Hungarian Gerbeaud (Zserbó) Cake. A layered cake with an apricot walnut filling, covered in thin chocolate glaze. Traditionally made at Christmas time, it is one of the most famous Hungarian desserts.
For the cake
- 500 grams flour
- Pinch of salt
- 250 g butter, at room temperature
- 25 g fresh yeast (7 g – 1 and 1/2 tsp dry yeast)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 100 ml half and half cream or whole milk
- 1 whole egg
- 2 egg yolks
- Zest of half a lemon
For the Filling
- 150 g walnuts, ground
- 50 g icing (powdered) sugar
- 450–500 g homemade apricot jam
For the chocolate glaze
- 100 g butter
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 4 tablespoons water
- In a smaller pan heat milk until lukewarm and dissolve the sugar and the yeast.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the flour, the pinch of salt, and the cubed butter. Mix on low until a crumbly texture is achieved. Change to the dough hook.
- Add the whole egg, 2 egg yolks, the yeast mixture, and the lemon zest. Knead on low/medium until soft and shiny and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, at least 5 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 4 balls (use a scale to get an equal weight), cover, and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Line your baking tin with parchment paper. I used a 9x15inch (23x38cm) pan.
- On a floured surface roll out one part of the dough to the size of the baking tin, then gently lay it in.
- Grind the walnuts in a food processor, then mix with the powdered sugar. Spread one-third of the apricot jam on the first layer of dough. Sprinkle with a third of the walnut-sugar mixture.
- Roll out the second piece of dough and place it on top of the walnut mixture. Put the jam on it and sprinkle with the walnut mixture.
- Roll out the third piece of dough and place it on top of the last. Spread the jam on it and sprinkle with the walnut mixture.
- Roll out the fourth layer and place it on top.
- Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake the cake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is light brown. Let it cool slightly in the pan, then invert it on a rack and let cool completely before adding the glaze.
For the chocolate glaze:
- On a bain-marie melt the 100 grams of butter, then add 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder, 4 tablespoons of sugar, and 4 tablespoons of water. Stir until the sugar melts and the mixture thickens and gets glossy. Turn off the heat and let cool.
- Cover your cake with chocolate glaze. It will spread and fall to the sides without having to use any tool. Allow to cool completely and for the chocolate to harden before cutting into squares or a diamond shape with a sharp knife.
How to make the diamonds
- First of all, measure on the short sides of the cake 1 1/4 inches which will give you 5 long pieces. Remember, just score the top for now.
- Then, starting from the bottom left corner make a diagonal line (roughly 45 degrees). From that line, measure perpendicular 1 1/4 inches that will give you your second angled line. Repeat this process until you get to the top right corner, which gives you 8 diagonal lines.
- Using a sharp knife, first cut the 4 vertical lines followed by cutting the diagonal lines.
How to make a star-shaped presentation
- On a large serving dish, starting from the center, piece together 7 of the diamond pieces.
- Then, keep working your way out aligning the diamond shapes with an additional 14 pieces. This completes the star. A couple of the pieces may not be fully shaped diamonds and you may have some with finger marks (try not to touch the top, as we did!), however, this does not take away from the beauty and deliciousness of the cake.
The cake lasts for a few days, in an airtight container, in the fridge. It tastes even better after the second day. Also, it freezes well, in an airtight container.
It would be best to use a homemade apricot preserve, less sweet and less thick than store-bought ones.
If you do not want to go to the trouble of cutting the diamonds, you can cut the cake into rectangles and serve it that way.
Allow some time for the preparation. It is not difficult but it requires time and patience. Well worth it!