A Cake Rant: Strudelgate

Apple strudel. It’s a simple concept. You roll out some pastry as finely as you possibly can (it may be flaky pastry or non-flaky strudel pastry, we don’t want to be too fussy here), you spoon on the apple filling, and then you roll it up into a foot-long tube shape. In the oven it goes, and plated up, a decent slice should look something like this:


See the swirly whorl?

“Strudel” is a German word that can mean any of following things: whirl, swirl, whorl, whirlpool, vortex, eddy. If you look at the pattern of a strudel slice in cross-section, it’s quite obvious why this delectable dessert item bears this name.

There is a point to all of this pastry preamble, as you’ll see in just a tick. The actual story goes like this:

On Sunday, Maria and I were out and about in Madrid, desperately hunting down some exciting cake after a fabulous luncheon (more on this in a subsequent post). Now, Maria isn’t normally all that much into sweet stuff, but *somebody* has been a very bad influence on her…

Eventually, we located a promising cafΓ©. It happened to have apple strudel on the menu. As you can probably imagine, I was as surprised as I was delighted, and promptly ordered it. But then, this arrived:


Exhibit A: Does this look like strudel to you???

You don’t need to have an advanced patisserie degree to know that this ain’t no strudel, this is streusel. Apple streusel cake (Apfelstreuselkuchen), to be exact. “Streusel” comes from the German verb “streuen”, which means, of course, to “strew” or “sprinkle”.

The evidence speaks for itself: This thing the waitress shoved under my disbelieving eyes and flaring nostrils was all streuselly and not even a bit strudelly.

Granted, streusel and strudel have a fair few letters in common, but so do duck and dick. Not at all the same thing.

I was getting myself ready to stomp into the kitchen and give the chef’s streusels a bloody good strudelling, but gluttony got the better of me. Before the forensics team had any chance of bagging the evidence, my fork had invaded the crime scene, and a great big chunk of the offending article was making its way down my gullet.

And… it turned out to be a really fine piece of streusel, dammit!!!

Maria ordered a brownie, which was also pretty good

Maria ordered a brownie, which not only looked like a brownie and tasted like a brownie, but which was, indeed, a brownie. And a pretty good one at that.

Got any pastry impostor stories you care to share…? Or other menu items that were sold as one thing, but turned out to be something else entirely?

[Here’s a pic of my favourite kind of streusel cake πŸ™‚ ]

52 thoughts on “A Cake Rant: Strudelgate

  1. Debbie

    I love the duck analogy! I did have a bit of a stomping session myself in Tunisia when my cappuccino arrived topped with sweet whipped cream and a chocolate flake!


  2. Heyjude

    I had a quiet giggle at the ‘duck and dick’ analogy! A strudel it definitely wasn’t, but it sure looks like it was a nice bit of cake. And that is one BIG brownie! How do you keep so slim?


  3. June

    Those hunks of cake are enormous – I’d need the cross trainer for the rest of the day! At least you enjoyed it, despite the false expectations!


  4. Kim G

    Surely there is some complicated German word for pastry falsification, no? Or perhaps you can sic the EU on these people. Seems like the EU is getting very very picky about who’s allowed to use certain words for certain foods these days.


    Kim G
    Shippensburg, PA
    Where we’d bet serious amounts of money that some Germans had a say in the name of this place.


  5. TBM

    You know, as long as it’s yummy, I don’t care what they call it. I know words matter. I understand–but it was yummy. Is that really a word?


  6. bevchen

    “all streuselly and not even a bit strudelly” was my favourite thing I’d read all morning til I got to the uck/dick part.

    I would be very disappointed if my Strudel turned out to be Streusel as well. And the Austrians would probably start a riot.


  7. Jackie Cangro

    Even I know the difference between streusel and strudel. Get it together, people.

    Aside # 1: Soon, the famous Steve’s Key Lime Pie will open for the spring season. I plant to be first in line to send you a full report.

    Aside # 2: “The Swirly Whorl” would be an excellent name for a rock band.


    1. ladyofthecakes Post author

      Ooooooh, key lime pie… I’m so lusting after a piece right now. Gone into withdrawal…!

      I’m not sure I’d go to one of their concerts… but I’ll have a cut of the royalties. *dashes off to trademark the name*


      1. ladyofthecakes Post author

        And I almost cut that sentence out before hitting ‘publish’, on account of it being too stupid for my sophisticated readership… I think I’ve got to revise my preconceptions just a tad…


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