There a couple things which are, fortunately, unavoidable when visiting Croatia’s Lika region, like rakija and strudel. You won’t have any trouble finding either, but if you are looking for the best strudel, then it is hard to beat Plitvička štrudla bakery in Korenica, where we met owner and master strudel maker Gordana Radaković.
The tradition of selling the famous Plitvička strudels in and around Plitvice Lakes has always existed, but that was mostly local ladies selling their own homemade strudels.
Many thought the tradition would not survive because of the modern era requiring permits and the issuing of invoices. That was the moment Gordana decided to open a trade and turn her strudel making into a business.
Gordana has been baking strudels for over 20 years and what makes her strudels so special is a number of factors. She has made some innovations but also sticks to the traditions of Lika-style strudel, which are generously filled with fruit and come in various combinations of flavours and colours which is a joy for both the palate and eyes.
“It can be a breakfast, a snack or even a light dinner. If you serve it with whipped cream, chocolate topping or ice cream, it can become a serious dessert,” Gordana tells us about her Plitvička strudel.
Another key aspect is of course the ingredients she uses, which are all domestic. Gordana sources the flour from Čakovečki mlinovi or Ličko lešče, the apples come from Zadar, the cheese from Rakovica or Turke, and cherry compote from Orahovica in Slavonia.
“The main difference between Plitvička strudel and other types of strudel is the pastry. My strudel pastry is made from dough of flour and yeast, while other traditional strudels, like from Zagorje for example, are made dough using flour, water and oil,” Gordana explains.
With the world-famous Plitvice Lakes located just 15 kilometres away, Gordana’s aptly named Plitvička strudel comes in a various combinations, including cherry-cheese, walnut-poppy seeds-cheese-apple, sweet cheese and cherry-cheese-peach.
Gordana’s famous homemade strudels have also found their way into various national supermarket chains where they arrive specially packed.
“Before the pandemic I had 3 employees, and now I am alone. I make around 300 strudels on average a day,” she says, adding that she never could produce enough to satisfy the demand.
Gordana has won numbers awards and recognition for her strudel, and says that she continues to love what she does, satisfying the taste buds of locals and tourists.
You can find out more by visiting her website here.