Café Hawelka's buchteln: Vienna's dessert found in a song

Ogi Savic | Live the World

November 23, 2022

The buchteln have many names, such as wuchteln, ofennudel, rohrnudel, beinzla, buchty, bukta or buhtle. But no matter how you call it, this sweet treat is one of the favourite desserts of the Austrian cuisine. They are one of those sweets your grandma used to make, and every family has their own recipe. The filling can be different, the icing as well, and the dough is not that easy to make. Buchteln originate from the region of Bohemia in the Czech Republic, but they are an important part of Austrian, Saxon, Swabian, Bavarian, Silesian and Balkan cuisine. The most famous buchteln in Vienna can be found in Ca[fé Hawelka](, and they have even found their place in a famous Viennese song.

What are buchteln?

The buchteln are sweet, mostly filled, but not exclusively, yeast dumplings. They are baked in the oven and eaten warm. The main filling in Vienna is powidl, a traditional zwetschcken stew (zwetschcken are the variety of plums), typical for Central Europe. Unlike jam or marmalade, it is made without additional sweeteners or gelling agents. The plums that are used for powidl should be harvested as late as possible in order to ensure they contain enough sugar. Besides powidl, buchteln can be filled with jam, ground poppy seeds or curd. In Bavaria, they are often made with raisins or fresh, whole plums. Buchteln can be eaten plain or topped with vanilla sauce or powdered sugar, after baking.

Picture © Credits to iStock / yurhus

Vienna's famous “wuchtel’n”

As the Viennese always tend to be different, they have their own way of making this dessert. Buchteln are normally baked in a large pan so that they stick together. In Vienna, five pieces are combined to form a circle, with one in the middle, before baking. The most famous buchteln in Vienna were those in Café Hawelka, which Josefine Hawelka, the wife of the Leopold Hawelka (the owner of the café) baked until her death in 2005.

These buchteln, or as the Viennese write 'wuchtel’n', can be found in the song "Jö schau", written by Georg Danzers, an Austrian singer, songwriter, and one of the pioneers of Austropop.

The song is about an exhibitionist who appears one afternoon in the Vienna’s Café Hawelka, while the regulars were eating "wuchtel’n" and drinking their beer. In the secondary meaning of the Viennese dialect, "the Nackerte" (exhibitionist) is also an uneducated or ignorant person of a very simple mind. At that time, Hawelka was a meeting point of artists and intellectuals. In the song, the fury of the landlady Josefine Hawelka and reactions of the guests are described, which ranges between the approval and disgust. However, after the naked man presents himself as a prominent Viennese, he is allowed to stay in the bar. So, the openness wins over the "philistine morality".

The buchteln are one of those desserts that shouldn’t be missed when visiting Vienna, and Café Hawelka’s ones are highly recommended. Buchteln are simple but sophisticated at the same time. It is not without reason that they ended up in a song.  

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