What Is Somloi Galuska?

Dan Harkins

Somloi galuska is among the more eye-popping of Hungary's long list of tempting native sweets, a localized version of a global favorite — the trifle. It may not have the delicacy of the little aprosutemeny cookies or the intricacy of a layered Stefania cake, but it makes up for those shortcomings with a heaping medley of angel food cake in at least a few different flavors. Holding it all together, trifle-style, is custard or pastry cream, rum syrup, raisins and walnuts. Chocolate sauce and whipped cream are heaped on at the end for added interest and flavor.

Cake flour and eggs, two of the ingredients in somloi galuska.
Cake flour and eggs, two of the ingredients in somloi galuska.

Hailing from Somlo, a wine region in the northwest of Hungary, Somloi galuska literally means "Somlo's dumplings" in Hungarian. The dumplings refer to chunks of angel food cake in alternative flavors. Some chefs use two customary flavors, such as plain and walnut angel food, or walnut and cocoa. Others combine all three and even more, if ambitious. The cakes are purchased from bakeries or made from scratch, typically with eggs, sugar, cake flour and salt. Individual flavors are created with simple additions like nuts, cocoa powder or even citrus zest.

Walnuts are commonly used in somloi galuska.
Walnuts are commonly used in somloi galuska.

As the angel food cake is cooked, the chef will need to whip up a few complementary items, such as a pastry custard, using milk, vanilla, water, gelatin, egg and sugar. Several different custard recipes are readily available, with vanilla custard being the most traditional for somloi galuska. Once completed, this custard is set aside while the chef makes a syrup out of rum, sugar and some citrus zest, reducing it slightly in a pan over medium heat.

Once the somloi galuska's inner layers are prepared, it is time to assemble it for final cooling. In a deep bowl — glass will offer a more aesthetically pleasing effect — the first flavor of cake is chosen as the foundation, followed by a brushing of the rum syrup, a liberal layering of the custard and a sprinkling of raisins and nuts. The next type of angel food cake is laid, and the order is repeated until the bowl is full.

After cooling through in the refrigerator, somloi galuska is ready for its closeup. Using a big spoon or ice cream scooper, chefs heap the layers of trifle on the plate. This is capped by some whipped cream and chocolate sauce. A store-bought chocolate syrup will suffice; however, traditional somloi galuska calls for another helping of rum in a chocolate sauce that is best drizzled on when warm.

Somloi galuska resembles a trifle made with custard or pastry cream.
Somloi galuska resembles a trifle made with custard or pastry cream.

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