The word ‚Topfen', is the Austrian name for what Germans call ‚Quark‘. These days Quark is starting to be available in many supermarkets and stores around the world. It is a European style cottage cheese that is much creamier than the drier cottage cheese that many of you are used to in other parts of the world and, with the addition of cultures, has a mild yogurt tang. In general, Quark can by used for anything that you may use crème fraîche or sour cream for.
If you follow my blog, you might have noticed that around here Quark is not only very popular for baking but also for slathering over oven-baked (Ofenkartoffeln) or boiled potatoes (Pellkartoffeln) and then topped with fresh herbs (Kartoffeln mit Kräuterquark). In Austria, Quark is often mixed with eggs and sugar and sometimes butter to form a luscious thickened cream for a variety of desserts, pastries and strudels including Quark Dumplings (Topfennockerl), Quark Strudel (Topfenstrudel), Quark Turnovers (Topfengolatsche), to name a few.
And while Quark is an essential ingredient for baked cheesecakes in the two German speaking countries, the approach to cheesecake is different. German cheesecake (Käsekuchen) often includes a pie crust to encase the baked filling, while this classic Old Viennese Topfen Cake (Altwiener Topfentorte) is made with Quark mixed with almond meal and is essentially gluten free.
The combination of good quality butter, Quark, farm fresh eggs, sugar, vanilla and almond meal gives this traditional Old Viennese Topfen Cake (Altwiener Topfentorte) an extremely light texture that will surprise you. But you will definitely need a light, quick hand when folding through the beaten egg whites otherwise you will end up with a cake on the dense side. It is always a good idea to make sure your beater and bowl are clean - free of any fats - before you start beating your egg whites to ensure a good volume results.
Old Viennese Topfen Cake - Altwiener Topfentorte
(this is a smallish cake, so it serves 6 to 8)
- 120 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 120 g superfine baking (caster) sugar
- 4 eggs (M), free-range or organic, separated
- 120 g Quark (I use 20%)
- zest of an organic lemon
- 8g pure vanilla sugar
- a pinch fine sea salt
- 120 g almond meal
- icing sugar for dusting
- a 22cm (8.5in) springform pan
- baking parchment
- Preheat your oven to 180°C (356°F).
- Butter the springform pan and dust with almond flour, shaking out any excess.
- With a mixer, beat the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add one egg yolk at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Then add the Quark, lemon zest and vanilla sugar and mix through. Set aside.
- Using a separate clean and dry bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form.
- Fold a third of the beaten egg white into the Quark mixture to loosen it and then fold the rest in quickly with a spatula or large spoon, with a cutting motion, along with the almond meal.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for approximately 35 to 40 minutes.
- Take the cake out of the oven. Transfer to a wire rack. Cool completely on the wire rack.
- Then remove the cake from the pan, remove the baking parchment, dust with icing sugar and serve.
If you are interested in another Viennese treat, why not look HERE for my wonderful recipe for 'Viennese Whirls' - these are pretty delicious too.
Hope you enjoy your virtual, culinary trip to Austria.