If you thought that chimney cakes filled with ice-cream were all the rage, you have not been to Hoppácska yet. The recently opened snack bar has taken the traditional Hungarian dessert to a whole new level: they are not only adding deliciously different fillings, but they have even broken the belief that chimney cakes necessarily have to be eaten sweet.
We know it primarily from the Christmas markets and other touristic places: chimney cakes (watch out for the Hungarian word kürtőskalács) are one of the nation’s most popular sweet bakes. They were traditionally baked on an open fire, waving long stripes of dough on a wooden rod, but today they are rather prepared on an electrical grill.
The ready-baked yeast dough is coated with butter and rolled in sugar, and best eaten while still warm. The method has hardly changed over the centuries, up until recently.
Making a good recipe even better
Sebestyén Nagy and Zsolt Hopp had a burning idea how to make chimney cakes even better: simply fill in the delicious treat with even more delicious ingredients. This is crystal clear!
However, Nagy and Hopp did not stop there, they began to experiment with heavier fillings too. They also changed the recipe of the dough a little, adding a modicum of salt instead of the sugar – and that’s it.
The salty chimney cakes taste something like pizza dough and it opens a whole new world of possible fillings for the consumers to enjoy.
Nagy and Hopp have been offering their innovative chimney cake dishes at their first very own eatery for the past two months. Hoppácska is the name of the small snack shop with a fancy-free interior, and it’s situated in the largest restaurant district of Budapest, Ráday utca.
The establishment primarily attracts workers from the nearby offices and tourists taking a stroll.
The menu card includes both natural sweet and salty chimney cakes, and several simple fillings but also some premium ones. From the simple ones you can choose a sweet roll filled with delicious tiramisu cream or forest berry sauces, or a salty roll filled with Hungarian lecsó or a creamy mushroom sauce.
The premium fillings have much more refined recipes. If you have a sweet tooth, definitely try the white chocolate mousse served with whole pistachios, or perhaps the dark chocolate covered with a layer of home-made peanut butter and decorated with salty peanuts.
Another sweet contestant is the filling made with caramelised pears in a vanilla sauce with apple mousse.
To try rather something salty we suggest the traditional Bavarian white sausage filling with sour cabbage cooked in beer, bacon pieces and mustard – the German-Hungarian – or, excuse me, Bavarian-Hungarian – friendship can hardly have a better culinary symbol than this original combination.
You can also try the Italian meatballs with a piquant tomato sauce, or the delicate steak bites, which are also some of the offered fillings. Whichever, Nagy and Hopp believe that it’s very important to prepare them all from fresh ingredients without any artificial additives.
The tubular kürtőskalács are cut in half after baking and only one side is filled in. You can use the empty side for spooning out some of the filling, or you can stick it to the filled side and eat it just like a sandwich.
Even though some Hungarians may feel that a chimney cake with a salty slant is an unforgiveable crime against the traditional national cuisine, it’s still worth trying the imaginative creations of the small snack bar. Furthermore, the salty premium fillings are really satisfying and, considering the low prices, the filled cakes can be a cost-effective snack for a quick lunch or dinner to go.
Another tip: quench your thirst after eating with one of the delicious natural syrups sold in Hoppácska. Besides the usual fruit sorts they have syrups made of ginger, pine buds and even from different kind of trees, such as robinia or linden. It sounds unusual but they have a surprisingly refreshing aroma.
As with many popular autumn recipes, the exact origin of chimney cakes is also somewhat shady. We know that the sweet cake’s history goes back to the 18th century and we also know that its place of origin was Transylvania, in present-day Romania, or Erdély as the Hungarians call this area. However, both the Saxons in Burzenland Transylvania and the Hungarian settlers in the neighbouring Székely Land claim to have invented the dessert themselves. The true origin of chimney cakes has not been clarified to this day, but this does not make them any less delicious.
Chimney cakes without a filling: HUF 300
Fillings: HUF 290-690
Extra ingredients: HUF 70 each