For every handmade sourdough loaf and pillowy chocolate pastry, there are dozens of dreadful alternatives at Budapest's bland bakery chains. But there's a small group of bakers, many of them recently returned from abroad, who are committed to changing the status quo with things like wonderful cardamom buns and cruffins and also two of the local favorites, túrós batyu (a cottage cheese-stuffed pastry) and kakaós csiga (a chocolate bun shaped in a spiral).
Arán, which means "bread" in Old Irish, is a pricey craft bakery in Budapest's hip Jewish Quarter run by Kinga and Attila Pécsi. The couple spent a decade living in Ireland where Kinga mastered her baking skills. Arán lives up to its moniker: the whole wheat, rye, and white breads are wonderful, all of them imparting the signature, slightly sour taste of long-fermented sourdough. On Fridays, they also make kalács, a sweet roll similar to a challah.