CAKE REVIEW #2


So, the second of this grand (some might say seminal) series has been delayed by a very unfortunate discovery. See, the common-or-garden cake is not the only baked good the cukraszda has to offer. On worse for wear mornings – of which, due to the thoroughly clement pricing of boozables around these parts there are a few – one naturally prefers the soothing combo starch n’ carbohydrate to confectioner’s cream, egg custard and the like. Thus, one would choose the scone-ish pogácsa, a cannon ball of salty pastry topped with cheese or similar. Some days ago, Joe discovered that these leadweight carb-bombs featured pork fat shortening pretty high up on their list of ingredients. Therefore, in the attempt to retain what is left of my hard-won vegetarianism (for I have no doubt that I am inadvertantly absorbing pork fat by osmosis most days), myself and the pogi-for-short can no longer be friends.

As far as cake goes, however, things are still grand (and if they’re not, and, in fact there are morsels of duck tail studded through every one, please don’t tell me). Today is Mikulás, which I shall post about at length later. Suffice to say, excitement levels at Kazinczy utca 7 were pretty high – this not only being something a bit like an extra Christmas but also the kind of aimed-at-children tradition-fest with a PG-rated folktale backstory that I’m a total sucker for. Occasion enough, then, for a trip to Muvesz, the fin-de-siecle, confectioner’s cream paradise that I may (ahem) have mentioned previously.

I had francia kremes, a tower of pastry, egg custard, confectioner’s cream and caramel glaze which is now, I’m almost certain, my very favourite cake.

CAKE REVIEW # 1

So, whilst Joe and I were wandering the ters, utcas, körúts and uts* of Budapest today like a simultaneously awe-struck, embarassed and disorientated Hydra, our conversation naturally turned to the relative merits of possible “regular items” on our respective blogs (on my part, irregularly and lacklustrely updated) internet soapboxes. Yes, it did. Well, my initial suggestion was Jennifer “Mind Your Head” Hodgson’s Budapest Health and Safety Watch, recalling the public information film I was made to watch in primary school, which, in retrospect, I think was trying to instill community spirit in us seven year-olds by making some kind of tenuous link between potholes in pavements and the importance of paying council tax. And, certainly, the HS awareness shown around these parts leaves much to be desired.

However these matters are likely to be of more specific interest to me due to the neigh-on constant peril caused by Bambi legs, clumsiness and an utter lack of spatial awareness than to anyone else. So, my better judgement dictated Cake Reviews (which may well extend to pastries, scones and fried dough items too). After six days here, I admit there’s a bit of a backlog, but here goes.

1. Eszrerházy Torta, Muvesz
Now this was no common-or-garden bakery fodder. This was cake in the service of my 25th birthday, a walnut sponge n’ creme construction. Joe got Black Forest Gateau (how gauche!) and assumed that I was disappointed with mine. No, this torta was a refined lady with a linebacker’s gait. Good.

2. Almas Pite, Jókai utca
Now this was breakfast the day we were very graciously shunted out of our apartment at 8am by a painter and decorator chap. Know us? Well, then you can fill in the fun we had at meet n’ greet time: he spoke German and Hungarian and our linguistic arsenal amounts to a smattering of French, Italian and Spanish. Despite three years of German at secondary school (thanks, Mr. Tordoff) I could not avert a wagon train of misunderstanding and social farce. For those interested, we now have a “feature wall” in buttermilk yellow.

Anyway, back to the cake. We stumbled around doing pretty poor impersonations of hunter gatherers until we arrived at this bakery on Jókai utca. Hungarian bakeries, like their butcher’s shops, don’t make too much of a distinction between “eat here” and “takeaway”, meaning we found ourselves pulling up a kid-sized stool around a micro table in the corner of the shop. The coffee came with a scoop of Dream Topping-esque fluff deposited on top and, more importantly, the cake was a wet-ish, savoury sandwich of not-too-sweet stewed apples and some kind of pastry – rough puff is what my pasty cheffing expertise is telling me. Word to baked good enthusiasts: bakeries in Hungarian are marvellous. Their cakes are the complex, day-glo, articulated lorry type you really only see in the UK on a cake stand as part of a £25 afternoon tea, and they also do biscuits and something a bit like a mini scone (pogy, haha!) by the kilo.

*Hmm, are these italicised intrusions getting annoying yet? It’s not just me pulling some cosmopolitan show-off moves. Of course, it’s partially that, but it’s also providing around 97% of my non-transactionally/socially necessitated language practice. Linguaphone, up yours! Also, you don’t seem to have a Magyar edition…