Just a Bit of Love through Cake Layers: Zserbo, the timeless Classic


Zserbo is a classic Christmas-spreader of joy. It is a cake with all things good…walnut, jam, chocolate, meringue…Emile Gerbeaud, the creator of this cake, was a Swiss confectioner, who arrived in 1889 to work as a partner in a famous Budapest café, which he overtook and which is nowadays called “Gerbeaud”. Zserbó szelet (literally “gerbeaud slice”) is now firmly established as one of the Hungarian classics. Sold and consumed in local cafés, pastry shops as it requires long experience to look as neat as the original…

My recipe comes from Mummy and it is every bit (and bite) as professional, perfect and delicious as the original. Her version calls for three pastry layers and this is the version I grew up with and stuck to, obtaining a rather surprisingly neat result. Even though using my mum’s old family Zserbo recipe, the little tweaks of the ingredients in my first creation resulted in a messier appearance despite of precisely following the methodical instructions (it was very moist and tasty, however). The cake -together with my wisdom that keeps me away from trying to experiment with tried and tested traditions- improved with time and practice. Therefore in the time of classics, which Christmas definitely is, I returned to the pure original dough (100 g yeast, 250 g flour, 1 egg, 80 g lard, 50 g sugar and as much milk that creates a soft pastry), the original use of pure walnut and apricot jam in the filling together with my mum’s meringue topping, still obviously following the same method of making…


The method resulted in tasty perfection…


Holy infant’s born
in Bethlehem of Judah
His name is Jesus

on the Christmas eve
we celebrate His Birth Day
our savior angel

Christmas carol’s sung
light illuminates from tree
Santa brings sweet gifts

Universal heart
with unconditional love
showed the path of God

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