In Bled, people come for the landscape and stay for the cake. Cream cake (kremna rezina) to be specific. Lighter-than-air puff pastry floats atop vanilla whipped cream and a custard pastry cream, each slice trimmed to a perfect square. Dating back to the days of the Hapsburgs, there are versions all over the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, but the Slovenians argue theirs is fluffier and creamer than their neighbors. Even more, they say the perfect renditions are found only in Bled. When the nation granted the dish protected origin status, it agreed; the designation only applies to kremna rezina made in this scenic city (where it was first made by Chef Ištvan Lukačević). Happily for you, to make it at home the way they do on the shores of Lake Bled, you need fewer than a dozen ingredients.
If you’re a pro, you can use homemade puff pastry, but we’ve suggested frozen puff pastry from the grocery store because it adds speed and ease while yielding very similar results. Want to omit another step? Use your favorite whipped cream instead of making your own.
1 lb puff pastry
1 1/4 cups milk
Several long strips of lemon peel
3 egg yolks
4 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 egg white
2 cups heavy cream
1 Tbsp rum
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp confectioner’s sugar
- Remove puff pastry from freezer and let it rest, still wrapped, for 20 minutes at room temperature. While it rests, flour your work surface.
- Roll out puff pastry to a 12 x 15 rectangle. Trim the edges to be even, then prick the dough all over with a fork. Cut lengthwise into two rectangles, each one 6 inches wide.
- Place both pastries on a large parchment-lined baking sheet. Score one pastry into ten squares (divided lengthwise into two rows of five), being sure to not cut all the way through. Chill pastry in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Make the pastry cream: Slowly bring milk and lemon peel to a boil in a heavy pan. Lower the heat and remove the peel.
- Whisk eggs yolks and 1 Tbsp of sugar in a bowl until pale and smooth, then stir in the flour.
- Whisk the hot milk into the flour and egg mix, then return all to the stovetop pan.
- Over low heat, stir constantly until the mix forms a thick custard. Pour into a bowl and let it cool a little, but not until firmly set.
- Whisk the egg white with the remaining 3 Tbsp of sugar until stiff peaks form.
- Whip 2/3 cup of the cream (reserving the remainder) until thick.
- Stir rum into the custard, then fold the egg white mixture gently with a spatula, followed by the whipped cream. The combination is your pastry cream. Chill for 30 minutes until fully set.
- Remove baking sheet from the fridge and moisten the area around the pastry, then bake the pastry for 25 minutes (until golden and flaky). Cool.
- Make the whipped cream: Sift 1 Tbsp confectioner’s sugar into the remaining heavy cream and stir in the vanilla. Whip.
- Put the unscored pastry on a dessert tray, spread with the pastry cream, and then spread the whipped cream atop that. Lay the scored pastry over the whipped cream, and dust with the remaining confectioner’s sugar. Slice along the scoring and serve.
Savor all the delights of Bled, Slovenia on a pre-trip extension before your Hidden Gems of the Dalmatian Coast & Greece Small Ship Adventure.