What is a chimney cake?
Chimney cake is the English name used for the traditional Hungarian / Romanian product called Kurtoskalacs or as it is called in Czech & Slovakia, Trdelnik.
The name Chimney cake is often used because the original names are too hard to pronounce by non-native speakers. When the baked Chimney cakes are removed from the cooking roll, smoke can be seen rising from the middle of the cylindrical pastry, which resembles a smoking chimney!
Where does Chimney cake originate from?
The name Chimney cake refers to the traditional yeast dough product that originates in Transylvania. Transylvania used to be part of the Kingdom of Hungary and today, 1.2 million ethnic Hungarians live in Romania, making up 6.5% of the total population. There are often heated debates between Hungarian and Romanian people about the origins of the product and who invented it. Geographically, Transylvania is in Romania, BUT Chimney cake has historically been made by Hungarians, living in Transylvania or other parts of Romania.
What is a Chimney cone?
A traditional Chimney cake is cylindrical and hollow and once baked, is sprinkled with a topping which sticks to the caramelised sugar. Traditional Chimney cakes are very popular during the colder months, especially at October fests and Christmas markets, when people stand in line for long periods of time to get a warm, freshly baked treat. Historically, as the weather became warmer, the sales of the traditional Chimney cake would decline. In 2011, we went on a business trip to Turkey. Turkey can be a hot country and so it was always in the back of our minds that the product wouldn’t be suitable for the climate. After some brainstorming, we decided that filling the product with ice cream might make it a more attractive warmer weather product. To make the ice cream easier to eat, we re-engineered the cylindrical traditional cooking roll to a cone shape and the Chimney cone was born! The invention of the Chimney cone (or the doughnut ice cream cone as it was tagged when a photo of one went viral) has extended the selling season for Chimney cake vendors, allowing them to sell all year round!
What is the recipe for Chimney cake?
There are several variations of the Chimney cake recipe. Some recipes for Chimney cake include eggs. In some countries, if egg is used in a recipe, the health regulations are stricter, and dough can be forbidden to be prepared inside a food truck or trailer. Therefore, when we developed our Kurtos kalacs EASY mix with a professional food technologist, we added natural enzymes to the mix so eggs could be left out of the final recipe. One of the most important ingredients in the Chimney cake recipe is the flour. It can take several attempts to begin with to find the right flour to make the perfect Chimney cake. Flour needs to have a high gluten content so that the dough has a lot of elasticity. If not, the dough can be very hard to roll which is time consuming as it will no stretch easily to the correct length, or the dough easily splits and breaks during preparation. The finished Chimney cake should be crispy and crunchy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside and if the correct flour is used with our unique Chimney cake recipe, you will achieve this.
How do you make a Chimney cake?
Chimney cake is not a ‘fast food’ product. It takes some skill, time, patience and of course love to prepare and bake. A dough, containing yeast is kneaded in a commercial kneading machine. Once kneaded, the dough should not be too sticky or too dry. After rising for one hour or until the dough has doubled in size, the dough is split into Chimney cake portion sizes and left again to rise. The Chimney cake portion is then rolled into a long even strip and wrapped around a purpose made cooking roll which is often made of untreated beech wood or stainless steel. The Chimney cake cooking roll is then rolled onto the worksurface until the strips of dough bond together and the dough is painted with oil and sprinkled with sugar. The Chimney cake dough is then left for the third time to rise. Once risen, the cooking roll is placed onto the purpose-built Chimney cake grill or into a Chimney cake oven, where it will bake. Depending on the thickness of the dough, it takes 4-6 minutes to bake and for the sugar to caramelise. Once the sugar has melted, the Chimney cake is removed from the Chimney cake baking machine, sprinkled with a topping of the customer’s choice and removed from the cooking roll to be served to the customer.
Are Chimney cakes sweet or savoury?
Traditional Chimney cakes are sweet. The dough is coated in sugar before baking and during the baking process, the sugar melts and a topping is sprinkled onto the melted sugar. Common toppings include coconut, chocolate, nuts or cinnamon sugar. In 2013, after two years of making (and eating) thousands of sweet Chimney cakes, we just couldn’t stomach them anymore. I made a comment to Matjaz that “wouldn’t it be good, to have a savoury or salty version of a chimney cake” Matjaz loves a challenge and so he spent a few days experimenting with the dough and savoury ingredients. In 2013, we invented the FIRST savoury Chimney cake. Then when we developed the Chimney cone, we made a savoury version of that too. The cone shape is the perfect size and shape to put ingredients such as salad, vegetables, pasta and meat inside. The dough recipe we provide is not too sweet or too salty, which means that the same dough can be used to produce both versions resulting in less dough waste and a faster production.
Dober Kürtős – The Chimney cake, Chimney cones, Trdelnik, & Baumstriezel experts