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Kürtöskalács Chimney Cake

Kürtöskalács Chimney Cake

A unique Romanian pastry often served at weddings is a fun-looking dessert to serve at dinner parties. The slightly sweetened yeast dough can be sprinkled with a walnut cinnamon-sugar topping.
By Swathi Iyer


I saw an oven for the first time when I was in Sweden, my mom had never baked a single thing. I thus grew up in a house where baking was an unknown art. The first real thing I baked was banana bread with help of one of our family friends.

When I came across this Kürtoskalács aka chimney cake, a traditional wedding pastry made in Transylvania (Romania), I got hooked. Some of you may have memories associated with this pastry as it is one of the most traditional as well as important street foods in Eastern European countries. Traditionally it is made on a grill or brick oven; nowadays it is made in electric oven.

Another coiled treat is the famous Spanish coiled breakfast pastry Ensaimda, a pastry from Majorca, Spain. Even though the traditional recipe uses lard, I used butter here without a filling. First yeast dough is rolled out until extremely thin, butter is spread on one side and the dough is rolled into a rope and then shaped into a coil.

Both are brioche kind of yeast dough made it into a sweetened treat. Chimney cake or Kürtoskalács is famous street food as well as common pastry made in the backyard grill. Since I don’t have grill in my hand, I used both baked and roasted version of chimney cake, both turned out be delicious. I used my only one rolling pin which I have it my hand to make chimney cake, if you want you can make wooden spit here is link to make it by yourself. I tried twice and both time it worked like a charm. So don’t worry about putting your rolling pin in the oven.

4.6 from 7 reviews
Kürtöskalács Chimney Cake
A unique Romanian pastry is a fun dessert to serve at dinner parties. The slightly sweetened yeast dough is sprinkled with a walnut cinnamon-sugar topping.
Recipe Type: Dessert, Baking
Serves: 4
  • 1¾ cups (8½ oz) (240 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour
  • 2¼ teaspoons (1 packet) (7 gm) active dry yeast OR 2 teaspoons instant yeast OR 14 gm (½ oz) fresh yeast
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz)(30 gm) sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon (3/4 gm) salt
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons (1½ oz) (45 gm) melted butter
  • ½ cup (120 ml) milk, lukewarm temperature
  • For brushing the rolling pin
  • melted butter
  • sugar
For the topping:
  • Approximately ½ cup (3½ oz) (100gm) sugar
For walnut sugar topping
  • About 1 cup (4 oz) (115 gm) ground walnuts, mixed with about ½ cup (3½ oz) (100 gm) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) (1/4 oz) (6 gm) cinnamon
  1. If you are using active dry yeast, add ½ teaspoon sugar to lukewarm milk and set aside for 5-10 minutes until it proofs (becomes foamy).
  2. You can use the other yeast types directly along with the flour.
  3. In a large bowl combine, flour, sugar and salt. To this add egg, milk, melted butter, and yeast Stir the mixture until it comes together to form a dough, and then knead for about five minutes.
  4. It will be sticky. Don’t be tempted to add any flour. Grease your hand if needed.
  5. Transfer to a well greased container
  6. Allow the dough to rise for 60 minutes at room temperature until doubled in volume
  7. Prepare the rolling pins by covering them with aluminum foil, do at least two or three layers, to protect the pins from burning in the oven.
  8. Make sure to cover the rolling pins very well. Brush them with melted butter.
  9. The risen dough after 60 minutes.
  10. Punch down the dough and divide into 4 equal parts about 4 oz (115 gm) of each.
  11. On a well floured surface spread one portion of the dough
  12. Shape into ⅙ inch (4 mm) thick square-shaped sheet.
  13. Using a pizza cutter cut the dough into a long ribbons of about ½ inch (13 mm) wide.
  14. Wrap one end of the dough strip around the spit/rolling pin, tucking in the end so the dough doesn’t unwind.
  15. Keep the dough very thin (under ¼ inch (6 mm)) as you stretch and wind it on the rolling pun. Then roll the whole thing slightly on the counter top to flatten it/press it together.
  16. Brush with melted butter
  17. Roll in sugar
  18. Place in roasting pan and bake in a preheated moderately hot oven 375°F/190C/gas mark 5 for 25 minutes.
  19. If using roast function (375F/190C) in the oven it will take about 20 minutes.
  20. If you are grilling (broiling) over the fire cooking time is about six minutes, until it starts to take on a dark golden color. Turn the rolling pin at once least once (or more) throughout baking time to ensure uniform cooking.
  21. When cake is done roll it in sugar again
  22. If you are using other toppings brush more butter, then roll the finished cake in the toppings of your choice.
  23. Tap the mold on a table top to release the cake and set it up right to cool.

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View Comments (34)
  • It is a really nice site. I especially like the authentic recipes, and that they’re in English. I found you loose a lot in translation when you’re unfamiliar with the language. Thank you

  • That is NOT a Romanian pastry.. you can find it in Romania ?? Yes. But is mostly made by the Hungarian living there.Get your facts straight ;)

  • Found a reference to Kurtoskalacs chimney cakes in a novel (Origin) by Dan Brown & searched on-line to learn more. So thank you & am going to bake this recipe soon. Tony F.

  • That plastry is delicious but how to remove it from the rolling pin withiuth breaking it? It sticks to the foil, and i buttered that foil before i placem the strip of daugh on it.

  • Zofia gently tap before removing form the rolling pin. It should comes out without sticking. May be you can coat two layers of butter before attaching the dough.

  • Hi! I sure like your helpful hints on the rolling pins to make these cakes.Do you sit them on a pan so pastry is not touching the pan? Or how is it done?
    Iam going to try this sometime.

  • Glad I found the recipe, although this cake is Hungarian, like the name of the cake itself. It is a Hungarian word and recipe.

  • Says it serves 4 – however im confused by the directions. Step 10 says to separate the dough into 4equal 4oz parts, then roll it out and cut into strips to roll onto the pin. Does one strip make up the whole cake – or are there multiple strips?

    Sorry if the question is confusing.

  • I’m Romanian, and as much as I love Kürt?skalács, I can tell you for a fact that they are not Romanian. They’re traditional Hungarian sweets, as the name suggests. They’re only served in Romania in tourist hotspots because Hungarians are the largest minority group in the country, living mostly in the Western part. They’re the largest minority group because the entire Western part of the country used to be Hungarian territory until Romania signed a secret treaty with some Allied forces asking for this territory in exchange for joining them in WWI. This is and always will be a traditional Hungarian treat. It’s very dear to them, and I feel it’s unfair for you to claim it’s Romanian. It’s part of their history, and Romania had nothing to do with their history until WWI, save for some military hostilities I’m personally very ashamed of. And you’ll hear nationalist Romanians say otherwise, but please bear in mind that they weren’t even born when the hostilities took place, and they were taught communist propaganda in school. Like all wars, WWI was a free-for-all, and what happened was truly shameful. Let’s not make it worse by taking credit for their cuisine. There are various other types of spit cake, too, but none of them are Romanian.

    • Oana Cazacu, I have no idea, how old I you, but apparently, you have no knowledge about the Romanian history and about the fact that Transylvania, was ALWAYS occupied by Romanian population, and the Hungarian population was always a minority in Transylvania. Romania at the end of WWI claim Transylvania as a Romanian territory, but lost others! I am not a Romanian nationalist, but I know my family history! My family had to leave their own home due to the Hungarian Horty nationalists and move into Romania! You should be start going into an archive library and start learning your history, before you throw words out of your mouth! KurtosKalacs is a hungarian kalacs, but it is specific only in Transylvania, not in Hungary! So it is part of Romanian cuisine, from a Romanian minority!!!

      • I support that, even if you’re a turist on the streets of Budapest you’ll find stands that sell this sweet treat they have signs where it’s written that it’s a traditional Transylvanian sweet (it may have a hungarian name given by the minority from Trsanylvania) but it’s a Transylvanian one (regardless if it’s a Romanian, Hungarian or it has Autonomy)

      • What you write is just not true and Oana Cazacu said it correctly. maybe you should check your knowledge. My family is from Transylvania and it was part of Hungary until the peace treaty in Trianon, France divided up a big chunk of Hungary to neighboring countries. And by the way, kürtoskalács, is a hungarikum. And yes, you can find it in Hungary too,because it’s Hungarian.

  • What is the feel of outer and inner crust when we eat this pastry? Is it crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside??

  • Dear Swathi,
    the chimney cake (kurtoskalacs) is not Romanian. This is a Hungarian pastry, Transylvania’s population in 90 % Hungarian. Romania took Transylvania from Hungary in the 1st World War, so many Hungarian people live in Romania now.
    Also the Romanian people refer to the chimney cake as “the Hungarian kalacs”.
    So please correct this in your article.
    Otherwise this is a very nice thing of you, writing about this wonderful pastry.

    Best regards,


    • 90% Hungarian?
      Maybe down your street!
      Covasna is the only county where they make 70% of the population, overall in Transylvania only they represent only 15%
      In the whole of Romania – they do not count, they are a minority

  • The kürtöskalács aka chimney cake is hungarian street food. The transylvanian hungarians bakes these tasty treats as well. Once baked, they are sprinkled with cinnamon sugar most of the time but can be found with cocoa powder, grated coconut, chopped nuts or even drizzled with chocolate. Best to eat when still warm. When I go to Hungary, to visit my sister, I alwaus by these simple but satisfying treats for my kids and for myself of course. This recipe is tasty but baking a chimney cake in an oven is not exactly like the original but quite close.

  • Sorrry to interrupting you but its a traditional HUNGARIAN food. Székely Land is part of Hungary in Romanian area, but the most important, that the chimmey cale isnt from Romania its from Hungary.

  • This is everything but a Romanian thing. Get your facts straight, it’s all over the internet, it’s Hungarian. Jesus Christ…

  • I made these using paper towel rolls covered with foil and greased with melted butter. I did stand them up to bake. However most of them ended up as volcanoes and not Chimneys. What did I do wrong? They were still delicious!

  • Hi, would also like to point out its Hungarian, not Romanian. It would be good if this could be updated so as not to cause confusion for other readers.

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