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Five classic Swiss treats you need to try that aren't chocolate

Rachel Loxton
Rachel Loxton - [email protected]
Five classic Swiss treats you need to try that aren't chocolate
Delicious Rüblitorte or carrot cake. Photo by Steward Masweneng on Unsplash

Yes, Switzerland is known for its mouth-watering chocolate. But there are plenty of other sweet treats that you should definitely sample at least once.

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Zuger Kirschtorte

Let's start with a classic from Zug in German-speaking Switzerland. The Zuger Kirschtorte is a delicious sweet treat made with layers of nut-meringue, sponge cake and butter cream, and flavoured with with the cherry brandy Kirschwasser. The cake is dusted with icing sugar and the sides are decorated with roasted almonds.

The cake was invented in 1915 by confectioner Heinrich Höhn. It is said that Höhn had been working on the right recipe for a cake soaked in cherry for a long time, and that he was inspired by the blossoming cherry trees in the Zug region.

In 1913, Höhn and his wife Hanna opened the 'Conditorei u. Caffee H. Höhn' next to the train station in Zug. The first advertisement for his new Zuger Kirschtorte appeared in the Zuger Zeitung as early as Christmas 1915, which is why this year is considered the official year of the cake's invention.

READ ALSO: The 16 regional food delicacies from around Switzerland you need to try 

The process has largely remained the same since then, with the exception of some technical advances and modified ingredients.

Since 2015, the cake has been legally protected under its name "Zuger Kirschtorte" and can only be produced in the canton of Zug, using certain products. 

The Kirschtorte is said to be a favourite of many celebrities over the years, including Audrey Hepburn, Winston Churchill and Charlie Chaplin. 

Torta di pane

Next, we're heading over to Switzerland's Italian-speaking region and looking at the Torta di pane - a cake made from bread originating in Ticino. 

Made with cubes of stale bread, milk, eggs, sugar, butter and then whatever's in the cupboard - commonly lemon zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, cocoa powder, almonds, raisins and pine nuts - this delicious treat originates from poorer communities in the southern Alpine region. The aim was to use leftovers of bread that was going off.  

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In 1837, Ticino politician Stefano Franscini documented the bread cake that poor communities in Ticino prepared, usually for village festivals. 

The cake is included in the inventory of the Swiss Culinary Heritage Association.

Rüeblitorte

In Swiss German, das Rüebli is a carrot, so this is, of course, a carrot cake. It's a light and fluffy baked sponge torte made from ground almonds and carrots with a sweet glaze made from cherry and lemon zest. There are usually a few small marzipan carrots placed on top. 

The cake originates from the canton of Aargau, which apparently was given the nickname 'Rüeblikanton' because it's famed for the carrot cake. 

The oldest printed carrot cake recipe from Switzerland is thought to date back to 1892 from the recipe collection of the Kaiseraugst 'household' school for girls in Argau. The cake described there seems to be remarkably rich with 500 grams of carrots, sugar, hazelnuts and three eggs processed into a dough with only 100g of flour and 10g of baking powder. The whole thing is rounded off with the juice and zest of a lemon.

READ ALSO: The Swiss regional stereotypes you need to know

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The cake was initially only made in private households, but then Swiss bakers began including it in their range. 

Today's carrot cake - in all its varieties - is still very popular across the world, particularly at Easter. 

 

Bündner Nusstorte

This sweet treat, also known as Engadiner Nusstorte, is a traditional sweet, caramelised nut-filled pastry from the canton Graubünden.

According to the history books, the cake originated in the Engadin Alpine valley region. Historian Dolf Kaiser said that the recipe was known to the Moggi-Tester family in Samedan around 1900.

The cake was later made in the Heinz & Tester pastry shop in Toulouse, France, by Engadin region confectioners who had emigrated, and from there it was soon sold throughout France. Fausto Pult, who also worked in this pastry shop, later returned to Samedan and began making and selling the cake in his bakery and confectionery from 1926 under the name "Pulttorte". He achieved massive success with the cake in 1934 when he presented it to the wider public at the Basel sample fair.

Carac

Now we head to French-speaking Switzerland for the Carac. This tasty delicacy consists of shortcrust pastry tartlet filled with chocolate ganache, covered with green coloured fondant icing and decorated with a chocolate button on top. 

The history of the Carac is unclear. It is said to have first appeared in French-speaking Switzerland around the 1920s, where it is still most popular today (although you'll find it all over Switzerland).

The origin of this cake's name is also murky. Some say there is a connection with the fine cocoa that comes from the Caracas region of Venezuela. 

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