The Austrian Canned-Peach Cake I Ate When I Was Snowed

In Alpine Cooking, Meredith Erickson captures the experience of eating and traveling through the Alps—Gstaad, Verbier, St. Moritz, Courmayeur—not “as all high-end glitz and glamour” nor as “a backpacker’s dream ski vacation,” but as a cultural foray into the nuances of Alpine cuisine and how to eat it at home. Today, she shares with us a special cake recipe that calls specifically for canned peaches, not fresh.

In all the years I spent researching this book, the only time I was really snowed in was in the Stubai Alps, southwest of Innsbruck and north of the Ötztal Alps. I was staying at a Jagdschloss (hunting lodge) in the small, compact, yet very dramatic village of Kühtai.

To get there, you drive so far up into the mountains that you pass glaciers along the way. Kühtai is known as the highest ski resort in Austria; the base camp lies at about 1,950 meters (6,400 feet). I suppose that the altitude, combined with the darkest of skies, combined with the fact that the hotel is owned by a count should have been obvious clues to the bumpy night ahead.

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After a failed ski trip—due to black skies and zero visibility—to find huts in the surrounding mountains, I gave up and returned to the lodge for beef broth with strips of pancake (Rinderconsomme mit Frittatensuppe), and this sponge cake. And schnapps. Lots of schnapps.

Note: Canned peaches and frozen quark (fresh cheese) have long shelf lives—which is ideal for remote, isolated hotel kitchens, the kind that require cogwheel trains to reach, the kind that may need to go many days, sometimes weeks, without fresh produce or a new delivery.

I guess you could use fresh peaches for this recipe, but that would take away from that snowed-in feeling.

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