Before opening the doors of Cafe Lavender, Anika and Andreas (Andy) Schulz wanted to offer something different and authentic.
This, combined with the idea of bringing various cultures together, resulted in the two deciding to offer authentic German cuisine at the cafe, based in Nairn.
Andy, a well-known photographer, and Anika, who studied economics and tourism and worked for more than 20 years in the hospitality and accommodation sector, relocated to Scotland in 2016. However, they waited several years before taking the plunge and launching their own business.
Despite opening Cafe Lavender in the midst of the pandemic in July 2020, both Anika, 40, and Andy have relished their time as cafe owners.
Kaffee and Kuchen
The cafe offers a German tradition of Kaffee and Kuchen (coffee and cake). Therefore, customers have a vast line-up of treats to choose from.
These include schwarzwälder kirschtorte (black forest gateau), mandeltorte (almond cake), bratwurst and erbsensuppe (sausage and garden pea soup) – their best-selling menu items.
Anika, a former deputy general manager of one of the biggest hotel chains, Novotel Munich Messe, said: “We are trying to source our ingredients locally and ensure they are organic.
“Our cakes vary every day, but we always have between six and 10 different options, including gluten free and vegan options.
“In addition, we have a small savoury menu with lite bites and daily specials like soup, quiche, sausage salad and frankfurters.
“It’s interesting to see the positive impact a garden pea soup with frankfurters and a fresh slice of organic bread can bring to guests.”
Our cakes vary every day, but we always have between six and 10 different options, including gluten-free and vegan options.”
Andy, 52, added: “People really love the feel of the cafe – they say it’s as if they’re on a little holiday. Our guests appreciate the relaxed atmosphere, exhibited artworks and organic ingredients.
“Anika and I are also very proud of our coffee, as we are the Scottish distributor of Hausbrandt coffee from Trieste, Italy. We are also offering the widest range of loose tea, with around 15 different varieties on the menu.”
Opening their own B&B
Before Cafe Lavender came into the play, Anika and Andy opened their own bed and breakfast – B&B Cawdor House, which was built in 1849 as the Manse for the Free Church.
With it being a Victorian property, the couple wanted to share its period charm with those other than B&B guests alone.
“After we visited Scotland in January 2016, we both loved it,” Andy said. “We particularly loved the snow in combination with the sea.
“As we visited Cawdor House in Nairn, we had the feeling ‘this is the house we want’, or ‘the house has chosen us’. The pair of us officially moved in May 2016 from Munich Bavaria, south Germany.
“It was a life change. Anika always wanted to live abroad for a while and after I had some health issues, we decided to start fresh and launch our own business.
“Scotland came on the map as we both speak the language and there is lots of tourism in the area.”
Anika added: “We came up with the idea of our having own cafe in addition to our B&B as we wanted to share it with others, especially our outdoor garden area.
“We opened the cafe on July 10 2020 for the first time – we love sitting in a cafe, relaxing, enjoying a good cup of tea or coffee, seeing people pass by, reading a book or just enjoying good company with friends and family.
We hope our guests leave with a smile and had a happy time with us.”
“The pair of us think diversity and bringing different cultures together is great. And there’s no better way to do that than with good cakes and a kitchen that introduces German ‘daily life’ culture.
“Our artwork in the cafe, which is by Andy himself, is colourful and quirky. The inspiration comes from what we have found in local antique shops, sawmills, authentic craftsmanship, and pieces we already brought with us from Germany.
“We are enjoying the nature here, as well as the friendliness of the people and having our own business. Don’t dream your life, live your dream.”
Bread and cake sales
Their menu items have been admired by locals and tourists alike over the course of the past year.
With regards to the differences between German and Scottish bakes, Andy says they are vast.
“German cakes are a lot less sweet than Scottish cakes – and without icing on top,” he added. “You can really taste the different flavours between the cakes and doughs.
“We are actually starting to sell our bread, rolls and pretzels in farm shops like Connage Highland Dairy/Cheese Pantry (Ardesier) and Lower Mill of Tynet Farm (Buckie). Not only that, but we are also selling our cakes to people for wedding events and special occasions.”
Anika said: “We have a great team of staff members who are helping us with this and running the cafe.
“Our chef, Michael, is German and helps cook and bake with me, while Tarran and Connor are responsible for the great customer service, alongside Andy, and prepare our delicious coffee as baristas. In addition, we have seasonal help as well.
“Café Lavender is a bit quirky but full of heart. We are proud to only offer the best ingredients to our guests and take care of a healthier and more sustainable future.
“We hope our guests leave with a smile and had a happy time with us.”
(Black Forest Gateau)
For the base:
- 6 eggs
- 250g sugar
- 6 tbsp hot water
- 200g flour
- 75g cornflour
- 50g cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking powder
For the filling and finishing:
- 1 jar of sour cherries (350g)
- 25g cornflour
- 800g whipping cream
- 1 tbsp sugar
- Kirschwasser (brandy)
- Chocolate flakes
- Pre-heat oven to 180C Fan/200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
- Whisk the egg white to stiff peaks. Whisk the egg yolks together with the hot water and sugar. Sieve the flour, baking powder, cornflour and cocoa powder into the egg mixture and fold it in gently together. Gently fold in the egg white after that.
- Bake the dough in a springform tin for 30-35 minutes, but reduce the heat to 130C Fan/150C/325F/Gas Mark 3 during the baking time.
- Remove from the oven and let the base cool down completely. Cut it into three layers. Sprinkle the lowest layer with Kirschwasser.
- Cook the juice of the sour cherries until just below the simmering point and add the cornflour to make sure it’s creamy. Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool down. Spread the cherry juice on the lowest layer and, again, let it cool down completely.
- Whisk the whipping cream together with the sugar until stiff. Spread the cream on the lowest layer and place the second layer on top. Spread cream again and add the cherries (except for 12, which you put on the side for the decoration).
- Add the third layer and cover everything in cream. Put the 12 cherries on top and sprinkle with chocolate flakes.