Sunday, November 1, 2015

Liptauer: A Savoury Bread Spread from Austria

Austrian fresh cheese spread - Liptauer

Recently I was invited to an Austrian dinner. The dishes served were entirely vegetarian which some might find surprising. It is often the famous Wiener Schnitzel that pops to mind first when thinking about Austrian cuisine. That dinner however was a testimony that an entirely vegetarian Austrian menu is possible and needless to say delicious to the degree of culinary achievement higher than some of the vegetarian restaurants can boast with.

This was the first time the host introduced me to Liptauer. Despite that the name Liptauer funnily had something of a military sounding quality in it (some Austrian - Hungarian officer perhaps who used to dip his bread into such spread every Sunday morning?) I was reaching out for a second helping of that smooth and utterly flavourful orange sauce. 

While I was spreading the bright orange Liptauer on a piece of bread, the host was explaining that it was made of Topfen, the Austrian word for quark (or fresh cheese if quark is not known in your country), paprika powder, garlic, soft butter, .... Voilà. That explained why it tasted so smooth and had almost a melting quality to it. Butter, say no more, gives every dish a lift-up. 

I bet every household in Austria has their own favourite Liptauer recipe. I have made it for a few times now and my recipe, if you really need the measurements, is here as a start to bring you closer to your own favourite version of it.

Liptauer - a savoury bread spread 
250g Topfen or quark or fresh cheese, at room temperature
50 g soft butter
1,5 tsp sweet paprika powder
0.5 tsp hot paprika powder
1 tsp caraway seed powder (or whole caraway seeds)
a good pinch of salt
a pinch of black pepper
1 tbsp mustard
1 small clove of garlic, crushed
2 small marinated cucumbers, cut into small cubes
0.5 red sweet bell pepper, cut into small cubes
1 -2 tbsp finely chopped chives

In a bowl mix together quark, soft butter, paprika powders, caraway, salt, pepper, mustard, garlic and whisk into a smooth mass.
Add the vegetable cubes. 
Garnish with chives and serve with fresh bread or toast.

Liptauer spread