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slice kakaos to serve

This cake, in our family called simply Kakaós, is one of the recipes handed down from my mother’s mother that has huge significance in my childhood memories.  I’ve talked about the importance of these dishes, and memories, before.  My mother didn’t, and doesn’t, make it terribly often, as it is a relatively time-consuming cake – due both to the rising time and the shaping.  When she did make it however, there was always huge anticipation waiting for it to come out of the oven, and then waiting and waiting until it had cooled enough to cut but was still warm and sticky.  She also judged the filling quantities by eye, so part of my writing about it now has been getting accurate quantities on paper so I don’t have to wait until it’s done to see whether I’ve judged correctly – whether it’s too dry, too gooey or just right.

let dough rise until doubled

I roll it out on the same bread board my grandmother used, followed by my mother…and the connection I feel to them both, following her recipe, with my hands on the same piece of wood, is incredible.

roll out to a large square

Kakaós involves an enriched yeast dough, rolled around a mixture of cocoa, butter and sugar, and baked until deep, dark brown.  When you cut through it, you get a light, rich cake with a swirl of chocolate spiralling through.

sprinkle with filling and roll up

I have since come across quite a few recipes for Kakaós Csiga, which starts with a similar dough and filling, but is cut into individual ‘snail’ rolls.  Our family recipe is always served as one large horseshoe, which makes it a less crisp, but moister cake, and I haven’t seen this version elsewhere, though I’m sure it must exist.  I make it in a stand mixer rather than by hand, and that does reduce the effort, and kneading time, considerably, making rolling the dough out and filling the only remotely difficult part.  The main tip here is when you roll up the dough and filling, to roll as tightly as possible, and pinch the edges of the resulting ‘sausage’ well to seal so the filling doesn’t leak out.

form into a horseshoe

The cakes pictured here had to be cut in half and baked in my convection microwave after a major oven fail, but normally I would bake on a tray in one large horseshoe. It also didn’t brown as well as usual in the microwave, but was still the cake I remember, showing the resilience of both memory, and a good recipe…

ready for afternoon tea

To me this cake simply says ‘family’, and immediately calls for polishing off a whole cake together with multiple cups of tea – as of course it is really at its best warm so there’s no point trying to save any for tomorrow…

baked kakoas


Makes one large horseshoe roll

  • 470ml milk
  • 1 Tbs yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 680g plain flour
  • 60g butter, very soft or melted and cooled
  • extra egg for brushing


  • 100g butter, softened
  • 1/2 c cocoa, sifted
  • 1 c caster sugar
  • 50g grated dark chocolate (optional)

Warm milk to lukewarm and pour in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add yeast, egg and flour and mix to a rough dough. Add soft butter and mix on medium speed until smooth and shiny. Put dough in a buttered bowl and rise, covered, for about an hour until doubled in bulk.

Turn out onto floured surface and roll out to a square of approximately 50 x 50cm. Spread dough with butter and sprinkle evenly with cocoa and sugar (and chocolate if using). Starting at one side, roll up the dough tightly, sealing the edges as above, and transfer carefully to a lined tray, seam side down, curving gently into a horseshoe shape.

Preheat oven to 190C. Let the dough rise a second time, until nearly doubled. Brush with egg, prick gently with a fork, and bake for 35-40 minutes until a shiny dark  brown.  Allow to cool slightly on a rack before slicing and eating.