The Viennese Kitchen: Tante Hertha’s Book of Family Recipes, written by Monica Meehan and Maria von Baich, brings together over 100 classic Austrian recipes based on the notebook of a 1900s Baroness. From everyday meals to special entertaining and elegant pastries, this book has something for everyone. It was my birthday a couple of weeks ago, so I will also be sharing a recipe for the beautiful Haselnußcrèmetorte, Austrian Hazelnut Cream Torte. The Viennese Kitchen is currently available in hardcover and a new paperback edition with a handful of updated recipes is set to release this fall.
Disclaimer and Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Interlink Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
This recipe uses raw eggs. Consuming raw eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness, especially with certain medical conditions. Be safe about the source of your eggs or used pasteurized. The frosting also includes a splash of rum. It is intended only for those over the age of 21 (in the United States). Please drink/eat responsibly or omit.
Monica Meehan and Maria von Baich
Monica Meehan is a food writer and the great niece of Tante Hertha, Baroness Hertha Freiin von Winkler. She worked with her mother, Maria von Baich, to adapt her aunt’s recipe book/journal into a modernized cookbook with the home cook in mind. Tante Hertha was born in Krain (then Austria, now Slovenia) in 1889 and lived quite the life as a Red Cross nurse during World War I, a portrait photographer, and even ran a catering business before passing away in 1971.
The Viennese Kitchen
Chapters are divided based on course: Vorspeisen (Appetizers); Suppen und Einlagen (Soups and Accompaniments); Flesh und Fische (Meat and Fish); Gesalzene Mehlspeisen (Mains); Beilagen, Salate, und Gemüse (Sides, Salads, and Vegetables); Bäckereien (Cookies, Pastries, and Confections); Süße Mehlspeisen (Sweet Desserts); Kuchen und Schnitten (Cakes and Gâteaux); Torten (Tortes); and Crèmes und Marmeladen (Puddings and Jams).
Along with Tante Hertha’s background and experiences, you will also learn about Viennese history and society through World War I, the collapse of the Habsburg Empire (Austro-Hungarian), the newly formed Austria, and World War II. Mealtime etiquette, clothing styles, other customs, and notable figures are also discussed.
The beautiful food photography was taken by Tara Fisher with food styling by Annie Rigg and prop styling by Roisin Nield. I loved the imprint of Tante Hertha’s notebook on the inside covers. Many of the dishes include a full page photo, generally of the finished product. I also enjoyed the personal touch of the family portraits.
Measurements are provided in US Customary. The name of each dish is listed in German and English. There aren’t any headnotes, so you won’t find much background on individual recipes other than the occasional tip or mention at the beginning of the chapter.
This book is a great pick for those interested in Austrian or Central European cuisine. It is definitely the baker’s dream with nearly half the book dedicated to a variety of cakes, tortes, cookies, and other baked goods. These would be especially perfect for the holiday season. Some of the recipes would be great for a weeknight or afternoon snack while others are definitely meant to impress. Most of the ingredients can be found in the average American grocery store. Some that may be more difficult to locate include coarse semolina, speck, parsley root, quark, and rice flour.
Haselnußcrèmetorte (Austrian Hazelnut Cream Torte)
Tortes are a special occasion dessert in Austria. They are similar to cakes, but generally have less flour in preference for ground nuts/breadcrumbs and tend to be on the short side. Finding this recipe for Haselnußcrèmetorte, Hazelnut Cream Torte, in time for my birthday was quite special indeed.
In college, I spent every summer visiting my family in Germany. My area in the Alabama didn’t have many options for Central European cuisine. When I was feeling particularly homesick, Chad would drive me an hour into Georgia on special occasions to visit a favorite Bavarian/Austrian restaurant. It was the perfect pick-me-up. For dessert, we would always order the Haselnußcrèmetorte. I searched around for a recipe, but it was never quite the same. Well, I finally found it! This beautiful torte has a toasted hazelnut base and a cream filling with rum and candied almonds.
The cake part of the Haselnußcrèmetorte includes toasted ground hazelnuts/breadcrumbs and beaten egg whites for lightness. After baking and cooling, it is cut in half through the middle to form two layers. The layers filled and surrounded with a nut cream frosting plus the extra indulgent touch of candied almonds.
The candied almonds are made by coating blanched almonds in caramelized sugar. Work quickly and be very very careful when transferring the mixture to a baking sheet to cool.
When mixing the nut cream filling, you may need extra confectioner’s sugar to get a light and fluffy frosting. I ended up adding an additional 1/2 cup or so for my desired consistency.
I also made Käseauflauf (Cheese Soufflé), Wiener Schnitzel, Palatschinken mit gesalzener Füllung (Savory Crêpes), and Parmesan-Stangerln (Parmesan Sticks).
Käseauflauf is an Austrian soufflé made with grated Emmental cheese. It was a delicious addition to weekend brunch. The recipe stated to not expect it to rise as high as a standard French soufflé, but mine still achieved quite a bit of height (of course it started to sink back down before I snapped a photo). I also assembled mine in individual soufflé dishes as opposed to a 9 inch round pan for easy serving.
The idea for Wiener Schnitzel is believed to have started in Italy and is now popular throughout Central Europe. This dish highlights quality and simplicity, without all the additions often included in other countries. Thin slices of veal are coated in breadcrumbs, fried until golden, then served only with lemon wedges. It is often paired with a cucumber or potato salad.
Palatschinken mit gesalzener Füllung are thin crepes with savory fillings. I filled the crepes with the mushroom filling, but there is also a recipe for an herb filling with quark, yogurt, dried herbs, ham, and tomatoes. This dish was overall an easy one to make and perfect for a light lunch. It was also a huge hit for the entire family (Evan actually ate and enjoyed the mushroom filling!).
Parmesan-Stangerln are thin, buttery breadsticks topped with grated parmesan cheese. They were delicious warm from the oven and pairing with a salad or tea is recommended. This one was another favorite with Evan. He also had fun helping me make them.
Looking for more Austrian recipes?
Haselnußcrèmetorte (Austrian Hazelnut Cream Torte) Recipe
Excerpt from The Viennese Kitchen
Haselnußcrèmetorte (Austrian Hazelnut Cream Torte)
For the Batter:
- 1 1/2 ounces fine breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup (1 ounce) all-purpose flour
- 5 large eggs separated
- 1 1/4 cups (5 1/2 ounces) confectioner's sugar divided
- 4 ounces toasted, ground hazelnuts
For the Nut Cream Filling:
- 2 1/2 ounces shelled almonds
- 1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
- 7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter softened at room temperature
- 3/4 cup (3 1/2 ounces) confectioner's sugar plus more as needed to create a light filling
- 1 large egg beaten
- 1 tablespoon dark rum
To make the Torte:
- Preheat the oven to 375˚F (190˚C). Grease and lightly flour an 8-inch round springform pan.
- Start by making the batter. In a bowl, mix the breadcrumbs with the flour and set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 1 cup 2 tablespoons of the confectioner's sugar until light and fluffy. Wash the beaters thoroughly.
- In a third bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, beating in the remaining confectioner's sugar. Alternately fold the egg whites, ground hazelnuts, and flour/breadcrumbs into the sugar/egg yolk mixture.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake for 40-50 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan. Once cooled, remove the cake from the pan.
To make the nut cream filling:
- Start by toasting the almonds. Spread them on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes, or until fragrant. Remove from the oven.
- When cooled, coarsely chop the toasted nuts. Melt the sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring all the while until it caramelizes.
- Remove the pan from heat immediately and stir in the nuts. Promptly spread onto a lightly oiled baking sheet to cool. Once cooled, break into chunks, then pound coarsely (or more finely, depending on your preference) in a mortar. Reserve 4 tablespoons for the topping.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, confectioner's sugar and egg until light and fluffy (adding more confectioner's sugar if needed), then stir in the caramelized almonds and the rum.
- Slice the cake in half horizontally and spread some of the filling between the two layers. Spread the remaining filling over the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle the top with the reserved caramelized almonds.