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What is a Hungarian chimney cake?

Hungarian chimney cake with a crispy sugar cinnamon crust that is deliciously soft and fluffy. Adapted from an authentic traditional recipe, this recipe is suitable for home baking.

Two Hungarian chimney cakes upright on black cutting board

Growing up in Romania, kürtőskalács (short name kurtosh) is one of my favourite treats of all times. Every tourist attraction in Romania will have a food truck or kiosk selling this fire-roasted delight.

These are so delicious that I eat one every day when I visit Romania. It is not an exaggeration! This amazing pastry can be tricky to find in Western Europe and the United States. Since I’ve been missing it a lot, I decided to recreate this traditional chimney cake at home!

This authentic recipe is used to make my playful Chimney Cone Carrots with Vanilla Cream. They’re perfect for Easter celebrations or themed birthday parties!

What is chimney cake?

In a nutshell, chimney cake is a Hungarian confection. It is a sweet bread shaped like a hollow cylinder and coated with sugar and cinnamon. They are produced using a yeast dough similar to brioche. The chimney cake dough is then shaped into long strips, then wrapped around a wooden spit.

This delectable hollow cake may be topped with a variety of different ingredients. The most common are sugar, cinnamon, walnuts, almond flakes, and cocoa powder.

Chimney cakes are traditionally prepared over hot coals and an open fire. This gives them a wonderful crispy crust and a beautiful golden brown colour.


The Székelys, a Hungarian population residing in Transylvania, invented chimney cakes (Romania). Found all across Eastern European countries, these cakes are especially popular in Hungary, Romania, and Czech Republic.

Kurtskalács literally translates as “chimney cake” in Hungarian. It comes from the word ‘kürtő’, which refers to the chimney of a traditional coal stove.

These delectable pastries are known by many different names across Europe. In Romania they are known as ‘colac secuiesc’, which roughly translates to ‘Hungarian bread’. It is available at most fairs, festivals, summer and Christmas markets. These tasty treats are considered to be more of a seasonal pastry or for special occasions.

A very similar form of this Hungarian pastry is known as ‘trdelnik’ in the Czech Republic. This well-known street cuisine may be found throughout Prague and in most tourist areas. It’s usually in the form of a chimney cone and filled with ice cream or Nutella.

Although created more than 500 years ago, kürtőskalács became popular across the globe in the middle of the 20th century. It is now considered a mainstay of European cuisine.

In the United States, this amazing, coiled treat was made popular by the House of Chimney Cakes. There are several flavors and toppings to pick from. Make your own at home using the instructions below to make it even better and tastier!

What does it taste like?

Chimney cake has a fluffy texture and tastes like sweet milk bread. Traditionally cooked over open flame, it has a crispy crust.

The flavor varies greatly depending on the toppings put on the dough. Sugar, cinnamon, and crushed walnuts are traditionally used. Almond flakes, hazelnuts, cocoa powder, sprinkles, and chocolate are some more options.

Chimney cakes may also be formed into chimney cones. They may be filled with ice cream, Nutella, chocolate, or pastry cream. This recipe was used to produce the cones for the Chimney Cone Carrots with Vanilla Cream.

How to eat it

Eating kürtskalács may be a difficult task, so here’s how to do it properly. Begin by uncoiling the dough strips for basic chimney cakes with no fillings. Tear off little pieces and enjoy!

Try to consume as much of the filling as possible while eating a chimney cone with ice cream. Then, as you proceed, uncoil the cone and consume tiny portions of pastry at a time. You’ll have less mess or crumbs all over your face this way!

Recipe highlights

  • Authentic: This dish was influenced by traditional Transylvanian cuisine. Follow the steps below to make authentic kürtőskalács in the comfort of your home!
  • Easy to make at home: not everyone has access to open fire and wooden spits, so this recipe is adapted for home baking. All you need is an oven and some wooden rolling pins or empty beer cans.
  • Perfect texture: This recipe produces light, fluffy cakes with a perfectly crispy exterior.
  • Very versatile: you can be as playful as you want with the toppings and adapt them to your taste. Everything from basic sugar to cinnamon, coconut flakes, or sprinkles may be used.

Equipment & tools

Chimney cakes are traditionally baked over hot embers on revolving wooden spits. This recipe is adapted for home baking, and all tools can be found in regular shops or online:

  • Wooden rolling pins – They should be 14-15 inches long and 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter. Make sure the pins don’t have any plastic pieces or anything else that might melt in the oven. I like traditional wood pins with thinner handles. This makes placing them on a tray simpler. Personally, I do not like using French rolling pins as they can slide off the baking tray.
  • Aluminium foil – Wrap all wooden pins with aluminium foil to prevent the dough from sticking to it. This makes it easy to remove the baked cakes.
  • Alternative: empty beer cans – They are an ideal substitute for rolling pins. Use tall, large beer cans and wash them well before use.
  • Pastry cones – If making chimney cones, you need stainless steel pastry cones as a mould. Instead, build a cone out of aluminum foil and use it as a foundation.

Ingredient round-up

All of the components for this dish are readily available in most houses. Here’s what you need to make the perfect kürtőskalács:

  • Flour This recipe calls for plain all-purpose flour. I do not advocate adding bread flour since it might cause the dough to become overly firm. Self-rising flour is not suitable for this recipe, as we will be using yeast as a rising agent.
  • Yeast – This dough’s rising agent. I like to use fresh yeast since it produces the greatest results. Nevertheless, for convenience, you may use quick dry yeast.
  • Sugar – To sweeten the cake, plain sugar is added. You do not need a lot of sugar in the dough, as sweet toppings will be added on top.
  • Milk – Added to the dough to make it extra soft and delicious. Full fat milk is preferred, however semi-skimmed or skimmed milk may also be used. Plant-based milk substitutes are also an option.
  • Butter – Used to add flavor to the dough and make it extra soft. For the greatest results, use unsalted baking butter. Before using, let the butter to soften to room temperature.
  • Eggs – This recipe calls for large eggs. Before usage, make sure they’re at room temperature. Extra egg yolks can also be used to make egg wash to brush the cakes.
  • Salt – Used to counteract the flavors. I recommend using fine salt.
  • Optional: vanilla – Although optional, vanilla extract adds a lovely, sweet flavour to the dough. For a richer flavor, use vanilla bean paste.

Topping Ideas

Traditional kürtőskalács are fairly plain, topped with a cinnamon sugar mixture. Ground walnuts are sometimes used to provide crunch and flavor.

Toppings for more recent variants might include:

  • Ground hazelnut or other nuts
  • Almond flakes
  • Cocoa powder
  • Coconut flakes or shredded coconut
  • Sprinkles
  • Poppyseeds or sesame seeds
  • Fruity Pebbles
  • Cocoa Pebbles
  • Crushed Oreos
  • Crushed Biscoff cookies
  • Graham Crackers
  • Freeze dried strawberry chunks
  • Matcha powder

How to make Chimney Cake at home

The process for making chimney cake is similar to any enriched, sweet dough. Here’s how it’s done:

Making the dough

  1. Warm milk should be mixed with yeast and sugar. Let sit for a few minutes until foamy.
  2. Mix together the yeast mixture and all of the wet ingredients.
  3. Pour in the flour and mix to form a rough dough.
  4. Knead by hand or with a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Knead the dough until it is smooth and non-sticky. Place dough in a greased bowl and let proof in a warm place until doubled in volume.

Shaping the cakes

  1. Roll out the proofed dough into a rectangle. Cut broad strips of dough using a pizza cutter.
  2. Roll each strip of dough into longer strips using your hands. Wrap wooden rolling pins in aluminum foil and brush with
  3. Begin wrapping the dough around a wooden pin. Leave some space between each strip.
  4. To flatten the coils and link the dough, roll the pin on the work surface.

Toppings & Baking

  1. Brush each chimney cake generously with egg wash or melted butter.
  2. Put the toppings into a tray or large plate, then roll each cake through it. Make sure the coating is even all the way around.
  3. Place the rolling pins on top of a deep tray, with the ends of the rolling pin on the outside. The dough should not come into contact with the tray’s bottom.
  4. Bake the cakes while turning them twice to retain their form. Remove when golden-brown in colour.

VariationChimney Cone

This recipe may also be used to make chimney cones, which are great for ice cream or other fillings.

The method for preparing the sweet dough is the same. The only variation is how the cones are shaped. We will not be utilizing wooden rolling pins, but rather stainless steel pastry cones.

  1. Melt the butter and brush it over the pastry cone. Start rolling thin strips of dough around, from the tip to the wider base.
  2. Push the cones down and roll them to flatten the dough and help the strips cling together.

Once shaped, you can brush the cones with egg wash and roll them through your favourite toppings. Bake till the top is golden brown.

You can fill the cones with anything you like. These are a few of my personal favorites:

  • Ice cream
  • Vanilla cream
  • Kinder Bueno spread
  • Cream cheese frosting
  • Baileys cream
  • Taro Paste
  • Whipped cream
  • Fresh fruit

How to store

Chimney Cakes taste best freshly made, within a few hours of baking. I suggest eating them while they are still hot, since this provides the most realistic experience!

Kürtskalács should be eaten within a day after baking since they harden rapidly. Let them to cool fully before wrapping in plastic wrap and sealing firmly to extend their shelf life. This makes the crust less crispy, but it prevents it from solidifying for a few hours.

Chimney Cake Kürtőskalács Recipe

Hungarian chimney cake with a crispy sugar cinnamon crust that is deliciously soft and fluffy. Adapted from an authentic traditional recipe, this recipe is suitable for home baking.

Prep Time 20 mins

Cook Time 25 mins

Proofing time 40 mins

Total Time 1 hr 25 mins

Course Dessert

Cuisine Hungarian

Servings 4 chimney cakes

Calories 660 kcal


  • 1 large rolling pin (for rolling the dough)
  • 2–4 little wooden rolling pins* (14-15 inches long, 1.5-2 inches diameter)
  • aluminium foil


For the dough

  • ⅓ cup milk, lukewarm (80 grams)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons instant dry yeast* (7 grams)
  • ¼ cup sugar (50 grams)
  • ¼ cup butter, softened (50 grams)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 ¼ cup plain all-purpose flour (400 grams)

For topping

  • 1 egg, for brushing
  • 1 tablespoon milk, for brushing
  • 1 cup sugar (200 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup ground walnuts (50 grams)


For the dough

  • Warm milk, 2 tablespoons sugar, and yeast in a small dish. Mix well then let sit for 5-10 minutes until the mixture becomes foamy or bubbly.
  • In a separate large bowl pour the remaining sugar, yeasty mixture, softened butter, eggs, salt, and lemon zest (optional). Using a wooden spoon or spatula, combine everything.
  • Mix the flour into the wet ingredients until a dough forms.
  • If using a stand mixer, knead the dough for 4-5 minutes using the dough attachment. If kneading by hand, gently dust the work surface before transferring the dough to it. Knead the dough for 7-10 minutes, or until it is no longer sticky and springs back when pricked with a finger.
  • Grease a large mixing basin with vegetable oil, then add the kneaded dough. Wrap in plastic wrap or a moist kitchen towel and set aside. Let at least 30-45 minutes for the dough to double in size.
  • Once proofed, roll the dough into a rectangular shape about 1.5-inches in thickness. Cut 4 equal strips using a pizza cutter.
  • Work on one component at a time. Keep the remaining dough covered with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying. Use your hands to roll each strip of dough into long coils around 1-inch in thickness. Each coil should be between 20 and 25 inches long.
  • Cover rolling pins with aluminium foil to prevent the dough from sticking. Wrap each dough coil around each wooden rolling pin gently, without overlapping the dough.
  • Roll the pin around a few times, while applying a little pressure to flatten the dough and make the swirls stick together. Repeat with the remaining chimney cakes.
  • Prepare the egg wash by mixing 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of milk. Coat each chimney cake with egg wash using a pastry brush.

For topping

  • Pre-heat oven at 350°F (180°C).
  • Crush walnuts into small pieces by placing them into a ziplock bag and smashing them with a rolling pin. The chunks should be smaller yet still crunchy.
  • On a tray or big plate, combine the ground walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon.
  • Roll the chimney cakes through the topping mixture, pressing gently to help it stick. Ensure that all sides are uniformly coated.


  • On top of a deeper tray, place the rolling pins with chimney cakes. The handles should rest on the edges of the tray, so the chimney cakes do not touch the bottom of the tray.
  • Bake for 10 minutes before flipping the rolling pins over.
  • Bake for a further 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
  • Serve immediately whilst still warm.


  • For the chimney cakes, smaller rolling pins are utilized as molds. Be certain that they are totally made of wood, with no plastic or meltable components. Please see section ‘Equipment & Tools’ in blog post for more details.
  • Instant dry yeast can be replaced with fresh yeast. This recipe calls for 20 grams of fresh yeast.
  • Storing: Serve kurtos kalacs hot or within a few hours of baking. Wrap in plastic wrap until ready to eat.
  • The nutritional content is approximative and is computed per serving of sugar-coated walnuts (this recipe makes 4 servings).