Sweet nostalgia After Aniko Gulyas moved to Sarasota 11 years ago, she missed the flavors of her native Hungary—particularly kürtős cakes, a sweet pastry that’s twisted around a pin, baked in a special oven at high heat, and often sold at fairs and festivals. “It was my favorite pastry,” she explains. “My favorite days were when there was a fair in town.” After she had her 4-year-old twins, she wanted to teach them about her heritage, so she began making the cakes at home. In August, Gulyas decided to take the next step and start her business, Kürtős Inc. Now she sells to local restaurants, like Sunnyside Café and Geier’s, and participates in markets like Sample Sarasota, Local Evolution and Gulf Gate’s First Friday.
A long history Kürtős cakes originated in Transylvania in the late 1700s. To make them, Gulyas had to import a special oven from Hungary, which bakes the cakes at 250 degrees Celsius. She wraps fresh, raised dough around a wooden pin, sprinkles it with toppings and then inserts the pin in the oven, where it turns slowly for 4 to 6 minutes—“until the surface is crispy and the inside is still soft,” Gulyas explains. After the cake cools for a few minutes, the pin is removed, yielding the treat’s uniquely cylindrical shape.
Sweet and savory Kürtős cakes are traditionally sweet—Gulyas’ best-sellers are almond and cinnamon, and “kids love coconut,” she says—but she’s been experimenting with savory recipes, such as cheese, pumpkin seed and sunflower seed. To eat the cakes, “you pinch the the top to unravel it, turning it around and twisting” as you go, Gulyas explains. The sweet kürtős cakes pair well with coffee and tea, she says, and the savory ones are excellent with beer, wine or veggie juice.