Sunday, 13 September 2009

The Cakes of Salzburg – part 1

I am now back from hols; you may recall that I said I was heading off to a land that adores and respects cake and hoped to return with lots of photos of glorious baked goods that I have eaten! Well, here’s part one of my cake report (yes, we ate so much that I have to split it across two posts – part two will follow midweek!)

Our destination was Salzburg, a gorgeous Austrian city noted as being the birthplace of Mozart, the setting for lots of scenes in The Sound of Music and various other things...but you know me well enough to realise it was all about the cake!

The CCBF (Caked Crusader’s Boyfriend) and I stayed at the Hotel Stein which has a wonderful rooftop terrace looking across the old town (Salzburg is split by the Salzach river – one side is known as the Old Town...and I’m sure you can guess what the other half’s known as!).

Our first cake was on the terrace shortly after arriving, and when I say ‘shortly’.....let’s just say that our suitcases hadn’t even been unpacked at this point! Here is the striking Mozart cake:

I would describe this as a hazelnut japonnaise style cake but with the addition of pistachio marzipan. Under the top layer of pistachio marzipan was a thin layer of apricot jam. The sponge was extremely light and the filling moussey. Very easy to eat!

One of the most striking things you will notice walking around Salzburg are the iron shop signs. Most shops have them and, although they look centuries old, some are recent. This one outside a baker’s caught my eye:

Spend more than a second in Salzburg and you can’t fail to notice the rather imposing fortress that looms over the City. It is called Festung Hohensalzburg, literally meaning High Salzburg Fortress and is reached by funicular railway. The views across the City are worth the trip alone:

But views alone cannot sustain one for long and, luckily, the Fortress eateries sell rather tasty treats! On our first visit to the Fortress we had delicious plum cake:

The light sponge base was topped with plums. Between the plums and sponge was an additional layer – the CCBF and I disagreed as to what this was. He thought it was custard of some sort whereas I thought it tasted more like a cheesecake. Whatever it was the buttery, vanilla taste was heavenly! Do you think a cake has ever had a better background than this?

We chose the Fortress (on a different day, I stress!) to sample Salzburger Nockerl, the eponymous dessert of the City. I think Nockerl means dumpling but I’m willing to be corrected if wrong. It’s cooked to order and takes about 20 minutes to arrive (although due to some rather indifferent service ours took an hour to arrive). Here it is:

I consider myself to be blessed with a hearty appetite (i.e. greedy) but even I think this is a big dessert for two people. Yes, you read it right – this is meant for two people to share...and after a hearty Austrian main course!

The Nockerl is extremely light, almost frothy. It tastes and looks like a cross between a soufflé and a meringue. The texture is such that it dissolves in your mouth meaning that you can eat a lot of it – it’s sweet but not sickly. There is a thin layer of fruit in the bottom of the dish and extra fruit and jam was provided on the side.

We both agreed that the best bit was the thin crust that forms on baking – it’s squidgy and sugary. After we had both had large servings this much was left (don’t worry, we rallied and made further inroads after the photo was taken!)

After a tiring day’s sightseeing, shopping and eating one sometimes needs a pick-me-up to raise energy levels. Purely by chance we stumbled upon Sporer one of the strangest little shops we’d ever seen –so small that four customers would crowd it. It sold bottles of schnapps and liqueurs but also, at the shop counter, sold tiny measures to drink in the shop – it isn’t a bar but you can stand at the counter and get intoxicated (rather quickly) on lethally strong spirits. The Nuss likor almost did for me and, even though the measure was only 2cl, the CCBF had to help me out! This photo shows the wares on offer:

Strudel was a conundrum. There seemed to be a difference as to whether the strudel was served with a cup of tea/coffee or whether it was a dessert. In my mind, strudel has crispy, flaky pastry but the dessert strudels – the kind we had – were softer and totally un-crispy. Our first strudel was of the apple variety at the intriguingly named “Zum Wilden Mann” i.e. the Wild Man.

The website isn’t in English yet, but if you click on the Speisekarten tab the menu is available in English – it’s a good read if you want to see what Austrian cuisine is all about.

The apple filling wasn’t overly sweet so the natural flavour of the apple dominated. The vanilla sauce and whipped cream complimented the strudel well. I thought the vanilla sauce was lovely – far lighter than custard and with a strong vanilla taste. The CCBF described it as being like “thin Bird’s custard” but then clarified that he liked Bird’s custard so it wasn’t a criticism.

Our second taste of strudel was a sweet cheese-filled strudel at the Golden Ente located in the fascinating Gold Gasse (a street full of small shops selling a range of items from jewellery to decorative painted metal ornaments)

This strudel was a real taste of the past for me. Whenever we used to have family get-togethers when I was younger the CCM (Caked Crusader’s Ma) would always make a baked European-style cheesecake. This was quite different to an American cheesecake, the main differences being that it was less sweet and had no fruit or topping of any kind. This strudel filling was exactly the same taste. Funnily enough, when I was younger I didn’t like the CCM’s cheesecake but my tastebuds have obviously changed and I really enjoyed this dish.

Part 2 to follow midweek.....


glamah16 said...

Austria has to be one of my favorite countries to visit. I have never been to Salzburg however. Those pastries sure look divine!

Katie said...

Wow your trip to Austria sounds wonderful and very foodie filled. I love the look of the Mozart cake and the souffle style dessert. It looks like a lovely city too. Can't wait to see what comes next.

Margaret said...

I've thought about going to Salzburg just for the coffee and cakes.
I think cake envy comes to mind with this glorious posting!

Anonymous said...

have never thought of going to salzburg particuarly (shame on me!!) I quite fancy going now however that i have seen your holiday pictures!!! Sad question but did you think the strudel was made with shortcrust pastry? i have only had frozen strudel with puff pastry which is probably a very poor example of it!!! Nikki

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Nikki

There are no sad questions where cake is concerned! Not sure what the pastry was - it certainly wasn't the strudel pastry that crisps up (similar to filo).
It could've been shortcrust but then I'd have expected the outer layer to crisp more.
If anyone has any ideas?

Cakelaw said...

Thanks for posting these wonderful photos and sharing the details of your trip. I heart Salzburg - it rates as perhaps my favourite European city (of the limited number that I have visited). I went there about 7 years ago, and had the most wonderful time. It was also close to Christmas, so I had the pleasure of visiting the Christmas markets, which were magical. (And yes, I am a SoM fan, so of course I did the tour and went out of my way to walk past Nonnberg Abbey - 'cause you can't go in.)

non-spotter said...

Okay - i think i am booking a Christmas break, those cakes all look far too good to be missed. I remember both the Mozart cake and the Strudels from my childhood. I am hoping to see you have tried a piece of Sachertorte!

Emily said...

Easy to eat, indeed. I would devour that cake slice.

Thanks for sharing all of the pictures and deliciousness from your trip!

Ann said...

I just put on 5 lbs reading that post.
Lucky fish, you......Those pastries are to die for...

Miss High Heels said...

Your blog is fantastic! There can never be enough cake in this world for my liking. I think I need to go to Austria for a cake fix.

Ruth said...

Wow did you eat any food other than cake on your trip lol! I live in Germany and the cakes here are very similar to those in Austria. I'd say the creamy filling in the plum cake was made with quark - Quark is popular in cooking & baking here.
You should come to Germany for your next trip - lots more yummy cakes to try!