I just returned from a five-day road trip with my fiance and two good friends from Toronto. We drove from Prague down to Rovinj, Croatia with stops in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Trieste, Italy and Graz and Linz in Austria. This past weekend marked the start of Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Advent in Europe means that Christmas markets are in full swing. For a European, globe-trotting, pastry loving, person like me, the Advent season, is a blogger’s heaven. Originating in Germany and Austria, Christmas markets have been adopted by countries all over the continent and are great places for tasting and drinking local specialties and catching a glimpse of local crafts.
This week, en route back to Prague, my entourage and I made a stop in Linz, Austria and spent the morning wandering around the city’s Christmas market in the main square. On the food side, it was easy to find great Gluhwein, Kartoffel (potato pancakes), Lebkuchen (a German Christmas cookie similar to gingerbread), spiced nuts, Bratwurst and Bauernkrapfen (Austrian/Hungarian yeast doughnuts). I sampled a spicy, classic, Gluhwein (hot mulled wine) made with red wine, spices and rum, a hot, fried bauernkrapfen with apricot jam and icing sugar, a cookie that was part macaroon and part chocolate mouse with a ginger bottom as well as a marzipan “cigar” dipped in chocolate and rolled in coconut.
Of course the most important part of our visit to Linz, was the sampling of Linzer Tort, the oldest cake in the world! We decided to sample this delicacy at Konditorei Jindrak , a bakery that has been in operation since 1929 and is known for its Linzer Torte. Konditorei Jindrak makes 80,000 of these cakes a year, 79,999 more Linzer Torte than anyone needs to consume in their lifetime, but all jokes aside, their Linzer Tort was delicious. One of my friends who was travelling with me thought the cake was called the Windsor Tort and was campaigning for a re-name, which I thought was cute. If you are interested in trying to make your own Linzer Torte and sample the oldest cake in the world, here is an Epicurious version and a recipe from a German recipe site.