CNN’s guide to the best cakes and confectioneries in Budapest
Budapest is an ideal travel destination no matter what your motives are. Whether you want to experience the culture and explore all the sights or just want to relax, you will not be disappointed. However, if you have a sweet tooth and love Hungarian desserts, this article is definitely for you.
CNN describes Budapest as possibly one of the best destinations where you will have an excellent time just chilling out in one of the many cosy cafés, enjoying a cup of coffee and having a slice (or more) of a delicious Hungarian cake. Hungarian gastronomy has had numerous foreign influences throughout history. For example, the Turks occupied the country in the 16th and 17th centuries, introducing Eastern flavours and meals.
Later, in the 19th century, Hungary’s fate was linked to Austria, and now the two countries’ cuisines show a number of similarities. The 19th century was especially important cake culture-wise, and Budapest was a significant scene of it, so many of our pastries – either for everyday pleasure or special occasions – originate from that time.
Flódni is a traditional Hungarian Jewish dessert. Thanks to the strong Jewish community in Budapest, now this delicious treat is available to the wider community, too. It consists of five layers of pastry and rich fillings, including walnut, poppy seed, apple and plum jam. Interestingly, as tour guide György Ujlaki explains, the different fillings have different meanings:
“Poppy seed means prosperity, apple means […] wholeness, and the walnuts is more like health. And the extra is plum jam — don’t ask me what it represents, it just tastes good!”
Budapest is especially connected to flódni as, in 2012, Rachel Raj managed to secure the Guinness World Record title for the largest flódni ever made. It must have been a marvellous sight: 1600 pieces served at Sziget festival that year.
If you are feeling adventurous, click HERE for the recipe.
This tasty cake gets its name from the famous Esterházy noble family and is thus appropriately fancy. It is a layered cake that consists of buttercream, chocolate and a walnut-infused sponge. A fondant glaze on top makes the look complete. It was first created in the 19th century in Budapest. According to Ujlaki,
“Filled with whipped cream and fondant, it can be different tastes and colors, you can have it lemony, chocolatey…”
If you visit any of the following three places, you will definitely not regret it. Central Café was an important scene in the life of famous writers and poets in the early 20th century. New York Café is simply marvellous; it gives back the glamour of the last century perfectly. Café Gerbeaud is one of the most famous confectioneries in Hungary, so it is definitely a secure choice.
You can also make it at home, with the recipe found HERE.
Despite strudel often being associated with Austria, thanks to the period of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, this dessert is now a shared one. According to Ujlaki,
“Strudel was never a high cuisine, it’s more like a popular cuisine for the general people […] This was affordable but still original and traditional.”
The Hungarian word for strudel is ‘rétes’ which originates from the word ‘réteges’, meaning layered. There are several kinds of fillings but the three most popular ones at Rétesbolt Anno 1926, the recommended spot for strudel tasting, are the popular Hungarian ingredient, poppy seed, apricot and Quark, a special kind of cottage cheese.
As per the Hungarian tradition, this dessert is served cold and, unlike the American version that is warmed up and gets whipped cream or custard added to it, it comes unaccompanied; however, the quality far surpasses any of its foreign counterparts. Perhaps the best choice is the one filled with cottage cheese. According to CNN, this one “packs a creamy punch and has a satisfyingly savory flavour”.
For the recipe that you can make at home, click HERE.
CNN describes this cake as “heavenly” and also “deceptively simple”. It is made up of a light vanilla custard filling and delicious puff pastry crust, providing the perfect combination. It can be compared to the Napoleon cake; however, it only has one or two delicious layers. Different cafés may have different versions, of course.
This delicious dessert is a combination of soft chocolate sponge and a nice chocolate mousse. It also has a fascinating backstory involving Romani violinist Jancsi Rigó and his star-crossed lover, Belgian Princesse de Caraman-Chimay. The lovers eloped, and even though their story does not have a happy ending, the important thing is that they tried, right? Not to mention the delicious cake they left as their legacy 😉
Kürtős kalács – Chimney cake
Chimney cake is a special Hungarian treat that is perfect both for chilling on the beach in the summer or trying to warm up in a Christmas market in the winter. Originally, it was a festive treat made for weddings, for example. The delicious dough that is crusty on the outside but has a delicious, fluffy inside gets sprinkled with either walnut, vanilla, cinnamon or cocoa, for example, mixed in with some sugar.
Last but definitely not least, Dobos cake is a true Hungarian classic. It consists of several layers of fluffy sponge and chocolate buttercream. The top is a really special kind of caramel glaze. It is the legacy of Hungarian chef József Dobos. The idea behind it was to have cakes last longer – hence the caramel topping that prevents the cake from drying out. It premiered in 1885, at the National General Exhibition of Budapest, and has been a hit all over Europe ever since.
If you want to make it at home, use this recipe.
We all know that coffee and cake are a perfect match; however, have you ever thought about sipping wine next to a delicious Hungarian pastry? Perhaps Francesca Street’s words will convince you:
“Sweet as honey and light as a feather, a glass of Tokaj wine is the perfect accompaniment to any Budapest cake odyssey.”
If you want to plan the year ahead well in advance, check out this article about all the best concerts in Hungary in 2019. If you are interested in the festivals with all the different themes taking place in Budapest, click HERE.
Featured image: facebook.com/rillschimneycake