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  • Writer's pictureRita Selles

The Sweet Side of Budapest, Hungary

Visiting another city or country always involves, at least for me, going into grocery stores and bakeries. We were visiting friends for the weekend and had many opportunities to see and enjoy Hungarian pastries. Some of the breakfast/snack pastries are like those in France. The chocolate snail (on left) ressembles the "pain au raisin"-raisin bread or snail as it is also called in some areas of France. On the right, a cardamom pudding pastry, was filled with pastry cream and topped with berries. Both were delicious with a morning coffee.

This breakfast/snack pastry is a yeast dough with what I thought was a slightly lemony cream cheese filling, very similar to a Kolache.

Kürtóskalács (missing a second accent on the 'o'), or Chimney Cakes, are made from sweet yeast dough. A strip is wrapped around a cone-shaped baking spit (ie: rolling pin) and rolled in sugar. Ours was baked in a rotisserie oven, basted with melted butter and cooked to a golden-brown color. When the exterior caramelizes and forms a crispy crust, the chimney is slid off the baking spit. Our cake was sprinkled with cinnamon, it's simplest form, although, you can also add nutella and other toppings. In winter the chimneys are roasted over charcoal.

At first you might wonder how to eat one of these! Fortunately you can pull off strips of dough, essentially unwinding the chimney. These remind me of dough boys or campfire crescent rolls on a stick, although the chimneys exceed in perfection, size, and flavor, and curb appeal of any dough boy I've ever had. Hum, I might have to revisit how those are made at the next campout!

A French pastry shop in Budapest. Exactly like what you would find in France!

The pastry highlight of my trip was when our friends took us to this pastry shop in the Castle district of Budapest. Founded in 1827, with still its original cherry wood counter intact, the menu says it is one of the most popular sights of Budapest. We were fortunate to get a seat once we made our selection of cakes from the cabinet pictured above.

Our friends gave us some pointers on the best cakes to order. We didn't argue! We certainly needed to order a slice of the cake pictured below that won the annual cake contest.

The "Boldogasszony Csipkéje", or Lace of Happy Woman, is a raspberry cake, although there is a lot more to it than meets the eye. It was my favorite.

We ordered:

Two Ruszwurm cakes (seen in both pictures)-a cream cake where pastry cream is combined with whipping cream.

One slice of the cake of the year, the raspberry cake.

Eszterházy torta (cake at top right of first picture)- chocolate buttercream sandwiched between four layers of sponge cake. It is named after the 19th century Prince Esterházy of Hungary.

Dobostorta (bottom right of first picture)-five sponge cake layers alternating with a chocolate cream filling, and topped with a caramel layer

Black Forest cake (second picture).

All this with coffee or tea. I mentioned elsewhere these cakes are not overly sweet or heavy, just very good.

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