Somodi Kalács from the Bakehouse

Traditional Hungarian Cinnamon Swirl Bread

By Ari Weinzweig

Over the years, the Somodi Kalács has built a big following. The staff in the ZCoB is especially enamored of it. When we have a Special Bake coming the buzz starts to build, and ZCoBbers begin to place their own orders of this traditional Hungarian bread. It’s hard to resist those swirls of cinnamon and creamy butter baked into a golden crust!

The story of Somodi

The name, if you don’t yet know it, is pronounced sho-MO-dee-ka-loch. If you’re not yet familiar with it, it is a particularly tasty cinnamon swirl bread that’s made in the tradition of the Transylvanian town of Torockó. The town’s website says, “‘Somodi’ is the pride of Torockó gastronomy.” Amy Emberling, long time co-managing partner of the Bakehouse and co-author of the books Zingerman’s Bakehouse and Celebrate Every Day, shares that,

Somodi Kalács originated some 400 years ago, when the village of Torockó was a prosperous iron ore and gold mining town. The lucrative metals trade gave villagers the means to afford cinnamon and sugar, which back then were a big luxury. It was, and continues to be, served for Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, and until the 20th century, it was the customary wedding cake.

How we make ours

Made with organic wheat flour, Michigan honey, fresh eggs, and a sweet, buttery, cinnamon sugar swirl, the smell is amazing. The taste is even better. Sophia Gottfried, writing last fall, talked about her first trip to Transylvania:

It was easy to fall in love with Transylvania. From the moment I clambered off the small, tinny plane from Budapest at the small regional airport in Marosvásárhely, I was taken by its beauty. Rows and rows of golden sunflowers, framed by the verdant hills and rugged peaks of the Apuseni Mountains rolled by as we headed for our bed and breakfast. … I wasn’t really focused on dessert. … That is, until I tried a pastry called somodi kalács … it’s as if cinnamon-raisin bread and babka had a baby. While every meal served by our grandmotherly hosts left us stuffed, I loved the folded bread so much that our guide got the inn to pack us a honey-glazed loaf to go.

It’s much the same story all the way here in Ann Arbor. Many customers tell me they buy two—one to eat a large part of in the car on the way home, the other for the family. The Kalács is wonderful ripped right off the loaf and enjoyed with coffee. The Kalács makes a killer French toast. Or I guess we could call it Transylvanian toast. The Somodi Kalács is available at the Bakeshop, Deli, and Roadhouse for Easter! Like I said, they sell quickly, so when you know they are coming, hop on one of the websites or pick up the phone and place your order ASAP! As food writer Anna Howard Shaw says, “No Hungarian Easter is complete without Kalács!”