October 8, 2014

The Great British Bake Off (or, GBBO) finale is fast approaching, and in celebration of this, I’ve put together a list of my favourite European bakes. From my childhood favourites, to all-time classics, my list of doughy treats is sure to inspire you to travel to try them for yourself. So, book a quick 35-minute journey with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, and make your way over to Europe to sample some of these culinary delights.

Galette des Rois

The galette des rois, or sometimes king's cake, is one of my favourite European treats, and it's something I always look forward to when celebrating King's Day, or Epiphany, back at home in France. This delicious dessert gained its name from the hidden treat inside the centre of the cake; it was said that whoever found the hidden broad bean inside could play at being king for the day. Nowadays, fortunately, the broad beans are often replaced with a much prettier trinket. I remember when I was little, filling up with excitement as my mother cut through the cake, and I love seeing the exact same thrill when my own children discover the small prize – we all deserve to be kings and queens for one day.

Enjoy a slice of galette des rois
Enjoy a slice of galette des rois

The recipe of galette des rois tends to change from one region to the next; in Northern France the cake consists of a delicate pastry, filled with rich frangipane and a hidden porcelain toy. In Southern France, the cake is made from brioche and formed into a circular shape, covered in delicately placed candied fruit; perfect for when you're enjoying a cup of coffee in the Mediterranean warmth.

Fancy yourself as royalty? Create your own galette des rois by following this simple recipe.

Prinsesstårta

The Swedish prinsesstårta, or princess cake, (pictured at the top of the page), was given this name because of how fond the Prince of Sweden’s daughters were of this beautiful treat. In episode six of this year’s GBBO, the bakers were put to the test and asked to create this magnificent dessert, something that proved quite difficult to do.

The cake itself is made up of varying levels of sponge cake, which are sandwiched between alternating layers of delicious custard, raspberry jam and crème patisserie, all topped with a dome of rich, whipped cream. To complete the look of the traditional prinsesstårta, the cake and dome of cream is covered with a layer of green marzipan, and finished with a pink marzipan rose.

Check out Mary Berry’s recipe and give it a go.

Gugelhupf

Gugelhupf is a German Bundt cake, made from soft yeast and filled with an assortment of raisins, almonds and kirschwasser, a sweet cherry brandy. Once baked, the cake is of a tall, ring shape and is often finished with a dusting of white icing sugar, giving it a traditional, festive feel. Although this is the traditional recipe, many local restaurants and bakeries create tasty alternatives, from chocolate to cinnamon flavour.

While travelling, you're more likely to come across a slice of gugelhupf in southern Germany, amongst the Bavarian districts of the country. Be sure to stop by one of the local cafes for a cup of coffee and a slice of gugelhupf, as you sit back and admire the beautiful Bavarian scenery.

Delicious gugelhupf
Delicious gugelhupf

Create your own gugelhupf by following this recipe.

Pretzel

The Pretzel is another German classic that has infiltrated the US and UK, making it now a common addition to our local bakeries and supermarkets. These tasty, savoury snacks originated in the middle ages, and are said to have been created in the monasteries by German monks. Nowadays pretzels are enjoyed in a variety of ways, from a sprinkling of rock salt to a syrupy coating of shaved almonds and sugar.

Tasty pretzel for a snack
Tasty pretzel for a snack

To get the classic look of a pretzel, bakers create strong bread dough and twist it to make the classic shape. The dough is then treated with lye (a high PH solution) and sliced with a knife; this gives the finished pretzel the glossy look and opened split that is traditional within southern Germany.

Check out the recipe for an authentic German pretzel.

Fancy a slice?

If this list of tasty treats has got your mouth watering, then start planning your trip to Europe and its bakeries today. Whether you’re heading to France or Germany, a trip to Calais from the UK only takes 35-minutes with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle; plus, there aren’t any luggage restrictions, so you can bring back as many cakes and bakes as you like.

Photo Credits:
Princess Cake - top © Elaine Ashton
Galette des Rois © Steph Gray
Googlehupf © Dirk Vorderstraße
Authentic German Pretzels! © Michelle Tribe

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