Our Slovenian Cream Cake Recipe was inspired by a recent trip to Lake Bled, a tucked away beauty in the Julian Alps. We couldn’t help but be inspired while sitting on the shore of this little piece of heaven.
On a recent Oregon State University survey of Alpine Europe and it’s wooden architecture, I was introduced to the tiny country of Slovenia and (maybe most importantly for this story) got a chance to eat some of their food.
I have to admit, before our trip I had never heard of the this little country next to Italy before but I now I can’t wait to go back! Once you step foot into one of the little ocean-side towns you are sure to feel the influence of their Venetian past in the architecture and most importantly their food.
While the towns on the coast feel Italian and the food tends to reflect that, the interior of the country is altogether different. I could write a whole post about our time on the coastline, I even got to swim with purple jellyfish in the Adriatic Sea!
The coastline of Piran, Slovenia.
I really enjoyed the coastal towns and their unique mix of Slovenian and Italian but the focus of this story is the stop we made to a lakeside resort in the country’s Triglav National Park; truly a world unto itself.
Lake Bled with the Castle on the clifftop in the background and the island church just visible behind the unique and colorful boats.
On our trip we did not actually stay in at the resort in Bled, instead we took a simple day trip up there to view the Tourist Green Resort Garden Village Bled and their unorthodox use of tree houses and wooden materials as the basis for their four star amenities. If I ever get back, let me assure you, I’ll be staying there for at least a night!
The steep Alpine hills you have to pass through to make your way to the other parts of the country have such unpredictable weather patterns, that the country even has it’s own historically unique way to dry hay for feeding cattle. This Alpine way of living is so Slovenian the hay rack even has a museum dedicated to it! Check the times and get directions here.
Swimming pool/ Sundeck at the Tourist Green Resort Garden Village Bled, Slovenia.
Slovenia’s Julian Alps framed by a vibrant blue sky.
A short stroll down the road from the bus stop brings you right to the doorstep of the historic Park Restaurant and Café where you can grab a table and sip your coffee right next to the lake as you wait for this dessert with a history to arrive. The Park has been serving this unique creation since the head pastry chef at their establishment created it after arriving there shortly following World War Two.
The chef, Ištvan Lukačević, carried his knowledge of Serbian cream cakes with him when he immigrated to Slovenia (then Yugoslavia). The cake is now famous enough to where you can find it listed under a few different names.
There is the Slovenian version Kremsnita and the American version, Bled Cake. There also appears to be a few other variations of the Slovenian word out there such as Cremeschnitte too so don’t worry if you don’t recognize the name.
Kremsnita number one.
The dessert itself is obviously enticing at first glance, but this is before you realize the precision with which you are expected to extract each bite. Let’s just say I am not the person to play Jenga, or build a house of cards with. If that describes you too, well you may end up with a pretty messy plate like I did. I’m not going to say I didn’t feel out of place in the little trendy European tourist spot, but I wasn’t letting that get me down!
Kremsnita number one, before the massacre.
While cleaning my plate of the disaster scene I made of my pastry, I was left wanting another; just for practice you see. The vanilla custard is offset by a handmade layer of whipped cream and all of that is sandwiched between two layers of puff pastry with a powdered sugar dusting on top and bottom. It was as delicious to eat as it was embarrassing for those with me at the table.
Digesting that whole experience, and the custard filling of my multiple Kremsnita, (Kremsnitas? Kremsnita? I don’t know!) we all decided to take a walk by the lake and marvel at the handmade and hand painted boats.
Handmade boats overlooking the island church. Castle visible in the background. Lake Bled, Slovenia.
These unique crafts are specific to this lake. The tradition is still passed down from parent to child and the owners will gladly ferry you across the water to the church, for a couple of Euros. Perched on an island in the center of the lake, the church is truly amazing, it has even been blessed by the Pope himself.
Having had such a wonderful time on my short little visit to Slovenia, I have often found myself wanting to go back. Since European travel is not an everyday experience for us around here, we decided we were just going to have to try making this awesome dessert at home. It turns out there is definitely an art to making Slovenian cream cakes!
Now when you make this at home realize that everything is different up there in Lake Bled compared to here in the states, from the flour to the eggs and milk they use. So don’t be discouraged when it doesn’t look exactly like what you find on the internet. Using farm fresh eggs will lend the more brilliant yellow to your custard.
After testing many (many!) version of the recipes we found online we can confidently say a few things.
#1 Flour is the thickener of choice for the Slovenian cream cake custard. We tested several versions (including those we photographed here) with cornstarch. While delicious it was not quite stiff enough to hold up without freezing for a few hours. Still delicious but our final recipe is much more accurate.
#2 We actually (shhh) preferred phyllo dough over puff pastry. The traditional recipes call for puff pastry but we loved this made with phyllo dough instead. It’s lighter and more delicate and doesn’t overwhelm the custard. If you want to go more traditional just swap out the phyllo for classic puff pastry.
#3 Traditionally they cut this cake out of a giant sheet pan. This works with puff pastry but with phyllo dough, it shatters far too easily. So we assemble the bottom three layers of the cake and then top each individual serving with a square top layer of baked phyllo for easily cutting.
#4 No matter what ways we made this cake it was always incredibly delicious. Get in there and don’t be afraid to make your own version! That’s how this cake came to find so many variations and we are happy to have created our own unique one.
Now we would love to hear from you! Do you have a traditional recipe for this cake that we should know about? Any tips to share? We can’t wait to read your stories!
Slovenian Cream Cake Recipe
- For Crust:
- 1/2 package phyllo dough
- ¼ cup butter melted
- For Custard:
- 4 1/3 cup whole milk
- 6 eggs, separated, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste. Substitutes: 1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean scraped
- For Whipped Cream:
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Powdered sugar
- 1. Preheat oven to 375Bottom Crust:2. Place three sheets of dough in a buttered 9×13 baking casserole dish.3. Brush top of phyllo with melted butter (this will be your bottom crust).4. Place another three sheets of phyllo dough on top and brush with butter. 5. Trim to fit, then use a sharp knife to cut into nine equal pieces.Top Crust:6. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and lay down three sheets of phyllo dough. 7. Brush with butter (this will be your top crust). 8. Cut into nine matching pieces (it is best to place these top crusts on after assembly).9. Bake both crusts in the oven 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.Custard:10. Ensure egg whites are free from any trace of yolks and ideally at room temperature. Use a clean metal bowl free of fat or soap residue. Use an electric mixer to beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. If stiff peaks do not form, repeat with fresh egg whites and clean bowl. 11. Pour all milk except 1/3 cup (4 cups total) into medium-sized pot. Heat milk until just before it boils.12. Make flour slurry: In a small bowl use a fork to stir together flour and reserved 1/3 cup of milk. Side aside.13. In another small bowl stir together egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar, and vanilla bean paste. Set aside.14. When the milk starts to boil remove from heat, vigorously whisk in flour slurry to prevent clumping.15. Temper the eggs: scoop out 1 cup of the hot milk mixture and very slowly drizzle milk into the egg mixture while vigorously whisking. This prevents the eggs from scrambling by gently warming them.16. Once tempered add the egg mixture to hot milk in the pan while whisking.17. Cook on low heat whisking frequently until it begins to set.18. Add egg whites one scoop at a time and stir in completely before adding another scoop. Once all is mixed in cook for 7-11 minutes, stirring frequently. The mixture should be quite thick.Whipped Cream:20. Add heavy cream and two tablespoons of sugar to stand mixer and whisk to stiff.Assembly:21. Pour warm custard overcooked bottom crust and refrigerate 1-2 hours.22. Top custard with whipped cream and place the cooked top crusts on the cake.23. Refrigerate the cake for 3-4 hours, then slice and serve. Enjoy!