The history of the Hungarian máglyarakás (bonfire) is not as romantic as it may sound at first. It can be found in various forms all around the world. In English it is typically called bread pudding, but it has thousands of different names depending on the nations that make it, from the German schwarzbrotpudding to the Spanish migas. There are about as many bread pudding variations as there are countries in the world: in Hong Kong, for example, a vanilla cream dressing is poured on the stale bread before it is placed in the oven, after which it is served with nutmeg. In Canada, the apple-filled sweet bread is covered in maple syrup (of course), but in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Germany), for example, it is prepared with a special, dark brown bread; pumpernickel. This may be why they call this dish black bread pudding.
Translation by Tamás Vaski
It is truly a Hungarian particularity, however, that to create a máglyarakás the bread must be crowned with whipped egg whites. The flame-like golden-brown coloring on top of the bread and the apple filling at the bottom, appearing as firewood, can help explain how, when we look at the whole dish, it seems to resemble a burning bonfire. Hungarian bread pudding is popular thanks to its simplistic accessibility from the leftovers of pantries in autumn; stale bread, softened apples, and really any kind of fruit that can be found in the fall. Massive, sweet, and a great comfort food, máglyarakás is the biggest star of cool autumn evenings.
Hungarian Bread Pudding
There are about as many forms of preparing máglyarakás as there are houses in Hungary. Many people don’t put walnuts or raisins in it, even though they compliment the dish perfectly. This recipe includes these ingredients.
- 100g melted butter
- 6 dl lukewarm milk
- 6-8 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon rum aroma
- 3 apples
- 7 Hungarian kifli cookies
- 7 eggs
- 150 g ground walnuts
- 50 g raisins
- 6 tablespoons apricot jam
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- A pinch of salt
Mix the egg yolk with the sugar, melted butter, milk, and rum aroma. Cut the kiflis into circles and pour the mixture onto them. If they are still too dry, milk can be added. Sweetness should be determined according to taste.
Line the insides of a high-sided baking sheet or oven dish with butter and place a row of the steeped kiflis into it, then cover that with a layer of ground walnuts and raisins. Peel and slice up 3 apples, placing the slices on as the following layer. Add another layer of kifli and another layer of ground walnuts. Cover in aluminum foil and bake in an oven at 200 degrees Celsius for roughly half an hour, then take out the bread and cover the top with four tablespoons of apricot jam.
Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites before beginning to whisk them. When they begin to foam up, add two tablespoons of powdered sugar and whisk until they are ready. Add two tablespoons of jam to the completed foam and cover the top of the pastry with the entire mixture before placing it back into the oven for a few (roughly 10) minutes. Check the oven consistently, if the top foam layer browns slightly, it is ready. But do not immediately pull it out of the oven. Instead, turn off the oven, open the oven door, and let the bread cool down gradually. This way, the foam on top of it won’t fall apart.
If the dish has cooled down, it can be served warm. The addition of vanilla sauce is optional.
Photos and Featured photo by Péter Csákvári/Hungary Today