Sunday, 2 August 2009
I am very fond of Czech cakes. And the Czechs are very good at making them, after all this is a country which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and so in addition to making Czech cakes are adept at Viennese cakes too. They are part of the Czech cafe culture which I have blogged about in the past.
Cakes are an important part of the Czech social scene. Visitors to the house, especially female ones, will often arrive carrying a tin or plastic box saying "I've been baking and I thought you might like one too." You open the box and there is enough cake to keep you going for weeks.
After three years in the country I decided it was time I had a go. Only I cheated and bought some cake mixes. I don't feel too guilty about it, there were an awful lot of cake mixes on the shelves at Tesco's in Cesky Krumlov, so it looks like many Czech woman cheat too. The first cake I made was a thin sponge with blueberries, which I have been given on several occasions by friends. The cake mixture is poured into a baking tray and the fruit (whatever is available - raspberries and red currants work well) is simply sprinkled on top. The cake is then baked in the oven until brown and cooked. The combination of fruit and sponge is lovely.
Encouraged by this simple success, I moved on to a more complex cake - the Czech buchty. The mix requires the addition of yeast and then being left to rise, which it did to rather alarming proportions. I then carefully flattened the dough out and cut it into squares. I put some apricot puree into the centre of each square, folded in the corners and rolled and pinched it in my hands to make a ball. These balls were put in baking tray and allowed to rise further. When they were ready I put them in the oven and baked them until brown. The result can be seen above. These, like the sponge, soon disappeared. As my husband pointed out: they needed to, they would only go dry!