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Sep. 26, 2020 | Saturday
Local News
Budapest Bakery brings Hungarian culture to NOTL
Todd and Anett Kane with their oldest daughter Helena at their newly opened bakeshop in downtown NOTL. (Dariya Baiguzhiyeva/Niagara Now)

Staying connected to Hungarian culture is important to Todd and Anett Kane, the owners of a newly opened bakeshop in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Budapest Bakeshop, at 106 Queen St. E. near the Shaw Cafe, specializes in chimney cakes that vary from savoury to sweet.

Chimney cakes, or kürtőskalács in Hungarian, are pastries made from raised dough which is then wrapped around a spit and baked. The cakes can also have different fillings inside, from ice cream to sausages. 

“This is a 300-year-old recipe. This is very famous in Hungary and I grew up on chimney cakes,” said Anett.

Staying in touch with her culture is important for her, said Anett, who taught her two daughters, seven-year-old Helena and two-year-old Victoria, the Hungarian language. The family also tries to visit Anett’s home country at least once a year.

Anett said her parents were excited and proud of the new business venture, and her mother flew from Hungary to be at the opening this month.

Todd said their chimney cakes are unique.

“When you hear the word ‘cake,’ you think of the traditional cake, but it’s a total opposite of that,” he said.

Opening the shop required “a lot of trial and error” but it was also a “lot of fun,” said Todd. The couple recalled how before they had an oven, they were using a charcoal grill and a dough wrapped around a rolling pin, which they were spinning to try to make a chimney cake.

They also tested two different ovens and went through five or six cheeses before finding everything that they needed for the shop.

The original recipe also had to be perfected because the flour is different in Canada than in the United States or in Europe, said Anett.

Renovations took about four months but the whole process of coming up with the interior design and different recipes took about two years, said the business owners. Area residents have been “unbelievably supportive” and “really welcoming,” they said.

“The second that we were here and the second the work started and as we started talking to people, it’s just been amazing,” Todd told The Lake Report. “That just reassured us that we’ve made the right decision and we’ve taken the biggest risk of our life at this point.”

Responsibilities are divided among the team of seven with Anett helping with food prep in the kitchen and Todd taking care of the operations and social media promotion.

They start the baking process at six or seven in the morning and by the time the bakeshop opens at 10, there are fresh cakes available for purchase. The number of pastries varies each day as with any baked good. “It’s got to be fresh,” said Todd.

They also try using as much local produce as possible, he said. Cheese Secrets in NOTL provides cheese, such as aged cheddar and gouda, for the shop’s savoury cakes.

“There’s an art to it, of this food. It’s very visual,” said Todd.

The Kanes will move to the town in June but, for now, they are commuting from Buffalo every day. Anett holds Canadian, Hungarian and U.S. citizenship and Todd is a U.S. citizen. The family is also in the process of acquiring dual citizenship for their two daughters as Helena will be attending St. Michael Catholic Elementary School next year.

“What we wanted to do is raise our kids and bring them here, to Niagara-on-the-Lake, because there’s just appreciation for all sorts of culture,” said Todd. “Having something that connects with Hungary, that connection to home, and just offer something delicious for people to eat, tourists and locals.”

The shop opened quietly a few weeks ago and then had a grand opening. Both proved successful as all the cakes were sold out. 

Mary Ng, the MP for Markham-Thornhill and the federal minister of small business and export promotion, also stopped by the shop on Saturday during their grand opening, said Todd.

“We even had flowers delivered to us by locals as a welcome,” said Todd. “It was pretty special. Very excited about the future in NOTL.”