The amazing Esterházy Cake
Visiting a pastry shop (the more, the better, just as with coffee shops) is an essential part of a trip to any country. A restaurant is a restaurant, but only a pastry shop, boulangerie, bread shop, or coffee shop shows you the real life of people in each country. What are their habits, what do they like, how do they drink their coffee, and do they choose cake over pastry or vice versa? I could go to every Michelin and top class restaurant on a trip, but if I haven't had cake from a local pastry shop, I haven't experienced real life.
When I knew we were going to Hungary, I had one cake in mind – Dobos Torte. It was all the Internet and brochures about Hungary talked about. The most famous of all – Dobos Torte – leaving no room for the fantastic new love of mine, Esterházy Torte, a cake we discovered by accident when it was time to choose cakes to try after learning how to make Dobos Torte at Gerbeaud Confectionery.
I stood there by the cake counter pointing at Dobos Torte as my first choice when the Esterházy caught my eye with ingredients like walnuts and vanilla. Not caring whether it was a traditional or modern creation, I knew I would have some.
Later on, I found out that this cake was invented at the end of the 19th century by Hungarian confectioners and named after Prince Paul III Anton Esterházy de Galántha, a diplomat of the Austrian empire. What is interesting is that at the time it was one of the most popular cakes in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. History says that the original Esterházy was made with layers of almond meal sponge with vanilla and cognac buttercream invented by (as legend says) the famous Jozsef Dobos.
As part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, this cake is not only famous in Hungary but also in Austria where it is still mostly made with almond flour, but in Hungary, it is replaced with walnuts and (to be honest) makes the cake much more special.
Today, the story about this cake is not as precise as the story about Dobos. Some say that the name is not related to the prince; some say that it is still uncertain who made it and how many layers – five or six – have to be in the cake. One thing is for sure – it is flourless and made with egg whites, sugar, and almond or walnut flour in layers with vanilla buttercream and topped with white fondant. It is fantastic, light, full of character, vanilla and walnuts and is too tempting to resist.
Do go to Gerbeaud to try theirs, because it is marvelous. From top to bottom, from the first to the last bite. And we did not leave any crumbs on the plate, none.
Do visit the Gerbeaud confectionary, as they serve truly amazing, light and elegant Esterházy cake.
Traveling to Hungary in cooperation with Embassy of Hungary to Latvia
Story and pictures: Signe Meirane
Camera: Sony Alpha 7s