Baking at the 20th Century Cafe: Iconic European Desserts from Linzer Torte to Honey Cake by Michelle Polzine

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  • Honey cake

    • Jane on November 09, 2020

      This was a lot of work but it was worth it for a special occasion. In this case the birthday of a dear friend who has honey bees - it was lovely way to use some of her honey. The cake is light, pretty not overly rich. I like that the cream doesn’t have butter or sugar (though of course there is plenty of sugar in dulce de leche). It needs 11 circles of cake not 10 (there is more than enough batter) and there is a lot of cream left over. Could probably do 12 layers if that ambitious!

    • leilx on August 18, 2021

      This is delicious and not hard. I made two of them for a party of about 30 people and had about half a cake leftover (which quickly disappeared, much to the honoree's dismay). It does take some time, and you have to plan ahead, but it comes out very light and lovely. I highly recommend this recipe if you want a showstopper. One of the great things about it is you have to be done with it at least 24 hours in advance, which makes it a great party cake.

  • The strudel manifesto: making and stretching the dough

    • potatooryam on November 30, 2020

      Made this strudel as a fun project for Thanksgiving. I thought my dough was too loose when I pulled it from the fridge after an overnight rest but it was a pleasure to work with and a great project for a long weekend. As suggested I made a double batch of dough and since I didn't tear the first sheet while stretching ended up making both a sweet (apple) and savory (spinach & feta filling) strudel. Both were great, though I think the buttery layers benefitted from a rest in the fridge, I had a lot of leakage from my first strudel which I baked right after shaping. My strudel was also just the tiniest bit tough but I think this was due to me not stretching it as much as I could have. Will definitely make again.

  • Apple strudel

    • potatooryam on November 30, 2020

      This recipe was very tasty. I was worried about it being too plain since it has no flavoring other than a bit of sugar but I liked how the apple flavor shined through. I did add a grating of lemon zest which was nice, and would add a bit more next time. I also didn't feel like making bread/cookie crumbs and used panko instead, those seemed to work well. If eating for dessert I would definitely recommend serving with a bit of ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.

  • Moldovan cheese and nettle pie

    • potatooryam on November 30, 2020

      This was so good! I used a mix of frozen and fresh spinach (just what I had on hand) instead of the nettles and pre-made panko bread crumbs instead of making my own. Will definitely make the strudel dough again just to have more of this savory pie!

  • Raspberry jam

    • md4634 on April 07, 2021

      No pectin or water bath

  • Poppy seed cake with jam filling (Mohnkuchen)

    • tarae1204 on January 07, 2021

      Surprisingly easy cake once you have the key ingredients together. I baked the cake before dinner and let it cool while we ate, then put it together quickly to serve for dessert. The biggest challenge was ordering poppy seeds (Penzeys), and making the sour cherry levkar in advance. I used the small smoothie blender that came with my Ninja to grind the poppy seeds - worked great!! Cake mixed, baked, sliced and layered easily. Produced only 6 servings.

  • Any fruit shortcake: strawberries with lemon verbena cream

    • tarae1204 on May 21, 2021

      Ok - the shortcake was perfect. The best I’ve ever made. The lemon verbena whipped cream is out of this world. I had to grow my own lemon verbena as I’ve seen many desserts including it, but it’s not readily available. The strawberries are almost unnecessary here as the other components are so good. Very sweet, tender strawberries would be perfect.

  • Viennese coffee cake with raspberries (Streuselkuchen)

    • tarae1204 on May 21, 2021

      This recipe produced a lovely strong coffee cake with a wonderful flavor, slight yeasty aroma, and a bit of a hard crust. Unfortunately I didn’t have the stipulated 3” high cake pan so I used a springform pan which led to butter leakage. My top layer of raspberries browned slightly so I’d just put all the raspberries in the center next time.

  • Sour cherry levkar

    • tarae1204 on January 07, 2021

      I made this using dried cherries from Costco. Instructions are a little vague; I felt my end result was softened but sticky cherries. Overcooked? But it worked out as filling for the Mohnkuchen.

  • Black walnut and buckwheat Russian tea cakes

    • tarae1204 on November 26, 2020

      Directions to bake at 300 degrees for 15 min seem off and did not work for me. A google search produced similar recipes by Alice Medrich, Ottolenghi, and a blogger that have similar buckwheat walnut cookies bake at 325 or 350 and for longer (15-20 min). My cookies were difficult to bake at the low temp and many crumbled when gently rolling cooled cookies in powdered sugar as per recipe. I added five dashes chocolate bitters (removing equivalent vanilla amount) for one teaspoon combined bitters/vanilla. Level of salt and overall flavor wonderful.

  • Linzer torte

    • senzler on March 26, 2022

      Crust is very delicate. Refrigerate the full time + I froze after cutting but before using

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Reviews about this book

  • Eat Your Books

    This book is a baker’s dream – the holy grail of baking. Just look at that cover of that luscious honey cake.

    Full review
  • ISBN 10 1579658989
  • ISBN 13 9781579658984
  • Published Oct 20 2020
  • Format Hardcover
  • Page Count 300
  • Language English
  • Countries United States
  • Publisher Artisan

Publishers Text

Transporting readers straight to the grand cafés of Europe, Baking at the 20th Century Cafe brings renewed attention to the legendary sweet and savory baking recipes of Central and Eastern Europe. Polzine, one of San Francisco’s best pastry chefs, pays homage to the foundational desserts of so many cultures, while lightening and modernizing the recipes through her California lens. Her fruit desserts, nut-based desserts, and chocolate treats—many of them gluten-free—are smart, interesting, and foolproof, and deliver big flavor. Polzine’s coveted honey cake recipe is included, too, along with recipes for plum kuchen, walnut hamantaschen, Sacher torte, Linzer torte, poppy-filled rugelach, vanilla cheesecake—even pierogi and potato knishes, all full of twists and innovations. All the recipes are written with Polzine’s quirky, relatable “you can do this” enthusiasm to assure readers that they can achieve excellent results. Following in the footsteps of such esteemed bakers as Nancy Silverton and Dorie Greenspan, with Baking at the 20th Century Cafe, Polzine offers a new entry into the essential baking cookbook canon.