Who doesn’t love a nice dessert? Around Europe, there are so many sweet treats to be discovered, with each nation having their own unique specialities. In this blog post, we will create a dessert map of Europe, taking a look at some of the most delicious confectionary to be found within European borders.
Welsh cakes have been popular since the 19th century, and are actually made on the stove rather than in the oven. If you go on holiday to Wales, these tiny treats are a must-try. Be warned though, they’re not for vegetarians as they traditionally contain lard.
Battenberg cake is a delicious and fun treat. It’s a light sponge cake with alternately coloured pink and yellow sponge cut into cuboids and then joined with apricot jam and wrapped in marzipan. Due to their resemblance to the cake, the large checkered patterns on emergency vehicles in the UK are officially referred to as Battenberg markings.
Shortbread is one of the UK’s favourite type of biscuit, and it originated in and is associated with Scotland. The biscuit is traditionally made with one part white sugar to two parts butter and three parts flour. Shortbread is widely associated with Christmas festivities in Scotland, and the biscuits are often packaged in a Scottish tartan design.
Mohnkuchen (or poppy seed cake) is a popular treat in Germany, as well as other parts of Europe that have their own variations of this cake. According to the baked goods criteria for the Federal Republic of Germany, poppy seed cake filled with poppy seed must contain at least 60 parts poppy seed per 100 parts dough.
Pastel de nata is a popular egg tart pastry from Portugal that has found its way into bakeries around the world. The pastel de nata were created first in the 18th century by Catholic monks at the Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon. At the time, large amounts of egg white were used by convents and monasteries for starching clothes, such as nuns’ habits and the leftover egg yolks were used for cakes and pastries. In the early 19th century to raise money, the monks started selling pastel de nata at a nearby sugar refinery. In 1834 with the closure of the monastery, the recipe was sold to the sugar refinery, whose owners opened the Fabrica de Pasteis de Belem, which remains open to this day.
Strudel is a type of layered pastry, usually with a sweet filling. The oldest strudel recipes are from 1696 and can be found in a handwritten cookbook located in the Vienna City Library. By the 18th century, strudel was popular all over the Habsburg (Austrian) Empire. Perhaps the best-known strudel is apple strudel, with other popular varieties including topfenstrudel (filled with a soft, sweetened quark cheese) and Millirahmstrudel (milk-cream strudel filled with diced bread that has been soaked in a milk, egg and sugar mixture).
Churros are a type of rectangular doughnut made of friend choux pastry that is traditional in Spain. They are often sprinkled with sugar and served for breakfast, accompanied by a thick hot chocolate for dipping. One theory about their origins is that they were first made by Spanish shepherds to substitute for fresh bakery goods, as churro paste was easy to make and fry in an open fire.
Tarte aux fraises, or strawberry tarts, are a popular French dessert. Tarts are thought to be a product of Medieval pie making, with them emerging in the late 16th century in high cuisine and becoming popular with the nobility. Today they’re affordable for anyone to try, and if you’re planning a trip to France you should sample this delicious treat with a coffee.
Panettone is an Italian sweet bread loaf famous the world over, that is usually prepared and enjoyed around Christmas and New Year throughout Europe and around the world. Originally from Milan, the word panettone comes from the Italian word “panetto”, which means small loaf cake. The origins of the cake date back to the Roman Empire, where ancient Romans made a sweetened type of leavened cake with honey.
Makowiec. A traditional Polish dessert that is especially popular during the Christmas season, Makowiec is a poppy seed cake roll made of poppy seeds, sour cream, butter, eggs and flour. It’s a classic Polish dessert served with tea.