The Alpine resort of Bled, with its idyllic lake, church, and castle, is among the most iconic sights in Slovenia. But the town is the home to another Slovenian icon – one that has been featured in travel magazines and on television programs around the world: the Bled cream cake, known in Slovenian as “kremšnita” or “kremna rezina.”
The cream cake may look deceptively simple at first glance: a small cube of custard and whipped cream with pieces puff pastry on the top and the bottom. However, the combination has proved so popular that “kremšnita” now ranks as one of Slovenia’s most famous dishes.
The cream cake dates back to the Hapsburg era, when several local versions of the dessert were found in various parts of the empire. But the history of the Bled “kremšnita” is more recent: It began when a master chef from the Serbian province of Vojvodina, an ethnic Hungarian named Ištvan Lukačević, arrived in Bled after World War II. While working at the Park Hotel, he modified a cream cake recipe from his native region, added whipped cream in just the right proportions, and in 1953, the hotel introduced Lukačević’s creation to the public.
The cream cake was a huge success and became a popular treat for visitors to Bled. In the 61 years after its introduction, almost 12 million have been sold. According to the Park Hotel, they would extend all the way from Bled to Rome if placed side-by side. During the weekends, as many as 3000 cream cakes are sold each day, and every week, 6000 of them are exported to Austria. More than 1000 metric tons of flour have been used for their production over the years.
While the Bled cream cake is the most famous, other bakeries across Slovenia make their own variations, some predating their more well-known counterpart from Bled. In 1938, for instance, a baker from Domžale named Janko Lenček experimented with his own creation, which is still sold today in the bakery owned by his descendants.
Each regional variation of this popular Slovenian desert plays its role in the country’s culinary diversity. However, only the Bled cream cake from the Park Hotel has an international reputation that transcends the country’s borders. It has officially been protected as a dish of designated origin and is the focus of an annual festival that celebrates its status as a symbol of Bled. When the cream cake celebrated its 60th anniversary last year, all of Bled celebrated Ištvan Lukačević’s creation, a treat that many visitors – from Europe to the United States and Japan -- consider one of their most treasured culinary memories of Slovenia.