Pastel colours, cakes and soft piano music – even being an atheist I felt like I was in heaven. Cake Shop Budapest brings this place alive and offers dozens of sweet and savoury treats along with workshops, where people can learn how to prepare the heavenly cakes at home. Fanni Sallay, the proprietor, tells how her hobby became her profession and reveals the golden rules of baking.
Behind the counter the confectioners are busy in their white gloves mixing, kneading and decorating. There are cakes, muffins, biscuits, cakepops, meringues, macarons, cupcakes and even more things behind the glass; for a sweet tooth, even looking at them makes your mouth water.
Besides all kinds of desserts, there are quiche, bagels and sandwiches. The menu will be widened with more baked goods and salads soon. Hot and cold drinks to enjoy with your cake range from coffee to cola, and you can even buy part of the interior decoration: the ornate cups, cans and plates displayed on the shelves.
I would like to state this absolute truth about the Cake Shop right away: everything looks pretty and tastes great here. By the way, everything is handmade, the ingredients do not contain any artificial preservatives and the wonderful rainbow colours are also natural. Finally, no matter what diet you are following, you will surely find something to nibble on.
“We take it very seriously that we should be able to offer something for everyone,” says Sallay, the head of the Cake Shop and inventor of the concept. “For example we use coconut milk for the coconut cake so that lactose-sensitive people can safely eat this cake. For similar reasons there are always vegetarian varieties among the offered quiches and sandwiches too. Even people allergic to gluten do not have to miss out on our cakes.”
Perfectionism and love
I got to try the gluten-free (or in other words: grain-free) cakes via the strawberry-poppy seed cake. It does not contain any flour; the base is a juicy mouse of poppy seeds crowned by a layer of fresh strawberry cream. The cake tastes really wonderful; not too heavy and not too sweet.
No wonder, since Sallay’s standards are high. As soon as she notices a mistake, she acts. She changes the empty honey container on our table right away, and she inspects the birthday cake for a client one last time before it is collected. She does this not because she is pushy or strict but because quality matters for her.
“I am not a classic chef, I need partners,” Sallay says, while she looks towards her team of bakers and waitresses respectfully. Sallay is only 27 years old and a mother of three children of two, four and six years. She needs good management skills for both her private and her professional life.
Sallay loves her Cake Shop and baking very much – although she only began baking as a hobby. Already as a child she liked to watch her mother bake, she decorated cakes and she learned the right technique of kneading from her grandmother. As a young woman, she decided to go in the commercial direction, and studied economics.
However, she decided to make her favourite spare-time activity her profession, and started to bake for a café in District II until more and more patisseries and cafés began asking for her desserts. She also began to work for and counsel catering companies such as Tchibo and McCafé.
“The Cake Shop is actually the smallest part of my work but it’s my favourite job with which I still have a lot of plans,” Sallay tells us. “To be honest, I cannot fit in here everything that I would like to do.”
However, many things do fit in – among others there are regular workshops. These are usually organised in Hungarian, with some in Danish and French. If you are interested in a workshop in English or German, it can be arranged. “Our team does not consist of skilled workers and trained pastry chefs. Many have similar backgrounds as I do. They have studied something completely different but never lost their love for baking and have preserved their intellect too. Thanks to their studies and training many of my employees speak several languages.”
The topic of the workshops changes from month to month. In the summer, feasts such as weddings and birthday parties for children are on the program, while in autumn the workshops are oriented more towards seasonal baking. If you have further ideas for workshop topics, Sallay and her team would be happy to hear them.
The young mother says the process of the workshops is uncomplicated and people-oriented. “There is no educational lesson, we rather work together on something. In our small groups of eight participants we share the method ’rules instead of recipes’, which I developed and we use in Cake Shop.
“These 28 golden rules are about paying attention rather to ratios than measurements in order to create perfect dishes, which is especially important in baking.”
She offers the example of a chocolate cake that they want to prepare in a gluten-free way. Instead of removing the ingredients that contain gluten from the original recipe, she takes the rest of the ingredients and combines them in a new way, adding further ingredients that match (for example almonds, honey, mint) to create something completely new.
Sallay would like to detail this “science of baking” in a book she is writing. Don’t expect a usual recipe book. The focus will be cooking and baking with intuition, with the help of the golden rules.
If you are longing for sweets, you can have your own individual cake customised at the Cake Shop, for any occasion. “It does not matter if someone has special wishes or, quite to the contrary, no specific idea, but at least knows in what direction the tastes should be heading – we will think about it and create something nice together. Of course, the more time we have, the better, but it also happened already that we had to conjure a birthday cake within half an hour.”
Sallay and her team would never accept such an order if they knew they would be unable to fulfil it due to lack of time. Ideally they need about a week for planning and realisation.
They plan to open three more Cake Shops in the next five years. One thing is for sure: they will guarantee heavenly delights for their clients.
Cake Shop Budapest
József Attila utca 12, District V
Open Monday to Friday 8am-8pm,
Saturday 10am-8pm, Sunday 10am-6pm.
Tel.: (+36) 30 721-0773
To apply for the workshops, phone (+36) 30 721-0773, (+36) 30 303-1407), email at email@example.com or Facebook message.
They begin at 6pm. The fee is HUF 8,500.