Sweet on Austria: 6 Dessert Recipes Influenced by Europe
Over the centuries, Austrian desserts have migrated outside the country’s borders, becoming incredibly popular sweets in neighboring nations. With Frommer’s calling Viennese pastry among the best in the world, it is easy to understand the appeal of the confections. Filled with history, folklore, and sugar, you can’t go wrong when you make an Austrian-style dessert; start with any of the following six recipes.
1. Apple Strudel
We’re cutting some corners when it comes to apfelstrudel, or apple strudel. Food.com’s version uses frozen phyllo dough instead of making pastry dough from scratch. Calling the pastry as Austrian as the Schönbrunn Palace, Cafe Mozart adds to the lore by saying it was allegedly Empress Sisi and Crown Prince Rudolf’s favorite dessert.
- 6 cups apples, tart, sliced
- ¾ cup raisins
- 1 lemon, rind of, grated
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ¾ cup almonds, ground
- 8 ounces phyllo pastry, ½ box, thawed
- 1¾ cups butter, melted
- 1 cup breadcrumbs, finely crushed
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix apples with raisins, lemon rind, sugar, cinnamon, and almonds; set aside.
Place 1 phyllo leaf on a kitchen towel and brush with melted butter. Place a second leaf on top and brush with butter again. Repeat until 5 leaves have been used, using about ½ cup of butter.
Cook and stir bread crumbs with ¼ cup of butter until lightly browned. Sprinkle ¾ cup crumbs on the layered phyllo leaves. Mound ½ of the filling in a 3-inch strip along the narrow end of the phyllo, leaving a 2-inch border.
Lift towel, using it to roll leaves over apples, jelly-roll fashion. Brush top of the strudel with butter and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons crumbs. Repeat the entire procedure for the second strudel. Bake the strudels for 20 to 25 minutes, until brown.
2. Linzer Torte
The first iconic Austrian cake you can bake at home is linzer torte. The Austrian Tourism Office states that there is no official record of who made the first linzer torte, but the oldest recipe on file at the Admont Monastery library is from 1822. Taste of Home’s recipe makes 2 tortes.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups ground hazelnuts
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Dash ground cloves
- 1 cup cold butter, cubed
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
- 1⅓ cups seedless raspberry jam
- Confectioners’ sugar, optional
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add eggs and lemon peel; stir until mixture forms a ball. Divide into fourths. Cover and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours or until chilled.
Remove two portions of dough from refrigerator; press each into an ungreased 9-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Spread ⅔ cup jam over each. Between two sheets of lightly floured waxed paper, roll one portion of remaining dough into a 10-by-6-inch rectangle. Cut six 1-inch-wide strips; arrange in a lattice design over jam. Repeat with remaining dough (return dough to the refrigerator if needed).
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until bubbly and crust is browned. Cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar if desired.
3. Sacher Torte
Hotel Sacher states that they are keepers of the original, and secret, recipe for sacher torte from 1832. Described as a thin chocolate cake with apricot jam and a chocolate icing, until you can try the authentic version, you’ll have to work with King Arthur Flour’s recipe.
- 1 cup high quality bittersweet chocolate discs
- 8 large eggs, separated
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup sugar, superfine preferred
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1/2 cup apricot jam
- 1 cup high-quality bittersweet chocolate discs
- 1 cup boiling water
Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray one 9-by-2-inch round cake pan with cooking spray and line with parchment. Spritz the parchment lightly, as well. If your pan isn’t at least 2 inches deep, use two pans instead of one. Over low heat or in the microwave melt the chocolate slowly, stirring well.
In a small bowl, lightly beat the 8 egg yolks. Add the melted chocolate, melted butter, and vanilla. Blend until smooth and satiny, with no lumps or unincorporated yolks. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the 8 egg whites with a pinch of salt until they begin to foam. Slowly add the sugar, then beat on high speed until the whites hold a stiff peak but are still glossy.
Using a wide rubber spatula, mix about ⅓ of the egg whites into the chocolate-yolk mixture to lighten it. Now, pour the lightened chocolate mixture over the rest of the whites in the bowl. Fold gently, using about 20 to 30 strokes. Sprinkle the cake flour over the chocolate batter and continue to fold gently until there are no traces of egg white remaining.
Pour the batter into the pan(s). Bake until the cake is puffed and dry-looking on top, and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean: 40 to 45 minutes for a single pan, 20 to 25 minutes for two pans. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan(s) for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Be sure to peel off the parchment circle while the cake is still warm.
While the cake is cooling, strain the apricot jam through a fine sieve to remove any bits of fruit and make a smooth filling. If you used one cake pan, you will need to split the layer before filling. Use a long, sharp serrated knife to split the cake into two even layers. If you used two pans, simply spread the apricot jam between the layers, leaving ½ inch around the border so that the jam does not squeeze out over the sides of the cake.
For the chocolate glaze, place the filled cake on a wire rack over a parchment-lined baking sheet. Melt the chocolate in a deep, heat-safe bowl in the microwave. As soon as it is melted and no lumps remain, vigorously stir in the boiling water. If you go too slowly the chocolate may seize, so incorporate the two ingredients quickly.
As soon as the glaze is smooth, immediately pour over the cake. The excess glaze will drip off of the cake and onto the parchment paper. You can scoop up the excess glaze to cover any bare spots on the cake. Use a flexible spatula to help spread the glaze on the top and sides of the cake, but do not overwork the glaze, or it will not remain smooth and sleek. Allow the glaze to set up at room temperature for a few hours before serving.
Put pancakes in your dessert plans by making the Kaiserschmarrn from AllRecipes.com. The Leo Baeck Institute says that one legend tells that the dessert was originally made for Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I, and the name means something along the lines of “the Emperor’s Nonsense.” Sensical or nonsensical, the shredded pancakes are delicious and don’t require any baking.
- ¼ cup raisins
- ¼ cup rum
- 1 cup whole milk
- 5 eggs
- ¼ cup white sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting
- fruit preserves for serving
Directions: In a small bowl, combine raisins with rum and let soak 30 minutes, then drain. In a medium mixing bowl, beat together the milk, eggs, white sugar, vanilla, and salt. Gradually whisk in the flour to make a smooth batter. Stir in the drained raisins.
In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Pour the batter into the skillet and cook 5 to 6 minutes, or until the pancake has set and the bottom is golden brown. Turn over the pancake and cook 3 minutes, or until this side is also golden brown. Using a spatula or two forks, tear the pancake into bite-size pieces. Drizzle in the melted butter and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Turn up the heat to medium high and use a spatula to gently toss the pieces for 5 minutes, or until the sugar has caramelized. Sprinkle with additional confectioners’ sugar and serve with fruit preserves.
5. Chocolate Kugelhopf
Get your bundt pan ready, because you’re going to need it for Martha Stewart’s chocolate kugelhopf. Mykugelhopf explains that several countries claim the brioche-like bread as their own, including France and Germany, leading to various spellings, like Gugelhopf.
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1½ sticks unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for bowl
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4½ cups all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for surface
- 2¼ teaspoons (one ¼-ounce envelope) active dry yeast
- 3 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
Filling and serving
- ⅓ cup packed light-brown sugar
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Directions: For the dough, bring milk almost to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool until lukewarm, 3 to 5 minutes. Add 1½ cups flour and the yeast, and beat with a mixer on low speed. Beat in eggs and egg yolk, 1 at a time. Beat in remaining 3 cups flour, ½ cup at a time. Transfer dough (it will be sticky) to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. Place in a buttered bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down dough, knead a few times, and let rest 10 minutes. Roll out into a 14-by-22-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface.
For the filling, mix together brown sugar, raisins, and chocolate. Brush butter on dough and sprinkle filling on top, leaving a 1-inch border. Starting from a long side, roll up dough; cut crosswise into 12 slices. Place 6 slices flush against the side of a buttered 10-inch tube pan. Place remaining 6 slices, cut sides together, around tube of pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake cake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes. Un-mold and let cool completely on rack, about 1 hour. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.
6. Salzburger Nockerl
Chef Kurt Gutenbrunner told The New York Times that when he thinks of Austria, he thinks of Salzburger nockerl, a traditional Austrian soufflé. Traditional versions have three mounds to represent Gaisberg, Mönchsberg, and Nonnberg, the heights around Salzburg. Bon Appétit‘s only makes one mound and will yield around 4 servings.
- ½ cup (packed) almond paste (about 5 ounces)
- ½ cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs, room temperature, separated
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup fresh or thawed frozen raspberries
- ¼ cup raspberry preserves
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Blend first 3 ingredients and egg yolks in a processor until smooth. Transfer mixture to a small heavy saucepan and stir over medium heat until custard thickens slightly, about 5 minutes (do not boil). Pour into a medium bowl; stir in vanilla and salt. Let soufflé base cool to barely lukewarm, about 20 minutes.
Mix berries and preserves in bottom of a 9-inch glass pie plate. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 2 tablespoons powdered sugar; beat until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into soufflé base. Spoon soufflé atop berry mixture, mounding slightly in center; sprinkle with almonds. Bake until soufflé is deep brown, 16 to 18 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.