Somloi is Hungary’s answer to sherry trifle. It’s very rich, so a small portion is all that’s needed, but as it’s not worth making just four portions at a time, this recipe will deliver somloi for eight. You can always invite more friends round if this is a problem, or eat it two days in succession.


For the Sponge

  • 4 small (medium) eggs
  • 100 g ( oz/½ cup) caster (granulated) sugar
  • 100 g ( oz/¾ cup) plain (all-purpose) flour

For the Pastry Cream

  • 175g (6 oz/heaping ¾ cup) caster (granulated) sugar
  • 8 medium (large) egg yolks
  • 750ml (1 pint 6fl oz/3¼ cup) milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split 50g (2 oz/scant cup) plain (all-purpose) flour

For the Paste

  • 75g (3 oz/¾ cup) walnuts
  • 100 g ( oz/heaping ¼ cup) apricot jam
  • 6 tablespoons rum

To Decorate

  • 50g (2 oz/½ cup) dark chocolate, in pieces
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 300ml (11 fl oz/1⅓ cups) double (heavy) cream


First make the sponge. Heat the oven to 190°C (375°F/Gas 5). Whisk the eggs and sugar together to ribbon stage – when the mixture is thick enough to form a ribbon as the whisk is lifted. Fold in the flour. Transfer the mixture to a square cake tin 5 cm (2 in) deep and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the cake from the tin and leave to cool on a rack.

To make the pastry cream, whisk half the sugar with the egg yolks. Meanwhile, heat the remaining sugar, milk and vanilla to boiling point. Whisk the flour into the egg mixture, then whisk in the infused hot milk. Remove the vanilla bean and scrape the small black seeds back into the custard. Stir until it returns to the boil, then pour the pastry cream into a bowl to cool.

Grind the walnuts to breadcrumb-size, then add the apricot jam and rum and mix well.

Slice the sponge cake horizontally into two 2 cm (¾in) layers. Spread both with the walnut paste, then place a layer of the sponge, sticky side up, into a deep dish. Pour on the pastry cream and top with another layer of sponge, sticky side down this time. Refrigerate until cool or, better, overnight.

To decorate, gently melt the chocolate and butter together. Lightly whip the cream. Cut the somloi into squares and place on serving dishes. Cover with a large spoonful of whipped cream, then drizzle with the melted chocolate.