Kurtoskalacs, also known as Hungarian Chimney Cakes.
The familiar smells of warm bread and pastries spread through Kurtosh, a small bakery located in the streets of Randwick. The sweet aromas of sugary baked goods, cinnamon and the sound of a coffee machine bring you a few steps closer to the entrance beyond the glass windows. As you walk inside the establishment after peering out of curiosity, you notice Kurtosh is not just any ordinary bakery. Bringing a little bit of Hungarian culture to the streets of Sydney, Kurtosh is all about recreating the popular treats sold on the streets of Hungary.
This Hungarian-inspired bakery is known not only for its range of savoury and sweet treats of the culture, but also for its chimney cakes traditionally known as kurtoskalacs - the pastry which inspired the name of the bakery. These traditional treats are made up of a thin, flaky pastry, wrapped around a cylindrical rod and baked before the hollow pastry is caramelised with a sweet glaze and rolled in a few extra sweet toppings. Since the opening of Kurtosh in 2011, the bakery has expanded to other locations in Surry Hills and Crows Nest, giving Sydney-siders the opportunity to taste these traditional Hungarian pastries without the need of travelling overseas.
Pistachio and Cinnamon Kurtosh, just two flavours out of a possible seven.
All the chimney cakes are baked upon order. Therefore, you might need to wait a few minutes. The wait is definitely worth it when you’re guaranteed a fresh pastry to reach your table. Ranging from $7.50-$9.50, there are different flavours of Kurtosh including Cinnamon, Coconut, Pistachio, Hazelnut, Chocolate and Sprinkles.
For a more traditional flavour, the Cinnamon Kurtosh ($7.50) is the ideal choice. The flavour will take you back to memories similar to eating a cinnamon doughnut, in enjoying a treat that presents something quite warm and sugary, only this pastry is crispier rather than spongey or cake-like. For a little extra texture and sweetness, try a nutty flavour like this Pistachio Kurtosh ($8.50). It gives the pastry something extra special with crunchy pistachio nuts completely covering the chimney cake that is already topped with a layer of the sticky, sweet and shiny glaze. Eating the Kurtosh also brings its own fun experience. Tear the pastry up into small pieces, or follow the pattern and unravel the swirl. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you have someone with you to also enjoy the experience.
Chocolate biscuits, Palmiers, Biscotti and loaves of different flavours of Brioche.
Since most of the pastries at Kurtosh are sold by weight, there are plenty of opportunities to try a variety of treats. Order a small slice of the creamy cheesecakes, decadent brownies, chocolate cakes or assorted sweet tea cakes topped with sticky nuts and fresh fruits. Then have a seat around one of the round wooden tables with matching stools, and wait for your cakes to arrive on beautiful retro-coloured plates.
Chocolate Rogallach - delicious little bite-sized twists.
I had the chance to try the Chocolate Rogallach ($4.90 per 100g), which is a very thin, sweet pastry with a dark chocolate filling rolled in between. At the first glance, the dark colour of the chocolate makes it appear quite bitter and rich. However, the first bite proved this was not the case. The Rogallach had a delicate, crispy texture with a chocolate filling that was just the right amount of sweetness.
The Spinach and Ricotta Bureka might remind you of a pastry triangle, only much better.
There’s definitely something here for the savoury pastry lovers as well such as the Burekas - parcels of flaky puff pastry filled with either mashed potatoes and mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes or the classic combination of spinach and ricotta. Each are shaped differently from squared, triangular and swirled, which are served warm and topped with a generous amount of sesame seeds to add some texture and heighten the appearance. The Spinach and Ricotta Bureka ($4.90 per 100g), with its flaky and buttery pastry, was filled with a generous amount of that classic combination we all know and love.
Whether you stop over at Kurtosh for a plate of traditional Hungarian treats or contemporary desserts, you’ll love the ambience of this cottage-style bakery. The wooden floorboards and bare-brick interior create a cosy, relaxing atmosphere that you’ll instantly love, and have you coming back to sample more of these delicious Hungarian pastries in the comfort of your own hometown.
Two entrances and outdoor seating - the exterior of Kurtosh.
Where: Kurtosh, 20B-20C St Pauls Street, Randwick NSW
Why: Not everyone has a chance to travel to Hungary to try these desserts, so Kurtosh is the next best thing.
Cost: Chimney cakes range from $7.50-$9.50, most pastries sold at $4.90 per 100g, slab cakes sold at $4.00 per 100g.
When: Although opened for long hours, the vibe of the café makes it a great place for breakfast or tea time (morning or afternoon).
Good for kids: Yes, although prams may not fit inside. Outdoor seating is available.
Take away: Yes.