It happens that you make room for dessert. Sometimes, when you eat in a restaurant where you know for sure that everything you receive is of the highest quality, you feel you must eat less from the main courses so that you can enjoy the magnificent desserts as well. If you choose to do so in the New York Café, you will definitely make a good decision.
You will find wonderful dishes on the menu, including the most delicious desserts that are highly popular in Hungary. If you see our apple pie, “Rákóczi” cottage cheese cake, Sacher cake, chocolate cake and cheesecake, you will surely give in, no matter how hard you try to resist. And once you have tasted the dessert, you will not regret this.
Some of the desserts are internationally known, as some version of them is popular everywhere in the world. But where do these divine delicacies come from?
While many people are familiar with the English name of this dessert and consider it an essential part of the American culinary culture like hamburgers, the apple pie was not created across the pond. It happened much closer to us. Apple pie was invented in Britain, actually, it was there that people first tried to bake sweet pies. The first such pastry was pumpkin pie, which was first mentioned in writing in a cookbook in 1675. Apple pie was also mentioned first by a Briton, Robert Greene, in a poem, no less. During colonialism, almost every dessert in America had apple in it: English puddings, pies and simple baked apples.
Pies were originally savoury, with a meat filling, and they were already known in the Middle Ages, so the original apple pie is also English. Only later versions could have been invented in America.
Contrary to popular belief, the cake has nothing to do with the renowned historical figure, Francis II Rákóczi. The dessert is in fact named after a pastry chef, János Rákóczi. He studied in Hungary, then worked in Paris, and after he returned home, he was the head of the restaurant at the Palotaszálló hotel in Lillafüred, and later at the Gellért Hotel. From 1953 to his retirement, he was the head chef of Duna Szálló. He published several cookbooks and received many professional awards. The recipe of the cottage cheese cake he invented was first published in a journal for chefs, in 1937. The dessert was well received at the World’s Fair in Brussels in 1958. The base of the dessert is a crumbly, easy-to-roll layer of pastry, on which cottage cheese cream with lemon zest, vanilla and raisins is spread. The cake is covered with light whipped egg whites with sugar, and is decorated with apricot jam.
This world-famous dessert was created by a pastry chef in Vienna, Franz Sacher, in 1832, at the request of prince Metternich. Sacher was 16 at the time, and the cake has been one of the most popular desserts in Vienna ever since. The recipe was refined to perfection by Sacher’s son, Eduard Sacher. The original cake consisted of two layers of dense, not too sweet chocolate cake with a thin layer of apricot jam in between. The side and the top of the cake was covered with plain chocolate. The recipe of the Sacher cake that is promoted now as the “most original” and that can be tasted in the Hotel Sacher in Vienna, is rather different from the original recipes from the 19th century. In many places apricot jam is also added to the raw dough, the cakes are cut into two and filled with hot jam, and the top of the cake is also covered with that.
The cake on which all cakes are based was invented by the conqueror Alexander the Great. Historical records tell us that Alexander of Macedon organised the largest wedding party in known history, in the town of Susa, in Persia. Following the order of the king, ten thousand Macedonian men were persuaded to marry a Persian woman, i.e. ten thousand girls and widows married a member of the Macedonian army. Alexander was inventive in almost all fields of life, and he liked to cause surprise.
In ancient times, the daily ration of soldiers was a piece of bread, which weighed approximately 600 g. The bread was flat and round, like a regular cake today. It was made from roughly ground barley, rye or wheat. On the day of the Susa weddings however, the cake was made from a dough made of grain, almond, walnut, dried fruit and honey. It was cut in half and filled with a cream made of goat’s cheese, aniseed and honey. The top was decorated with rose petals dipped in honey, and magical signs were created from white, blanched almonds.
No-one has come up with a better recipe since Alexander the Great. Even today the cake is made of mixed, sweet dough, cream, coating and decoration on the top.
We started with a cake that people think is from America – let’s finish with another such dessert. It is a known historic fact that cheesecake was wildly popular in ancient Greece already. Written records from 770 BCE reveal that a dessert very similar to what we have today was served to Olympians. Even a recipe has been preserved about “The art of making cheesecake”.
Many European, Latin-American, Asian, and, of course, American versions exist. The basic recipe had changed a lot over the centuries by the time James Kraft invented the kind of cream cheese in the first half of the 20th century that is still an essential ingredient of cheesecakes.
Cheesecakes can be prepared with or without baking. Filling and decoration are different in different cultures and countries. In Italy, there are versions with ricotta and mascarpone, in Belgium there is one with chocolate, but, regardless of borders, New York cheesecake is a real classic, it contains more fat and is richer than the Philadelphia cheesecake, which is usually more creamy and lighter. It may have any kind of filling, what is really important is that it should have a thin layer of sponge cake, shortcrust pastry or biscuit dough, with cream soft as silk at the top.