Citizens, Kürtős Kalács (sometimes transliterated kurtosh kalach) or Chimney Cakes were originally baked over hot coals by Hungarians residing in Transylvania, Romania. It is a spit cake specific to the Hungarian-speaking regions in Romania, particularly the Szekely land. Once a festive treat, it is now part of everyday meals. There are even whole industries devoted to this favored delight!
Kürtőskalács is made from sweet, yeast dough (raised dough), of which a strip is spun and then wrapped around a truncated cone–shaped baking spit, and rolled in granulated sugar. It is roasted over charcoal while basted with melted butter, until its surface cooks to a golden-brown color.
During the baking process the sugar stuck on the kürtőskalács caramelises and forms a shiny, crispy crust. The surface of the cake can then be topped with additional ingredients such as ground walnut or powdered cinnamon.
The first known record that hints at a family of cakes baked by rotating spit over cinders dates back to Medieval times (about 1450) and is found in a manuscript from Heidelberg. The description mentions a strip of raised dough that has to be wound in a helix shape around a baking spit, and brushed with egg yolk before baking.
The first known recipe of Kürtőskalács originates from Transylvania, included in the 1784 cookbook of Countess Mária Mikes of Zabola (“‘kürtős kaláts’ à la Mrs. Poráni”).
My affectation is to use vanilla sugar for an additional level of complexity to this delicious recipe, Citizens! Of course, I also use the traditional lard in the pastry dough – no butter shortcuts here!
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