12 Delectable Pastries From Around the World

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iStock

While you’re probably familiar with pies, croissants, cream puffs, and tarts, there are plenty of other tantalizing pastries to discover. Using a simple base of flour, butter, sugar, eggs, and shortening, pastry chefs can create a cornucopia of delicious desserts. If you’re looking to expand your pastry horizons, consider these 12 delectable pastries from around the world.

1. FRANZBRÖTCHEN // GERMANY


Most popular in Hamburg and other parts of northern Germany, Franzbrötchen are croissant-like spiral pastries made with butter and cinnamon. Germans usually eat Franzbrötchen at breakfast with their morning coffee, and they sometimes add raisins to them.

2. GULAB JAMUN // INDIA


We can thank India for gulab jamun, a glorious pastry that combines balls of fried dough with sweet syrup. Shaped like doughnut holes, the balls of dough are usually made with milk powder or corn flour and then fried in ghee. Gulab jamun packs a powerful dose of sugar, but cardamom, rose water, and saffron add more subtle notes to the pastry.

3. PASTELITOS // CUBA


Cubans and Cuban-Americans in Miami know pastelitos well. Similar to jelly doughnuts, the pastries are typically made with flaky filo dough and contain a filling of guava and cheese. Some pastelitos have more unusual sweet and savory fillings, such as pineapple, coconut, ham, and crab.

4. BAKLAVA // TURKEY


A popular Middle Eastern dessert, baklava consists of layers of chopped pistachios and sweetened filo dough. The pastries may also include chopped walnuts or pecans as well as plenty of honey, butter, and sugar. For an authentic Turkish experience, savor baklava after a meal while sipping tea.

5. CANNOLI // ITALY


Cannoli got its start over 1000 years ago in Palermo, the capital of Sicily. Today, Italians still enjoy biting into the cannoli’s shell of fried dough to taste the creamy, sweetened ricotta filling. And thanks to Italian-Americans making and selling cannoli, most of us are familiar with the decadent Italian pastry.

6. SUFGANIYOT // ISRAEL


Sufganiyot are Israel’s answer to jelly doughnuts. The balls of deep-fried dough are filled with jelly and topped with powdered sugar. The Jewish recipe is popular around the world now, especially each December when they are served during Hanukkah.

7. LINZER TORTE // AUSTRIA


The beautiful latticework on the top of Linzer tortes makes them instantly recognizable. Said to date to the mid-1600s, people in Linz, Austria began making these tortes, layering pastry dough with currant preserves. Today, the torte usually contains a filling of berry preserves, and the pastry dough is made with butter and ground nuts.

8. KOLOMPEH // IRAN


MRG90 (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Native to Kerman, Iran, kolompeh are cookie-sized pies made with minced dates, walnuts, cardamom, saffron, and sesame. Before baking the pastries, Iranians stamp them with kolompeh stamps, creating beautiful, intricate designs on the top of the pastries.

9. BIRNBROT // SWITZERLAND


Adrian Michael (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pear lovers will enjoy Birnbrot, a pear-centric Swiss pastry that incorporates dried fruits, spices, and nuts. The sweet bread is made from yeast dough and filled with everything from dried pears, dried apples or figs, walnuts, raisins, cinnamon, clove, and coriander.

10. MOONCAKE // CHINA


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Every fall, Chinese people celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival by gathering to view the full moon and giving mooncakes to their friends and family, symbolizing completeness and unity. The pastries are round (like the moon), sweet, and filled with a paste made of lotus seeds, red beans, or dates. Some Cantonese mooncakes also contain a salted duck egg yolk inside.

11. CROQUEMBOUCHE // FRANCE


If you’re at a wedding or special event in France and spot a tower of desserts, you’re probably looking at a croquembouche. This triangle-shaped tower consists of carefully stacked profiteroles (a.k.a. cream puffs) decorated with strands of caramelized sugar. It’s fancy, elegant, and downright delectable.

12. PINEAPPLE BUN // HONG KONG


Pineapple buns—also called Bolo Bao—are soft, sweet, chewy, and slightly crunchy on top. They don’t actually have any pineapple in them; rather, the pastry’s crust has a grid pattern that resembles a pineapple. If you’re not in Hong Kong, you can probably find pineapple buns in Chinese bakeries.

Can't Find Yeast? Grow Your Own at Home With a Sourdough Starter

Dutodom, iStock via Getty Images
Dutodom, iStock via Getty Images

Baking bread can relieve stress and it requires long stretches of time at home that many of us now have. But shoppers have been panic-buying some surprising items since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. In addition to pantry staples like rice and beans, yeast packets are suddenly hard to find in grocery stores. If you got the idea to make homemade bread at the same time as everyone on your Instagram feed, don't let the yeast shortage stop you. As long as you have flour, water, and time, you can grow your own yeast at home.

While many bread recipes call for either instant yeast or dry active yeast, sourdough bread can be made with ingredients you hopefully already have on hand. The key to sourdough's unique, tangy taste lies in its "wild" yeast. Yeast is a single-celled type of fungus that's abundant in nature—it's so abundant, it's floating around your home right now.

To cultivate wild yeast, you need to make a sourdough starter. This can be done by combining one cup of flour (like whole grain, all-purpose, or a mixture of the two) with a half cup of cool water in a bowl made of nonreactive material (such as glass, stainless steel, or food-grade plastic). Cover it with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let it sit in a fairly warm place (70°F to 75°F) for 24 hours.

Your starter must be fed with one cup of flour and a half cup of water every day for five days before it can be used in baking. Sourdough starter is a living thing, so you should notice is start to bubble and grow in size over time (it also makes a great low-maintenance pet if you're looking for company in quarantine). On the fifth day, you can use your starter to make dough for sourdough bread. Here's a recipe from King Arthur Flour that only calls for starter, flour, salt, and water.

If you just want to get the urge to bake out of your system, you can toss your starter once you're done with it. If you plan on making sourdough again, you can use the same starter indefinitely. Starters have been known to live in people's kitchens for decades. But to avoid using up all your flour, you can store yours in the fridge after the first five days and reduce feedings to once a week.

How to Make Queen Elizabeth’s Beloved Chocolate Biscuit Cake at Home

Queen Elizabeth II at an afternoon tea event in 1999.
Queen Elizabeth II at an afternoon tea event in 1999.
Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

Between living in regal palaces and owning all the dolphins in the UK, Queen Elizabeth II is not like the rest of us in most ways. But there is one thing that many of us do have in common with her: a weakness for chocolate cake. Back in 2017, former royal chef Darren McGrady shared that the queen is especially partial to a certain chocolate biscuit cake that he served each day for afternoon tea.

"The chocolate biscuit cake is the only cake that goes back again and again and again, every day until it's all gone," McGrady told RecipesPlus. "She'll take a small slice every day until eventually there is only one tiny piece, but you have to send that up; she wants to finish the whole of that cake."

If the queen relocated from Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle before she made it to the last slice, McGrady brought the leftover cake with him by train. Wishing you could sample the royal dessert yourself? If you’re willing to spend a little time in the kitchen, you can: The full recipe is available on McGrady’s website.

For novice bakers picturing something decadent and complicated, don’t worry—the recipe is refreshingly simple, calling only for sugar, butter, dark chocolate, one egg, and rich tea biscuits or other sweet, hard cookies. Essentially, all you have to do is crumble the biscuits into small chunks, melt the dark chocolate, combine all the ingredients in a certain order, and let the cake chill in a pan in the refrigerator for a few hours. Then, you use additional melted dark chocolate as frosting.

Step-by-step instructions and ingredient amounts can be found here. And if you’re a little wary about using a raw egg in a no-bake cake, here’s a similar recipe that calls for whipping cream instead.

[h/t The Royal Chef]

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