Monday, May 12, 2008

Feeding The Fascination With Trdelnik (Trdlo)

Making trdelnik at a food stall at a medieval festival in Okoř, near Prague. (See video below.)

Last summer, on my Prague Bike Blog, as part of a post about a cycling trip I took to the castle at Karlštejn, I mentioned that I'd enjoyed a trdelnik (or trdlo), an unusually shaped and unfortunately named, but nevertheless quite delicious, Czech pastry.

The pastry is made by wrapping a slice of sweet dough around a metal cylinder, which is then used to flatten the dough, like a rolling pin. Still wrapped around the cylinder, the dough is then rolled in sugar and cinnamon and nuts and placed over an open flames or glowing coals, where it is heated until brown.

Then it's sprinkled with more sugar or cinnamon and such and served hot. It kind of looks like an edible brown beer mug with the bottom missing.

Anyway ...

Since then, I've been amazed at how many people come to the Biking Blog because they've searched on Google or elsewhere for trdelnik. The pastry appears to have caught the public's fancy in some way. It's unusual, and it tastes good. That's a winning combination, I guess.

Even Alex Kapranos, the lead singer of the pop group Franz Ferdinand, found the subject irresistible. He wrote about what he called these "sweet chimneys" in one of the food columns he used to write for "The Guardian" while he was on tour.

I was in the Czech village of Okoř last weekend, at a medieval festival at the 14th-century castle ruins there, and they were making trdelnik, and there must have been 20 people in line to buy one hot off the cylinder. And I'm sure 19 out of the 20 were locals, not tourists.

In the interest of feeding the fascination with this treat, I decided to film a little video at the trdelnik stall that shows in greater detail how they're made.

There's at least one website out there that offers a recipe for making trdelnik at home.

As they say in the Czech Republic, "Dobrou chut'!"


  1. I work at a lot of festivals during the summer and there are always lines at these stands!

  2. Looks like what they call tvrdelnik in the Czech Republic is a variation of -- or, rather, another name for -- the Hungarian specialty called kurtoskalacs, which is still being made in Hungarian areas of Transylvania by the side of the road.

  3. Wow. That's interesting. I looked up kurtoskalacs and it really is the same thing. Thanks for the comment!