Desserts – The Sweet Side of Zagreb
Pastries and cakes have always been important to the people of Zagreb, and they devote a lot of time to them – you only need to leaf through the old Zagreb cookbooks full of sweet wonders. There are many local desserts that are in fact the heritage of the Austro-Hungarian times so that we have our own variations on the sweet themes from all over Central Europe. Numerous varieties of pancakes, strudels, pies and dumplings are the most widespread and simplest desserts but there are also more complex creations, such as the rich chocolatey Jelačić bars, our echo of the Viennese Sacher cake. Zagreb embraced the traditional kremšnita (custard slice), a specialty from the nearby town of Samobor, adding whipped cream and chocolate glaze to its own version. Following in the footsteps of Vienna, the first pastry shops opened at the beginning of the 19th century, while the father of modern baking and pastry industry is considered to be Alois Schönoa, also the father of the writer who is the most representative of Zagreb – August Šenoa.
Cake and pastry making developed with time, so today we can choose between old-fashioned pastry shops with a classic offer, and original, modern cake makers. Whichever genre you might prefer, the news of a good cake spreads like wildfire so the most successful cake and pastry makers enjoy devout following. The change of seasons is reflected in pastry shop displays – in autumn people flock to feast on chestnut-based desserts; winter is reserved for richer cakes, usually made of chocolate and nuts, while spring and summer are the time for lighter desserts with strawberries and other berries, such as the ”icy wind” cake. Ice-cream is also well-liked, and you can tell that Italy is near by how seriously this seasonal dessert is treated. Creative chocolate making is a new niche, still small but exciting and already winning international awards. It is not by coincidence that the Museum of Chocolate has recently opened in Zagreb.