In Pittsburgh's East End, there's one distinctive bakery that has become a true local tradition. Prantl's Bakery has been in the upscale neighborhood of Shadyside for over forty years, and its site has held a bakery for over a century.
Prantl's specialty is the burnt almond torte, which is so popular that it represents half the birthday cake that we eat in the East End. This misnamed cake has a base of soft butter cake, a filling of creamy custard, and a topping of icing and sugared almonds. The torte is flavored with almonds, butter, and vanilla, always an excellent combination. The cake is moist and dense, and would be delicious on its own. Together with the vanilla custard filling, Prantl's light, not-too-sweet buttercream frosting, and the toasted sugared almonds, it really lives up to its reputation as Prantl's signature cake.
If you visit Prantl's, they will sell you a bite-sized version of the torte for about a dollar, which leaves plenty of room for other delights. We've enjoyed the elegant petit fours, the rich chocolate Maryanns, buttery shortbread sugar cookies, and the light, savory pepperoni rolls.
For out-of-towners, Prantl's will also mail-order their cake, using a version of the custard that requires no refrigeration.