Even though we like to promote Croatia as a healthy and fit country with Mediterranean lifestyle and meals including olive oil and organic products, the truth is – Croatians have a sweet tooth. Our home cooked meals are not complete without a dessert, and that dessert has to be a real calorie bomb (that’s why we take mandatory naps in the afternoon).
We have some authentic Croatian cakes, however considering our history and Croatia being a fairly young country, most of our sweets are modified versions of our neighbors’ sweets.
In Zagreb and the surrounding areas, the influence of Austria, Hungary and Germany is still quite strong and testable. On every menu you can find apple strudel, (+ cheese and cherry strudel), pancakes or, nowadays extremely popular, Germknödel.
Although we eat sweets everyday, on some occasions we overdo it. Especially at weddings, Christmas and during carnival season.
At Croatian weddings, beside the obligatory wedding cake, along with the typical Peach cakes (small peach-looking cakes) and The „Hungarian girl“ slices (delicious chocolate layered cake, of which the name origin is still a mystery), we have some rather unusual final course traditions. For example, in Split, the newlyweds don’t cut the cake together. They take a huge sword and smash a model of Split cathedral made out of caramelized sugar and nuts. Then everybody eats the smashed parts off the floor. True story.
Also, a coastal wedding curiosity are the ingredients of the famous cake from the town of Ston. Before, it was eaten only at weddings and now, due to its popularity, it became a common dessert. The cake is called The Ston Cake, but, it could easily be renamed into “Mac and Nuts”. Believe it or not, the main ingredient of this Mac and Cheese’s sweet little brother is the macaroni pasta. We know, it sounds (and, truth being said, looks, uneatable), but when you mix pasta, walnuts, almonds, eggs, margarine and sugar you get a surprisingly delicious delicacy.
At Christmas time the number of our home baked treats often reaches double digits. Those sweets are, as an unwritten rule, sorted into three generations categories that rarely mix. The Christmas baking checklist starts with the poppy seed and walnut rolls (for grandparents), vanilla cookies and apple pie (for parents) and furry coconut cakes and fritule for kids. Fritule (fritters) are tiny donuts with the best secret ingredient kids could ask for – the local brandy (any flavor is acceptable, kids never complain). Needless to say, furry cakes have the same “secret” ingredient.
In Croatia, Halloween is not traditional or celebrated. Instead, without limiting ourselves to one night of masks and trick or treating, we have a few weeks of the carnival (usually from the second half of January, throughout February) ending a day before Lent. Samobor, the star of our “YUGO and cream cake” tour (#mustvisit #yugocitytour #yugocaradventure), is one of the carnival centers. During those weeks, visitors eat the famous, officially registered as authentic Croatian, Samobor custard cream cake.
However, at the end of carnival, in every part of the country, for breakfast, lunch and dinner we eat the queen of the carnival sweets – krafna (basically a donut without a hole, but with apricot jam in the middle).
Croatians perfected donut making bringing it to a higher level, so that now we have the modern variants with pistachio and even cheesecake filling.
Be that as it may, the YUGOcar adventure team is more traditional – we’re happy with simple, warm krafna filled with grandma’s jam and some white coffee on the side.
- source of The Ston Cake photo is TasteAtlas