Tokaji Cream Cake – 21st Century Hungarian Baking

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Traditional food is our comfort zone. It’s what we spend most of our time studying and tasting. Active cuisines however continue to evolve and develop which can often be a good thing. This is definitely happening in Hungary today. On our visits we have the opportunity to enjoy entirely new Hungarian creations, with no reference to the past. The ”modern” interpretations of traditional favorites can also be appealing. As I write this I’m thinking about a delicate gulyás we ate in a chic Budapest restaurant – clear, light beef bouillon, perfectly cut tiny vegetables all cooked separately before being added to the broth to ensure that each one has the perfect texture and super tender pieces of beef cheeks. This represents a significant departure from what the gulyás (herdsmen) must have cooked in their bogracs (outdoor cooking cauldrons) on the Hungarian plain but it was still recognizable as gulyás and definitely delicious. The Tokaji (tow-kai) Cream Cake that we are serving in May is an example of modern Hungarian baking.

tokaji-cream-cake-tempOur inspiration for this cake is the Auguszt Pavillion bakery in Budapest. The Auguszt’s are the longest standing family of bakers in Budapest. They have taught us important lessons about traditional Hungarian pastries and this cake is their lesson to us in a more modern direction. They have continued to evolve their craft and if you visit their bakery you’ll see many new creations. A Tokaji Cream cake is one of them.

The cake is elegant, light, fresh and pretty. It features the famous sweet Tokaji wine made from aszu grapes which are left to wither on the vine until late fall. In our interpretation of the cake we make the filling with tokaji wine a little sugar ,Guernsey whipping cream and a touch of gelatin (much less than is commonly used in Hungary to fit with our tastes). We layer this cream with light vanilla chiffon cake and fresh raspberries. The tart raspberries and the sweet Tokaji are one of those perfect food combinations. Kérjük, élvezze! (Please enjoy!) Stop in to the Bakehouse in May and ask for taste. Also available at Zingerman's Next Door.

Amy Emberling- baker, Hungarian traveler & Bakehouse co-owner