“Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow”

"Romeo and Juliet" by W. Shakespeare


It was 23rd of March 1919. The last day in Eckartsau. The last lunch at the castle.  A modest menu in a quiet room for Karl and his family. We are told that they were preparing to flee the country. Leaving Austria for Switzerland.  You can not wonder how was Karl feeling. Habsburg's were ruling since 13th century. He was carrying the weight of 600 years . . . and he was the last Habsburg.

We arrived at Eckartsau at end of September. The Autumn sun was bathing the surroundings, invading the palace rooms through every open window. Such a beautiful location. One of the perks of living in Austria is being able to enjoy at any moment beautiful landscapes and historical buildings, memoirs of a rich past. In a range of 15-20km you will usually find a Schloss (chateaux) or a manor, a monastery or an old church and Autumn is the right time for unveiling few pages of history. The burnt leaves and the old houses, the ripe fruit and the smell of wet branches, the warm silence of the light. Perfect pairings! Eckartsau, a perfect match for this September. 

The castle dates back to 12th century and accommodated six families until 1919.  Throughout the centuries it had many faces, changing its architecture and interiors to match the trends of time and owner's wishes. Last and most significant works were attributed to Count Kinsky in 18th century (owner of several properties in Austria including a Palais in Vienna). He turned the location into a grandiose baroque hunting lodge. The Baroque ballroom with painted ceiling is considered one of the most representatives of the genre in Austria. Count Kinsky was the Chancellor of the Empire at that time, the predecessor of Metternich. Eckartsau was purchased by Habsburgs in mid 18th century. After Maria Theresia death (1780), the lodge was left to decay and it was only 100 years later that another member of Habsburg family (Franz Ferdinand, the nephew of the Emperor) decided to bring it back to life. Now Eckartsau is a still image of an early 20th century with deep chocolatey mahogany carpentry, chinoiserie silk tapestry, baroque stuccos, long bright corridors, electricity, telephone and even central heating ("avantgarde" for 1900's).

Baroque painted ceiling - The Moon and Diana, the Goddess of Hunt
Eckartsau ( stucco and interiors bathing in sunset light)

A 900 years old Schloss has many stories to tell. And I was there to hear them, to imagine them to find perhaps an inspiration for my first recipe. Usually a royal table is the right place to look for an exquisite dessert. In the dining room we found a copy of the last lunch menu of Karl von Habsburg:

"Consomme aux frittates, fillets aux gibiers varies, legumes, tranches aux griottes, cafe"

French names for simple dishes. Karl was a simple man as I read, he was not accustomed with the luxurious Viennese style.

Tranches aux griottes translates mot-a-mot as “sour-cherries slices ” or Weichselschnitte in German. Sour-cherries season starts in May. My first guess: for an early spring lunch, the cook used preserved sour-cherries or confiture as main ingredient. Preserving fruits in syrup or in Kirsch was quite "a la mode" in 19th century. "Schnitte“, as I find in many Austrian cookbooks, is a generic term covering various square/rectangle slices of multi layered cakes. I decide to imagine a „weichsel-schnitte”. I am looking for a four-layers cake: a genoise as base, a layer of sour-cherries soaked in Kirsch, a rich bavarian mousse and a thick layer of whipped cream on top, for a touch of baroque opulence (remembering that lovely Baroque ceiling :)).

Sour-cherries are one of my favourite childhood fruits. I love them. Every Romanian household which aims for culinary prestige has to have in the pantry a sour-cherry delicacies: confiture,  jam and "visinata". The confiture should be delicate with fruits kept intact, usually served to impress on a small Bohemian glass plate. The jam should be thick, perfect for mornings' bread and butter. The "Visinata" should be deliciously sweet, a beginning for friendly conversations :) (for reference visinata is a sour-cherry wine just like the French Guignol ). My grandmother was a fan of the sour-cherry compote (simply preserving the fruit with sugar). She was serving them as a "salad de fruit" adding on top dollops of whipped cream. Such a treat! Clearly my recipe would be incomplete if not adding the sweet scent of my childhood memories. Let me explain: every cook can follow a precise recipe but the perfection of the outcome conveys when you add a personal touch to it - few grams of passion, if you can measure it, or a precious memory. That makes it unique and alive.

I invite you to imagine your Weichselschnitte and for guidance use the recipe below.

Weichselschnitte ( in the mood for deep royal burgundy )


A cake that will enrich any menu, any season.

Serves 8.


A baking tray of 24cm x 30cm (for Genoise), a baking ring 25cm x 10cm (for assemblage)



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


400g sour-cherries (compote - only the fruits)

60g caster sugar

4 egg whites

6 gelatine leaves

250ml whipping cream (> 36% fat sour-cream)


200g sour-cherries (compote - only the fruits)

10ml Kirsch

200g sour-cherry confiture/jam

Weichselschnitte ( In the making )

GENOISE (recipe)

Preheat the oven at 190C. Line the baking tray with parchment. In a small pan melt the butter completely. Set it aside and let it cool.

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. Beat until the mixture have doubled, has a thicker consistency and pale yellow in colour. Set the bowl on the working table and continue 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 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 wrack and peel off the parchment paper. Let it cool.


Whisk the egg whites with the sugar to soft peaks (meringue)

Whip the sour cream until stiff peaks (whipped cream Chantilly)

Puree the sour-cherries, add the sugar and heat slightly in a pan. Leave the gelatine leaves in cold water to soften. Take out the gelatine leaves after 2 min, drain the water and add them into the warm puree mixing with a spoon until well blended and dissolved. Add the Kirsch. Fold the puree gently into the egg whites. Stir in the whipped cream until uniform colour.


Place the ring on the serving dish. Place as base the genoise (cut already in a rectangle shape 25cm x 10cm) into the baking ring. Spread a fine layer of jam onto the genoise. Place the sour-cherries one next to the other, one by one until the layer is complete. Pour on top the Bavarian mousse evenly. Chill the cake in the fridge overnight. Remove the ring in the morning. Add fresh whipped cream on top just before serving and a pinch of cinnamon. Enjoy !

Such a beautiful location is not to be missed. More insights and stories on https://www.schlosseckartsau.at/
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