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Somló dumplings - which is neither from Somló nor dumplings, yet well loved

This chocolate-vanilla dessert served in a glass, made with sponge cake with a giant whipped cream mushroom on top is a favourite of all Hungarian children. It’s not even such an old invention, because the first time it was made was for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair.



Béla József Szőcs, the former confectioner of the renowned Gundel Restaurant, is the father of Somlói cake. The featherlight dessert served in a cup got its name from Somlyó Hill in Fót, the creator's birthplace. So, correctly the name would be Somlyó cake, whereas galuska (Hungarian for dumplings) is about as right as calling ice cream galuska, as a single portion of that is torn from the others.


Although there is no doubt that the Somló cakes served at confectioneries can be just as shapeless as a bowl of nokedli. Fate soon intervened with the difficult-to-pronounce name: as early as the World’s Fair one jury member dropped the y from the name of the award-winning Somlyó cake. Therefore, it was eventually included in the annals and thus in international gastronomy as Somlói galuska.



The original recipe includes three types of sponge cake: plain, cocoa and walnut. Place one sheet of sponge cake on a plate, pour on the syrup made by boiling sugar, rum, sticks of vanilla, orange and lemon zest, spread on the vanilla cream, then sprinkle with raisins and walnuts. Place the second sheet of sponge cake on top and proceed the same way. Cover the third sheet of sponge cake with the syrup and spread apricot jam on top. Sprinkle with cocoa and refrigerate overnight.


So far, it’s a bit like the Italian soaked cakes, such as tiramisu. The rummy fruit syrup is the equivalent of the coffee, while the vanilla cream is the mascarpone. However, there is a twist before serving as you tear ‘dumplings’ out of the prepared Somlói layers with a spoon, stack these on a plate, then decorate them with whipped cream and rum chocolate sauce.


Obviously, authentic Somlói galuska is available at Gundel, but new-age chefs like the Tamás Széll-Szabina Szulló pair, László Jahni, Ádám Mészáros, Gábor Jónás or László Mihályi make some really exciting, new-wave Somlóis. They often use the original dessert as inspiration, but even so, their own interpretation perfectly captures its fabulous character. A glass of sherry, Aszú or Fordítás can be a worthy pairing.

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