Somlói Galuska: How to Make the Perfect Hungarian Trifle

Hungary is famed for its fine pastries; many relate to our long Austrian association. There are dessert recipes, however, that are purely Hungarian. Somlói Galuska (SHOM-lo-i GAH-loosh-kah), a kind of trifle on steroids, is an easy cake recipe and delicious member of the Hungarian dessert family.

To me, Somlói Galuska is Hungarian comfort food. No self-respecting Hungarian’s day is complete without a cappuccino break accompanied by a rich cake. Combining vanilla, chocolate, and walnut sponge cakes with chocolate sauce, rum, pastry cream, and whipped cream, Somlói Galuska satisfies the Hungarian appetite for indulgence simply and sweetly.

Somlo is a region in the Northwest section of Hungary, about 100 km from the Austrian Alps. Noted for its white wine production, the history of wine growing in the region dates back to the Roman Empire. Supposedly, a master Hungarian pastry chef created the Somlói Galuska recipe for his wife, who was born in the Somlo region.

A White Christmas in September?

No matter how long you live in a city or country, your birthplace always remains the focal point of your identity. If you have visited my blog often, you know that when I want to go down memory lane I travel to my years in Hungary to find inspiration. When I was a kid, my sister and I loved licking the last of the whipped cream from our Somlói Galuska.

But times and tastes change, and I decided to play around with the recipe of Somlói Galuska.

The classic recipe calls for creating three different sponge cakes: vanilla, chocolate and walnut. I decided to create lemon and chocolate sponge cakes. Next you build the “decorations” or flavors as if you were building a trifle. First you pour some pastry cream on the pieces of the sponge cake. Then you add raisins on top of the cream, and roughly ground toasted walnuts on top of the raisins. Finally, the dish is topped with a generous portion of Chantilly cream and rum chocolate sauce.

I wanted to stay true to the original recipe, but drop some of the unnecessary ingredients that add calories we can live without. So, despite the fact that I love Chantilly cream, I thought the two buttercreams will satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth.

Nowadays, Somlói Galuska is often cut into small squares to reveal the different layers of sponge cake. I like this idea, so that is exactly what I did. Traditionally, the dessert is served in a bowl, where the sponge cake is presented in a “ball” format. That s why it’s called a dumpling (Galuska). Shall we call these Somlói Squares?

The original recipe is actually a bit dry, so to remedy that I made a lemon soaking syrup and sprinkled 2 teaspoons on each piece. The buttercream also replaced the pastry cream. One of my buttercreams is flavored with freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice, the other with freshly macerated strawberries. I skipped the raisins altogether. It’s a bit more work with the buttercream, but the cake will keep better, for about 3 days. With the pastry cream you need to consume the Galuska immediately and discard any remaining pieces.

Somlói Galuska is relatively easy to make. All of the ingredients are in the pantry of any baking enthusiast. The base of the recipe is sponge cake, so we can prepare the batter for all three (or two in this case) as plain sponge cake and divide it into three (two) when we are ready to add the last ingredient (e.g. like cocoa or chocolate for the chocolate one) You can bake all the sponge cakes on a half-sheet pan (total baking time is only 15 minutes). If you wish to add chocolate sauce, it can be prepared ahead, and actually you can just melt some good quality chocolate and pour it on the mixture when serving.

The layering makes the process easy, and if you wish to top the Somloi Galuska with whipped cream, it’s something every child can do. This creation tastes even better if you allow it to set for awhile to absorb the flavors.

Now that you’ve learned all about Somlói Galuska, I hope you’ll try the recipe yourself. And once you have, be sure to come back and comment on your success. I always love to hear from you.

Modern Somlói Galuska Recipe

Ingredients

Sponge cakes

  • 6 large eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups flour (1 cup all purpose, 1 cup cake flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1/2cup sweet butter
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate liqueur
  • zest of three Meyer lemons
  • juice of 1 Meyer lemon
  • ½ teaspoon thyme

Method of Preparation
1. Prepare two half-sheet pans with buttered parchment paper or a silpat.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 325F.

3. Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl with the paddle attachment for 5 minutes or until starts to thicken.

4. Add the sugar in three increments and continue beating for about 2 minutes after each addition or until the mixture becomes pale yellow and light and fluffy.

5. Add the vanilla and stir on low speed just until combined.

6. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (the two flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda).

7. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the egg mixture on low speed just until combined.

8. In a saucepan, heat the milk and butter on low heat just until the butter is melted. Add to the batter and beat on low speed just until combined.

Divide this batter into two equal portions:

Add to ½ the batter:

Mix the sifted cocoa powder with the chocolate liqueur and the boiling water and continue to mix it on a low speed just until combined.

Add to the other half batter the following:

Combine the zest of lemons and lemon juice

9. Pour each of the batters into the prepared half-sheet pans.

10. Circle the pans around to make sure that the batter is leveled.

11. Bake at 325 until the middle springs back when touched, or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (about 15 minutes).

12. Remove from the oven and let the cake stand in the pans for 10 minutes. Then turn out the cakes onto a wire cooling rack, remove the parchment paper and cool completely.

Buttercream

Ingredients

  • 5 egg whites, at rom temperature
  • 11/2 cup caster sugar (fine sugar, smaller crystals than granulated sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • a pinch of cream of tartar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 pound butter (4 sticks)
  • Juice of 2 Meyer Lemons (if you wish, you can add another one; it depends on your preference for the taste)
  • 6 ounces strawberries, macerated

Method of preparation

  1. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, combine the egg whites and sugar.
  2. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are just warm to the touch.
  3. Return the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk. Add the vanilla and beat the egg whites at high speed until firm and glossy, about 5 minutes.
  4. With the machine on, whisk in the butter a few tablespoons at a time. If the mixture begins to look curdled, continue to beat until smooth before adding more butter.
  5. Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the buttercream to a bowl and whisk in the lemon juice (you can add less or more, depending on your taste).
  6. Mix the strawberries in a food processor; do not make it into a juice. Beat the macerated strawberries into the other 11/2 cups of buttercream.

Light Lemon Syrup

  • Finely grated zest from 4 lemons
  • 12 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ cup sugar

Method of preparation

  • Cook everything together in a non-reactive dish until the liquid becomes concentrated (syrupy; about 15-20 minutes).

Assembling the Modern Somlói Galuska

Opposite Attract?

It is preferable to have a square cookie cutter (or a cookie cutter with a design at the edges)

  1. Cut out squares from the cooled sponge cakes
  2. Sprinkle each square with the lemon syrup
  3. Alternate the cakes and alternate the buttercream (see photos).

It is up to you which of the buttercreams you want to be on the top of the tower. Of course, you can always add Chantilly Cream (sweetened whipped cream) on top or on the side of the “Galuska” when serving it.

Somlói Galuska is best to be served 24 hours after assembly. It will allow the ingredients to come together and enhance the flavors.

I did not add the rum chocolate sauce, but if you wish to pour some on the “Galuska” when serving it , here is a recipe for rum chocolate sauce:

This is the recipe of David Lebovitz; I could not resist, because it is really the best ever ( believe it is included in his chocolate book). Thank you David.

The Best Chocolate Sauce by David Lebovitz

1 cup (250 ml) water
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
1/2 cup (160 g) light corn syrup, agave nectar, or glucose
3/4 cup (75 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-processed)
2 ounces (55 g) bittersweet chocolate (64 percent), finely chopped*

1. In a medium non-reactive saucepan, whisk together the water, sugar, light corn syrup (or agave or glucose), and cocoa powder.

2. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once it’s just begun to simmer and boil, remove from heat and stir in the chopped chocolate until melted.

The sauce should stand for a few hours before use; it will give it time to thicken a bit.

Storage: Store the chocolate sauce in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Rewarm before serving.