Peter, my Hungarian translator, had met me at a neighborhood café near my hotel and was taking me on a personal tour of the café’s glass dessert case, giving his picks and pans of the display. When he arrived at a bowl filled with scooped cake “dumplings,” layered with vanilla cream and topped with chocolate sauce and whipped-cream rosettes, he paused in reverence. It was Somlói Galuska (“Somló Dumplings”), named for a wine town near Lake Balaton, but a big-city dessert that is on the top of almost every Buda-pester’s short list of favorites.
This extravaganza originated at Gundel, the famous restaurant, but it isn’t difficult to prepare at home. A restaurant pastry chef would have a battery of baking pans to easily bake the three required layers, dividing a basic biscuit dough into thirds and flavoring one part with ground walnuts and one with cocoa. I do not assume that a home cook will have three baking pans, so this recipes bakes them separately one after the other in the same pan. The layers are thin, so they bake and cool quickly, and the other components are quick to prepare. Make the cake at least eight hours ahead so the layers have time to soak.