Holiday traditions, many based on our ancestry, are what makes this season so special. Perhaps you bring out ornaments from Great Aunt Lizzie, an embroidered tablecloth brought from England by your grandma, or family recipes to be enjoyed by all. Of course, I have my Swedish grandma’s butter cookie recipe, German Sauerbraten, and my Hungarian grandma’s coffee cake. It is made of yeast dough; little balls rolled in sugar and ground walnuts, then baked in an Angel food cake pan – so delicious on Christmas morning.
And, now enters Facebook…a source to connect with friends and family as we all know. Recently, I received a request to be friends with Gabriella Szepessy. What?? Szepessy is my Hungarian maiden name and not that common, especially here in the Midwest. It turns out that she is my fourth cousin (I think), living in Budapest with her family. I couldn’t be happier getting to know her. Turns out she is quite a serious ballerina, a very good student, and happy to know of her cousin in Winfield.
Several weeks ago I asked her if she might send me her family’s traditional Christmas dessert recipe. And, she sent one of Hungary’s most famous desserts; Zserbo Szelet or Gerbeaud Cake, originally from the famous Gerbeaud Cafe in Budapest. Of course, I had to make it immediately. It is quite easy and turns out perfectly, really! Here’s a picture of it before baking. Gerbeaud Cake has now become a new tradition in my home.
½ pound walnuts
1 cup sugar
4 cups flour
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
½ tsp baking soda
1 1/3 cups unsalted, cold butter
2 egg yolks
1 2 oz fresh cake yeast
½ cup sour cream
24 oz. apricot preserves
Process the walnuts in the bowl of a food processor. Add the 1 cup sugar. Pulse until finely ground and combined; set aside.
Combine the flour, baking soda, 1 tbsp sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times. Add the butter and process till crumbly. Add the egg, yolks, crumbled yeast, and sour cream.
Process till completely combined. Put mixture on a bread board, and knead several minutes.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces
Roll 1 piece to fit a jelly-type baking pan. Place in the bottom of the pan. Spread a thin layer of preserves on top of the dough, and then sprinkle with 1/3 of the nut mixture. Repeat layers, ending with the 4th piece of dough on top. Cover with a towel and let rise for 1 hour in a warm place.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
After the cake has risen, bake for 45 minutes…when completely cooled, trim the edges to a rectangle.
Frost with a thin layer of 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate melted with 2 tbsp butter. Spread the chocolate mixture over the entire cake. Set for 30 minutes or so. With a sharp knife, cut into individual pieces, about 2 x 4 inch rectangles.
Bon Appetit and “Kellemes Unnepeket” (happy holiday season)!