Austria is well known for many different types of food – some you will definitely have heard of: strudel, schnitzel, goulash etc. Each region also has specialities they call their own. Though consider that Austria has nine states in a total of 84,000km² (compare that to Australia’s 8 in 7.7million km²) – this means that a dish ‘local’ to one area is very often found in other places too.
I live in the state of Carinthia (Kärnten) and I work in the state of Steiermark (Styria), so I’m familiar with quite a few.
Carinthians love Kärntner Reindling, and I’m definitely on board. While it’s traditionally served at Easter, it’s available year-round in stores and bakeries. Reindling is a sweet, soft bread, baked in a specially-shaped dish and packed with sultanas and cinnamon.
But while I just referred to it as ‘bread’, I’m actually a bit torn as to whether it better fits into the ‘cake’ category. Because while it’s fat and soft, like bread; melted butter and sugar on the top gives it a sweet, sticky, caramelising glaze… something that’s more typical of a cake.
The thing I liken it most to from home is raisin toast, which is one of my all-time favourites. I’ve been known to toast up a slice of Reindling and coat it with butter, just as I would raisin toast. Naturally this raises many Austrian eyebrows, who prefer to eat it plain as a snack, or with ham at Easter.
I’m not a huge fan of teaming it with ham, but that’s their business. I prefer to enjoy a slice with a cup of tea in the morning, or to eat it as an after-dinner treat. Like many cakes and breads, it’s best fresh out the oven (my mother-in-law’s oven, of course – I’m not up to Austrian baking yet).
Mmm… I’m feeling hungry… maybe I’ll go seek out a piece now!