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Café Gerbeaud, or known by Hungarians as the Zserbó is not far from the Lánchíd [Chain Bridge] and is probably the most elegant of all the historical cafes in Budapest. The name ‘gerbeaud’ or zserbó is also used for a walnut and chocolate rich layered pastry no Hungarian Christmas spread should be without. If beigli is for the adults, zserbó most certainly is for the kids. Although it contains yeast, zserbó must not be allowed to raise much before baking, or it will be doughy. And neither the walnut, nor the apricot jam should be replaced with something else, or it’s not zserbó.

1/8 cup water
1-1/2 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
2-1/3 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp butter
1 egg

apricot jam,
1 1/2 cups walnuts, ground

4 squares bitter chocolate
1 Tbsp butter

• In a small bowl dissolve the yeast in 1/8 cup of warm water.
• Sprinkle the yeast with 1 tsp sugar.
• In a large bowl combine the flour with 1/4 cup of sugar.
• Add the butter to the flour mixture.
• With clean hands rub the butter into the flour for fine crumbs.
• Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture.
• Break one egg into the bowl the yeast was in and lightly whisk with a fork.
• Add the whisked egg to the well and stir to combine.
• Kneed the dough until smooth, cover and set aside.
• Let the dough rest for 30 minutes, no longer.
• Meanwhile cut a sheet of parchment paper the exact same size as the rectangular* baking pan. This will be used for rolling out the dough. Set it aside.
• Next cut a larger sheet of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the baking pan; leaving two ends hanging down the sides for easy gripping.
• Lightly spray the parchment and the unlined sides of the pan with cooking spray.
• Grind the walnuts in the food processor and set aside.
• Force a small jar of apricot jam through a sieve and set aside.
• Preheat the oven to 350F.
• Divide the dough into 3 equal parts and pat them into rectangular disks.
• Place the smaller sheet of parchment paper on a flat surface and place the first disk on it. [Do not flour the parchment paper, you want the dough to stick.
• With a minimal amount of flour, roll out the dough to fit the parchment paper. You will have to play with the dough a bit to get a perfect rectangle.
• Place the dough inside the prepared pan and carefully peel off the parchment paper.
• Spread it lightly with apricot jam and sprinkle with 1/2 ground walnuts over the top.
• Roll out the second layer on the parchment paper as before.
• Place on the first layer and again spread it lightly with apricot jam and sprinkle it with the remaining walnuts.
• Roll out the last layer and place it on the top.
• Let it rest for 1/2 hour, no longer.
• Poke the top with a fork.
• Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the top is golden brown.
• Place the pan on a rack and let it cool.
• Melt the chocolate and the butter in a double boiler.
• Pour the melted chocolate over the cooled bar evenly.
• Place the pan in the fridge and let the chocolate set completely.
• Remove chilled bar from the fridge.
• Grab the ends of the parchment paper and move the bar onto a large cutting board.
• Cut the zserbó evenly into long bars.

 * If you find it a challenge to roll the dough so thin, I suggest you use a square pan instead of a rectangular pan. The layers will be of course thicker, but will still taste delicious.


  1. Looks irresistible (not only for children I suppose) and a bit easier than the Dobos Torta (no scary caramel topping). One more Hungarian cake I have to bake myself if I want to taste it... By the way, shouldn't the flour be in the pastry ingredients and not in the topping? (sorry, I'm crazy - even when I'm not cooking I read the ingredients' list...)

  2. Actually Sissi, the recipe was full of mistakes, THANK YOU for letting me know. It has been corrected.

  3. Thank you Zsuzsa, your corrections were very precious... In fact your Zserbo is in the oven now!!!! Cross your fingers! (rolling the exact size was very difficult, not to mention transferring it and layering). I'll let you know the result!

  4. I am interested how it turned out. Mine ripped a bit too when I placed the dough layers in the pan, but it was easy to repair it and at the end it will not show. The following day as the flavours combine there is a definite improvement in this bar, not that it needed it.

    I am working on an old fashioned kremes recipe at the moment. I will post it when I make it again. It's just that we are still working through my first effort and still have some zserbo left to finish. Everybody I know is dieting so I can't pawn it off. Ah, the sacrafices one has to make!

  5. Hi Zsuzsa, my zserbo was delicious! I couldn't believe apricot jam and walnuts could give such a complex taste! And I love the tanginess! (Frankly speaking I had no intention to taste the original zserbo in Budapest, since it looked like an ordinary jam-layered simple and very sweet cake... now I regret it of course!).
    I am still waiting for my Hungarian friend's critical comments (she got it yesterday), since she knows what it should taste like :-)
    Compared to yours, my dough (after baking) was less aerated...but the taste is wonderful (still have to see if it's improved overnight).
    Anyway, thank you so much for this simple and foolproof recipe! I'll make photos, post it next week (have something else ready for today) and make it again soon, I have no doubts! Good luck with your krémes!

  6. I was interested in your friend’s reaction to the zserbo. Actually zserbo is not a cake, it’s a slice. Maybe that is why you didn’t have it when you were in Hungary, it’s not terribly spectacular. But I agree with you the combination of apricot jam, walnut and good chocolate is surprisingly delicious. The pastry is more like a linzer, my grandma always made extra pastry when she made her beigli and used part of it for the zserbo. I have to confess sometimes I get careless with measuring, especially when it’s something I made many times before and I don’t even look at the recipe. So it’s quite perceivable that I could have been a bit more liberal with the water and the yeast and that is why mine looks more aerated in the picture. I was wondering at the time why it was so cakey and was actually quite unhappy about that. But if that is what you want, perhaps increase the water to a 1/4 cup and maybe put in 2-1/2 tsp yeast into the pastry. Actually I was thinking of changing my recipe, because my husband really liked it this way… Sometimes failures produce surprising results.

  7. Hi Zsuzsa, I already have made it twice! Since my HUngarian friend told me the taste was perfect, but the pastry was too dry and too thick and since I didn't want to risk other recipes (your are always good!), I made four layers! You can see on my blog the photo, but it doesn't look at all like your zserbo... and it looks less neat than the first one. 4 layers looked messy and were very difficult... but so rewarding!

  8. Hi, Zsuzsa! Great blog and recipes! Could you please post the recipe for Flodni. I found one here:, but translations with the google is no good.

    Thank you!

  9. OK I will add Flodni to my ever growing list of dishes to make.

  10. Thank you, Zsuzsa!

  11. Anonymous23.2.17

    Can somebody tell me how big the pan should be? I guess the thickness of the layers would make a difference, right?

    1. I used a 9X13 inches baking pan.




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