With the sweet-tooth’s of the world in a frenzy over cronuts, duffins and doughscuits, it is worth stopping from time to time to appreciate the more traditional pastries from around the world that don’t get as much air-time as the aforementioned newcomers.

The chimney cake is one of the most popular pastries in Hungary and Hungarian speaking regions around its borders. It is “made from sweet, yeast dough (raised dough), of which a strip is spun and then wrapped around a truncated cone–shaped baking spit, and rolled in … sugar. It is baked above charcoal cinders … until its surface gets a golden-brown color. During the baking process the sugar stuck on the chimney cake becomes caramel and forms a shiny, crispy crust on the cake.” (source: Wikipedia). The topping can vary from the simple but delicious “regular” (granulated sugar) to ground walnuts, cinnamon, or cocoa powder.

The 'kürtőskalács' is one of the most popular pastries in Hungary
The ‘kürtőskalács’ is one of the most popular pastries in Hungary. (Photo Credit: Róbert Géczi Photography)

A bit of a history lesson: the first record, from a Heidelberg manuscript, of a pastry that is baked by rotating a spit over cinders dates back to medieval times, however the very first chimney cake recipe is from 1784 found in a recipe book of a Transylvanian countess. Nevertheless, this recipe lacked the inevitable sugar coating which only appeared 10 years later in a recipe book originating from “Upper-Hungary” (present day Slovakia).

While kürtőskalács used to be a festive cake, favoured by the upper-classes it soon spread amongst the common people as well and nowadays it’s a hit with any festival or outdoor event crowd. So much so that last year the first ever Kürtőskalács festival was held in Budapest to the delight of many Hungarians and tourists alike.

When Hungarians are asked about their favourite chimney cake there is no unanimous answer – some swear by the ones sold at food festivals scattered around the country (though these tend to be more expensive than the ones from the actual bakers), others adore the more obscure vendors like the ones that can be found at Ors vezer ter metro stop, or family businesses such as Kürcsi who travel around Hungary and Europe.

Whatever your preference is, once you get your hands on one of these sticky pastries you’ll instantly forget about its hip competitors and will be crossing your fingers that there will be a second kürtőskalács festival… somewhere close-by.

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About Noémi Nagy

Noémi is a thirty-something Hungarian who moved to the Netherlands many moons ago but is still trying to get her head around the clogs, bikes and 'harings' . She considers herself adventurous when it comes to food and travel…although those who have seen her struggle with a haring/ stroopwafel/ stamppot might disagree. She loves trying out new restaurants and dishes and luckily the Hague has been a perfect playground for that.


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2 Responses to "Time to Celebrate: The Chimney Cake (aka kürtőskalács)"

  1. Pingback: Calentita Gibraltar Festival – Craft Market – Crochet Something Cool

  2. Jennifer Kinney  29/08/2019

    Hi Noemi, this may be long shot as this article was published several years ago. But I’ll give it a try….

    Hello from Texas!! My name is Jennifer Kinney, I own Kurbside Kravings, a food truck in Midland, Tx. I started out as a dessert truck & have added pizza. I stumbled upon chimney cakes on YouTube & fell in love with everything about them!!!! The look, the artistry of the process, the variety of sweet & savory 😍😍 I really really want to add them to my menu!! I have been reading & searching for hours on google, FB, YouTube!
    If you don’t mind answering a question I would really appreciate it…….I have seen recipes that include a specific chimney cake “mix” but don’t know what ingredients are in it. I have seen other recipes that make no mention of a mix…they include flour, eggs, yolks, milk, etc. I found a company that sells a mix. Do chimney cakes require this special mix? I have seen recipes with & without lemon juice! I really really want to find & serve an authentic chimney cake recipe!! Thank you for your time!!!


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