Almost every subway stop in Budapest has its own bakery (and some have two or three). Piled high in the display cases are many kinds of Pogácsa—a round, flaky scone that can be enjoyed at any time of the day. Pogácsa loosely translates into pompom, a reference to their crosshatched tops. Some of them are slightly sweet, sprinkled with sesame or poppy seeds or nuts, but most of them are on the salty, savory side. You’ll also find bite-size Pogácsa made for nibbling with wine or beer.
Hungarians love pork (tepertös Pogácsa, made from pork or goose cracklings, is one of the most popular varieties), and many bakeries’ Pogácsa have the distinct taste and tender flakiness that comes from lard. Because good lard is hard to come by unless you make it yourself, butter Pogácsa is the best choice for the American cook and gives a more subtle flavor that is delicious with morning coffee.
To keep the Pogácsa flaky, the dough is folded like puff pastry and not allowed to rise as much as other yeast pastries. If you make round Pogácsa, the trimmings can be gathered up and cut into more scones, but the subsequent cuttings are never as attractive as the first ones. (Most bakeries turn the trimmings into the bite-size version, in which the lack of flakiness isn’t as noticeable.) You can solve this problem by making rectangular scones, but the round ones are really the prettier.
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