Introducing Kürtős Kalács: European pastries with a twist…literally
Kürtős Kalács, or chimney cakes, are traditional Hungarian pastries baked & delivered daily to our stores.
By John Nava
Just a second…I’ve got to finish this pastry. Sampling new products is all part of my job as a buyer and it’s hard to type with sugary fingers, you know!
Ok, all done. These Kürtős Kalács, or chimney cakes, made in San Jose by new vendor Sandor Godina of Enni Jó, are dangerously addictive, especially considering they’re delivered daily to our stores, just hours after they’re baked and rolled in toppings such as cinnamon & sugar, cheese, sesame seeds, coconut or walnuts, to name a few. They don’t get much more fresh than that!
Sandor, who I call Sandor the Great, is a brand new vendor, and we couldn’t wait any longer to tell you about his unique and twisty pastry. We’re even going to give you one for free this week (Mar. 23-29, 2011) with your coupon when you spend $30 or more.
Sandor moved to California from Hungary just five years ago. He didn’t speak English at the time, but talking to him today you would think it’d been a second language most of his life. You’d also think that because of the quality of his sweet or savory tube-shaped cakes that he’d been baking his whole life, but this, too, is a new venture for him.
“The idea to introduce chimney cakes to the Bay Area first started when I lost my job in 2010,” said Sandor. “I was reminiscing with a friend about childhood memories of home and we started discussing one of my favorite childhood pastries, the Kürtős Kalács.
“There was only one place in Hungary to buy chimney cakes and they were only available in the summertime,” continued Sandor. “The wait for summer was terrible, and waiting in line for the chimney cake seemed like an eternity, but when I finally got the sweet, delicious, fresh treat in my hands it was all worth it. “
Sandor explained that chimney cakes are traditional Hungarian pastries that have been made since the nomadic groups first set foot in Hungary. The dough was baked using the warm embers of nomads’ fires. They’re called Kürtős Kalács, or chimney cakes, because the pastries are a tube shape and the smoke from the nomad’s fire would escape through the top of the pastry, resembling a chimney.
Though the creation and baking of chimney cakes is a little more sophisticated now-a-days, Kürtős Kalács are still one of Hungary’s favorite treats. The pastry has recently gained popularity in Hungarian cafes and among street vendors, but even with the easy access, children and adults still line up and wait patiently to purchase and watch chimney cakes being made.
Sandor’s company, Enni Jó, meaning good eats, is based in San Jose. He worked for nearly a year perfecting the recipe, baking hundreds of cakes a month to try to replicate the scents and flavors of the Kürtős Kalács he had captured in a childhood memory.
“We would taste a batch and I would think, ‘this is the one!’ but Sandor knew it wasn’t exactly what he was looking for,” said Csilla Kelemen, Sandor’s business partner and family friend. “His goal was to perfect the technique of baking a pastry from an ancient recipe, but also to adjust it just so to suit the American taste.”
Well, he’s won over the Sigona’s taste. Sandor’s chimney cakes are baked on pegs in a rotisserie fashion, and are made with the best-quality ingredients. They are low in sugar, contain virtually no bad fats and are 100% preservative free. Though they’ll be fine a day later, the best time to eat the cakes is when they’re fresh – that’s why we have them delivered daily. It’s hard to resist that right-out-of-the-oven fresh and soft pastry so you shouldn’t have a problem eating it the day you buy it (or get it free with your coupon and $30+ purchase!).
Besides being perfectly scrumptious on its own, Sandor has a few serving suggestions that will keep you coming back for more.
“I like to use the savory flavors, such as the cheese or sesame seed, as sandwich bread by slicing the cake in half to make two slices. Those flavors are also good dipped in mustard,” said Sandor. “As for the sweet flavors, you can slice them into rings and fill them with ice cream and fruit for an easy dessert.”
We’re excited to add Sandor the Great to our list of small, local vendors and to have the opportunity to help introduce this unique, fantastic European treat to the Bay Area. Don’t miss out on this treat, especially when it’s free for you this week!