Chimney cake (or kürtőskalács in Hungarian) is a popular pastry specific to the Hungarian-speaking regions, mainly to Szekler Land (East Transylvania). You can get it at festivals, funfairs, at the beach, and even from carts on the street. The first known recipe of chimney cake originates from Transylvania, published in the cookbook of Countess Mária Mikes of Zabola in 1784. It makes no mention of sweetening of any kind in the preparation. The current, most frequently baked variant of chimney cake evolved in Szekler Land in the first half of 20th century.
Chimney cake is made from sweet, raised dough, strips spun and wrapped around truncated cone–shaped wooden spits, rolled in granulated sugar and roasted over charcoal fire. The surface of the chimney cake can be coated with different toppings like ground walnut, almond, cinnamon powder or vanilla sugar made from natural vanilla powder. Chimney cake can be baked in the oven, too, even if you don’t have any wooden roll. You only need some paper towel rolls.
- 500 g (~4 cups) flour
- 100 g (~1/2 cup) butter, melted
- 250 ml (~1 cup) lukewarm milk
- 2 whole eggs + 2 egg yolks (1 whole egg for spreading)
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 20 g (~3/4 oz) fresh yeast (2 tsp dry yeast)
- zest of a half lemon
- 150 g (~5 1/3 oz) ground walnuts + 2 tbsps sugar
- 6 paper towel rolls
- aluminium foil
Dissolve the yeast in 100 ml / 1/2 cup of lukewarm milk with a pinch of sugar.
Sift the flour into a bowl, add 1 whole egg, egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest, yeast and the rest of the milk. Combine all ingredients and start to knead. When the dough starts to come unstuck from the bowl, pour in the melted butter and knead it for 10 minutes.
Let the dough rise for 1 hour in a warm place.
Meanwhile prepare the rolls. You can cut the rolls in halves or leave them in one piece. Cover them with aluminium foil and grease with oil.
On a floured pastry board roll out the dough to about 0.5 cm thick and cut into 2 cm wide strips. Wrap around the rolls (like a spiral) leaving the ends of the rolls clean. Line the layers as closely as possible, even to overlap. As you wind, try to stretch the dough as thin as you reasonably can without tearing it. Roll the whole thing on the board to flatten the dough out and make it even.
Brush whisked egg on the chimneys. Roll them in ground nut and place them in baking pan lined with parchment paper.
Bake at 200°C / 392°F for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Let the cakes cool for a few minutes, then you can easily remove the paper rolls. Cover with a cloth so they won’t dry out.