Recipe: Topfen – Gitterkuchen mit Powidl

I am not going to lie — this is the most high-maintenance cake that I’ve ever made. It took me over three hours start to finish, and I spent at least half that time saying, “I am not going to make this cake again.” It didn’t help that the temperature was in the 90s and I was toiling away in our un-air conditioned apartment. The dough was literally sticking to, and perhaps melting onto, the (very well-floured) counter because of the heat.

"I will break you." -- The cake.

“I will break you.” — The cake.

My parents arrived for a visit this afternoon and I served the cake for dessert, to unanimous and enthusiastic praise. My husband specifically said he’d love to have the cake again with marillenroester in place of the powidl. So I guess I have to admit that perhaps the effort was worth it. Plus, you can use the base recipe for the dough and filling and use whatever fresh fruit or fruit compote you want on top (in place of the powidl).

For the dough:
250 grams (8.8 oz) flour
8 grams (.3 oz) baking powder
120 grams (4.2 oz) butter, cut into 1″ pieces
100 grams (3.5 oz) sugar
8 grams (.3 oz) vanilla sugar
zest from 1/2 lemon
1 egg
1 tbsp sour cream
1 tbsp topfen (cream cheese would also work)

For the filling:
100 grams (3.5 oz) butter
150 grams (5.3 oz) icing sugar
3 eggs, separated
8 grams (.3 oz) vanilla sugar
juice and grated rind from 1/2 lemon
500 grams (18 oz) topfen
2 tbsp vanilla pudding mix
3 tbsp sour cream
150 milliliters (5.1 oz) cream, whipped
Powidl, quantity as desired

To top:
1 egg yolk, with 1 tsp milk combined (for brushing)
almonds (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 175C (about 350F).

2. Make the dough: Sift the flour, then put it in a food processor with the baking powder and butter. Pulse until the mixture is crumbly, then transfer to another bowl.

3. Add the sugar, vanilla sugar, lemon zest, egg, sour cream, and topfen to the flour/butter mixture. Knead quickly into a dough. Let rest for 30 minutes in a cool place.

4. Roll 2/3 of the dough out. Line the bottom of a springform pan with baking paper, then place the dough into the prepared pan. Pre-bake for about 15 minutes.

5. While the dough is cooking, make the filling: cream the butter with egg yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy.

6. Add all the other ingredients except the egg whites and cream. Beat until combined.

7. Stiffly beat the egg whites, then fold the beaten egg whites and whipped cream into the filling mix.

8. When crust is done pre-baking, let it cool slightly then evenly distribute the filling across it. Top with the powidl.

9. Roll the dough scraps and cut into strips. Use the strips to create a lattice over the top of the cake. Brush the top with yolk/milk mixture. Sprinkle with flaked almonds, if using.

10. Bake at 170 degrees for 50 minutes, or until done. Let cool completely in oven.

Making this was anything but…

...a piece of cake.

…a piece of cake.


Recipe: Powidl Pastries

When I posted my powidl recipe, I said that I would provide further recipes using powidl. One of the recipes I listed was powidltascherl, but when I researched those I discovered they are made with the same potato dough as knoedel (see my recipe for apricot knoedel here). My husband was not a fan of this dough so I improvised the following “how to” for powidl pastries. The grocery stores and konditorei sell pastries like these so they are not something that I invented, and they are (somewhat) authentic.

2 packages puff pastry

1. Unroll both packages of puff pastry and stack one on top of the other. (Note: I did not do this when I made the ones in the pictures. As you will see in the final picture, the powidl oozed out of the pastry, which is why I will be using a double-layer of puff pastry in future batches.)

2. Cut the pastry into quarters, and spread some powidl in the center of each quarter.

I could not keep my son from eating the powidl long enough to take a picture.

I could not keep my son from eating the powidl long enough to take a picture.

3. Fold the long sides of the pastry towards the middle, overlapping. Press to seal. Fold both the short sides in and press to seal.

Kinda like folding a letter, but ultimately more delicious.

Kinda like folding a letter, but more delicious.

4. Flip the pastry so the seal is on the bottom. Brush top with melted butter, then cut four slits in the dough to vent. Move to a parchment-lined baking sheet.

More butter is more better.

More butter is more better.

5. Bake at the oven temperature specified on the package of pastry until the pastries are golden and puffy, rotating the pan halfway through baking. (I cooked my pastries at 220 for 15 minutes, and I rotated them after 7 minutes.)

6. Enjoy!

6. Enjoy!

Recipe: Powidl

2 kilograms (71 oz) plums, halved and pitted
200 grams (7.1 oz) caster sugar
1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
peel from 1 lemon
20 milliliters (.7 oz) rum
1. Pour enough water in your stock pot to cover the bottom. Add the halved plums and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Slowly boil the plums until they are thick, stirring occasionally, about 6 hours.
2. Towards the end of the boiling, stir in sugar and season to taste with cinnamon, grated lemon peel, and rum. (The measurements given in the ingredients section are the amounts that I used, to my taste.)
For reference purposes, my plums went from this:
Before I turned the heat on.

Before I turned the heat on

to this:

Six hours of boiling, plus some sugar and spices

Six hours of boiling, plus some sugar and spices

Not sure what to do with your powidl? I am going to attempt powidltascherl (a powidl-filled dumpling) and powidl topfen kuchen (a cake with powidl and cream cheese) at some point in the near future. The temperatures are in the 90s and our apartment does not have air conditioning, so I need to wait until a time when my family is not at home and the apartment is cool(er) to do my cooking — probably a morning next week. Stay tuned!

Bioladen im G’machl/Tirolerhof

One of my favorite things about visiting the Schönbrunn zoo is the Tirolerhof. The Tirolerhof is the location of a farm house from the Austrian Alpine region of Tirol that was disassembled, transported to the zoo, and reassembled. It serves as a living museum: the rooms are set up as they would be in a typical farm house of the region, and the inside and outside stalls house rare breeds of animals from Tirol.

The farm house at Tirolhof.

The farm house at Tirolhof.

The best part, of course, is the farm shop (Bioladen im G’machl) that sells cured meats, cheese, brötchen sandwiches, baked goods, and beverages from Tirol. We had lunch there yesterday and I’ve discovered two more things that I want to learn how to make.

Powidl topfen kuchen.

Powidl topfen kuchen.

The first is powidl topfen kuchen, a cake made with powidl and topfen. Powidl is kind of like plum jelly, except it is made without adding sugar or pectin (or other gelling agents). It sounds like you boil fresh, late-season plums for hours until they get thick. I want to learn to make this preserve for its own sake, and to re-create this cake. Topfen is a type of cottage cheese that is used in a lot of desserts here. Wikipedia says it is similar to paneer, which I know how to make, so I am a third of the way to knowing how to make this cake.

Mohn zelten.


Next we have mohnzelten, which are poppyseed-filled bread. Wikipedia says that the bread is made with potato dough, which surprised me because I’ve always thought of the bread as a cross between pretzel and sweet bread. This is one of my favorite snacks that I have discovered here, and the way my family gobbled this up yesterday suggests they would not be adverse to me learning how to make them.

Stay tuned for recipes!