Gundel pancake, the most delicious Hungarian pancake
Just like every nation, Hungarians have their traditional cuisine also. The Hungarian cuisine is famous for its spicy food, especially for red pepper, called Paprika. I am sure that there’s nobody who hasn’t heard of the the Hungarian goulash which is probably the most famous Hungarian food. Of course, those who visit Hungary don’t have to go far for some delicious dessert either. The most typical Hungarian desserts are made with poppy seeds, walnut, cottage-cheese and other fruits from the country (for example apple, grape, plum, etc.).
Pancakes are popular sweets (although sometimes it may be salty); almost every nation has its own pancake version. The Gundel pancake is a crêpe-like variety of pancake firstly created by Károly Gundel in Hungary. The classic one is with ground walnuts, raisins, and rum filling served flambéed in a dark chocolate sauce made with egg yolks, heavy cream, and cocoa. But the original recipe is a secret, only the world famous Gundel restaurant knows it! But let’s go back to the origin of this very tasty pancake.
Károly Gundel is coming from a Bavarian family, his father, who was a son of a baker, came to Budapest in 1857 to try his luck at the age of 13. It went so well that in 1869 he bought his first restaurant, the Vienna beer-house. Two years later he was the owner of the so-called ‘Virágbokor’ restaurant, where he had famous guests like Ferenc Liszt and Kálmán Mikszáth. His success story was continued by his son, who bought the Wampetich restaurant in the Városliget in 1910.
Right after that, the restaurant changed its name to Gundel restaurant, and Károly Gundel has also gained an international reputation. According to the legend, the pancake was invented by Lola Matzner, who was the wife of Sándor Márai, the famous Hungarian writer. After a premiere of a Márai play, a banquet was held in Gundel, and Lola prepared her own dessert by renovating an old family recipe. Károly Gundel loved the dessert so much that he put it on the menu of the restaurant under the name of Márai Pancake. But after the emigration of the Márai couple in 1949, in the nationalized restaurant, this name could not be on the menu, so Gundel had to rename the pancake. Since then everybody has known this dessert as Gundel pancake. The pancakes and the reputation of the Gundel family have been unbroken since that action.
This pancake is a dominant food of the Hungarian cuisine. The New York Times wrote that the Gundel Restaurant did more for Hungary’s reputation than a shipload of tourist brochures. The Gundel restaurant is still waiting for the guests, so if you want to go and taste it, don’t hesitate. The restaurant still considers this dessert as its most iconic dish. 25,000 portions of pancakes(Gundel) are served in the Gundel restaurant each year according to the restaurant’s website. It is recommended to book a table if you don’t want to miss this experience.
If we go back to the origin of Károly Gundel, it is not surprising that it is a well-known dessert in Austria also. If you don’t have the opportunity to go to a restaurant to taste this traditional dessert, you can make it at home. The main components of this heavenly dessert are already mentioned above, but you can find several good recipes on the internet too. If you really want to be part of the Hungarian feeling of life, you should drink some good Hungarian wine for example Tokaji beside the dessert. These colours, tastes, and textures are all representing the Hungarian gastronomy. Once you are visiting Hungary, be sure to have a bite of it, because this symbolizes the Hungarian culture.