Kurtoskalacs: A Transylvanian Treat!

Roasting Kurtoskalacs

I’m back from Transylvania and I just had to share with you my favorite food discovery! We ate these kurtoskalacs twice and I wish I would have had a chance to eat them a few more times!

Kurtoskalacs are a traditional Hungarian pastry and, depending on who you talk to, they are the oldest Hungarian pastry. History and Geography are two of my worst subjects but Transylvania, which is now part of Romania, was once part of Hungary. Or something like that. Anyway, there is still a sizable Hungarian population in Transylvania and these yummy kurtoskalacs, which I believe originate from Transylvania, are widely available.

Kurtoskalacs Stand

So here’s what I was able to determine after eating some of these tasty Transylvanian treats and watching part of the assembly process. They are made with a yeasted dough, similar to a sweet roll dough. The dough is rolled or cut into long strips and then wrapped around a cylindrical mold. Then it gets brushed with oil and rolled in sugar.

Making Kurtoskalacs

Now for the interesting part. They get cooked over open coals, kind of like the way we roast marshmallows.

Making KurtoskalacsThe spirals of dough are watched carefully and turned so that each part gets evenly browned. When they are perfectly caramelized, they are taken off the coals and rolled in a topping such as crushed nuts, cinnamon, coconut or colored sprinkles. They don’t have to be rolled in the additional topping, it’s up to you. They taste great with just the plain caramelized sugar glaze!

After the additional topping is added, the pastry is slid off cylindrical mold and allowed to cool briefly before being placed in a paper bag and sold to the next lucky customer. The regular-sized kurtoskalacs look huge but since they are hollow, looks are deceiving. I could easily eat one by myself 🙂

Purchasing Kurtoskalacs

They also sell them in a smaller size. The small ones are great if you want to sample a few different flavors at once. The first time we visited the kurtoskalacs stand, we bought the small ones and sampled three different flavors: coconut, cinnamon, and pecan. They were all great but I think I liked coconut the best. Our friends tried one with sesame seeds and loved it!

Purchasing Mini Kurtoskalacs

The second time we visited the kurtoskalacs stand, I decided I had to get a large one. This time we tried it plain and I think it was my overall favorite. The sugar coating is just right…not too crunchy and not too sticky. And the bread is light and airy with a texture that reminded me of the inside of a glazed donut.

But my favorite thing about kurtoskalacs is the way they unravel as you eat them!

Nicole with Pastry

Since I wasn’t able to get photos of the bakers rolling the pastry dough onto the molds, I decided to see if anyone had posted a kurtoskalacs video on the Web. Sure enough, one of my favorite bloggers has a great little video clip of the kurtoskalacs being made. Go visit Ms. Adventures in Italy to check it out.

I also found that another one of my favorite foodbloggers has some experience with kurtoskalacs! Check out the photos and description at Habeas Brulee.

As for the rest of my Transylvanian adventures, you can check out my photos on Flickr. I have only uploaded about half of them but the rest should be up by tomorrow.

See you soon!

  1. Curt

    These look and sound great… All the caramelization with lots of exterior.. I love the open coals thing; anything grilled has to be good!

    Nice photos. I’m ready to try one!

    4:10 pm  Oct 11th, 2007
  2. Ruby

    I would LOVE to try this Nicole. I love sweet bread and what a fascinating way to make it! Thanks for the thorough descriptions and photos. I would like my order plain, they way you ate it!

    4:13 pm  Oct 11th, 2007
  3. Sara, Ms. Adventures in Italy

    Yum, cinnamon was my favorite, but they didn’t have coconut, so that’s a must-try! I liked that it wasn’t completely sweet (the bread) so you could just keep unrolling it and scarfing it down. 🙂

    I can’t wait to see more Transylvanian pics…what were you doing there?

    5:07 pm  Oct 11th, 2007
  4. Coleen B

    As always, I enjoyed your photos. I especially liked the one of the old woman sitting on the bench with the flowers! The kurtoskalacs looked so yummy. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    5:14 pm  Oct 11th, 2007
  5. Peter

    Great find…there ARE foods out there yet to be discovered!

    7:28 pm  Oct 11th, 2007
  6. bethany actually

    Oh my GOSH those look delicious. Hmm, maybe I should go eat lunch. Glad you’re home safely!

    7:37 pm  Oct 11th, 2007
  7. Terry B

    The kurtoskalacs look amazing, Nicole. And you look quite happy unraveling that one. Do they have a smoky taste at all, being cooked over open coals? Oh, yeah. And welcome back! You’ve been quite the vagabond of late.

    9:09 pm  Oct 11th, 2007
  8. Jason

    Kind of like a fruit roll up or “fruit by the foot,” except it’s not sugary fruit, but sugary bread. I dare you to make those.

    9:15 pm  Oct 11th, 2007
  9. Sandy

    I am wondering how I could do that. Sounds so good, and I am with you, I think that just sugar would be best.

    By the way, do they celebrate Halloween in Transylvania?

    9:51 pm  Oct 11th, 2007
  10. Jason

    By the way, don’t forget to purchase a Radioactive Kangaroo shirt. You know you want one.

    10:54 pm  Oct 11th, 2007
  11. Deborah

    What an incredibly yummy treat! So, you’re going to teach us how to make them, now, right? 🙂

    1:02 am  Oct 12th, 2007
  12. Kalyn

    What could be more fun than traveling around and discovering delicious foods that you’ve never heard of before! Sounds wonderful. (And no dieting while you’re traveling so I could just gobble them up!)

    2:31 am  Oct 12th, 2007
  13. Nicole

    Curt: I figured you’d get a kick out of this because of the grilling aspect 🙂

    Ruby: You would definitely like these!

    Sara: I agree that the cinnamon was pretty tasty! The problem with mine was that they rolled it in just straight cinnamon and it was a little overpowering for me. The coconut was good because it was unsweetened dried coconut, a nice balance to the sugar coating.

    Coleen: Thanks!

    Peter: There were also lots of foods in Romania that I deliberately chose not to discover, such as sour tripe soup 🙂

    Bethany: Yep, managed to make it out of Transylvania without a scratch (or a bite)!

    Terry: The funny thing is that they didn’t taste smoky at all!

    Jason: I’m still working on some of the other things you’ve ‘dared’ me to make! I just have to remember what they were…

    Sandy: If you do some research online, there are a few suggestions for making these at home. Let me know if you end up attempting it! 🙂

    Deborah: Well, I’ve actually seen a few recipes online for these but I’m not really sure what to wrap the dough around. I think this will be one of those things that will only be enjoyed on trips to Hungary or Romania or at Hungarian festivals 🙂

    Kalyn: We ‘discovered’ some not-so-delicious foods while in Romania, too! But I prefer to focus on the yummy things 🙂 Other than the sweets (we tried a few other pastries that were wonderful, too!), my favorite food was the soups. They make these delicious ‘sour soups’ that I need to research and figure out how to make! After a couple of “interesting” restaurant experiences, I mostly stuck to soups, chicken schnitzel and fries. Oh, and lots of pickles! The problem was that it was an organized group tour so we ended up eating lots of meals together as a group. I didn’t have much of a chance to research and find the best places to get the best food. One of the specialties is stuffed cabbage rolls. One time I had them and they were awful. The next time, they were wonderful! I guess I should write another post about the food rather than try to cover everything in this comment 😉

    6:16 am  Oct 12th, 2007
  14. Toni

    Nicole – This is my first “trip” to your blog, and what a delicious way to start! I love traveling, and my grandmother was from Transylvania! (No, not REALLY a vampire!) 😉 I’ve never heard of these pastries, though. Unfortunately, she didn’t bring this recipe with her and make it a part of our family tradition. Too bad, because they look like they’d be fun to unravel and eat!

    6:28 am  Oct 12th, 2007
  15. Nicole

    Toni: So glad you stopped by because now I’ve discovered your wonderful blog! Maybe you know a little about the yummy ‘sour soups’ that I ate while in Transylvania?

    7:36 am  Oct 12th, 2007
  16. Katiez

    Those look warm, flaky and yummy! That’s the very best part of travel – discovering unique fantastic foods! I’d eat a whole big one, no problem…

    1:05 pm  Oct 12th, 2007
  17. Danielle

    Aren’t they good? Dave and I had so much fun eating them when we wandered around fairs in Hungary!

    There’s actually a book about a Hungarian/Transylvanian bank robber that you might like, which talks a bit about Transylvania’s nationality issues.

    3:45 pm  Oct 12th, 2007
  18. Alanna

    Fascinating! I’ve been pouring through some ‘ethnic’ cookbooks and find myself continuously saying, They did THAT with yeast and flour and a handful of other ingredients. Amazing stuff, yeast. And ingenuity.

    11:36 am  Oct 15th, 2007
  19. andreea

    how wonderful. not only did i get to dicover your blog but you have also posted on one of my all time favorite sweets from transylvania. i am personally from brasov, but now in belgium so these have become a rare delicacy. we drive on purpose to one of those street vendors every time i am home 🙂

    8:09 am  Mar 20th, 2008
  20. Richard Reman

    Hi Nicole,

    As a Transylvanian native myself, it brings me great joy to hear you tried our famous kurtoskalacs. I wanted to give you a quick suggestion on trying to make this pastry. One way mom still makes it is on a smaller scale. If you can find some, you can use the stalk of corn (dried and about one foot long) to roll the dough onto. This may be a bit difficult to come by however and you may have to get creative. However since the opening is only about 2 inches wide, you get a mini kurtoskalacs when you are done. Here is the interesting thing to do with it. Fill the hole with whipped creme, preferably home made instead of store bought. We have these every once in a while, and they turn out delicious.


    5:01 pm  Mar 29th, 2008
  21. Bela

    You can find information of baking, ovens, bussiness. Visit http://kurtoskalacshungary.hu for more.

    1:24 am  Apr 28th, 2008
  22. Helena

    I’m portuguese and I was in Transylvania a few weeks ago. I ate kurtoskalacs by Lacu Rosu, it is DELICIOUS! Does anyone knows the recipe?

    7:59 am  Apr 30th, 2008
  23. Christy

    I just stumbled upon your blog when I was looking these things up, trying to figure out what they were. I saw them being cooked on the Chain Bridge over the Danube in Budapest this last weekend and was wild to find out what they were. Unfortunately, I didn’t try one. Shame.

    4:47 am  Jul 10th, 2008
  24. faith

    Hi! Kürtöskalács is my favorite pastry. Im from hungary, if you need the recipe of kürtöskalács I’ll write it down for you. 🙂

    9:17 am  Jul 30th, 2008
  25. Lynda

    Believe it or not, I feel in love with these in Tel Aviv! There is a divine shop called Kurtash and I had never had anything like this delectible, delicious, de-lovely confections in my LIFE! Anyone have a recipe, or how to buy the molds? Or both? Faith, can you write the recipe for us, if you are still looking at this thread…

    4:10 pm  Sep 18th, 2008
  26. DERYN

    Great to see these. I have just come back from Budapest and saw them being made in the Christmas market. After a busy day sightseeing our party were looking forward to trying some as pudding after eating the deliceous savoury outdoor food. Unfortunately we left it too late and the stall was closed, we were all so disappointed. All the other pastries I ate in Hungary were the best I have ever eaten.

    3:13 am  Nov 28th, 2008
  27. steve

    can someone anyone send me the recipe so i can make this delicious cake
    called kurtoskalacs i would be most grateful

    8:33 am  Nov 28th, 2008
  28. Lynda

    Anyone, like Faith, still able to give us this recipe? I really would love it!

    4:16 pm  Nov 28th, 2008
  29. Lynda

    Guess what I found: A Recipe for Kurtoskalacs! Here we go:
    (Transylvanian Milk Bread Rings)

    6 egg yolks
    100-120 g/4-4 oz. butter
    tsp. salt
    2 tbsp.sugar
    50 g/2 oz. yeast
    500 ml/18 fl. oz. lukewarm milk
    1,000g/2 lb. flour
    chopped almonds

    Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm mild. Beat the egg yolks and butter
    together, then add the salt and sugar. Sieve the flour and add the egg
    mixture and the yeast. Blend together thoroughly. Cover with a cloth
    and put in a warm place to rise. Turn out onto a floured surface, roll
    out and cut into long strips – 5 cm/2 in. wide. An alternative way is
    to divide the dough into small balls, leave to rise and then roll each
    ball into long strips, 5 cm/2 in. wide. Brush the rolling pin with
    melted butter and twist the strips, one at a time, on to the pin.
    Press together with the fingers so that the edges nearly meet. Brush
    with melted butter and sprinkle with roughly chopped almonds and
    sugar. Bake over an open fire, turning constantly until golden brown,
    or in an infrared oven. They can also be baked in an ordinary oven,
    but in this case bake without the almond and sugar coating. Remove
    from the oven when half-cooked and brush with more melted butter and
    then sprinkle with the almonds and sugar. Finish baking.

    4:44 pm  Nov 28th, 2008
  30. steve

    thank you so much for the recipe will try it at the weekend will let you know
    how it turns out.Thanks again and merry xmas

    12:32 pm  Dec 3rd, 2008
  31. peter

    kurtoskalacs sound great. any chance i could find them in boston massachusetts? email me soon.

    7:38 pm  Mar 25th, 2009
  32. Silvia

    I wish I could go to Transylvania and eat those
    delicious kurtoskalacs!

    12:37 pm  Apr 11th, 2009
  33. steve

    i loved these cakes so much in hungarary im goinjg to start producing them in the uk if your interested in getting involved it would be nice to hear from you .im in the south east

    12:15 pm  Apr 12th, 2009
  34. Anne

    I went to school in Erdely, my Aunt baked kurtos kalacs often for us, I was in my teens,
    never got the recipe, could I GET IT NOW?
    2:56 PM April 19th,2009

    2:53 pm  Apr 19th, 2009
  35. Lynda

    Hi, Anne,
    Take a lookj at several messages above yours and you will see a recipe that I posted. Has anyone tried it, yet?

    3:19 pm  Apr 19th, 2009
  36. Anne

    Hi Lynda thanks a bunch for the recipe, I`ll try it and let you know how well I did

    I have some maps of transylvania for $10.00, 1:500.000, about 40×30 ” in size, one can see the names of locations rumanian-hungarian :Motorway, International maim road,National main road, Important connecting road, other road. dirt road, Frontier crossing, Airport, Filling stations, HOTEL MOTEL, HOSTEL, Camping site, spa,ect. ect.,ect,.

    Later, Anne.

    4:51 pm  Apr 20th, 2009
  37. steve

    ive loved these cakes and developed a mobile business making and selling these cakes in the south but due to a heart problem i cant carry on.anyone interested in buying this business the first in the uk call 07948718101.ive got everything from hobart mixer,gazebo,generator 6kw,table all ready to work.have done 3 markets only response excellent profit margin unbelieveable.

    6:08 am  Oct 11th, 2009
  38. Gigi

    Please tell me what kind of wood do I have to use in making the mold. Thank you in advance.

    12:19 pm  Jan 15th, 2010
  39. Gigi

    Hi Steve: I am from Quito, Ecuador, South America and want to start my business selling these yummy cakes that I tried three years ago in Budapest. Would you please tell what type of wood do I have to used in making the molds? any advice on the business will be appreciated.

    12:23 pm  Jan 15th, 2010
  40. steve

    i bought all my wooden rollers from bella in hungry you can get his details off this site.good luck in your new business

    2:39 pm  Jan 15th, 2010
  41. steve

    chimney cake oven on ebay for sale 16 rollers.cooks 60 cakes an hour
    chech it out if you want to cook these delicious cakes for home or start your own business

    12:11 pm  Feb 16th, 2010
  42. Lynda

    Hi, all,
    Just returned from Israel where I once again experienced the fabulous Kurtos! They are opening shops all over Tel Aviv, so it’s a big deal over there, for certain. I took some pics, but don’t think I can add them to this post. Sorry!
    Happy eating…

    8:23 pm  Mar 25th, 2010
  43. AiCherie

    Hi Nicole,

    I really like you pumpkin recipe, will definitely try it tomorrow.

    Also I’m not sure if you live in California, but you can now get this bread here:

    Thought I’d share the wealth.
    Have a Happy Halloween.


    1:11 am  Oct 29th, 2010
  44. Diana

    Hi everyone! I know for sure how good is the Kürtös Kalács, I’ve been practically raised wit it reason why I wanted to start a business. Due to a family problem I could not put it on track so I have to sell the machines. If anyone is interested, it is a very good business indeed, I can provide you a new, full set of electrical machines, recipes and any informations you may need. You can contact me at dianamester@yahoo.com.

    7:05 am  Nov 13th, 2010
  45. Karácsonyi

    You can find information of baking, ovens, bussiness. Visit http://kurtoskalacssuto.lapunk.hu for more

    3:59 am  Jan 4th, 2011
  46. valeria

    si ma qualcuno ha la ricetta?
    vorrei farlo…

    7:09 am  Mar 2nd, 2012
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