★ ★ ★ ★ ★
8 Olei Zion, Yafo (corner of Rabbi Hanina, Shuk HaPishpishim)
For other locations, see site
Sunday-Thursday (7:00 – 5:00)
Friday (7:00 – 6:00)
Saturday (10:00 – 6:00)
Sitting on the edge of the heart of Shuk HaPishpishim, this Hungarian bakery is simply a gem. Its yellow awnings and bright, friendly-looking interior drew us in during a leisurely stroll through Yafo. Expecting to see croissants, rugelach, cookies, and other everyday pastries and cakes, I was surprised and fascinated by what I saw instead.
Behind the rows of babka, cookies, strudel, and cheesecakes was one of the most interesting pastries I had ever seen. Standing at about 10” tall, this treat was cylindrical and hollow and looked absolutely delicious. I stared at it curiously, wondering if one buys the whole thing or just a piece. As I pondered, I got to watch the delicious-looking wonders being made as the entire process was visible to customers.
In one area, they wrap small strips of rolled-out dough over a large, oiled rolling pin of sorts. From what I gathered, this is when chocolate or other fillings would be incorporated: as layers of dough strips are being wrapped around the rolling pin, chocolate is layered in.
Once the layers of dough cover the rolling pin, they coat the entire thing with oil and roll it in sugar, after which they set it to rest for a sort time before cooking.
Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, considering I’d otherwise make them on a daily basis), baking these delectable treats requires special equipment—a rotisserie. Watching the multiple pastries rotate slowly, the sugar caramelizing, the dough turning golden brown… I’m almost tempted to go out and buy a rotisserie anyways.
Once the treat is baked, it can be coated with almonds, cinnamon, walnuts, more sugar, or a variety of less-traditional toppings.
After silently taking in this wonder, I mustered up the ability to ask what the exotic-looking dessert was. “Kurtosh,” I was told. Thinking the man had spoken to me in some language I didn’t know, I repeated my question. “Kurtosh,” he said again. I nodded knowingly before making it obvious how little I knew about it when I asked if one bought pieces of the tall pastry. Turns out you buy the whole thing. So… we did.
Now, let me say… I may have simplified the kurtosh-making process here for lack of understanding the nuances of making the amazing dessert. But I can say one thing surely with complete knowledge: kurtosh is amazing. When we first ordered one, the four of us wondered if we’d be able to eat the massive sugary dessert… without even trying, we devoured our chocolate one within minutes.
Its outer shell was crispy, but its inner section was soft and doughy. It was sweet, but not overly so (despite being coated by caramelized sugar). It was perfectly chocolatey as chocolate was layered evenly and not excessively throughout the dough. It was one of the best pastries I’d ever eaten. And while I don’t usually have a very strong sweet tooth, I was definitely tempted to order another one.