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Sweet-Tooth Travels: Delicious Cakes Around the World
Also known as revani in Turkey and Greece, this semolina cake looks light, but has a lot of butter, citrus-flavored sugar syrup, and buttermilk or yogurt in its base. There’s not much more beyond that, other than a garnish of chopped nuts, dried coconut, and/or fruit on top.
Photo source: fugzu (cc)
Pavlova (Australia and New Zealand)
Pavlova is as light as basbousa is heavy, with an interior that falls somewhere between meringue and marshmallow and a crisp, almost fragile crust. It’s usually topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit like strawberries, kiwis, and bananas.
_Photo source: Wikimedia Commons
You can find steamed sponge cakes in China year-round, but the more impressive and culturally significant desserts are the mooncakes served during the Mid-Autumn Festival. The crust can be flaky or dense, and the fillings include sweet-bean paste, lotus-seed paste, and sometimes an egg yolk in the center.
Photo source: miss karen (cc)
Far Breton (France)
Part custard and part cake, this dessert hails from France’s Brittany region. It consists of crepe-like batter mixed with rum- or brandy-soaked prunes that’s baked until golden brown on top. The consistency is similar to flan, but the flour in the batter makes it heavier.
_Photo source: Wikimedia Commons
Cassata is a fruity sponge cake made popular in Sicily around the 1600s. Traditionally, it has layers of ricotta cheese and fruit and is topped with marzipan, pastel frosting, and more candied fruit. You can enjoy cassata anytime, but it’s most popular during the winter and spring.
Photo source: kimberlykv (cc)
Red Velvet Cake (United States)
The origins of this Southern classic are oft disputed, but one story traces it to New York’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel during the 1920s. The characteristic hue comes from red food coloring or puréed beets, and the cake is finished with cream cheese frosting. You can detect a hint of cocoa in the cake’s flavor, but it’s not exclusively chocolate.
Photo source: maureen lunn (cc)
Desserts aren’t that big in Japan, but this traditional delicacy is popular. Mashed adzuki beans flavored with honey or sugar make up the filling. The pancakes themselves are similar to castella, a Portuguese-style sponge cake also popular in Japan.
Photo source: Kanko* (cc)
Russian honey cake, which is beloved in Croatia and the Czech Republic as well, features sweet-cream filling between multiple layers of cinnamon dough. The effect is sugar and spice intermingling with every bite, with the crunch of chopped walnuts in the filling adding texture.
Photo source: J Luoh (cc)
Pastel de Tres Leches (Mexico)
Tres leches cake is wildly popular all over Mexico, as well as in many Central and Latin American countries. The name comes from the three types of milk—condensed milk, heavy cream, and evaporated milk—the sponge cake is soaked in before serving. Sometimes it’s filled with fruit or topped with whipped cream.
Photo source: @joefoodie (cc)
Bolo de Maracujá (Brazil)
In Brazil, cakes are called bolos and are often topped with passion fruit seeds, since that fruit is so abundant in the region. Bolos de maracujá contain both passion fruit seeds and juice, as well as sugar, eggs, and flour. The ingredients are simple, but the results are flavorful.
Photo source: JorgeBrazil (cc)