I just returned from a trip to Lake Bled, Slovenia and let me tell you that I was totally unprepared for what I saw. A sight to behold that’s fairytale in scope, Lake Bled is adorned with a medieval castle atop a precipitous cliff that plunges into a turquoise colored lake. As if that’s not enough, the Church of the Assumption of Maria in a glorious Gothic Revival style sits in the center of the lake like a birthday candle, with the black Bavarian roof pointing towards the sky. There’s even a “wishing bell” from the 16th century that supposedly grants wishes to those who ring it.
The entire scene is ringed by lush green emerald forests and set against a backdrop of the snow covered peaks of the Julien Alps. It feels like a magical parallel universe. As if visiting this small and charming European country wasn’t sweet enough, the town of Bled just had to go ahead and invent their own delicious and one-of-a-kind treat called the Lake Bled Cream Cake. So when you couple this delectable delight with the gorgeous scenery, you’ll be on cloud nine – that’s a promise.
So what is the Bled Cream Cake? For starters, let’s just say that it’s like a Slovenian version of smores. Cream cake is an extremely fine tasting and delicate egg custard and wispy cream with a hint of vanilla that’s lighter than helium – all set between an airy puff pastry and topped with powdered sugar reminiscent of the snow dusting the mountain caps in the background.
A proto-version of the Bled Cream Cake was known in the Austro-Hungarian Empire from the 18th century, but the Slovenian version, called kremna rezina, has been granted ‘protected designation of origin status.
The source of the modern day Lake Bled Cream Cake is the Park Hotel, one of the first hotels built at the water’s edge for tourists and passersby to enjoy. In 1953, after the Second World War, a well-known pastry chef of the times, Istvan Lukacevic, came up with the recipe in the Hotel’s confectionary kitchen.
In addition to perfect temperatures and ingredient proportions, the mixture is prepared in accordance with the lucky number seven. No I’m not kidding! The puff pastry is folded seven times, the egg custard cooks for seven minutes, and each piece of cake served is cut into seven-by-seven centimeter squares.
Served for the last 66 years the same way, the Lake Bled Cream Cake is the iconic sweet of the town and veritable tradition. The cakes are never prepared in an industrial way, but only by hand each day on the premises of the hotel. They are made in the same way, from the simple ingredients: fresh eggs, flour, whipped cream, milk, sugar and butter. It’s the quality and freshness of the ingredients, however, that gives the dessert an extra something special. The environment there is clean and pure, and every dish seems to be made with a lot of love and care.
When they set the plate in front of you, don’t be fooled by the impression that this dessert is a heavy one and that if you eat it, you’ll regret it. After trying it, you will see that the crunchy shell, fabulously fluffy egg custard, and whipped cream intermingle in your mouth like a dainty dance. Your tongue and palate will be enraptured by a sweetness that only matches the character of the Slovenian people and their penchant romanticism and for true perfection.
The Kavarna Park Café, home of the original Lake Bled Cream Cake, is situated along the lakefront with comfy sofa chairs poised in the direction of the castle, church, and alps. It’s here that you’ll want to sit and enjoy this hand-crafted confection. I overheard locals saying that it’s the most expensive place in the whole country to eat a slice, but I highly doubt that you’ll feel like you wasted five euros on a slice. How would you like your slice of art served? With a coffee, tea, liqueur, or with the history that surrounds you in this wondrous place.