somodi kalacs

somodi kalacs
Somodi Kalács
Hungarian Cinnamon Swirl Bread from Transylvania

Somodi Kalács (pronounced [sho-MO-dee-ka-loch] is a traditional, Hungarian cinnamon swirl celebration bread we learned to make in a village in Transylvania on our trip there in 2012 in search of artisanal Hungarian foods. This soft, yeasted, golden pan loaf is made with organic flour, Michigan honey, fresh eggs, and a sweet, buttery, cinnamon sugar swirl. The smell is amazing. The taste is even better.

Some history

So why visit this historic region of Romania to learn about Hungarian baking traditions? Transylvania was an important part of Hungary from the Middle Ages until the Treaty of Trianon after World War I, when it was ceded to Romania. After the treaty, many Hungarians left the region, but plenty stayed. To this day, there are villages in Transylvania where everyone living there considers themselves Hungarian and many of Hungary’s age-old cultural and culinary traditions remain intact.

Our travels in Transylvania took us to the Hungarian village of Torockó, where somodi kalács originated, some 400 years ago when the village was a prosperous iron ore and gold mining town. The lucrative metals trade gave villagers the means to afford cinnamon and sugar, a real luxury back then, which were key to making somodi kalács. The bread was originally baked in a clay pot, greased with lard, in a wood-fired oven. Nowadays, the bread is more frequently made in a loaf pan, greased with either lard or butter and baked in a gas oven. It was, and continues to be, served for Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, and until the 20th century, it was the customary wedding cake.

To learn how to make somodi kalács, we visited the bed-and-breakfast of Melinda Király, who grew up in Torockó and learned to cook and bake in her parents’ restaurant. We were especially intrigued by the special folding technique Melinda used to achieve the unique swirl of cinnamon sugar inside the bread. We’ve replicated her technique in making our own version, resulting in an oh-so-delicious sweet, buttery, cinnamony swirl of a celebration bread.

Enjoy it while you can. We bake it on occasional weekends throughout the year.
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