Great Austrian Bake Off
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