Austrians love their apricots and if you spend any time in their beautiful country during the summer you’d be hard pushed to avoid eating this delicious fruit.
I’ve spent the last week in Vienna writing my book, in between eating large quantities of cake and ice cream and going to watch Rigoletto in front of the Rathaus.
Last Sunday afternoon my mother and I took the train to the suburbs to visit some friends. In their back garden was a wonderful apricot tree and we spent an hour clambering up ladders gathering the ripe fruit.
We had so many we could hardly carry them – they’d already had three harvests and were keen to give us a large bag to take home.
So on Monday morning we set about making apricot jam (along with Powidl this is an Austrian staple) and (my personal favourite) apricot dumplings. These are so popular in Austria that they come in three varieties; brandteig, topfen and erdapfel.
Brandteig is basically apricots wrapped in plain choux pastry, boiled and rolled in bread crumbs. Delicious.
Topfen is a type of cheese you can get here that I’ve never seen in the UK. It’s in everything and can be made into a pastry called “topfenteig” giving the apricot dumplings a fluffy cheesecake flavour. Also delicious.
And then there’s erdapfel. Actually that’s just me showing off – erdapfel is simply potato. The potatoes are boiled and then pushed through a sieve to make a sort of mash. Flour, eggs and semolina are added and then this is rolled around the apricots. I’ve never actually had these as my mother is adamant they aren’t worth eating. She claims they are slimy – I have no idea.
Then of course there are all sorts of apricot cakes; apricot strudel; apricot flan; a light sponge with apricots on top (no idea what it’s called, but it’s good); a different version with a sugar crumble on top of the apricots; apricots with pastry below and a layer of marzipan above; apricot and topfen parcels; apricots on top of pastry and crème anglais; apricot fleck (a large square cake) and of course the usual apricot Danish pastry. Those are just a few – I am still sampling the others!
And if you still want more apricots then how about apricot ice cream, apricot brandy and apricot schnapps? And, for the purist, you won’t have to look far to see a vendor on a street corner selling huge, golden red, ripe, firm apricots.
I’ve eaten so many that I’ll look like an apricot soon.
About the Author: Chantal Cooke is a professional journalist, author and co-founder of PASSION for the PLANET