Hungary – Chimney Cake (Kürtőskalács)

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To Hungary! Home of Houdini, and the creators of the biro and the Rubik’s cube, they joined the EU in 2004. It’s also the home of Kürtőskalács, or chimney cake, which dates from around 1450, with the first recipe recorded in 1784. 

This is one of the more ambitious bakes of this project to date. I did a bit of searching around the internet and decided that I could legitimately attempt to make chimney cakes at home, despite the fact that they are usually baked on rotating wooden cylinders over hot coals. My enthusiasm for this idea was not reduced when I was told by my colleague that his wife (who is Hungarian) had never heard of anyone trying to do this at home. However the internet suggested multiple ways in which you could attempt to replicate the traditional chimney cake using an oven. Wrapping dough around foil covered rolling pins, kitchen towel rolls, and beer cans were the most common options. Obviously I chose beer cans (partially because I didn’t have enough of the other things and mostly because it was an excuse to drink a couple of beers whilst trying to make these things). I also found a video where some people invested in a rotisserie toaster oven to make a better chimney cake. I am not that invested in this.
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So I wrapped my beer cans in foil, and sprayed them with cooking spray (recommend not forgetting this part), and endeavoured to do my best winding of dough around a beer can to try and produce something vaguely similar to what it was supposed to be. In my fear that the beer can thing would go horribly wrong (it surprisingly didn’t), I baked them one or two at a time, which was wise as the first one ended up slipping down the can during baking. The way to remedy this seemed to be to put them in the fridge for a while after you’ve done all the manhandling of trying to wind the dough around the can.

They weren’t exactly like chimney cakes – the real deal is supposed to be thinner and crisper, whereas mine were a little too thick and quite doughy. Next time (next time?!), I’d either save up more beer cans/drink more beer to make more cakes to get the dough thinner.

This post is part of a series called ‘Brexit Baking’, where I bake my way around all 28 EU Member States. You can read more about it here.IMG_6155t

Chimney Cake, or Kürtőskalács (recipe adapted, barely, from here)

500g flour
100 g butter
250ml lukewarm milk
2 eggs + 2 egg yolks (1 egg for brushing on top)
3 tbsp sugar
10g fast action yeast
zest of a half lemon
150g finely chopped walnuts or 50g cinnamon sugar
oil/cooking spray
5-6 beer cans (440-500ml ones, you’ll need many more if using 330ml cans)

  1. Sift the flour and yeast into a bowl, add one of the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest, and the milk. Knead together, and when the dough starts to come unstuck from the bowl, pour in the melted butter and continue to knead for 5-10 mins. Let the dough rise for 1 hour in a warm place.
  2. Roll up the beer cans in foil and grease with oil/cooking spray.
  3. Once risen, roll out the dough to about 0.5cm thick and cut into 2cm wide strips. Wrap around the rolls in a spiral, leaving 1-2cm dough-free at either end of the can. Line the layers as closely as possible, even to overlap. Tuck the first end under the second line of dough. As you wind, try to stretch the dough as thin as you reasonably can without tearing it. Roll the can to flatten and even out the dough.
  4. Brush the egg on the chimneys. Put your walnuts/cinnamon sugar on a baking tray and then roll each chimney to coat, then place them on a lined baking tray. If it’s quite warm and your dough has become soft, put in the fridge for 15 mins to firm up before putting in the oven. This should stop the dough slipping down the can.
  5. Bake at 200C for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. Let the cakes cool for 10-15 minutes, then you can remove the cans from them.  Cover with a cloth so they won’t dry out.
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