Visitors to Tortaszalon should feel like they are actually in a salon, not in name only, which is why the shop was christened that way, says owner Ráchel Raj, who makes and sells exclusive handmade cakes (below).
“Some customers come with photos or drawings, or they draw here in my sketchbook what they would like me to make as a cake,” Raj says. “Essentially anything is possible that the customer is willing to pay for and can be made into a cake.”
However, she often recommends that customers think again about the message they wish to convey with the gift, because sometimes it is possible to express more with less. “Often you don’t need so many details,” Raj says. “Expressing a message with style is more important, in my opinion.”
The trained fashion designer opened her shop in District V’s Veres Pálné utca in August 2002. She uses high-quality ingredients and chang-ing visuals, taking inspiration from fashion and art magazines.
Cakes available for order cost HUF 4,000-13,000 (EUR 13.55-44.32), while customers need to get in touch with her personally, for example in the shop, for a special design.
Raj’s cakes have made a name for themselves beyond Budapest, as shown by the German newspaper articles on the wall. She wishes to help reduce antisemitism in Hungary, believing it is rooted in unfamiliarity, through her best-selling product the “Raj Ráchel Design-Flódni”, based on a Jewish recipe.
“It’s important to me for people to know that the flódni comes from the tradition of Eastern European Jews and is not simply ‘Hungarian’. It’s a typical Jewish cake that is made for special occasions and is rich in ingredients.”
Her version originates with an old family recipe and recorded a world record at the Sziget Festival as the largest flódni. Raj also offers cake-making workshops (for which gift vouchers can be purchased), with the next on 5 and 26 February.
In the same street is Cadeau, which sells chocolates, known there as “bonbons” (pictured above).
“We’ve had this shop here in Budapest for over six years but our factory in Gyula has been around since 1998,” says Dorka Prechel, who has worked there for several years. “All our products are made there by our master confectioner László Balogh, who is also a chocolatier. He takes particular pleasure in making chocolates, as can be seen from the range of over 70 different handmade types.”
The specialities include chocolate pralines filled with Tokaj wine, chocolates based on traditional Hungarian recipes such as the “Eszterházy-Bonbon” and innovative chocolates like the “Erkel”, created to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of the composer, who was born in Gyula.
There are ten to 12 types that are most popular, including “Málna-Mánia” (raspberry mania) because of its design, the “ChiliBonBon” and the “Sakk-Nougat” (chess nougat) in a chessboard pattern, says Prechel.
The chocolates can be purchased with gift wrapping or as a selection box containing the most pop-ular types, she says. Many peo-ple, however, simply drop in to buy a few samples or for times in between meals or to go with their coffee. The standard price is HUF 1,200 (EUR 4.06) per hundred grams.
“Bonbons were increasingly forgotten, together with cakes, after the Second World War because of the nationalisation of enterprises,” says Prechel. “Since the 1980s things have slowly been improving, but with our shop in Gyula we were almost like pioneers.”
All the chocolates are made using the Belgian chocolate type “Callebaut”, but “otherwise all our ingredients are Hungarian, providing they are available here”, she says.
As to whether Prechel finds it difficult to resist the chocolates herself, she laughs. “For us it’s easy because we can hardly smell the delicious aromas any more. However, we’re very happy to try out the latest creations before they’re introduced in our Budapest shop.”
District V, Veres Pálné utca 31
Open Monday to Friday 10am to 6pm
Tel.: (+36-1) 787-6088
District V, Veres Pálné utca 8
Open Mon.-Fri.10am to 6pm, Sat. 10am to 2pm
Tel.: (+36-1) 317-7127