Trdlo – Chimney Cake


It’s become very popular for tourists to try Trdlo or in the correct form “Trdelník” usually as a snack but compared with 15 years ago Trdlo comes with several different options so here I’ll describe what to expect and what to look out for at the point of sale.

general signage picture for trdlo in prague showing four pieces
Trdlo is broken into pieces called Trdelník

Origin of Trdlo

Although it’s largely seen as a popular Hungarian snack, the origin is most likely from Romanian immigrants fleeing wars who made their way into Hungary and what became known as present-day Slovakia. The Slovakian town that lays claim to the original Trdlo recipe is Skalica. It is first documented in Czech lands in the mid-19th Century.

Types of Trdlo

The typical Trdlo in Prague should be approximately 10cm in diameter, open at both ends and shaped like a cylinder (which is why it’s often referred to as a “Chimney” cake). The cylinder shape is because the dough should be wrapped around beechwood for cooking although in the modern environment they’ll often use stainless steel. The Trdlo should already have cinnamon, sugar, and most likely, sliced almonds.

trdlo signage with chimney cake description
Trdlo described as Chimney Cake

The other sort they make here looks like a tapered cylinder i.e. open at one end but closed at the other. This is not considered to be traditional Trdlo and serves only as a convenient way of holding ice-cream. It was the addition of ice-cream to Trdlo here in Prague around 2016 that elevated Trdlo to new social-media heights.

Ways of Cooking Trdlo

Trdlo is always supposed to be cooked over charcoal which is why it’s a common stall in external markets. It’s origin was that after the main meal had been cooked over coals then there was still enough usable heat to do something else so it became a popular dessert. But charcoal cooking is not a good option for shops in Prague. In the internal environment you’ll find they use electric heated elements which will cook the Trdlo but results in a rather bland taste compared with the charcoal version.

trdlo signage with Old Bohemian description
Trdlo described as “Old Bohemian”

The Hungarian version is where the basic pastry is put on the cylinder to cook but is then “basted” with hot butter and sprinkled with nuts/spices during the cooking process. The Czech version has the entire mix already prepared before cooking so no additional butter/spices/nuts are added during the cooking process. For me it means that the Hungarian version tastes more like a croissant and the Czech version is more like cinnamon cake.

What you Add to Trdlo

For Czechs this is a plain winter snack, basic pastry/spices/sugar/nuts etc. The additions are largely aimed at tourists. This will include jam, fruit, chocolate, extra nuts and ice-cream which will effectively more than double the basic cost.

trdlo with ice-cream and pistacio
Trdlo with extras

Trdlo Tips

1) People with nut allergies should avoid Trdlo because of the wide-ranging use of different nuts and spices.
2) Trdlo is a hot snack so should be ordered straight from the grill. If a seller has a “stack” of Trdlo then this will have already started to go hard and will not result in the best experience.
3) If you are getting an “Ice-cream Trdlo” then you’ll automatically get a hard Trdlo which you will not want to eat after the ice-cream has gone. You’ll also be pressured to accept the add-ons like chocolate, fruit, extra nuts etc.
4) If you would like to try the hot trdlo then before you order one, make sure you buy a cup of hot-chocolate first and use it to “dunk” the fresh Trdlo. Nothing else is required.

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