This sophisticated cake was named after János Rákóczi, a Hungarian confectioner and chef (1897-1966), its recipe was first published for a food magazine in 1937. It aquired international attention at the Expo in Brussels in 1958 where it was served at the Hungarian restaurant.
Every pastry shop in Hungary offers this cake; however, there might be differences in the look. The base of these Hungarian curd cheese squares is a thin sweet shortcrust pastry, followed by a layer of sweet curd cheese filling and topped with meringue. According to the original recipe there are some meringue grids on its top, filled in between with apricot jam, other versions have a very thick layer of meringue.
As I’m not so handy with a piping bag, I chose the simpler version, namely: shortcrust pastry – apricot jam – curd cheese filling – meringue. Some recipes advise to put the curd cheese through a sieve, but I didn’t because I prefer if the filling’s texture is more crumbly.
For the dough:
- 180 g (~1 1/2 cups) flour
- 90 g (~1/3 cup) butter
- 40 g (~1/4 cup) sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tbsp sour cream
- zest of 1 lemon
- pinch of salt
For the filling:
- 500 g (~18 oz) curd cheese
- 80 g (~6 tbsp) sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tbsp sour cream
- 100 g (~2/3 cup) raisins
- grated zest of 1 lemon
- apricot jam
For the meringue:
- 3 egg whites
- 100 g (~3/4 cup) powdered sugar
Soak the raisins in lukewarm water.
To make the dough, place all ingredients in a bowl and knead quickly until smooth and combined. Wrap the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 356°F. Grease a 20x25cm / 8×10 inch baking pan.
Prepare the filling: mix the curd cheese, sugar, vanilla extract, 3 egg yolks, sour cream, lemon zest and drained raisins. Whip 2 egg whites and gently fold in the mixture.
Roll out the dough to the size of the baking pan – thickness should be about 5 mm – and bake it for 10 minutes. Remove the dough from the oven, spread the top with apricot jam, then spread the curd cheese mixture over it and bake for further 20 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C / 320°F.
Beat the egg whites with powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Spread the meringue on the top of the filling and bake for 10-15 minutes until just lightly dried. Let completely cool and cut into squares.