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Kugler Torta (Kugler Cake)

February 15, 2010

Café Gerbeaud, Budapest

Cafe Gerbeaud, located in Budapest, is one of the oldest, most traditional and famous coffeehouses in Europe. Originally called Kugler’s, it was started in 1858 in Pest by Hungarian Henrik Kugler, a 3rd generation, French-trained confectioner. Kugler became famous for his imported Russian and Chinese teas, and for his ice creations, (the best ice in Pest) as well as for his tortas (cakes) and mignons, little cakes known today as petit fours.   Kugler also came up with the idea of allowing his patrons to take home their cakes and pies in paper boxes, an idea that quickly caught on across Europe.

Café Gerbeaud

In 1882 while on a trip to Paris, Kugler met Emil Gerbeaud. He became entranced with Gerbeaud’s talent and entrepreneurial spirit, and they soon became partners. By 1899, under Gerbeaud’s direction Kugler’s cafe grew to 150 employees, employed modern machinery and carried hundreds of sweet confections  – pastries, butter creams, Parisian crèmes, short cakes, chocolates and candies.  Pastry chefs from across Europe came to Kugler’s to work with this famous chef and the cafe became synonymous with high quality and artistic creation.  Gerbeaud won many international awards over the years, including the Legion of Honour at the Paris World Fair in 1900.  Soon after  the fair, Kugler died and the place was henceforth known as “Gerbeaud’s”.

Café Gerbeaud, Budapest

The Kugler Torta was one of Gerbeaud’s most famous cakes.  In my research, I have not come across another recipe for this cake, although I am sure there are other hazelnut cake recipes out there, just none with this name. Pauline’s good friend who wrote her pastry cookbook for her was employed as a pastry chef for a wealthy family in Novi Sad in the 1920’s and 30’s , and I assume that she learned this recipe from another chef who trained at Gerbeaud’s.

Gerbeaud died in 1919, after suffering through the difficult years of WWI.  His wife took over, and sold the cafe in 1940. From 1950-1984 while under communist control, the place was drastically altered and the name changed. In 1995 a German businessman bought the place and restored it to its stunning original beauty with its exotic woods, marble and bronze.

Bake this cake and brew some tea.  Then sit down, close your eyes and imagine yourself back 150 years ago, sitting at a French marble-top table in Gerbeaud’s, listening to animated conversations at nearby tables and to the clatter of teaspoons against the fine bone china. Sip your Russian imported tea, and enjoy each delectable bite of this light and airy hazelnut rum cake.

Kugler Torta



  • 7 egg yolks
  • 1 and 1/5 cup sugar
  • ½ vanilla pod (1 tsp vanilla)
  • 2 and 2/5 cup roasted and ground hazelnuts (or ground cookies)
  • 2/5 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp rum
  • 7 egg whites
  • (video below also calls for 6 tbsp butter)

Filling Ingredients:

  • 8 tbsp butter
  • 2/5 cup sugar
  • 3 squares baking chocolate


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ¼ cup nuts such as hazelnuts
  • ¼ cup icing sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Mix together the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, flour and rum on medium speed of mixer for 1-2 min until thoroughly combined
  3. Whip egg whites to stiff peak
  4. Fold egg whites into egg yolk mixture gently until just blended
  5. Fold in ground nuts or cookies
  6. Scrape batter into buttered and floured 9 inch baking pan
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes until toothpick comes out clean
  8. Cool
  9. When cool, split into two layers
  10. Spread  bottom layers with filling, top with remaining layer
  11. Whip cream and icing sugar, and spread on top and sides of cake; pipe decorative cream on top
  12. Decorate top with nuts


Here is a video of the making of a Kugler Torta:


Pauline’s Kugler Torta Recipe

3 Comments leave one →
  1. clatterbach permalink
    February 16, 2010 10:48 am

    Love the new banner. I’ve now moved and I’m living with people who would love some of these cakes so I’m really going to have to give them a go. The Medovnik especially. (I may have said that before, admittedly, but this time I mean it.)

    Very cool historical overview again. May have to induct Kugler and Gerbeau into the annals of the Belcher Gastronomique ( So many things to do and so little time.

    • February 16, 2010 1:42 pm

      So you are living in Wales now at the hostel? I hope you have better weather than we do here. The chicken paprikash would be great to serve this time of year, followed by Medovnik. And soon I will put up the recipe for my grandmother’s pupaky.

      There is a whole list of words I am discovering that have previously been obscure, and I feel personally responsible for releasing them of their obscurity. For example, when I started this blog, the word “pusedle” could not be found on the Internet. Now, thanks to me, there are over 189 hits (of course, they nearly all track back here).

      What I love most about my project is stumbling upon stories from the cookbook or from photographs. Discovering things about my great grandparents, like the Czechoslovak Legion, or about the source of a recipe my grandmother made, like Gerbeaud, is like having a clue to a riddle and then tracking down the answer to solve it. I never know what I am looking for exactly, or what I will find, and the hunt is thrilling.

  2. Lidija permalink
    October 10, 2010 11:31 am

    I have just written down this recipe-Pauline’s version, plus your handy additions (oven temperature, for how long to bake-all this was probably common knowledge in Pauline’s time but it is not for me 😀 )
    I wonder how it turned out and how much chocolate you put in. 3 bars of chocolate, as stated in the recipe is, I am guessing, anything between 50-75 grams. Cooking chocolates back home often come in 200g pack but maybe it was different in Pauline’s time.
    I have been to Gerbeaud’s during our honeymoon almost 11 years ago. Most fabulous place and it was as if we were back in those glamurous times in the past… But we had coffee, not tea and no cake as we were skinned. 😀

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