Kokosh cake – Kakaós kalács

A few weeks ago I got an email whose sender was looking for the recipe of kokosh cake. I couldn’t help her instantly, as I had never heard of it before. After browsing several websites I realized that kokosh cake is the lesser-known, flatter, denser, less attractive Hungarian sibling of the world-famous babka cake. Kokosh cake, which translates to kakaós kalács, is a traditional pastry among Hungarian Jews, and it’s baked for Sabbath.

Kokosh cake is a cocoa filled yeast dough roll. Some recipes use a plain mixture of cocoa powder and sugar, others call for some oil to make the filling creamy. This cocoa filling is often enriched with ground poppy seeds, and I have found recipes that also add orange juice to the filling. I filled the first roll with only cocoa, and for the second roll I combined cocoa with ground poppy seeds and homemade marmalade. (Source of the recipe: szombat.org)

Kokosh cake
Kokosh cake with cocoa filling – photo: zserbo.com
Kokosh cake with cocoa and poppy seeds
Kokosh cake with cocoa, poppy seed and marmalade filling – photo: zserbo.com


For the dough:

  • 500 g (~4 cups) flour
  • 250 ml (~1 cup) lukewarm water
  • 20 g fresh yeast (2 tsp dry yeast)
  • 1 egg + 1 egg for brushing the top
  • 25 ml (~1 2/3 tbsp) oil
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

For the filling:

  • 50 g (~1/2 cups) cocoa powder
  • 160 g (~3/4 cup) sugar
  • 6 tbsp oil
  • 30 g (~1/3 cup) ground poppy seeds
  • 2 tbsp marmalade or oil

For the dough put all of the ingredients in a bowl and knead until smooth and pliable. (Yeast doesn’t need to be proofed.) Cover and in a lukewarm place let the dough rise until it doubles in size (about 40-45 minutes).

For the filling combine cocoa, sugar and 6 tablespoons of oil, the mixture needs to be thick, but spreadable. Feel free to add more oil if necessary.

Divide the dough in two equal pieces. On a floured surface roll out the first piece of dough into a thin rectangle. Spread approximately 60% of the filling on the dough, fold in the edges, roll it up and transfer onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Add ground poppy seeds to the remaining filling and mix in 2 tablespoons of marmalade (or oil if you don’t have marmalade, or you don’t like it). Roll out the other piece of dough, too, and spread the cocoa-poppy seed filling over it evenly. Roll it up in the same way as the first one and put it on the baking sheet. Cover and let the rolls rest for 15-20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180° / 356°F. Brush the rolls with egg and bake them for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. (The rolls will split, poking doesn’t prevent it.)

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