Sunday, December 4, 2011


Gerbeaud, or zserbo, is a Hungarian classic. Chocolate, apricot jam and walnut flavors meld into a perfect combination in this elegant dessert. It is named after Emil Gerbeaud, the chef who made the Cafe Gerbeaud of Budapest famous for its high quality products and bakery art. In fact, sampling cakes and candies at Cafe Gerbeaud is a must for anyone visiting Budapest.

But the cake didn't remain in the professional realm, and versions of the recipe circulate in every Hungarian household. I recall eating half a platter as a young child, in spite of my mild walnut allergy. My grandmother always scolded me for it. But it was my favorite cake, and thus irresistible.

200g flour
100g butter
20g powdered sugar
1 egg yolk
25 mL milk
1 tbsp water
small pinch of salt
1 tsp dried yeast
1 tsp baking powder

450g homemade apricot jam
200g ground walnuts
100g sugar
zest of one lemon
1 package vanilla sugar
small pinch of cinnamon

4 oz Ghirardelli dark chocolate
2 tbsp cream

Line the bottom of an 11-inch springform pan with baking paper. Spray the sides with vegetable oil.

Mix the yeast with the warm water and allow to dissolve. Add the warm milk and mix all other ingredients until it comes together into a buttery dough. Cut into four equal pieces, cover with foil and refrigerate.

Mix the ground walnuts with the other fillings, with the exception of the jam. Distribute into three equal portions.

Take out the first dough ball and roll into a large enough disc to cover the bottom of the springform pan and go 1-inch up the sides. Spread 150g of jam on it, all the way to the edges. Sprinkle with a third of the filling.

Repeat with the other three balls of dough, cutting them so they fit exactly into the pan.

Trim the excess side dough from the sides after the last disc is in place. Prick the top with a fork.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Bake the cake for about 50 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool in the shape overnight.

The next day cut the cake from the edges of the pan. Flip onto a flat, smooth cutting board (make sure it's one devoted to sweets, not veggies and definitely not meat).

Chop the chocolate and add the cream, microwave until cream is hot and after allowing it to sit for 1 minute, mix until smooth. Spread the chocolate on the top of the cake (which was originally the bottom during baking).

Allow to set and slice into small slices. It stores well at cold room temperature, in fact, it's better on the second day. Enjoy!

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