Eating the city: Vienna, Austria

I didn’t know much about Vienna’s food before I visited other than it was a city famous for a chocolate cake and veal schnitzel. Turns out they do other stuff pretty well, too…

 

Sacher Torte

Why get it: Because you actually can’t go to Vienna without trying this cake. Everyone knows it. Layers of chocolate cake and apricot jam encased in rich couverture chocolate. Yes, please.
We got ours from: Hotel Sacher, Philharmoniker Str. 4, Vienna

 

Krapfen

Why get it:
These apricot-jam filled donuts are particularly popular in Vienna, and for good reason. Light and fluffy deep fried dough full of sugar jam makes – delicious!
We got ours from: One of the Christmas markets we visited, but Café Oberlaa (several locations) is a local favourite.

 

Wiener schnitzel

Why get it:
The Wiener schnitzel is one of the city’s most famous exports – a thin piece of veal is crumbed and fried to golden perfection.
We got ours from: Pürstner, Riemergasse 10, Vienna

 

Fancy cakes

Why get it:
Vienna’s sugar game is tight, and one of the things they do best is cake. Not your standard sponge cake, I’m talking fancy, multi-layeredm gourmet delicacies that you sit down and take your time to enjoy.
We got ours from: Café Central, Herrengasse 14, Vienna

 

Käsekraner

Why get it: Because it combines the best of both worlds – a thick pork sausage studded with little chunks of cheese. Heaven. And even better – that cheese oozes out while they cook on thr grill, so you get this deliciously caramelised crust on it. Usually served with mustard and bread, it’s simple but ridiculously good.
We got ours from: Street side stalls. Yes, we visited several of them. Quality control, you know…

 

Schmarren

Why get it:
This little pan of heaven is made by first cooking up a thick, fluffy pancake. Then, it’s chopped up into little pieces and refried in butter with raisins, dusted with a heap of icing sugar, and traditionally topped with a spiced plum compote.
We got ours from: Heindl’s Schmarren & Palatschinkenkuchl, Köllnerhofgasse/Grashofgasse 4, Vienna

Cook this: Orange, rosemary & olive oil cake

As a general rule, I’m not a fan of social media. I got off Facebook… wow, it was so long ago now I can’t even remember when. I don’t get the point of Twitter. I really don’t get Snapchat. I don’t have time for that crap in my life. But Instagram, I actually really love. I find it a happy, safe(r) sharing space. It’s where I go for travel inspiration and food inspiration and just generally finding amazing people who are living their dreams, which give me that little extra push to live mine.

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One of the accounts I’ve started following relatively recently is @dear_franny, which most people who know me would find kinda weird. Rachel posts mostly photos of her adorable little girl, and I’m not really an “awww look how cute the baby is” kinda gal. But she also bakes. And her baking shots always look amazing. One of her latest really caught my eye – a citrus rosemary olive oil cake. I’m a fan of olive oil in a cake for something a bit different, and I love the combination of citrus and rosemary, so I thought I’d take a peek. Rachel uses the rosemary just in the frosting, but I wanted a plain, simple cake sans-frosting, so I made it a bit more “me.” Here’s my version…

Ingredients:
– ¾ cup caster sugar
– finely grated zest of 1 medium orange
– 1 cup plain flour
– pinch of salt
– ½ tsp baking soda
– 1 tbsp dried rosemary
– ⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
– ½ cup milk, at room temperature
– 2 medium eggs, at room temperature
– juice of half a medium orange

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Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC and grease a medium sized round cake tin.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar and orange zest, rubbing them together with your fingers, which releases more of the oils from the zest (great tip, Rachel, thanks!).

3. Once combined, add the flour, salt, baking soda and rosemary, and mix to combine. Set aside.

4. In another mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, milk, eggs and orange juice until completely combined.

5. Pour the wet mixture into the dry, bit by bit, folding it in with a spatula as you go. Once completely combined, pour the batter into a cake tin and bake for 40 – 45 minutes, or until it passes the skewer test.

6. Cool in the tin until cool enough to handle, then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. You can ice it, if you want – I like just a bit of icing sugar dusted over the top. Keep in an air-tight container up to 4 days.

Cook this: Almond & polenta cake

Apologies for the hiatus in baking of late; between the cookbook being prepared for launch and the rest of life, I haven’t had much time or inclination for it. But, I got back in the kitchen this weekend and finally made a cake that’s been on my “to bake” list for a while – an almond polenta cake by Therese at My Nordic Kitchen. I love almonds. I love polenta. It was an obvious one for me.

I played with the recipe a little, as I am want to do by upping the polenta ratio and making it a bit of a smaller cake. It’s delicious, so next time I’ll double it. It’s a super light and soft cake, and goes down perfectly with a good pot of Earl Grey tea.

Ingredients:
– 50g butter, softened
– 5 tbsp. caster sugar
– 2 large eggs, at room temperature
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
– finely grated zest of one lemon
– 150g Greek yoghurt
¼ cup plain flour
¼ cup almond meal
cup polenta
½ tsp baking soda
– pinch of salt
– handful slivered almonds

Method:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C and grease a bread tin.

2. Combine the butter and sugar with electric beaters until smooth and creamy, then add the eggs, one by one, and beat until combined.

3. Add the lemon zest, vanilla and yoghurt, and stir through.

4. Finally, add the flour, almond meal, polenta, baking soda and salt, and stir to completely combine.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and sprinkle the slivered almonds over the top. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cake passes the skewer test. Cool in the tin, and keep up to 3 days in an airtight container.

Cook this: Gluten & sugar free banana bread (from Balance by Monica)

If you were reading last week, you might have seen this post where I introduced my sister’s brainchild, Balance By Monica; starting small with Instagram to share her food creations until she has her nutrition qualification to go along with her teaching, psychology and health instructor ones, at which point the empire will no doubt expand.

I also promised to share a recipe from her; I mentioned in my post that a lack of education is a big problem when it comes to making healthy, balanced choices, and when you have food intolerances, that only makes it all the harder. But, even though there are a lot more instances of food intolerances these days, we’re also lucky to have a lot more access to information on how to deal with and adapt to them. If you have issues with gluten, lactose and/or sugar, this ones’s for you!

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Ingredients:
– 2 ripe bananas, mashed, plus 1 more banana, peeled and cut in half length ways
– ½ cup rolled oats
– ¾ cup almond meal
– ¾ cup LSA mix (available from health food stores)
– 2 eggs, lightly whisked
– ¼ cup milk (regular, almond, soy, whatever!)
– 2 tbsp plain vanilla or Greek yoghurt
– 2 tbsp Stevia or honey
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1 tbsp chia seeds

Method:
1.Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and grease a loaf tin or line it with non-stick baking paper.

2. Add all ingredients (except the banana halved length ways and the chia seeds) into a large mixing bowl and stir together to combine completely.

3. Pour the batter into the tin and smooth it out with a spatula.

4. Top the cake with the extra banana and sprinkle with chia seeds.

5. Bake for 60min or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Rest in the tin until cool enough to handle, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cook this: Italian Margherita Cake

As you may have noticed from quite a few of my recipes, I rarely, if ever, actually follow a recipe word for word. I’m a rebel. No; actually, I’m Italian. I grew up in a world where women didn’t use recipes; they kept it all up in their noggins and baked by feel. They also didn’t have blogs back in the old days in Italy, so recipes were pretty much just handed down through the generations.

Unlike my Nonnas, I literally have a world of recipes available to me, which is brilliant! One of my favourite sites on my blog roll, which consistently gives me new recipes to try from all around the globe is Honest Cooking, and when Veronica Lavenia’s recipe for an Italian Margherita cake popped up on my blog roll last week and I saw that she’d already stuffed around a bit with the traditional version to create her own, I figured I wouldn’t screw around with it anymore too much more; I had to a little bit, because I found the original recipe a little fragmented and hard to read/follow.


While the original version uses lots of eggs, milk and butter, Veronica’s version uses less eggs and olive oil to give it a nice little twist. The only changes I made were to add a little milk when I found the batter to be too dry, and I used caster sugar instead of raw sugar, and regular plain flour instead of Farro flour – because I already had them in the pantry, and I didn’t want to wait for cake. Because I’m Italian. Here’s my version…

 

Ingredients:
– 2 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
– pinch of salt
– ⅓ cup caster sugar
– finely grated zest of 1-2 lemons (depending on how lemony you like your cakes)
– ⅓ cup olive oil
– 275g plain flour
– 1 tsp baking powder
– ¼ cup milk
– ½ cup toasted almond, chopped

 

Method:
1. Pre-heat oven to 170°C and line a round cake tin with non-stick baking paper.

2. Pour the egg whites into a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer with the pinch of salt until white and stiff; set aside.

3. In another, larger mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until light and creamy. Add in the lemon zest and oil and beat again until combined.

4. Sift in the flour and baking powder, and mix together with a spoon or spatula.

5. Finally, fold the egg whites, followed by the milk, into the egg yolk mix.

6. Pour the batter into the cake tin, sprinkle with the almonds and bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.