Tokaji Cream Cake from the Bakehouse

Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews

A modern pairing of traditional Hungarian sweet wine and pastry

One of the richest, creamiest, lightest, and most unusual of the many great Hungarian baked goods we’ve worked on over the last 10 or 12 years at the Bakehouse. The Tokaji Cream Cake—i.e. Cream Cake in the style of Tokai—has quietly been one of co-managing partner Amy Emberling’s favorites for years now. The recipe for the Tokaji (pronounced “toe-kai”) cream cake came to us from our friends at Auguszt, one of the oldest and best-known bakeries in Budapest—it opened for the first time in 1870 and is now in its fifth generation. It pulls together two of Hungary’s most prominent culinary contributions—pastry-making and wine. While the recipe is relatively recent for the family, it really could have been on special all the way back in the 1870s.

If you don’t already know it, Tokaji Aszú is an elegant sweet white wine from the Tokaj region of Hungary. The oldest official wine-producing district in Europe, Tokai today lies partly in Hungary and partly in Slovakia. The region, once part of the Hungarian Empire, was divided in June of 1920 with the Treaty of Trianon—in the post-WWI treaty the Kingdom of Hungary was cut down to less than one-third of its former size, its military was restricted in numbers, and it lost access to the sea. Many ethnic Hungarians in the newly created Austria, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Romania continued to identify with Hungary and all this has remained a national point of resentment for many to this day. Grape growing and winemaking in the area go back to Roman times, around 300 A.D. The wine is made from grapes that have been infected with the mold botrytis cinerea—it’s a fungus that gets on the grapes, shrivels them, and condenses the sugars into something really special. It’s the same sort of “noble rot” that makes other classic sweet wines of this sort so special—think German Spatlese Riesling, French Sauterne, or Tuscan Vin Santo (all of which, I think, would pair well with a Manchester!).

The Bakehouse Tokaji Cream Cake is elegant, light, fresh, and pretty all at once. We make the cream filling with the Tokaji wine 5 Puttyonos Aszú, a little sugar, Guernsey whipping cream, and a touch of gelatin. We layer it with a very light vanilla chiffon cake and fresh raspberries. As a pastry lover might say in Hungary, Kérjük, élvezze! (Please enjoy!)