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The Most Hungarian Dessert: Sponge Cake ‘Somlói Style’ – with Recipe!

Adrienn Vass 2020.11.27.

The sponge cake ‘Somlói style’ is probably the best-known product of Hungarian confectionery. In the late 1950s, the legendary main waiter of the Gundel restaurant, Károly Gollerits, was the one who introduced the popular dessert for the first time.

Translated by Fanni Kaszás

However, the real “father” and the one who gave its name to the dessert was József Béla Szőcs, a confectioner who had been the plant manager of Gundel’s confectionery for thirteen years starting from 1956. It is a lesser well-known fact that the sponge cake ‘Somlói style’ got its name from the Somlyó Hill in the Gödöllő Hills near Budapest, not from Somló Hill in the Balaton Uplands, as many people think. This is where József Béla Szőcs, the creator of the dessert, came from.

The novelty, which received great attention at the time, was presented together with the Rákóczi curd cheese dessert, invented by master chef János Rákóczi for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair. The original Szőcs sponge cake ‘Somlói style’ was made by his daughter after the master retired.

Sponge cake ‘Somlói style’
– ingredients – 

Original sponge cake

  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • a pinch of baking powder

Cocoa sponge cake

  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • a pinch of baking powder

Walnut sponge cake

  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons of grounded walnuts
  • a pinch of baking powder

Vanilla sauce

  • 1 liter of milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 10 dkg flour
  • 30 dkg sugar
  • 1 dl cream
  • vanilla sticks or vanilla sugar

Syrup

  • 3 dl of water
  • sugar
  • rum
  • orange and lemon peel

Chocolate sauce

  • 5 dkg butter
  • 1 heaping tablespoon flour
  • 5 dl milk
  • 10 dkg of dark chocolate
  • cocoa powder
  • sugar
  • rum

To serve

  • raisins
  • chopped walnuts
  • whipped cream

Bake the three types of sponge cakes. First, separate the eggs, then beat the egg whites into a hard foam with a tablespoon of sugar and set it aside. Add the remaining three tablespoons of sugar, flour, baking powder, water, and a bit from the egg white foam to the egg yolk, and mix until smooth. Then add the rest of the foam and with gentle movements, mix it, then pour into a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Smooth the top and then bake the sponge cake. Prepare the other two sponge cakes in the same way, mixing in the cocoa and walnuts as well.

For the vanilla sauce, mix the egg yolks smoothly with the flour, sugar, cream, vanilla sugar, and a little milk. Then boil the rest of the milk and pour it into the egg mixture. Place the mixture in a water bath and thicken it with a whisk, stirring constantly.

Then, soak the raisins in a little water and place them in the microwave for a few minutes to swell. For the syrup, sprinkle sugar into the three deciliters of water and boil the mixture. Meanwhile, add the grated orange and lemon zest to it, as well as the rum. Set aside and let the syrup cool.

For the chocolate sauce, melt the butter and mix in the flour. When mixed until smooth, add the milk, diced chocolate, cocoa powder, sugar, and rum. Then thicken it with a whisk, stirring constantly. The texture should not be too dense, only thick enough to be able to coat with it. Then set it aside until cooled.

Soak the three types of sponge cakes well in the syrup. First, grease the walnut sponge cake with the vanilla sauce, sprinkle it with raisins and ground, candied walnuts. Add the cocoa sponge cake and the vanilla sauce, then sprinkle with raisins and walnuts again. Finally, put the original sponge cake on it, pour the remaining sauce, sprinkle it with cocoa powder, then put it in the fridge.

When serving, tear dumplings out of the dessert by using a spoon, sprinkle it with a few nuts and the chocolate sauce, and finally add whipped cream on top.

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photos and feature photo: Péter Csákvári/Hungary Today