Kugler Torta (Kugler Cake)
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.
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”.
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.
- 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)
- 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
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees
- Mix together the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, flour and rum on medium speed of mixer for 1-2 min until thoroughly combined
- Whip egg whites to stiff peak
- Fold egg whites into egg yolk mixture gently until just blended
- Fold in ground nuts or cookies
- Scrape batter into buttered and floured 9 inch baking pan
- Bake for 30-35 minutes until toothpick comes out clean
- When cool, split into two layers
- Spread bottom layers with filling, top with remaining layer
- Whip cream and icing sugar, and spread on top and sides of cake; pipe decorative cream on top
- Decorate top with nuts
Here is a video of the making of a Kugler Torta:
Pauline’s Kugler Torta Recipe