Book Review: Kaffehaus

Kaffehaus by Rick Rogers will have you leaving those cupcake holders and sprinkles in the bottom of your kitchen drawer. It is one of my favourite books at home, I love the challenge that the recipes bring as well as discovering desserts not commonly served here in Perth. Rick Rogers travels to the old cities of Vienna, Budapest and Prague in Europe, once part of the great Austro Hungarian empire. Rick reveals the history and culture of the authentic European Kaffehaus, unraveling recipes and traditions from as far back as 300 years. The book also includes a sample Viennese cafe coffee menu, glossary of ingredients and a list of Kaffehaus suggestions to visit in Europe.

There are no ‘reconstructed recipes’ instead meticulously sourced classic desserts historically served in an authentic Austro Hungarian Kaffehaus. The recipes are indeed traditional omitting any shortcuts. Reading about bakers finishing off hundreds of cakes excites me. The 100 plus recipes are divided into the sections of basic batters, doughs, icings and glazes, simple cakes, fancy cakes, strudels, sweet yeast breads, slices and other individual desserts, cookies and doughnuts, pancakes and sweet omelettes, sweet dumplings and noodles, hot and cold puddings, hot and cold beverages. Many of the recipes are new to me and I think you would be hard pressed to find a vast majority of the classic desserts served in a cafe outside of Europe. The book does not include a photo for each recipe, it would be too thick and expensive to buy. A solution to the lack of pictures is to simply Google the Austrian name provided.

From the realms of when Vienna controlled the exchange of recipes through Old Bohemia to when sugar was too expensive for use in cakes and vegetable oil became the substitute ingredient, Rick Rogers discusses it all revealing the stories behind the extravagant desserts. Joszef Dobos was the Auguste Escoffier of Hungary and upon his retirement in 1906 gifted the Dobos Torte recipe to the Budapest Trade Association. The Dobos Torte recipe is in the book. Kipferln is the Austrian version of the French croissant, a version that existed before the croissant with Marie Antoinette rumoured to have brought it over to France when she married Napoleon. Could it be true the French croissant is a copy? We can only assume. In Europe desserts crossed borders and changed in translation as well as seasonality of ingredients.

A few of my favourite recipes include Gerbeaud Slice (Gerbaud-Szelet), Farmer’s cheese and strawberry dumplings (Erdbeerknodel), Sachertorte (Sachertorte), Dobos Torte (Dobos Torta), Farmers cheesecake (Topfentorte), Sour cherry strudel (Kirschstrudel), Brioche braid (Briochestriezel), Coffee éclairs (Moka Eclairs) and Cheese filled crepes (Topfenpalatschinken).

A fair few of the recipes incorporate ingredients not always readily available in Australia such as cherries, apricots and chestnuts. When chestnuts come into season in Perth I also look forward to choosing a recipe from my Kaffehaus book. ‘An Austro-Hungarian Torte is the edible equivalent of a Mozart symphony combined with the frivolity of a Strauss walktz’, living all the way in Australia I may be far from the classic Kaffeehaus however I can certainly make the ultimate Kaffehaus dessert.


The Panamatorte was created and named in celebration of the opening of the Panama Canal. The two layered torte base is made using melted chocolate, ground almonds, dried bread crumbs, sugar and eggs. It is an insanely delicious cake! The fancy cake chapter is my favourite part of the book. I have made the Chocolate Almond Torte on a number of occasions and everyone in the family has given the thumbs of approval.

Panamatorte (Chocolate Almond Torte)

Chocolate Almond Torte


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