Category Archives: Chimney Cake

Making Chimney Cake

Kinda sweet, kinda smoky, sorta crunchy, sorta nutty…chimney cake has a lot going for it beyond the entertainment value — which is considerable. It would make a great surprise ending to a grill party, as a waning fire is the perfect amount of heat for this unique sweet. All you need is a spit, some dough and the toppings at the ready. Here’s how it’s done. Start the dough by combining your dry ingredients in one bowl…

…and your wet ingredients in the other.


And combine.

Mix until a rough dough forms…

…then knead for about three minutes. By hand it’ll take five minutes, but as you know I’m a machine guy. I’ve never seen a labor-saving device I didn’t like.

Set the dough in a lightly oiled bowl to rise for about 45 minutes. The dough can be allowed to ferment for 15 minutes, then refrigerated for up to three days. Remove it from the refrigerator half an hour before you plan to use it.

Meanwhile prepare a charcoal fire if you don’t already have one handy. You want it about twenty minutes past its meat-grilling prime. This is too hot, but you get the idea.

While the dough is rising, make your topping. Combine the nuts, sugar and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor…

…and grind roughly.

Lay the topping out on a sheet pan. Have it ready by the grill along with some vegetable oil, melted butter and a brush.

When the dough is twice its original size (or more)…

Remove it to a lightly floured board and pat it down to about a 3/4″ thickness.

Then use a pizza cutter to cut it into a curlicue, which when its unwound will be one long strip. The thickness isn’t all that important because you’re going to stretch it out shortly.

You want the dough about like so. This will make several cakes, but you’ll just wind it on and tear it off like so much duct tape.

First brush your spit liberally with vegetable oil.

Now wind on the dough. Wrap it around once and tuck the end under. You want to stretch the dough as thin as you reasonably can without tearing it, since an over-thick layer will remain raw in the inside.

Stretch and wrap for the length of the spit, then roll the whole thing on the counter to flatten the dough out and make it even.

You want it less than a 1/4″ thick, see?

Now roast. Insert the handle on your spit and put the cake over the fire. Rotate it as you sprinkle on liberal amounts of sugar, then let it rest. Check the spit after about 30 seconds. If you’re already seeing brown spots, move the cake further from the heat. The cake should take about 20 minutes to brown on all sides.

See that caramel crust starting to form? That’s love Transylvania style, my friends.

When the cake is well browned all over, take it off the fire and remove the far side handle from the spit. Apply some more butter, then roll the cake in the topping.

Oh yeah.

Getting an un-seasoned spit to release the cake can be a problem. I needed to loosen mine with a long, skinny boning knife, but that was all the trouble I had. I then simply up-ended the spit onto a plate…

…and that’s why they call it chimney cake, friends. Happy grilling season!

UPDATE: To watch a Romanian one-up me on both technique and turnout, go here!

Filed under:  Chimney Cake, Pastry | 27 Comments

Chimney Cake Recipe

A chimney cake is an odd thing in that it’s an enriched yeast bread that’s wound onto a thick wooden spit, then roasted over a charcoal fire. The hardest part of this recipe is constructing the implement you need. More on that as the week progresses.

For the dough:

8.5 ounces (1 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) instant yeast
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) sugar
1/8 teaspoons salt
2 egg yolks, room-temperature
1.5 ounces (3 tablespoons) melted butter
4 ounces (1/2 cup) milk, room temperature

For the grilling:

vegetable oil for lubricating the spindle
melted butter

For the topping:

about 3 ounces (1 cup) walnuts, ground and mixed with
about 3.5 ounces (1/2 cup) sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Combine the dry dough ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Do the same with the wet ingredients and add them to the dry ingredients. Stir the mixture until it comes together to form a dough, then knead it for about five minutes. Allow the dough to rise for 40 minutes. Cut the dough into a long ribbon with a pizza cutter (as shown).

Paint your spit with vegetable oil. Wrap one end of the dough around the spit, tucking in the end so the dough doesn’t unwind. Keep the dough very thin as you stretch and wind, under 1/4″ inch. Roll the whole thing on the countertop to flatten it/press it together. Paint the dough with melted butter and roast over the fire for about six minutes, sprinkling on sugar, until it starts to take on a dark golden color.

Paint on more butter, then roll the finished cake in the nut mixture. Tap the mold on a table top to release the cake and set it upright to cool. Make more and eat, eat, eat.

Filed under:  Chimney Cake, Pastry | 51 Comments