If it isn't on your calendar already, get out a red pen and mark November 26. That's National Cake Day, and although we don't need any excuses to enjoy the star of any birthday, wedding, or Tuesday afternoon, it got us thinking: where is the best travel destination for a day dedicated to celebrating cake?
Our conclusion: Austria, with not one, but two flagship cakes.
Linz is the home of Linzer Torte. Since it's said to be the world's oldest cake recipe, Austria could be considered the birthplace of cake. Every sponge, Christmas, devil's food, red velvet or spice cake we've ever enjoyed, owes its origins to the bakers of Linz. A recipe for Linzer Torte dated 1653 was discovered in an abbey. (And of course, the cake would have become an established tradition much sooner than that for its recipe to merit recording).
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: LEARNING TO BAKE LINZER TORTE IN LINZ, AUSTRIA
Linzer Torte has survived until today pretty much unchanged. It's a dense, not-too-sweet cake, rich in the luxury ingredients of early Europe: ground hazelnuts and almonds, eggs and lemon zest, with red currant jam filling and a pretty lattice pattern of dough on top.
It's become a Christmas holiday tradition not only in Austria, but also Germany, Hungary and Switzerland.
Luckily, original, authentic Linzer Torte is a year-round local delicacy for residents and visitors to Linz. Try Linzer Torte in its hometown - as we did - when we visited K und K Hofbackerei, an historic bakery/café. The two 'K's refer to 'King' and 'Queen' in German - and you know you're getting an authentic experience in a bakery with a history of royal patronage.
Capital city Vienna doubles down on Austria's famous cake sweepstakes. It has its own can't-miss confectionary, named after its most famous hotel.
Compared to Linzer Torte, Hotel Sacher's Sacher Torte is new on the world's dessert menu, dating 'only' from 1832. Chocolate had arrived on the European confectionary scene by then, and Sacher Torte is a dense chocolate cake with an apricot jam coating. The real magic may be the dark chocolate icing that's said to contain 3 different types of chocolates made expressly - and only - for Sacher Torte.
Even if you're not staying at the opulent Hotel Sacher in the heart of Vienna, it's the perfect place to rest and recharge with chocolate Sacher Torte. You'll be indulging in local flavors and local lifestyle: for hundreds of years, long before no-fat double lattes, the Austrian capital cultivated coffee house culture. It claims to be the 'coffee house capital of the world', so sitting back, enjoying a coffee and a piece of Sacher Torte may be one of the most authentically local things you can do while visiting Vienna.
There's even a Sacher Torte Day – December 6th, making it easy to span both celebratory cake dates on a single visit to Austria.
No matter what time of year, you have at least 2 reasons to make Austria your next sweet-tooth travel destination. Land trips, including active cycling and hiking tours, are a wonderful way to experience Austria in the warmer months, or explore Christmas markets and ski hills in the winter. Danube river cruises call in both Vienna and Linz, where you can make your way to K und K bakery or the Hotel Sacher for an afternoon treat, or pick up a boxed cake to take home to share.
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