In December I spent a considerable time out of town visiting foreign, German speaking countries. And as a true baker, I was on a mission to sample local sweet delicacies in order to be able to report on them here, and no other reason. Honest.
So here we go, in order of appearance:
1. Chimney cake in Vienna, Austria
Although the Austrians have no claim over this cake, also known as Kürtőskalács, I am forever grateful that it features in their traditional Christmas Markets. It originates from Hungarian-speaking regions of Romania apparently and is a sweet yeast dough which they roll around a spit, dip in cinnamon sugar (but there are variations to the dips – they can contain nuts e.g.) and bake in a rotisserie. For me, there are only a few things better than digging into some of this chimney cake while it’s still hot. It is divine – soft and fluffy on the inside and crunchy and caramelized on the outside. We discovered it early on and kept coming back. Tip: We decided to save some for breakfast one evening but I recommend you didn’t. It had gone hard so best eaten while still hot!
2. Kaiserschmarrn in Vienna, Austria
G insisted we had some Sachetorte in Vienna. I however, refuse to give any more attention to this plain chocolate cake as it is already getting way more than deserved. Anyways, the queue at the original Sacher Hotel was about 3 miles long and it was freezing cold outside, so we settled for Cafe Mozart just around the corner from it. We ordered some Sacher cake but I wanted him to try Kaiserschmarrn – this is a shredded thick pancake which can be served directly in the skillet, usually sprinkled with powdered sugar and accompanied by plum jam or apple sauce (we were lucky, or should I say paid enough to get both). But to best describe it – imagine an incredibly light and fluffy sponge cake prepared in a pan on the hob rather than in the oven. And the best part about it? It can be legitimately eaten as a main course in Austria, not just dessert. Win!
3. Bavarian Snowball in Speyer, Germany
We didn’t actually go to Bavaria but they had Rothenburger Schneeballen (or Snowballs from Rothenburg) in Speyer, where we were spending Christmas. I just had to have one – it looked too good to miss out on. Turned out it’s nothing special – shortcrust pastry scrunched up in a ball, deep fried and sprinkled either with icing sugar or drizzled with glaze. I opted for a pistachio one and there seemed to be some green-ish looking paste in it but it didn’t taste to pistachios too much. I still recommend to try it but don’t expect to be wow-ed by it quite the same was by the chimney cake. It also makes a decent souvenir since it has a very long shelf life and looks better than a fridge magnet.
4. Black Forest Gâteau in the Black Forest, Germany
You must have heard of this cake before, also known as a Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, which is pretty much chocolate sponge, whipped cream and cherries. It sound simple enough but it’s pretty delicious, especially if you soak the sponge in Kirschwasser, a clear cherry liqueur. So when I was told we were going to spend a few days in the Black Forest mountains, you can imagine what was on my mind – I need to try me some cherry cake from the place it actually comes from (or is at least named after – the history of this bake seems to be a little vague). But guess what – I didn’t actually have any for one reason or another. So I am unable to report on it – I did, however, think it important to mention I have at least been there. I did bring some vanilla Kirschwasser so may just make a Black Forest gâteau myself soon.
Do you also first think of trying the local desserts when you travel or do you have different priorities? I’d be curious to hear of any interesting desserts you have tried!