“Engadine, Engadine. Nine months of winter, and three months of cold.” — a local saying from the Engadine region of Switzerland.
As the saying goes, with relatively cold temperatures throughout the year, the culinary specialties from Switzerland’s Engadine region serve to last all winter long. Imagine a loaf of birnbrot (pear bread) or the ring of rye bread hanging on the wall in the classic Swiss children’s story, Schellen-Ursli. These baked goods stay fresh for a long time and make you feel full, rather quickly.
Another specialty of Switzerland’s Engadine region, the Nusstorte (German) or Torta da Nuschs (Romansh) also meets these criteria — durable, long-lasting and delicious.
During a recent visit to town of Scuol, in the canton of Graubünden — after polling the locals for where to find their favorites — I sampled several of these nusstortes for the first time. Made with a shortcrust pastry that surrounds a filling of caramelized and coarsely chopped walnuts, I soon realized that everyone has their own personal opinion on who makes the best cake! Similar to an American-style pecan pie, which I also really like, I prefer that this Swiss cake isn’t as sweet.
You can find nusstortes all over Switzerland, but if you’re heading to Scuol and want to try the real thing, I have a list of six locations where you can pick up one of these delicious cakes. While I did not sample cakes from each of these bakeries, I tasted four of them. You can read below to find out which one was my favorite!
A very thoughtful Instagram follower recently recommended Bäckerei Erni to me for its nusstortes. You can find it along the main shopping street in downtown Scuol. According to its website, this bakery has a long tradition in the Engadine region, dating back to 1880 in the nearby village of Sent. In 1905, it picked up the name Erni, and since 1980, it has operated at its current location. Unfortunately, I didn’t try a nusstorte from this bakery, but it looks like another great place to find this local cake.
Bäckerei Erni, Stradun Postfach 104, 7550 Scuol, Tel. 081 864 10 50
Funaria Pastizaria Shlatter
Funaria Pastizaria Shlatter has a charming building with sgraffito designs in the old town of Scuol, as well as a second location up the hill on the main shopping street. I took one of their small nusstortes — they come in five different sizes — on a picnic to Guarda, the village that inspired the story and illustrations for Schellen-Ursli. I liked this cake, but the shortcrust pastry seemed a little thicker and more dry than some of the others I tried. My father-in-law, however, really liked this cake. People really have individual preferences with regard to the nusstorte.
Furnaria Pastizeria Schlatter, Dualatsch 134, Tel. 081 864 11 51 and Stradun 401, Tel. 041 81 864 16 40, both in Scuol.
A woman who has lived in Scuol for many years recommended Pastizaria Cantieni to me. With locations in Scuol, Ftan and Ardez, she said this bakery is the one people talk about as having one of the best nusstortes. Of the four cakes I tried, this one was my favorite! It had a flaky crust and the ratio of crust to filling was perfect, in my opinion, giving it a somewhat chewy texture. In autumn 2014, two former employees took over this bakery, continuing the long tradition of the Cantieni family’s famous and award-winning nusstortes.
Pastizaria Cantieni, Stradun 403A, 7550 Scuol, Tel. 081 864 13 94
My husband stopped at Peder Benderer’s cafe and picked up several treats, such as their Pan Engiadinais, a chocolate-covered Balla Engiadinais, and a Fuatscha Grassa, a large cookie made with the same shortcrust pastry used in the nusstorte. While we did not try the nusstorte, this bakery also has a long history of baking these cakes. It opened in 1937, and is currently operated by the third generation of the Benderer family.
Peder Benderer, Cafe Benderer, Center Augustin, 7550 Scuol, Tel. 081 864 15 33
At a street festival in Scuol, I stopped at a tent that was offering free samples of cake (I never say “no” to free cake!). Unlike the traditional nusstorte, this cake has a distinctive triangular shape — hence the name, La Triangula. I spoke to the son of this creative baker, who told me his father had only recently started selling his unique nusstorte. I thought it tasted very good, and I liked the shape. You can currently order these cakes online, and I am interested in seeing how this new business venture develops in the coming year.
Tuortaria Daniela at Denner
Here’s an insider tip… I know Denner, a Swiss supermarket chain, doesn’t seem like the place to find one of the best nusstortes in Scuol, but it was recommended by someone who grew up in this area. A local home-based bakery, known as Tuortaria Daniela, sells its cakes there. My family and I ventured out to the other side of town to the Denner satellite store., and we found Daniela’s tinfoil-wrapped cakes near the entrance. I loved this cake and found it quite different from the others I tried. It has a larger ratio of walnuts to crust — more filling and a thinner pastry. I thought it tasted homemade, but in the best way. Of the four I tried, this was my second favorite.
It took me 4 years of living in Switzerland to finally try a nusstorte made in the canton of Graubünden… Don’t wait as long as I did! I now consider these cakes as one of my favorite Swiss foods, and I look forward to picking up some more during my next visit to this canton. If you can’t travel to Scuol, several of these bakeries will mail one to your home in Switzerland — just check their websites for more information.
If you have any other bakeries to recommend for nusstortes in Scuol, or elsewhere in Graubünden, please let me know! You can leave a comment below or send me an email. Thanks in advance for your help.