Making homemade jam (or ‘lekvar’ in Hungarian) is a traditional Central European custom. Even though nowadays, you can buy the most exotic jams in stores, nothing beats the homemade version. Hungarian gastronomy relies on the use of jam, too, and some of the most famous Hungarian desserts prove this as well.
‘Lekvar’ is not exactly the same as jam, which usually refers to the Western and Northern European alternative. While ‘lekvar’ is a homogenous mass that is made 100% from the ripened fruit and some added sugar, jams contain pieces of fruit and can be made without cooking, too.
The first use of the word ‘lekvar’ can be dated back to the 1350s. Since then, it has conquered most of Central Europe, including Hungary, and the preparation of it has a long tradition. It is most often made of apricot and plum, but other varieties exist, of course.
Rákóczi cottage cheese cake
Some ingredients seem to go better with homemade ‘lekvar’ than others. One such ingredient that is the base of the Rákóczi cottage cheese cake is cottage cheese. The sweet mixture of the apricot jam together with the cottage cheese layer and the beaten and piped egg whites make this dessert absolutely irresistible. Perhaps this is why, nowadays, you can not only get these flavours in the traditional form of the Rákóczi cottage cheese but also in muffins, as an ice cream flavour or even as mousse in a cup.
If you want to try the traditional recipe, click HERE.
It is not a coincidence that zserbó once again makes this list. One of the truly irresistible combinations is the walnut filling together with some homemade apricot jam and chocolate. The layer of ‘lekvar’ may be subtle at first, but as the cake gets older (which actually only makes it better – is another benefit of the dessert), the flavours get more set and more accustomed to each other. Just like the Rákóczi cottage cheese cake, zserbó can also appear in the forms of bonbons, pancakes or ice cream. If you want the traditional recipe, though, click HERE.
Even though Sacher torte is a famous Austrian dessert, it is very popular in Hungary, too. In addition, just like the strudel, this dessert also calls to mind the era of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which led Hungary and Austria to share some of the signature dishes. The first Sacher torte was prepared in 1832, proving once again what a delicious combination chocolate and apricot jam is. Because Hungarians liked the cake as well, it is now considered a traditional peacetime dish.
Even though the original recipe is still kept a secret, you can find a good alternative HERE.
Somlói sponge cake
The Somlói sponge cake is another dessert in which the walnut-apricot-chocolate trinity appears. Considering how well-known and liked it is, it might surprise you that it was first made for the 1958 world exhibition. It was an instant hit, of course, and has become a favourite Hungarian dessert since then. It is not a simple dish, as it has three different layers of sponge – one vanilla, one chocolate and one walnut -, it has a vanilla cream filling, too, syrup to soak the layers of sponge, and apricot jam as well. In addition, it is mostly served with a good dollop of whipped cream and chocolate sauce. There is no need to get intimidated, though, because if you follow THIS recipe, it will be absolutely worth it.
Hungarian (carnival) doughnuts
Although it is not carnival season, the Hungarian doughnuts must be included here as they are either filled with ‘lekvar’ or eaten with some homemade ‘lekvar’ on the side – at least in the countryside. Carnival doughnuts most probably have Austrian origins, and they mostly got popular in Hungary in the 19th century. However, some sources have earlier mentions, too, dating back to 1603. It is undeniable, though, that by now, it is an integral part of carnival season in Hungary. Nevertheless, it cannot only be eaten that specific time, so, if you feel up for it, click HERE for some fun origin stories and a delicious recipe.
Source: Daily News Hungary