Is the Hungarian pastry worth queuing up for?
Chimney cake, or Kürtőskalács, is a European pastry made by hand rolling layers of dough around a rod. When freshly baked and set upright, the smoke rising from the hollow center of the spit cake reminds one of a smoke-spewing chimney – hence its name.
Chimney cakes are a common sight in Hungary and other Hungarian-speaking regions in Europe, but it’s only reached Singapore in late October.
Foodies can now find the treat in Chimney Singapore at *SCAPE shopping mall along Orchard Road. While chimney cakes have not gripped Singaporeans the same way llaollao’s Spanish frozen yogurt and BAKE’s Hokkaido cheese tarts did, it has still attracted snaking queues in the first 2 opening weekends.
Behind Chimney Singapore are Ken Tham, 28, and Yvonne Tan, 25, who fell in love with the pastry when the couple traveled to Budapest, the capital city of Hungary, in 2012.
“It was love at first bite,” Ken said with a smile, “I was studying there for a semester in my university days and she (Yvonne) came over during my term break for a holiday. It’s really popular there – it’s literally everywhere.”
After graduation, Ken worked in the healthcare industry and Yvonne in the IT industry. But they were clear about their plan to introduce the chimney cakes to Singapore.
“After 3 years, we finally felt that the time was right. We really wanted to be the first in Singapore and thankfully, there were still no shops selling chimneys!” Ken said with a laugh. “Singaporeans are curious about food, especially something that is new, so we just took a leap of faith and tried.”
The couple went back to Hungary earlier in April to find suppliers, and ended up going to an academy in Slovenia to engage teachers. They learnt to make chimney cakes from scratch in 3 days, and also got tips from the teachers on how to run a chimney cake business.
When they returned to Singapore, they adapted the recipe to an “Asian version”. They downsized the pastries, added savory options, and decided to use an oven instead of making it over a grill with charcoal.
For now, the chimney cone with soft serve ice cream is a hot favorite at the shop, but Ken is working on a second version to improve his customers’ experience.
“The hot cones melt the ice cream at a faster rate, so the ice cream drips down the hole in the bottom and through the packaging.
“We’ll work hard and learn along the way – we’ll keep improving, that’s for sure.”
Some customers who have tried the Hungarian version shared that Chimney Singapore’s version tastes different in some ways. For example, Shaun Sim, a 25-year-old undergraduate at Nanyang Technological University, said the chimney cake “wasn’t as soft and fluffy as those in Hungary”. But he added that he likes the soft serve. “I love the flavors and texture, even though it melted quickly.”
In early December, Chimney Singapore announced new additions for the festive period – a Santa and Rudolph cone. “Everybody has been linking chimney cakes with Christmas, so we decided to have these 2 cones,” Ken said. “We hope that everybody will like it!”
Sweet Chimney – $3
Savory Chimney – $3.50
Chimney cone with soft serve ice cream – $4.50
Added toppings – $1 each
Santa and Rudolph Cones (for December): $6.90 each (2 for $12)
Address: *SCAPE, 2 Orchard Link, #02-02
Contact Details: (+65) 9478 3164
Opening Hours: 12pm – 9pm on weekdays, 12pm – 10pm on weekends
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