Kurtos is one of those sweet delights that gets the nations fighting over the right to call it their own. So, I think, it’s only justly to call it a favorite winter delicacy of Southeastern Europe. If it doesn’t already sound tasty, imagine a freshly baked spit cake, rolled in the tasty chocolate crumbs or crystal sugar, to suit your taste. Now, imagine a whole street smelling like that, where you just can’t resist taking a bite of this sweet hot delight in a cold winter night.
Traditionally, the kurtos cake originated in Hungary and northwestern Romania, but seamlessly it gained popularity in the northern parts of bordering Serbia. Its first mention in the history dates back to over 500 years ago, and since then, the people have mastered the recipe. It may be a good idea to take a bite of history with a cake that’s been appealing to people of this region for the last five centuries.
The cake is charmingly baked on a cone-shaped baking spit, over the charcoal, until its crust reaches a visually attractive golden color. This kind of a spit cake was earlier famous as a festive treat, but its sweet and crispy structure and authentic way of baking made it a popular treat, and even a tourist attraction.
Kurtos cake is made from sweetened raised dough, cut in the thin strips, rolled over the baking spit, and rolled in granulated sugar. The butter and sugar combined melt over the charcoal, giving the cake its irresistible smell and delightful crispy crust. After baking it, the hot cake is rolled in the ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon or any other topping that comes to mind. It comes in handy in winter, not only to the flavor buds but also freezing hands.
Even though this cake has a background story and performs well in the food lovers circles, it is rather simple to make. The main ingredients include sugar, eggs, butter, wheat flour, milk, and yeast. The toppings are where the things get exciting: from ground nuts to chocolate, vanilla or cinnamon powder, and everything in-between.
Kurtos cake in Serbia is very common in the northern province called Vojvodina. It is especially popular in the towns near the Hungarian border, like charming Subotica, where you can try it fresh on the main square, where the locals usually bake it on the long winter evenings. It’s very popular in Novi Sad and Belgrade as well, and the locals call it “the chimney cake” due to its resembling shape. During the Winter Fest in Novi Sad, you can try it in the city center, or in the main pedestrian street of Knez Mihailova in Belgrade. Whether you come across it in Hungary, Serbia, Romania, or elsewhere, don’t split hairs over its origins. Just make sure to try it and see why it gained an attribute of the popular winter delicacy of Southeastern Europe!
Cover photo © Credits to Dar1930