Great Aus­trian Bake Off

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - NEIL FISHER

Call it The Great Aus­trian Bake Off. I am up­stairs at Jin­drak, Linz’s premier patis­serie, and the pa­tient but firm mas­ter baker Ar­tur Shegeri, who has been knead­ing and prov­ing for 25 years, is putting me through my paces as I cre­ate my version of Linzer torte, the world’s old­est cake.

Linzer torte wins the bat­tle of aged cakes be­cause its recipe — the key in­gre­di­ents are hazel­nuts, cin­na­mon, al­mond top­ping and red­cur­rant jam fill­ing — was writ­ten down in 1696, be­fore any other torte was sim­i­larly cod­i­fied. Now Jin­drak pro­duces 100,000 of th­ese gold­en­brown trea­sures, with their dec­o­ra­tive pas­try lat­tices, ev­ery year. Mine, how­ever, does not make the Jin­drak stan­dard; it’s mis­shapen, my jam layer isn’t even and I couldn’t even man­age to scat­ter al­monds in equal dis­tri­bu­tion. Yet Shegeri be­lieves it will pass muster for per­sonal use and puts it in the oven to bake — the cake fairies of Linz will de­liver it to my ho­tel tomorrow.

Ev­ery­one in Linz is ea­ger to please. Sit­ting on a bend in the Danube and sand­wiched be­tween Salzburg and Vi­enna, Linz knows it has tricky com­pe­ti­tion in the tourism stakes. For decades the city meant in­dus­try; its steel­works, first built up in the 1930s, drove Aus­tria’s eco­nomic re­cov­ery af­ter the war (dur­ing which 75 per cent of Linz was de­stroyed) but gave the city

Crowds gather in Linz, noted for its cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties; Jin­drak patis­serie, top right; Ho­tel am Dom­platz, above right; Linzer torte, be­low

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