On Monday my coworkers were discussing which weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) they had visited on the weekend. An outsider would have assumed they had travelled to different cities to shop for gifts and drink glühwein. But no! They all went to different markets here in Dresden. I like to joke that I can usually leave my house and walk to the main station while getting completely drunk on the way only from glühwein fumes. There is a Christmas market on every street!
Every year on the first Advent weekend Dresden turns into Christmas market headquarter with locals and tourists crashing the famous Striezelmarkt and bakeries selling the original Dresden stollen by the metric tonne. I do admit that I usually try to avoid this whole spectacle. There’s just way too much glühwein, bratwurst, and people. But of course that is not so easy.There is a Christmas market right next to our daycare, too. F loves it. There’s a carousel she can ride, a booth with wooden swords and arrows, and a smith she loves to watch.
Last year, when I waited next to the carousel for my daughter to finish her after kindergarten ride I noticed something I’d never seen before. Next to the stollen, bratwurst, and hot alcoholic beverages, there were a few stands selling Hungarian kürtőskalács (translation: chimney cake), or baumstriezel, as it is called in German. I’ve read about these cakes a couple of times as travelling vegans sometimes seem to get lucky and find vegan versions of this treat in Hungary, Austria, or the Czech Republic. I don’t really remember if this cake has been a weihnachtsmarkt thing in the past before and if, it must be a local thing, of course influenced by our neighbouring countries in Eastern Europe. My Northern German sister had no idea what this chimney cake was when I showed her a picture.
Baumstriezel are made from an enriched yeast dough that is cut into long stripes and wrapped around a thick spit. The cake is sprinkled with sugar and baked over an open fire or in special electric ovens. You can choose between different toppings like nuts and sprinkles.
After a quick google search I found a really wonderful recipe with lots of helpful instructions on the German blog Hefe und mehr. Instead of a spit Stefanie uses a plain old baking pin and instead of the open charcoal fire she recommends the oven broiler. Wow, that sounded almost too easy to be true. But it worked like a charm and we had such a wonderful Saturday making our own kürtőskalácsok! It was like in the old days when we kids sat in front of my grandmother’s oven to get warm. And now we were sitting in front of another oven to watch the caramel melt. We had to turn the cake a bit every minute. It was a lot of fun and in the end we had an amazing huge pipe that was sweet and amazingly crispy on the outside while being fluffy and hot on the inside. It was the perfect treat. I was very satisfied with the results and never would have thought that this treat is so easy to make at home. Of course you have to watch the cake and make sure the caramel doesn’t burn. As you can see from the pictures my cake didn’t come out completely flawless and evenly browned, but I think that’s part of the fun.
It’s important to preheat the broiler to a very high temperature (250°C) and place the log as close to the heating element as possible. But make sure it doesn’t get too close! I put mine on the highest rack first and it got stuck to the heater element and burnt immediately. The rack right under the top rack is just fine. Mind you, I am talking about German equipment here and I have no idea what your oven looks like. Same goes for baking pins. Use a standard wooden roller type one with handles.
For broiling, the pin is placed on top of a baking dish. It shouldn’t touch the bottom of that dish and you should have enough room to turn the pin around while baking. Also, cover the handles of the pin and everything that is not wrapped with dough in aluminum foil, so it won’t burn. Then grease the uncovered part of your pin with a lot of margarine. To wrap it around the pin I used Stefanie’s method of rolling the dough into a disk that was about 0.5 cm thick and then cut it into a spiral, like the you can see in one of the pictures at the bottom.
- To make the dough place the flour in a large bowl.
- Add yeast, sugar, and salt.
- Mix with oat milk and melted margarine.
- Knead into a smooth dough and cover with a kitchen towel.
- Let rest for two hours.
- Preheat the broiler of your oven to 250°C.
- Grease a rolling pin with margarine and wrap the handles in aluminum foil.
- Divide the dough into three pieces. Roll one piece into a disc, 0.5 cm thick and cover the remaining two pieces with a damp kitchen towel.
- Cut the dough into a spiral, so that you get a long string that is about 1 cm thick.
- Tightly wrap the string around the rolling pin.
- Brush with melted margarine.
- Generously sprinkle with sugar.
- Place the rolling pin over a baking dish so that the handles will rest on the edges of the dish but the centre of the pin with the dough wrapped around it won't touch the dish.
- Place under the broiler and bake for about one minute or until the sugar starts to caramelise and changes its colour to brown.
- Rotate the pin a bit and repeat.
- Bake and rotate until the cake is evenly browned.
- Carefully remove from oven. Cover with a kitchen towel and push the cake off the pin.
- Serve and eat immediately.
- Bake the remaining two chimney cakes.
Recipe method courtesy of Hefe und mehr. Recipe adapted from the same site.