Austria: Kardinalschnitten

Austria!

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One place I definitely would love to visit one day! A land of beautiful scenery, silky chocolate, and the Sound of Music!! haha. And also delicious baked goods. Let’s do our Austrian current events!
-Since the 2016 Summer Olympics are happening right now in Rio, I thought I’d give an update on how Austria is doing thus far but….well…I guess the answer is not too great…no medals yet for Austria. But hey, those 71 people are IN THE OLYMPICS so that’s a pretty great accomplishment itself, let’s be real.
-Austria doesn’t like the amount of refugees and migrants heading toward their country, as seems the case for most European countries receiving refugees. The Austrian govt. is looking to pass a law that could allow authorities to turn away refugees and migrants directly at the border, and anyone who entered illegally could be detained, even if they put in an asylum request. But this wouldn’t be put in place until September, after Austria and Hungary meet for negotiations regarding immigrants.
-A guy from Salzburg was arrested and put in jail for posting a picture of a cat that looked like it was making a Hitler salute…well….and 19 other Nazi propaganda photos. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison. O_o Don’t post mean things on the internet, guys! Everybody be cool, let’s all be friends.

Ok! Lets talk of tasty things!

These Kardinalschnitten, or Cardinal Slices are a lovely, light and refreshing treat. It is made up of two layers of baked meringue and lady fingers, and layer of coffee flavored whipped cream between them. Yum. I’ve seen some where they have three layers of the baked stuff, and two layers of whipped cream, which gives it a bit more height, but I just decided to stick with the shorter version, since that is what my recipe told me to do! They are called Cardinal slices because the colors of the finished slices supposedly resemble the colors of a Catholic Cardinal. But…I had to look it up, cuz I dont know off the top of my head what a Cardinal wears, and they all seemed to wear red and white?? These slices are more white and yellow (and tan)…is there something I’m missing? Any experts on Catholicism out there and know something I don’t?? Well anyway…

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So these Kardinalschnitten are made as one long log, and then cut into slices. It involves piping the meringue and batter in long lines and baking them as one piece, and basically sandwiching the whipped cream between them…..with a little more finesse than what it sounds.

This isn’t exactly a difficult recipe, but it is kind of a time sensitive one. It is best to have all your ingredients for the meringue and the lady fingers ready to go, so you can go from one to the other without spending lots of time in between. And since you start with the meringue, its good to be speedy, because you don’t want the piped meringue sitting there for too long, or else it could deflate and it wont be as pretty. So make the meringue, pipe your lines, then make the lady finger batter and pipe them, then stick it in the oven right away so it doesn’t spread too much!

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I had never made lady fingers before, so that was a new experience. I didn’t realize how much the batter for lady fingers is like making a sponge cake, just with less flour. I also didn’t realize that the meringue would puff up as much as it did in the oven, so I feel like I piped on a little more than I needed. But oh well! The recipe made more meringue than I needed anyway, had to use it up somehow! Some of the meringue strips did sort of deflate as they were cooling, so that was a bit of a bummer, but I’m not sure what I should have done to prevent that…

Here’s a slightly more detailed description of the process of making these: Mark out two lines, 5″ apart down the center of two pieces of parchement paper, these will be your guide lines. Make the meringue, and pipe three long lines on both sheets. Two bordering the guide lines you drew, and one down the center. Then make the lady finger batter, and pipe it in two lines, between the lines of meringue, making sure it completely fills in the spaces. Bake the sheets, and let them cool. In the mean time, make your coffee whipped cream. When the two meringue/lady finger sheets are cooled, cut one into 1″-1.5″ pieces, short ways, and invert the other, so the flat side is up. Spread on your whipped cream, then place the other sliced meringue/lady finger pieces on top. Then cut the rest of the way through to make full slices.

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I had a little trouble with my whipped cream, and it was a bit runny, so after I assembled the whole thing, I placed it in the freezer for about an hour, so it could firm up a bit. THEN I came back and cut it into slices using a knife dipped in hot water, for a nice clean slice.

Since my whipped cream was a bit wet, it soaked into the bottom layer of lady fingers, and reminded me a lot of tiramisu. These slices are pretty good, I wasn’t sure how much I’d like them. But the combination of sweet, fluffy meringue with the dryer, cakey lady fingers, with the bitterness of the coffee in the whipped cream, all went surprisingly well together! However, even though these things taste pretty nice, I don’t think I’d say these are my favorite thing on this adventure. As far as desserts go, I think I tend to prefer something a little denser, with a bit more bold flavors. Like chocolate. Or cake. Or chocolate cake.  Something obviously sweet! This was more on the side of light and refreshing, not overly sweet, and I know a lot of people prefer that type of thing.

In my experience with international travel, and just talking to people who are not USA natives, I think generally Americans like things sweeter than a lot of other places. When I was in South Korea, if I would make something for my coworkers, or talk about things I liked to eat, I would constantly be told “It’s so sweet!” “You like to eat that?? I think it’s too sweet!” And I’d be like “….its an oatmeal cookie.” I once made oatmeal cookies with my middle school students and while most of them liked the cookies, a few students didn’t like them at all because they were too sweet. It was really hard to find any kind of cake other than sponge cake in Korea. Sponge cake, covered in whipped cream, and topped with fruit. *sigh* Where’s my devil’s food??? And in the bakery I work at, I’m one of the few employees who was born and raised in the US, many of my coworkers are from central America, one is from Bosnia, another grew up in a few different Asian and European countries I think, and most, if not all of them don’t particularly like cake, or most of the pastries we make, because they are too sweet for them. Meanwhile, I’m over here snitching left over scraps of dark chocolate cake, or the bits of red velvet cupcake that were cored out to put filling in. So I don’t know, maybe my coworkers would like these cardinal slices better, since they’re not too sweet! (to my taste buds anyway!)

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Ready to get this game going! Let’s do this. 
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Meringue and ladyfinger ingredients ready to go!

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I got this recipe from a cookbook given to me by a former coworker. It’s called A Baker’s Tour by Nick Malgieri, and it’s a collection of recipes from countries all over the world. Perfect for this project!!!

Kardinalschnitten/Cardinal Slices

by Nick Malgieri

Meringue Batter
1 cup eff whites (from about 7 eggs)
Pinch salt
1 cup sugar

Ladyfinger Batter
2 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Coffee Cream Filling
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons instant expresso dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water and cooled
Confectioners’ sugar for finishing

2 cookie sheets or jelly-roll pans lines with parchment

  1. Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the overn and preheat to 350 degrees.
  2. In the middle of each piece of parchment paper, draw 2 parallel lines 5 inches apart with dark pencil. Turn the papers over on the pans.
  3. For the meringue batter, put the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip the egg whites until they are very white, opaque, and beginning to hold a very soft peak. Increase the speed to medium high and whip in the sugar in a slow stream, continuing to whip the egg whites until they hold a soft peak. Scrape the meringue batter into a pastry back with a 1-inch opening at the end, but no tube. Pipe the meringue in three lines: one at each side along and inside the pencil marks, and a third line in the middle between the two. Repeat with the second pan. Set aside.
  4. For the ladyfinger batter, put the eggs and yolks in the same bowl in which you whipped the meringue. (It’s not necessary to wash the bowl between uses here.) Whisk in the sugar and vanilla. Place on the mixer fitted with whisk attachment and whip on medium-high speed until the mixture is very light and thickened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the bowl from the mixer and sift and fold in the flour. Scrape the batter into the second pastry bag and pipe lines of ladyfinger batter between the lines of meringue, piping two lines of batter on each pan. The ladyfinger and meringue strips should be touching.
  5. Lightly dust the cake layers with confectioners’ sugar and bake them until the ladyfinger batter is light golden and firm, about 20 minutes. The meringue will color slightly but remain quite soft. Cool the layers on the pans on racks.
  6. Before you assemble the cake, whip the cream with the sugar and dissolved coffee by machine with the whisk attachment on medium speed until firm, not stiff, peaks form. Refrigerate the cream.
  7. To assemble the cake, loosen the layers from the papers with a long, sharp knife or spatula. Carefully invert one of the layers onto a cutting board so that the smooth side, which was on the bottom, faces up. Trim the edges of the remaining layer and cut it into about 10 vertical slices 1 1/2 inches wide, leaving them in place on the paper.
  8. Remove the whipped cream from the refrigerator and rewhip it by hand if it has softened. With a medium offset spatula, evenly spread it on the inverted cake layer on the cutting board.
  9. Carefully place the slices of the second layer on the cream, right side up and close together. Trim the ends of the bottom layer and cut through slices to separate the filling and bottom layer, making sure to wipe the knife after each cut. Lightly dust the tops of the cakes with confectiones’ sugar.

Serving: Use an offset cake server or spatula to move the slices to a platter.

Storage: Keep the slices at a cool room temperature for up to 2 hours. If you need to wait longer to serve them, refrigerate the slices, or the whipped cream filling will melt. Cover and refrigerate leftovers.

Source:
Malgieri, Nick. “Cardinal Slices, Kardinalschnitten.” Recipe. A Baker’s Tour. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2005. 176-8. Print.

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