Saturday, March 12, 2011

Chimney Cake

Did I mention that I'm in Spain right now? I don't think I did. Anyway, that's where I am this semester, which opens some new cake-related doors.

Well, in February I went to Budapest, home to its very own spitcake called kürtőskalács, or "chimney cake." It's quite unlike baumkuchen and šakotis! Instead of layers of batter, it's made by rolling out a long, thin strip of sweet dough (kürtőskalács is a yeast cake). This gets wound onto a conical form, so you get a nice tapered tube. The dough is dusted with sugar and stuck in a special kürtőskalács oven, which spins multiple individual cakes, each on its own spindle. The result is a sweet, dense, bready pastry with a thin crispy shell of tasty burnt sugar. When it's taken off of the conical form, the cake can stand upright, fragrant steam pouring out the top, leaving no doubt how it got its name. While still hot, there's the option of dusting the cake with a topping of your choice—traditionally, walnuts or more sugar, but other options include cocoa powder, cinnamon, dried coconut, or vanilla. Some places even make savory kürtőskalács, topping them with meats and cheeses and savory herbs and spices!

And it's cheap, too! In Budapest's Nyugati Pályaudvar, there's a shop that sells nothing but chimney cake at 380 forint (1.90 USD).

A modern kürtőskalács oven. [source]

A more traditional way of baking chimney cake. But not too traditional; observe the axle motors on the back wall of the grill. Also, notice the helical structure from the way the dough is coiled. [source]

Baked and flavored cakes! Oh lordy, that looks good. [source]

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