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The glorious Hungarian trifle, somlói galuska is not for the faint of heart to make… But then no trifle can compare with the somlói! Back in the sixties my great uncle, Hauptmann Kálmán was head waiter at one of the most distinguished restaurants in Budapest, called the Mátyás Pince [Matthyas Basement]. I used to run errands for him that sometimes took me to the restaurant. Each time I went the doorman would usher me downstairs, where my uncle promptly put me into a booth and gave the order to one of the young waiters for a “protekciós adag” [protectionist portion] of somlói galuska. They would bring out this ginormous platter of somlói, ah but the taste, the taste of it was out of this world!

the Mátyás Pince same now as it was for 220 years

When I went back for a visit in 1972, I took a chance and dropped in at the Hungária Coffee House, the New York now, and had a much smaller, but equally good somlói. After that I just dreamed about it, never quite repeating the same experience. I remember trying one at the Erkel in 1984 and in some coffee shop in Tatabánya four years later and on both occasions being utterly disappointed.

The Hungária Coffee House [New York Coffe House now]

I made it a few times myself; never quite getting the flavour right. Periodical Internet searches resulted in much the same bland recipe until, good grief; I found the answer in one of my own cookbooks! It was in János Rákóczi’s “Konyhaművészet”. I had it all along but thanks to the weird indexing I never stumbled on it until then. Aha! What has been missing from most of the recipes was the orange flavour. Rákóczi put orange rind into his rum soak!

I make it with richer custard though. I also soak the raisins in the rum. It took me only 4 decades and some, but finally I believe I have the recipe to the somlói my great uncle introduced me to all those years ago in Budapest.

First make the rum raisins. Then make the syrup. Then make the custard. While everything is cooling, bake the cakes. While the cakes bake set out the various fillings. When the cakes are cooled somewhat, you can stack the somlói. Cover it and move it into the fridge for the flavours to merge and mature. Give it at least 24 hours of rest. The chocolate sauce can be made any time before you serve the somlói, but the whipping cream is to be whipped just before serving.

You supposed to bake 3 thin foam cakes; one vanilla, one chocolate and one walnut. In the end the cakes are indistinguishable from one another so I thought why not merge them already? I still made 3 cakes, but from one batter. What would you call a vanilla-chocolate-walnut foam cake? Dividing the batter between the three pans was considerably faster than baking 3 different cakes. I considered buying three small baking pans for the project, but in the end I baked my cakes in three disposable cake pans. Their depth allowed me to use one of the pans for layering the somlói. In the end it was all very convenient.

SOAKING SYRUP: 3/4 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, rind of 1 orange, rind of 1/2 lemon, 1/3 cup rum

CUSTARD: 4 egg yolks, 1 cup sugar, 3/4 cup flour, 2 cups whole milk, 1/2 vanilla bean, rind of 1/2 lemon

CAKES: 6 egg yolks, 6 Tbsp sugar, 6 Tbsp cake flour, 2 Tbsp cocoa, 6 egg whites, 2 Tbsp finely ground walnuts

Rum Raisin: 3/4 cup golden raisins, 1/3 cup rum
1 cup finely ground walnut
1/3 cup apricot jam, sieved
1-2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa

2 cups heavy whipping cream, 2 Tbsp icing sugar
Rum-Chocolate Sauce: 3/4 cup water, 3 Tbsp rum, 6 squares high-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, 3/4 cup sugar

• Place 3/4 cup of golden raisins in 1/3 cup of rum and then set it aside for use later.
• To prepare the soaking syrup, place 3/4 cup of water in a small saucepan.
• Cut off the rind of one orange, removing the white pith. Add the orange rind to the pot.
• Cut off the rind of half a lemon, removing the pith. Add the lemon rind to the pot.
• Add 1/2 cup of sugar.
• Place the saucepan on the stove and bring its contents to a boil.
• Keep simmering until syrup is reduced to 1/2 cup.
• Then remove from heat.
• Remove the rinds with a slotted spoon, squeezing out the syrup back into the pan.
• Discard the rinds and set aside the syrup to cool.
• When the soaking syrup is lukewarm, pour the rum off the raisins into a clean measuring cup.
• Set the rum raisin aside for later use.
• You need 1/3 cup of rum, but since the raisins soaked up some of it, replace now the missing amount.
• Add the 1/3 cup of rum to the soaking syrup and then set it aside.
• To prepare the custard, cut open the vanilla bean and put it into a microwavable bowl.
• Add the zest from half a lemon and 2 cups of whole milk. Heat to the boiling.
• Transfer the hot milk with the vanilla bean to a saucepan and bring it to the boil.
• When the milk comes to the boil remove from the heat and set it aside to cool, allowing the vanilla bean to steep a little while longer.
• Meanwhile beat 4 egg yolks with 1 cup sugar for four minutes.
• Add the sieved 3/4 cup of flour to the beaten eggs and beat to combine.
• When the milk is no longer scalding hot, very gradually, in driblets first, add to the yolk mixture whisking to combine.
• When all the milk has been added to the yolk mixture pour the whole thing back into the saucepan.
• On medium heat cook up the custard, all the while whisking vigorously.
• When custard is sufficiently thick remove from heat and set it aside to cool.
• Meanwhile bake the cakes.
• Preheat the oven to 350F.
• Line 3 disposable cake pans with parchment. Either the square or the round type. You can also use three 9 inch cake pans. The cakes will be thin.  
• Place 6 egg yolks, 6 Tbsp of sugar into a bowl and beat for 4-5 minutes until very thick.
• Gradually add 6 Tbsp of sifted cake flour and 2 Tbsp of sifted cocoa, beating well with each addition.. 
• In a clean bowl and with clean beaters beat the egg whites until very stiff peaks form.
• Gradually fold the beaten egg whites into the yolk mixture, being mindful not to crush the egg whites.
• Finally gently fold in 2 Tbsp of finely ground walnuts.
• Divide the cake batter between the three prepared pans and bake until tops resist when gently pressed.
• Remove cakes from the oven and let them cool in the pans.
• While the cakes cool, set out the fillings.
• The raisin rum and the soaking syrup are ready. In addition you will need 1 cup of finely ground walnuts and about 1-2 tablespoons of cocoa.
• Remove the paper from the cakes.
• Place one cake back into the pan it was baked in. If the pan is not deep enough, for three layers, use instead a casserole dish or a plastic container that will fit the cakes.
• Sprinkle 1/3 of the soaking syrup over the cake.
• Scatter 1/3 of the raisins on top.
• Sprinkle 1/3 of the ground walnuts on top.
• Spread 1/3 of the custard on top.
• Place the second cake layer over the custard, pressing it down a bit.
• Sprinkle the second cake with half of the remaining soaking syrup; scatter half of the remaining raisins and half of the remaining ground walnuts on the top. Then spread half of the remaining custard over the top.
• Now lay the third cake layer on the top, pressing down a bit.
• Sprinkle with the remaining soaking syrup.
• Spread the top with a thin layer of sieved apricot jam.
• Scatter the remaining raisins on the top.
• Sprinkle with the remaining ground walnuts and spread the remaining custard on the top.
• Sieve 1-2 Tbsp of unsweetened cocoa over the custard layer.
• Cover the whole thing with plastic wrap and then wrap it up with aluminum foil.
• Place in the fridge for a minimum of 24 hours.
• Sometime before serving make the rum-chocolate sauce.
• In a small saucepan, bring 3/4 cup water, 6 squares of bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, 3/4 cup sugar and 3 Tbsp of rum to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.
• Cook at a brisk simmer, stirring often, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
• Cool slightly.
• Just before serving whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form.
• Sweeten with 2 Tbsp of icing sugar and then beat until stiff peaks form.
• Serve the somlói galuska as individual desserts. With an ice-cream scoop or a soup spoon, scoop out 2 or 3 dumplings from the cake and stack it on a plate.
• Smother with whipped cream and drizzle the top with the rum-chocolate sauce.


  1. Zsuzsa, it looks like the state of the art and probably the most elaborate dessert I have ever seen!
    When I was in Budapest my Hungarian took me to New York café. It was beautiful, but a kind of strict atmosphere was in the air, like a reminiscence of communist times... The sign "no photographs" spoiled a bit my glass of wine :-)
    I didn't have any sweets there though.
    PS I have published today the vinegared Japanese fish recipe. Very easy, but requiring several Japanese ingredients

  2. Sissi - if you ever have a chance to go have the somloi - its absolutely amazing!

  3. Wow! I'm so so glad I found your blog. I was in Hungary for a day this week and I ate this dessert. I'm going to add this to my cooking bucket list. Thank you so much for writing about this.

    1. I am glad you found my recipe. It took me awhile to develop it, but now it tastes like the real thing.

  4. This sounds amazing, what kind of rum do you use? White? Dark? Spiced?

    1. Use the darkest cooking rum [in other words the least expensive]
      Spicy rum would ruin the flavors.

  5. Hi Zsuzsa, I was wondering how necessary it is to let the cakes sit for 24 hours before serving. Will it really make a difference if they've only been left alone for say about 7 hours?

    1. It is very important to let the flavors come together. 24 hrs is a minimum. I generally make it 2-3 days before serving.

  6. Hi Zsuzsa! Thanks for this recipe - my husband spent two years in Hungary doing missionary work, and loved every aspect of his time there! For Father's Day this year, he wanted a Hungarian meal, and specifically requested this cake. I've avoided making it before because it's so complex. Your recipe looked simple enough to give it a try, and it is FANTASTIC.

    There were a couple of instructions that could use some clarification for someone new to the recipe: The ingredients list for the cake only specifies the egg yolks, but you DO need to reserve the whites to beat and fold in later, so maybe a better wording there would be "6 eggs, separated." Also, it would help to specify the size of the cake pan, and the temperature and time for American cooks. I used 13"x9" cake pans (and ran out of parchment, but baking spray - the kind with flour mixed in - worked just fine!) and was terrified by how thin the layers were. But I spread them as evenly as I could and baked them at 350*F for about 10 minutes and they came out thin (like maybe 3/8") but definitely usable. And of course once it was all layered with the fillings it was a nice, normal-sized cake. Last and definitely least, since we don't drink, I replaced all the rum with an equivalent amount of water with a little rum extract. That's not going to be a problem for most people, but I thought I'd throw that in for any other teetotalers eyeballing this amazing recipe. :)

    Thank you again for this recipe!! So SO good!

    1. Thank you, thank you for letting me know I left out the egg whites from the cakes. As complicated this recipe seems, I hugely simplified it. I included in the write up the type of pans I used and that the cakes come out thin. I used 3 disposable square cake pans. I am adjusting the recipe and once again thank you for letting me know.

  7. I know this is a very silly question, but is it possible to substitute rum with rum flavor? I'm pregnant and really want to try this, as my husband praises it all the time, but did not really wanna risk using alcohol :P

  8. Well of course it is possible. If I served this to an alcoholic I would make vanilla sugar from vanilla beans and avoid the use of the rum flavour altogether. It has been a while since you wrote this, I hope you made it with rum flavour. This is very good.

  9. Replies
    1. Thank you Lizzy. I don't make this often, my son in law is allergic to walnuts and my girl hates raisins. So this is way too much for my love and I... but oh a small dish of somloi would be lovely. I miss you. <3

  10. This is so comlicated that it discouraged me forever from trying to make your Somloi. There out to be simpler way to make it!

    1. :-) well you don't know what you are missing and have no clue of the extent I simplified this iconic recipe. I won't deal with the necessity of letting me know of your frustration upon seeing it, but I will say this much... sorry you were having a bad day.

      This is a complex old recipe for sure. If you want quality you have to give it your time and attention. You can’t just open a box, throw in a couple of eggs water and oil, bake it and call it cake or make an instant pudding and call it custard.

      Traditionally, Hungarian recipes were written in a type of shorthand. With the assumption that people who use it will already know how to make 3 different types of cakes and just the right amount of custard from the eggs the recipe collectively calls for. Yes it said “bake three cakes, one vanilla, one chocolate and one walnut. Then make a nice custard.” Why this looks complicated is because I organized the ingredients and the entire process in a way that anyone can follow it in the shortest possible time and without making mistakes. Sure it looks lengthy and time consuming, but I walk you through the process step by step. As I said, you don't know what you are missing.




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