The main reason we chose Budapest for our last full month-long home in Europe was the huge selection of awesome Airbnb apartments for dirt cheap prices. But a very, very, very close second was all the decadent desserts in Budapest. Hungary is a country with an incredible cake scene – it was like a dream come true for a self-proclaimed cake lover like me. After all, this is the country where the Dobos Torte was invented.
This blog post will be a quick photo tour through the desserts we tried in Budapest. If this blog post makes you Hungary (har har), I highly recommend you walk straight to your kitchen and make your own Dobos Torte using this recipe, which is easy to make and guaranteed to impress family and friends. I made it once and love it.
Without further ado, let’s eat!
Kürtőskalács (Chimney Cake)
Oh. My. Goodness. This dessert was a revelation, and was hands down the best sweet we ate in Budapest. Chimney Cakes are made from a sweet dough that is rolled out onto a wooden roller, then rolled in sugar, then either grilled over hot coals or baked in an oven. After it’s cooked, they’ll roll it in your choice of topping: chocolate, walnut, almond, poppy-seed, vanilla, cinnamon (our fave!), or coconut.
The best Chimney Cakes we had during our time in Budapest were from Molnar’s Kürtőskalács. Their chimney cakes cost 990 Forint (about $3.68), and were by far the best we found in all of our time in Budapest.
They’re located in the heart of the downtown tourist area, so it is inexcusable not to stop by, in my opinion.
A very close runner-up to Molnar’s is any charcoal-cooked Kürtőskalács stand at outdoor festivals in Budapest. Here’s the caveat, though, make sure it’s a food stand where lots of locals eat! We picked the one below, which had a CRAZY line, and it was fantastic.
The key to Chimney cakes is getting them fresh and hot! Never, ever, ever buy a cold Chimney cake. Here’s a peek at how they’re made:
Best Bakery in Budapest: Pasha Turkish Bakery
In a surprise move, we decided to name Pasha as our favorite bakery in Budapest. But it’s Turkish, you say, and this is Hungary, you say. Tough cookies (har har). Make one visit to Pasha and you’ll be singing a different tune, I promise.
The downside to Pasha is that it is pretty far out in the Northern Suburbs. In fact, you have to take the H5 commuter rail to the Békásmegyer stop to get there, then walk a couple blocks. We think it’s totally worth the trip if you’re in Budapest for five days or more. Their amazingly tasty sweets and rock bottom prices make the trip totally worth it! We got four baklavas, two bureks, four cookies, and a big sesame pastry for just 2265 Forint, or about $8.45.
Rumor has it that Pasha bakery may open up a chain in downtown Budapest sometime in the future. Check their website often to see if it happens before your visit!
The Dobos Torte: Hungary’s Gift to the World
The Dobos Torte is a Hungarian sponge cake layered with chocolate icing, topped with a crunchy layer of caramel. It was invented way back in the 1800s by a guy named Jozsef C. Dobos. If I could time travel, I would love to go to the 1800s and give this man a well-deserved pat on the back.
Nearly every Cukrászda (the Hungarian word for Bakery) in Budapest sells this tasty creation. We only tried it at one bakery, but I’d challenge you to try to find the BEST Dobos Torte in town and leave me a comment once you do!
We got our Dobos fix at Ruszwurm Cukrászda, which claims to be Budapest’s oldest cafe! It’s a family business started back in 1827, and is located a block from the Matthias Church at the top of Castle Hill. The bakery has been through a lot – the building was damaged in bombings in 1849 and 1944, but they are still dishing up tasty cakes today!
The Dobos Torte was good, but the cake Ruszwurm Cukrászda is most famous for is their Ruszwurm Kreme cake. It’s a heavenly vanilla custard sandwiched between two pieces of puff pastry, then topped with a hefty amount powdered sugar. This slice of cake was absolutely the winner at Ruszwurm – if you visit, you MUST try this one!
Fair warning, Ruszwurm is definitely on the tourist radar and full of people wildly waving around selfie sticks and taking photos. Excessive photo taking is always slightly annoying, but this is one case where I think the Kreme Cake is worth the hassle of feeling touristy.
Speaking of Kreme Cake, we also gave it a shot at Auguszt Cukrászda. They’re also known for their Kreme Cakes, but the only reason I’m putting this section in here is to encourage you to get it at Ruszwurm instead.
Ruszwurm’s Kreme Cake was far superior to the one we got at Auguszt, and Ruszwurm’s service was more friendly.
For something different, be sure you stop by Fröhlich Cukrászda, a bakery in the Jewish Quarter that specializes in a few traditional Jewish Cakes.
This bakery is family run, and the woman behind the counter was one of the nicest people we met in town. They had a dizzying array of cakes, and I’m certain they are all delicious.
First, we went for the most chocolatey thing we could find:
And obviously, we got the cake they are famous for, Flodni. Flodni is an apple, poppy-seed, and walnut dessert cake. It’s a traditional dessert commonly made in Jewish households in Budapest, Fröhlich is just about the only bakery where you can find it in Budapest.
Hungarian people are absolutely bonkers for poppy seeds for some reason – the entire middle layer of this cake was just a bunch of poppy seeds held together by a sweet syrup. It’s not really for me, and I didn’t 100% enjoy this cake because the poppy made it pretty earthy, but it was definitely fun to try. Plus, Fröhlich has some of the most reasonable cake prices in the city, so it’s impossible to steer yourself wrong here.
Cookies for the Cookie Monsters
If you love cookies as much as we do, Budapest has you covered. I’m sure that the Great Market Hall is already on your radar if you’re planning to visit the city. It was built in the late 1800s and is known for its awesome colorful Zsolnay roof tiles.
After you enter the main doors of the Great Market Hall, turn left, and there will be a bakery immediately on your right. This gal sells some of the best cookies in town, for rock bottom prices! The minimum purchase is 100 grams of cookies, which will run you 100 Forint, which just south of 40 cents. Go ahead, buy a whole Kilo of cookies, you know you want to.
Stand back from the cookie booth and watch what locals order. There were older men literally buying several Kilograms of cookies from this gal. It’s gotta be the best bargain in the Market Hall!
If you’re looking for a cookie experience that is a little more… interesting… head to Castle Hill and seek out Pethes János Cukrász. They’re located in Castle Hill at Donáti Utca 42 (map), way off the Tourist track, in a basement.
This place is more of an industrial bakery than a storefront, but don’t let that deter you! They bake and sell cookies to other stores in the city, so they know what they’re doing. No one there spoke a bit of English, but I got by with some hand waving and gesturing. Be sure you take small bills, I doubt they have a lot of change lying around.
Rêtes (Strudel) in Budapest
I’ll leave you today with some sweets that are completely acceptable to eat at breakfast. I’m from a family where a slice of Pie is a perfectly normal way to start your day – in fact, that is one of my favorite things about the holiday season. So when I got wind of the strudel situation in Budapest, I was super excited.
I did a little digging on the internet and found Rózi Néni Rétesei, a little food stand that is allegedly the reigning Strudel Specialist in Budapest. This place has been family owned for over twenty years, and deserves its reputation for being delicious.
They were all delicious except for the sesame, which was earthy and not for me. The Peach strudel is one of their most popular, and was delicious! I actually liked the Imperial Cheese the best, which is the fanciest of the strudels in the photo above (top left).
PRO TIPs: Go in the morning, or they may run out of the good stuff! Also, take cash. Also, you should absolutely get the powdered sugar topping!
We Want to Hear From You!
Which country in Europe has the best sweets? Paris? Italy? Belgium? Hungary? Leave us a comment and let us know!