Yesterday I had my first babka. This sweet yeast cake is linked to the (Polish) Christian tradition, but there’s also a Jewish version. The latter is made from a doubled and twisted length of yeast dough containing cinnamon and/or chocolate. Mine was made by a lovely lady from Israel. She bakes the cake at her home, but intends to open her own shop. Until that big day you have to order your babka by phone and pick it up yourself. But first of all: make up your mind. Will you be having one with chocolate, halva, speculoos or cinnamon? I choose a cinnamon babka. The moment she opened the door, I smelt the delightful scent of cinnamon and noticed that my babka came straight out of the oven. At home I had a slice with a cup of coffee and had to stop myself from eating the whole loaf. Such a perfectly sweetened and somewhat sticky cake, light and dense at the same time. Dear babka, where have you been the rest of my life?
Babka with cinnamon, one loaf, € 10.00
South (De Pijp), no shop (yet)/order by phone
+31 (0) 6 21 16 97 07
Yes, got it! I have been searching quite a long time for the ultimate Amsterdam florentine. A florentine is a French biscuit made of nuts, candied fruit, honey and chocolate. These biscuits ought to be medium thin and real crispy. It’s not the easiest cookie to bake, but the chocolate artists of Van Soest master the art of making florentines. Almonds rule in their delicate cookies and as a bonus they dip their creations in pure chocolate. We are talking about chocolate-nut chips extraordinaire, ladies and gentlemen. Bye bye diet plans for 2016. If you love chocolates – and who doesn’t? – Van Soest is a fatally attractive place. All the chocolate creations are home-made. You can even see the chocolatiers at work. They work with the best ingredients and according to family recipes. Get lost in a world of chocolate truffles, bonbons and chocolate bars – don’t miss the one with orange and pink pepper.
Florentines, 6, €3.55
Utrechtsestraat 143, City Centre
+31 (0) 20 620 80 25
Opening hours: Monday noon-6pm, Tuesday-Saturday 9.30am-6pm
Too many pies, too little time. The absolutely fabulous Patisserie Kuyt offers the best solution you can think of: an amazing array of gourmandises, friandises and other mini pies. Minimal sizes, maximal tastes. All equally pretty and delicious, made by the hands of professionals who have an eye for detail and the drive to use nothing but the ultimate ingredients. Their works of art feature a superb pavlova, a mini pie consisting of a meringue base with whipped cream, chocolate, a coulis of raspberry and fresh fruit on top. The fun-size white marzipan one (Alaska) is filled with a mousse of white chocolate and grand marnier. Banana lovers will fall for the mini banana-toffee tart with whipped cream and almonds on top. For something less creamy do try the pecan cutie and, and, and. Luckily these dwarf pies are cheap – well sort of. Otherwise I would go bankrupt on this selection of mini pies and my untameable lust for sugar.
Mini pies, one, around €1.85
Utrechtsestraat 109-111, City Centre
+31 (0)20 623 48 33
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 8am-5.30pm, Saturday 8am-5pm
If you like Naples, you will definitely like Palermo too. Both cities are exciting, loud, chaotic and damn tasty. Palermo’s trademark dish is simple, but irresistible: pasta, wild fennel, fresh sardines, raisins and toasted pine nuts. The range of street food is impressive, even for hard-core foodies. I mean, have you ever tried a pane con la milza, a bread roll with, eh, rundermilt (beef spleen)? I dare you to do so, with or without cheese. If that’s too hot to handle for you, you can easily switch to something sweet. Palermo has lots of that too. Think cassata (ice-cream cake with candied fruit), a brioche with ice cream and the queen of all Sicilian sweets: cannoli, deep-fried pastry stuffed with ricotta cheese and candied peel. Ai, ai, cannoli. Mama mia. Soft as satin, sweet as candy and so addictive. In Amsterdam I score my ‘dope’ at Basilico. This Italian deli – founded in 1995 – was one of the first shops in Amsterdam to sell cannoli. You’ll find miniature versions filled with a cream of lemon, chocolate, coffee or vanilla and the huge, original version – my absolute favourite.
Van der Linde is an oasis in a hard-to-handle street. It may take some time to get in – there’s always a queue – but once you’re in you’ll forget about all the Amsterdam-Hash-It stuff outside. This confectionery shelters you from harm by feeding you with whipped cream that’s as soft as velvet. You’ll find it in the famous ice cream, truffles, cakes – the one with meringue comes highly recommended – and mergpijpen (literally: marrowbones). Van der Linde’s dirt cheap versions of these filled marzipan rolls are smaller than the ones other confectioneries sell. Eating these treats is like eating a box of chocolates: you can go on forever. It’s like: one extra, why not? Something this size can’t be too bad! There’s some marzipan and a little bit of chocolate. True, the marzipan is filled with whipped cream and whipped cream only, but that’s just a dairy product. Mmm, well, how fattening can dairy be? This whipped cream tastes light as a feather, all frothy, with a touch of vanilla. It is simply irresistible.
Banketbakkerij Van der Linde Mergpijpen, one, €0.95
Nieuwendijk 183, City Centre
+31 (0) 20 624 82 13
Opening hours: Monday 1pm-5pm, Tuesday-Thursday 11am-5.45pm, Friday 9am-5.45pm, Saturday 9am-5pm, Sunday noon-5pm