swakopmund. Come the season of Advent, it is a tradition to set up an enormous gingerbread cottage and a large selection of pastries and sweets next to the cake counter in the café on December 6th, Saint Nicholas Day. Children are invited to “raid” this display shortly before Christmas Eve.
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