"What's in a name ? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet"

"Romeo and Juliet" by W. Shakespeare

Melk Abbey - Baroque Pavilion

There is no better colour than pink to represent Baroque period. That's the hue of the clouds on a windy day. That's the moderation of a passionate red. That's the flushed cheek of a Baroque angel. Baroque "heavens" were one of the most aesthetic representation in art history. Such beauty that anyone would long for, reserved somehow for portraying gods and uppper-classes and most desired by the common people.

World maps and empires' borders were still in the making in 18th century. An opulent period. Exotique & Godly were a new allegoric "combo" : being a greek god, a rich ruler of a newly discovered continent, living in the clouds literally above all people were frequent representations for Kings and Queens. Beauty and Grandeur were the purpose of a painting, undermining the accuracy of the shape, logic or even laws of physics.

Melk Abbey - Baroque Pavilion

At Melk, one of the most famous Benedictine Abbey situated in Wachau region, the garden pavilion's ceiling is a baroque masterpiece. Painted between 1763-1764 by Johann Wenzel Berg it is a feast for the eyes, designed to give joy to the Benedictine monks after long periods of fasting. To find out the fascinating meaning behind the ceiling images, I invite you to visit the official site of Melk monastery and even more I invite you to go for a day trip: travelling through time and space for few hours.

I visited Melk in late September. A stunning experience! With my mind full of awe and beauty I turn back to Vienna wondering which cake would represent best my wonderful tour. Punschkrapfen came as the perfect choice: coated in pink fondant icing, as a baroque rose, filled with the sweetest jam of Wachauer apricots and soaked in exotique flavors of an Indian "paantsch".

The Punch was introduced in Europe from the Indian subcontinent to England by sailors of East India Company in the late 17th century. The drink gain reputation and was soon spreading throughout Europe. Its name seems to be derived from the Indian term "paantsch", which means in Hindi "five" - it was made with five ingredients: alcohol (wine or brandy, replaced by rum in mid 17th century), sugar, citrus juice, water and spices.

The story of Punschkrapfen is hidden somewhere in history. From what I read it became popular in 19th century Austria. Katharina Prato (1818-1897), an Austrian food writer, awarded by Kaiser Josef for her contribution to Austrian cuisine is covering the recipe in her most comprehensive South German cooking book published in 1895.

19th century was also the birth scene for Petit Fours. Tiny cakes made at the heat of burned out charcoals in fours ("ovens" in French). An efficient method of cooking in 1800's France aiming to use fully the firewood heat for an entire menu. The sweet Petit Fours were usually consisting of 2 layers of sponge "glued" with fruit jam , cut in tiny cubes and coated in thick pink or white glaze. Punsckrapfen is not too different than Petit Fours. It consists of 2 layers of genoise/biskuit and in the middle a fine paste: marillen marmelade (apricot jam), rum and crumbled genoise. The little cubes are coated in pink glasur and decorated with chocolate or confit cherries. Such sweet delight !

Melk Abbey - Baroque Pavilion
PUNSCHKRAPFEN ( the inspiration)


Serves 9( cubes of 4x4 cm)


A baking tray 24 x 30 cm



3 large eggs (about 170g)

60g flour (universal type)

50g Maizena (corn flour)

100g caster sugar

10g Acacia honey

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

35g butter


Genoise rests

150g Apricot jam

3 tsp dark rum


450g confectioners sugar

80ml water

2 tbsp of light corn syrup

1 tbsp of raspberry liquor (for colour) or you can use a pink edible food pigment

150ml chocolate fondant icing (bought from the store)

GENOISE (recipe)

Preheat the oven at 190C. Line the baking tray with parchment. Melt the butter at low heat. Set it aside and let it cool - you will use it later.

In a heat proof glass bowl (or metal bowl) add the eggs, sugar and honey. Using the bain-marie technique beat the mixture over simmering water (use an electric mixer at medium speed). When the mixture have doubled, has a thicker consistency and it is pale yellow, move the bowl from the heat on your working table. Continue to mix at high speed until the batter cools completely and falls from the whisk in a thick ribbon (about 15min of continuous mixing). Using a rubber spatula gently fold the sifted flours ( wheat and corn) until well blended. Add the lukewarm melted butter and vanilla extract and continue to fold until well combined. Pour the batter into the baking tray. Place the tray in the oven and reduce the temperature to 175C. Bake for 25min until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 10min then move it on a wire rack and peel off the parchment paper. Let it cool.


In a medium saucepan, combine and stir the sugar, water and the light corn syrup over very low heat until reaching a thick but pouring consistence. Use at once.


Cut the genoise into 2 squares of 12,5 x 12,5 cm.

Use the cutting rests to make the filling. Fragment those into rough crumbs and mix them with the apricot jam and rum until slightly moist. Lay the mixture on the first square of genoise and press it gently and uniform with a teaspoon or your fingers. Place the second genoise square on top. Cover with a parchment paper and place a heavier piece of wood or another metal tray. Not too heavy..there is no need to squash the cake, we just need it for the filling to adhere to its base and top. Leave it to rest with the weight on top for one hour at room temperature.

Lift the weight and cut the edges with a sharp knife until reaching a perfect square of 12 x 12cm. Further cut it into small cubes of 4x4 cm.

Make the Punsch glaze and heat the Chocolate glaze (bought from the store in my case). Quickly coat the cubes with the pink glaze and place them on a wire rack having a tray below. It will be slightly messy :). Leave the glaze to set. Fill in a pastry plastic bag with the chocolate glaze and cut the tip of the bag allowing a very fine drizzle. Decorate the cake-cubes with chocolate. Ready ! Delicious decadence ! Enjoy!

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