Ari’s Pick: Somodi Kalács

A Special Bake of Hungarian Cinnamon Swirl Bread

It’s probably been about 10 years now, maybe 12, since we began baking the Somodi Kalács. The name, if you don’t yet know it, is pronounced sho-MO-dee Ka-lotch, but you don’t need to be able to say it properly—just point and smile and the crew behind the counter will happily add one (or more) to your order. Over the years, the Somodi Kalács has built a big following. The staff in the ZCoB is especially enamored of it. When we have a Special Bake coming the buzz starts to build, and ZCoBbers begin to place their own orders!

an overhead view of 2 slices of somodi kalács on a plate, with a partial view of the rest of the loaf, milky coffee, and a small dish of sugar

A Transylvanian Tradition

Not yet familiar with this lovely sweet bread? It’s a particularly tasty cinnamon swirl bread that’s made in the tradition of a Transylvanian town. Amy Emberling, long time co-managing partner of the Bakehouse and co-author of the book Zingerman’s Bakehouse, shares:

Somodi Kalács originated some 400 years ago, when the village of Torockó was a prosperous iron ore and gold mining town. The lucrative metals trade gave villagers the means to afford cinnamon and sugar, which back then were a big luxury. It was, and continues to be, served for Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost. Until the 20th century, it was the customary wedding cake. To learn how to make Somodi Kalács we visited the bed-and-breakfast of Melinda Király, who learned to cook and bake in her parents’ restaurant. We were especially intrigued by the special folding technique Melinda used to achieve the unique swirl of cinnamon sugar inside the bread. We’ve replicated her technique in making our own version!

an overhead view of two toasted slices of somodi kalács on a plate with a smeared pat of butter on the top with a partial view of the rest of the loaf

Made with organic wheat flour, Michigan honey, fresh eggs, and a sweet, buttery, cinnamon sugar swirl, the smell is amazing. The taste is even better. Many customers tell me they buy two—one to eat a large part of in the car on the way home, the other for the family. Others will buy up 8 or 10 and then freeze a bunch to work on in the coming weeks. Great ripped right off the loaf with coffee. Somodi Kalács makes a killer French toast. Or I guess we could call it Transylvanian Toast.


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Ari Weinzweig
Co-Founding Partner at Zingerman's | + posts

In 1982, Ari Weinzweig, along with his partner Paul Saginaw, founded Zingerman’s Delicatessen with a $20,000 bank loan, a Russian History degree from the University of Michigan, 4 years of experience washing dishes, cooking and managing in restaurant kitchens and chutzpah from his hometown of Chicago. They opened the doors with 2 employees and a small selection of specialty foods and exceptional sandwiches.

Today, Zingerman’s Delicatessen is a nationally renowned food icon and the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses has grown to 10 businesses with over 750 employees and over $55 million in annual revenue. Aside from the Delicatessen, these businesses include Zingerman’s Bakehouse, Coffee Company, Creamery, Roadhouse, Mail Order, ZingTrain, Candy Manufactory, Cornman Farms and a Korean restaurant that is scheduled to open in 2016. No two businesses in the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses are alike but they all share the same Vision and Guiding Principles and deliver “The Zingerman’s Experience” with passion and commitment.

Besides being the Co-Founding Partner and being actively engaged in some aspect of the day-to-day operations and governance of nearly every business in the Zingerman’s Community, Ari Weinzweig is also a prolific writer. His most recent publications are the first 4 of his 6 book series Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading Series: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building a Great Business (Part 1), Being a Better Leader (Part 2), Managing Ourselves (Part 3) and the newly-released Part 4, The Power of Beliefs in Business. Earlier books include the Zingerman’s Guides to Giving Great Service, Better Bacon, Good Eating, Good Olive Oil, Good Vinegar and Good Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Ari regularly travels across the country (and world) on behalf of ZingTrain, teaching organizations and businesses about Zingerman’s approach to business. He is a sought-after Keynote speaker, having delivered keynotes for Inc. 500, Microsoft Expo Spring Conference, Great Game of Business Gathering of Games, Positive Business Conference at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, American Society for Quality (ASQ), and the American Cheese Society. Most recently, Ari and Paul Saginaw were invited to address an audience of 50,000 for the University of Michigan 2015 Spring Commencement.

One of Zingerman’s Guiding Principles is being an active part of the community and in 1988, Zingerman’s was instrumental in the founding of Food Gatherers, a food rescue program that delivers over 5 million pounds of food each year to the hungry residents of Washtenaw county. Every year Zingerman’s donates 10% of its previous years profits to local community organizations and non-profits. Ari has served on the board of The Ark, the longest continuously operating folk music venue in America.

Over the decades, the Zingerman’s founding partners have consistently been the recipients of public recognition from a variety of diverse organizations. In April 1995, Ari and Paul were awarded the Jewish Federation of Washtenaw County’s first Humanitarian Award. In 2006, Ari was recognized as one of the “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America” by the James Beard Foundation. In 2007, Ari and Paul were presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from Bon Appetit magazine for their work in the food industry. Ari was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Cheese Society in 2014. And Ari’s book, Building a Great Business was on Inc. magazine’s list of Best Books for Business Leaders.

Notwithstanding the awards, being engaged on a daily basis in the work of 10 businesses and 21 partners, writing books on business and in-depth articles on food for the Zingerman’s newsletter, Ari finds time to be a voracious reader. He acquires and reads more books than he can find room for. Ari might soon find himself the owner of the largest collection of Anarchist books in Ann Arbor outside the Labadie collection at the University of Michigan library!

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