Tag Archives: hungarian

Sour Cream Biscuits (Hungarian Tejfölös Pogácsa)

Pogacsa are Hungarian biscuits. They’re usually made with yeast but this version, shared by a FB friend, uses baking powder and baking soda as the leavening agents. I’ve re-written the ingredients list, with notes, and all the baking instructions.

Cassie B’s Sour Cream Pogacsa (Tejfölös pogácsa) – makes a dozen 2-2 1/4 inch biscuits, plus some ‘scrap’ biscuits

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt*
1 cup cold lard or shortening (don’t use butter, it’s just not the same taste)
1 cup sour cream
1-4 tbsp cold milk to moisten if necessary
1 large egg yolk, beaten, for the egg wash
shredded cheddar cheese, optional

* Cut back on the salt, next time … maybe 1 1/4 or even 1 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Using a pastry blender, cut in the lard until you have pea sized pieces throughout the flour.

Add the sour cream and, with a fork, mix through the flour/lard mixture. Gather a clump in your hand and, if it holds together, gather all the dough into a ball, wrap it in a sheet of plastic food wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes to let the dough rest. (If your dough mixture is still dry and won’t hold together, add a tablespoon of milk and fork through again. Repeat until a handful of the mixture holds together.)

Lightly flour your work surface and place the unwrapped ball of dough on it. With a rolling pin, gently roll out into a rectangle. Visually divide your rectangle into thirds from left to right and ‘envelope fold’ the left side of the dough onto the middle portion. Fold the right side of the dough onto the middle.

Wrap the rectangle with your piece of plastic food wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes to let the dough rest.

Repeat the above (roll out, envelope fold, and refrigerate for 15 minutes) one more time.

Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 8 by 10 inches in size. (This lets you cut out 12 x 2-2 1/4 inch biscuits.)

Using a sharp knife, draw crosshatches, about 1/8th of an inch apart, on the dough.

Cut out the biscuits, using a 2 to 2 1/4-inch biscuit cutter or juice glass, and place them on the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Dip the cutter or glass into flour after each cut so the dough doesn’t stick to the cutter.

Gather the scraps of dough and gently form a few ‘scrap’ biscuits by wrapping strips around each other to keep the layering intact.

Brush the top of each biscuit with the beaten egg yolk. (NOTE: You can sprinkle some grated cheddar cheese on top of the biscuits if you wish, especially your ‘scrap’ biscuits.)

Bake at 450 F for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown on top and bottom.

Let cool before serving.

I played at laminating the dough with room temperature bacon fat before the ‘envelope folds’ which led to slumping. Next time, I’d do some more rest/folds after the 2nd lamination as I created two areas of instability. I only made a half batch so I got nine biscuits out of the dough.

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Rigo Jancsi … a Hungarian Chocolate Mousse Cake

Sometimes you just get inspired by a recipe, even when you don’t have enough of the ingredients to make a full recipe. Or the right sized container to assemble it in.

There’s a sad and romantic story about the purported origin of this chocolate mousse cake, involving a gypsy violinist and the unhappily married wife of an impoverished Belgian prince. I just made it because I had a chocolate craving and was bored on a Saturday afternoon. The recipe was found on the blog “Zsuzsa in the Kitchen”, the source of many delicious Hungarian and Canadian recipes.

You may see this cake with a white whipped cream layer between the chocolate mousse and the cake top. It’s a nice visual but not found in the original version, I understand.

I was low on eggs and only had a couple of teaspoons of gelatin for the mousse so I scaled down … everything.

The cake (a half batch) was made in an eight by eight inch glass pan and then cut in half, rather unevenly, as it turned out. Mostly because I was distracted by the lumps of unmixed egg white foam in the chocolate batter. I made one third portions of both the mousse filling and the chocolate glaze for the cake top. The mousse melted in the heat of my kitchen as I incorporated the warm cream containing the gelatin into the cold whipped chocolate cream. And, since I didn’t have a pan of the right size to build the cake and mousse filling in, I piled the mounds of chocolate mousse on the slab of cake in a couple of batches, refrigerating the cake in between.

Diluted and slightly warmed apricot jam spread over the base of the cake. Chocolate mousse piled on top.

The chocolate ganache used to glaze the cake top turned out beautifully. Glossy and just thick enough to set quickly, so I could precut the cake layers before piling them on top of the mousse. Unfortunately, by this point it had set firmly enough that the two didn’t glue themselves together. It was at that point that I realized that I hadn’t trimmed the two cake layers to match.

Oh well … it wasn’t being made to serve to company.

Rushing to get the cake assembled and back into the fridge to set, led me to only cut the mousse cake into six portions, even though I HAD planned for eight. No matter, as I ate two servings, even as wonky  as they turned out, that same day. Midnight chocolate mousse cake is a decadent treat we should all indulge in periodically.

 

Pantry/Freezer Clearout – Chocolate Digestive Biscuits

It’s always fun when you have all the ingredients for something that catches your eye.

I saw these delicious looking biscuits on one of the FB food groups I belong to. When I checked out the link I found that the recipe used whole wheat flour and fine porridge oats and not all purpose flour. I happened to have some leftover finely ground rolled oats, from a previous sourdough bread bake, in my pantry, so it was a win-win situation. Cookies/biscuits AND it used up another item from my pantry. The recipe, as posted by Paul Hollywood, seems to be similar to the McVitie brand of biscuits.

Paul Hollywood’s Chocolate Digestive Biscuits

 

  

Review: Just a touch of sweetness. I used a 72% dark cocoa chocolate for the coating but if you want something sweeter, a milk chocolate would be tasty as well.

Sometimes, my cooking choice is designed around using up a specific ingredient. Like  the cream of wheat dumplings (Hungarian grizgaluska) I made with the last 3/4 cup of cream of wheat in my pantry. And the pot of chicken stock made with a chicken carcass, a few chicken backs and about a dozen chicken thigh bones that I ran across, as I was transferring the contents of the upstairs freezer to the basement one. I served the dumplings in the resulting soup.

 

Paprika Chicken (Paprikás Csirke)

Whole chickens were on sale this week at $1.67 CDN per pound … so I bought two for just under $13.

I usually spatch-cock or joint my chickens but I decided to roast one whole (1 hr at 400 deg F, covered with a sheet of aluminum foil, and then uncovered at 375 deg F, for 45 minutes) … on an actual roasting pan from my mom’s place, for a change. It was seasoned very simply with dried oregano and parsley and salt and pepper. A sprinkling of sweet paprika helped give it a beautiful bronze finish. A delicious smelling and looking dish.

But the ‘pièce de résistance’ was Paprikás csirke (pronounced paprikash cheerke). This classic Hungarian dish combines fall-off-the bone tender chicken with a creamy sour cream based sauce served over nokedli, mashed potatoes or plain rice, as in this case.

Paprika Chicken (Paprikás Csirke) – serves 4-6

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 3 1/2-4 pound chicken, jointed
1 medium sweet pepper (red, orange or yellow, or Hungarian yellow), small dice
1 medium onion, finely diced or grated
2 tbsp sweet paprika, Hungarian if possible
1 large, peeled and seeded tomato, diced or 1 cup canned diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup chicken stock
1 tsp salt, plus more, if needed
1/2 cup sour cream, plus more if desired to serve
1 tbsp flour
water as needed

Cut the chicken breasts in half. If they’re particularly thick, cut them in thirds so they can be submerged in the stock. Sprinkle the salt over the top of the chicken.

In a large saute pan, over medium-high heat, heat up the oil and saute the onion and sweet pepper for about 5 minutes until the onions get soft and translucent.

Add the sweet paprika and toast it in the oil for a minute or two.

Add the diced tomatoes with juice and the chicken stock.

Place the chicken pieces on top of the vegetables and add enough water to just barely come to the top of the chicken pieces (about 1 cup.) When the liquid comes to the boil, cover the saute pan with the lid and turn the heat down to a simmer.

Simmer for 1 hour or until the chicken is tender. Every 15 min, check to see that the chicken has not stuck to the bottom and that the liquid hasn’t evaporated. If too much liquid has evaporated, add a bit more water to the saute pan. Turn the chicken pieces a couple of times to make sure that the thicker pieces cook evenly.

When the chicken pieces are tender, remove them to a dish or bowl and reserve.

Remove the saute pan from the heat and using a stick blender, puree the vegetable mixture until it’s relatively even. (You can put it into a stand blender or food processor too.)

In a medium sized bowl combine the sour cream and the flour. Whisk together. Add a ladle full of the vegetable puree to ‘temper’ the sour cream so that it will not curdle. Stir well, add another ladle full of the puree and stir again. Pour the flour/sauce mixture back into the saute pan with the rest of the puree and place the reserved chicken pieces on top.

Tempering the sour cream

Return the saute pan to the heat just until the chicken is warmed through. Taste the sauce and add more salt if needed.

Serve the chicken and sauce over nokedli, mashed potatoes or rice. Polenta also makes a wonderful base for the paprika chicken.

Paprika Chicken ready to serve

Roast chicken

Fasirt (Breaded Hungarian Hamburgers)

When I was growing up my mom would sometimes refer to something called fasirt. I don’t remember ever equating them with ‘regular’ hamburgers that she would make and bbq in the back yard, but there are many similarities between the two. I recently learned that there is a German/Austrian term, ‘faschiertes’, which refers to minced meat. Since we lived in Germany briefly before we came to Canada, it is possible that she conflated the two words. In any case, the term was vaguely familiar to me, but I didn’t know much more than the word itself.

Since joining a Hungarian food FB group, my memory has been jogged by references to this dish, among others, and I am discovering (or rediscovering) Hungarian cuisine. Note that I have yet to find a Romanian food FB group.

Today’s post shares one of the several versions of fasirt that I’ve run across. Pork is used exclusively in some recipes while a combination of pork and beef is used in others. I had one pound of lean ground beef and one pound of lean ground pork in my freezer. So that’s what I used. For a first effort, I was quite pleased with the results. I would recommend frying the patties just before serving, so you can enjoy the crispy outside and the moist, tender interior. Standing doesn’t affect the taste just the texture.

Fasirt Version # 1 – 1 lb 14 oz meat mixture, makes 15 2 oz patties

For the meat patties

1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 lb lean ground pork
3/4 tsp salt (1/2 tsp per pound)
1 tbsp sauteed diced onion
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp Hungarian paprika
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried parsley
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 oz bread (pulsed in food processor) plus 4 tbsp milk

For coating
~1 cup dried unseasoned bread crumbs

In a small bowl, place the fresh bread crumbs and pour the milk over the top. Let the bread soak for about 15 min. Squeeze out any excess milk. (No excess milk found.)

Mix the patty ingredients together, divide into 2 oz portions, shape into balls and pat out into ~ 2 1/2 inch diameter patties. (NOTE: I didn’t over handle the meat mixture but the patties still rounded up a bit more than I wanted. You may want to pat the meat out to a 3 4 inch diameter.)

 

Lightly coat patties with breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess crumbs.

 

In a large cast iron frying pan, heat vegetable oil to medium and then fry the patties about 2 min per side, or until the juices run clear and, if cut open, the center is no longer pink but still moist.

Serve the patties with mashed potatoes, creamed spinach or peas and pickles. Or just dip them in some yogurt based tzatziki.

January Wrap Up

WARNING: Picture heavy post

The first month of the new year is almost gone and, while I ate well, I’ve had to be very frugal in my grocery shopping. Which meant foraging in my freezer for things I bought in more affluent days. Some of the meals were very simple while others were a bit more fussy.

Fried pork chop with leftover butternut squash

Ready-made frozen potato, cheddar and bacon filled pierogies sauteed in onions, topped with sour cream and served with Debrecener sausage

Buffalo Chicken wings – Two pounds of wings dressed with sauces/dips included in the box. Added bagged, frozen hashed brown potato patties and salad

 

Chicken Cutlet Caesar Salad – Leftover cutlet, home made croutons and shredded cheddar for extra texture and flavour

Lap Cheong (Chinese Sausage) Steamed Rice

One of my favourite dim sum dishes is sticky/glutinous rice lotus leaf wraps (lo mai gai). Along with chunks of steamed chicken, small chunks of Chinese sausage (lap cheong), Chinese mushroom and scallions are also found in the wrap. I remember pieces of hard boiled egg … but that seems to have disappeared. When I ran across a package of those tasty sausages, I picked it up with the vague idea of making something similar. Instead, I just added them to the top of a pot of rice before cooking it and let the fat melt and flavour the rice. Then I chopped up the sausages, and stirred them, along with green onion and soy sauce, into the rice. A spoonful of sambal oelek for spice and I had a fast and delicious rice bowl for lunch or supper.

Cheese “Boats” or Pies aka Fatayer Jebneh or Khachapuri

Some years ago I made fatayer, a Middle Eastern yeast based pastry which may be shaped in a variety of ways and filled with meat, spinach, mushroom or cheese. Left as flat rounds or mini ‘pizzas’ the dough may be topped with a za’atar paste (a spice mixture made up of thyme, sumac and toasted sesame seed) or a ground meat mixture. The meat ones are called ‘sfeeha’.

Cheese Pies (Fatayer Jebneh) – makes 20 6″ oval cheese pies

Use ~2 oz/56.7 gm per fatayer

To make the dough

3 cups flour, divided (2 1/2 cups and 1/2 cup)
1 tsp salt
1 teaspoon baking powder (see note)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup yogurt
1 tbsp granular yeast
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup warm water

For the cheese filling

2 cups crumbled paneer, ricotta or feta cheese  (or some combination)
2 cups grated old cheddar cheese
1/4 cup minced green onion (~2)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Proof the yeast by mixing it with the 2 tsp of sugar and warm water in a cup; the yeast should foam and bubble. If it doesn’t then it has gone bad and you need to replace it with new package.

In a bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups of the flour, salt and baking powder (if using) until combined.

Add the oil and then rub it into the flour mix with your fingertips.

Add the yogurt and the water/yeast mixture and knead the dough until it forms a smooth soft ball that doesn’t stick to your hands, using the reserved flour as needed. (TIP: lift the dough and slam it into the table 7-10 times during kneading. That will give your baked goods that fluffy interior.)

Oil a bowl with a little olive oil, place dough inside, cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and leave it in a warm place until it doubles in size.

Push down the dough and then cut into half. Roll each half into a sausage shape and cut into 10 even sized portions. Roll the 20 pieces of dough into balls and cover them with a clean towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Roll each dough ball into an elongated oval shape 5-6″ long. Place 1 rounded tbsp of the cheese filling in the middle of the oval, leaving about 1/2″ around the margin.

Fold one edge of the dough over and press it with your finger tips to seal it. Fold over the opposite side and tuck the dough under the pastry boat. Repeat on the opposite side.

Once you’re done shaping the pastry gently press the top folds down to adhere the dough to the cheese. This helps to prevent the pastry boats from opening up when you bake them

Brush the pastries with milk, egg wash or olive oil to give them a beautiful golden color when they bake.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg F.

Rest the pastries for 10-15 minutes after shaping before baking them.

Bake on the lower-middle rack for 15-20 min until the tops and bottoms are golden brown.

Note: If you are going to consume the fatayer soon after baking, keep the baking powder (increases the fluffiness of the dough and allows it to rise better in the oven). If you plan on storing them or eating them over a couple of days omit the baking powder because the fatayer remain softer and more chewy when they are cooled and stored without the baking powder. (Baking powder results in the baked goods hardening a little when they are cold)

 

Recently, I learned about a similar cheese topped pastry called khachapuri made in Georgia (the Caucasus mountains). I was intrigued by the shaping, so I used the same dough and a similar filling (ricotta, cheddar and feta cheese, green onion, salt and pepper)  I’d used to make the fatayer and played with the dough. They looked pretty good (and tasted delicious) but I need to work on my shaping as the boats opened up during baking. NOTE: The cheeses were all frozen and bagged 2-3 months ago so I wanted to use them up.

 

 

Dessert made with leftover pastry from the chicken pot pies

Butter tarts with raisins

Blind baked mini pie shell filled with orange curd and topped with sweetened whipped cream

 

Nokedli/Spaetzle with Eggs

I haven’t made these free-form egg noodles (or dumplings) in some time. They’re a variation on regular pasta and traditionally served as a side dish with stews and cutlets. In Hungary, they’re known as nokedli while in Germany/Austria, they’re called spaetzle.

I’ve posted a nokedli recipe before but this is a half batch made with parsley and combined with eggs. First though, one of the traditional dishes served with the nokedli.

Chicken Cutlet (Rantott Csirke) with Parsley Dumplings Nokedli)

Preparing chicken cutlets

Pounding cutlets flat

Dipping in flour, beaten egg and seasoned bread crumbs

Pan fried cutlet

Parsley Nokedli/Spaetzle

Parsley Nokedli/Spaetzle – serves 2

For dumplings
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1 /2 cup water or milk

For boiling and serving dumplings
2 tbsp butter, melted for sauteing cooked nokedli
1 tbsp salt, added to water for boiling the nokedli

Combine the flour, eggs, dried parsley, salt and water. Beat vigorously to form a smooth, pliable batter.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a tablespoon of salt to the water.

Place a dumpling (or spaetzle) maker over the pot. Push the dough through the holes into the boiling water below. When the dumplings float, scoop them up and place them into a large colander to drain.

(Rinse the dumplings under cold running water if not serving immediately. Drain the dumplings shaking the colander to remove all excess water. Reserve to heat up with melted butter for later.)

Pour the dumplings into a large bowl and add the melted butter. Toss to coat with butter.

Serve with chicken paprikas or add to a stew for more body.

You can heat the dumplings in a frying pan with melted butter. Do not let the dumplings get too brown or crisp.

Hungarian Dumplings with Eggs (Tojasos Nokedli)

Hungarian Dumplings with Eggs (Tojasos Nokedli) – serves 2

2 cups of nokedli from recipe above
2-3 eggs, beaten with a pinch or two of salt and several grinds of black pepper
2 cooked Debrecener sausages, sliced or 4 slices crispy bacon, chopped (optional)

Warm up the nokedli in a large saute pan. Pour the beaten eggs over the nokedli.

Stir continuously until all the eggs are cooked. Add sausages, if using.

Serve immediately.

Happy New Year (2018) … Plain and Fancy

My last post of 2017 is a testament to the diversity of cooking … plain home style cooking made with basic ingredients and fancy dishes that you’ll find in elegant restaurants or serve to special guests at your table.

Paprika Potatoes – a PLAIN Hungarian inspired potato dish commonly served in the home kitchen and often meatless. If you want something more meaty, add the pork sausage of your choice, smoked or cured. Hungarian kolbasz (sausages) are delicious but you can use Polish sausages (kielbasa) or Romanian carnati afumati (smoked sausages).

The dish is not a stew but you may leave it more ‘soupy’ if you want to have something to dip into with fresh, crusty bread.

Paprika Potatoes (Paprikas Krumpli) – serves 2 or 3

1 tbsp bacon fat or vegetable oil
1/4 onion, finely diced
1 pound (500 gm) potatoes, peeled and sliced into wedges
1/2 pound (~250 gm) cubed or thinly sliced sausages, cut in half if too big
1/4 -1/2 (1/4 cup) sweet pepper (yellow, orange or red), cubed
1/2 cup diced tomatoes with juice or one medium sized tomato, peeled and diced
1 cup ham broth, or water or chicken stock
1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp ground black pepper, more to taste
1 1/2-2 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika

In a large saute pan, over medium heat, saute the onion in the bacon fat until it starts to pick up some colour, 5-7 minutes.

Add the diced sausage and continue sauteing until it renders out some of the fat and picks up some colour as well, 5-7 minutes.

Add the diced pepper and continue sauteing for a few more minutes.

Push the contents to one side and if the pan seems dry, add a teaspoon of vegetable oil in the cleared area. Add the paprika and toast for a minute or so. Add the potatoes and tomatoes and stir through to coat with the paprika.

Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the contents and then pour the broth over everything. The broth should almost cover the potatoes and sausages. Bring the contents of the saute pan to the boil, cover with a lid and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Stir gently after 5-10 minutes to make sure that all the potatoes are in contact with the broth.

Test to see if the potatoes are tender. Remove the lid and continue simmering if the contents are too soupy. If they’re too dry, add a bit more water and cook for another minute or so.

Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Serve.

This is actually a very simple dessert, even though it looks FANCYpuff pastry split and filled with pastry cream. It’s the presentation that makes it special. The French version (millefeuille or Napoleons) uses an icing sugar glaze and a decorative drizzle of melted chocolate. The Hungarian version (kremes) has a very thick custard cream filling, often with gelatin added to give it a firmer texture. I chose a simple Romanian version (cemsnit, krempita or placinta cu crema de vanilie ) with a light dusting of icing sugar on top.

Custard Squares

Puff Pastry Squares – Roll out the puff pastry to 1/8th of an inch thick, cut into desired size (2 1/2 inches by 4 inches) and bake in a preheated 400 deg F oven for 20 minutes or until the top is lightly golden brown in colour.

Cool and split in half. Fill as desired.

Tester vanilla custard square

I’m sure I posted the pastry cream filling before but this is a thicker version.

Thick Pastry Cream Filling

2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups (or 2 cups if you don’t want it TOO thick) milk, warmed slightly
2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into smaller pieces

Beat whole eggs and yolks slightly in a separate bowl.

Mix sugar, cornstarch, flour and salt in a 2 quart saucepan. Stir in the beaten eggs.

Gradually whisk in the warm milk.

Place the sauce pan on the stove and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and boils; boil and stir 1 minute.

Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla. Whisk in the butter a bit at a time. (NOTE: If your mixture is a bit lumpy, strain through a fine metal sieve.)

Place a sheet of saran wrap over the filling so that it touches the surface, preventing the formation of a skin.

Cool to room temperature.

Holiday Cookies … Romanian Kolache/Hungarian Papucs and Hamantaschen

I vaguely remember my mom serving these walnut filled cookies, called “kolache”, for special occasions … but I don’t think she had made them in the last 20 years of her life. As a result, I have no idea what recipe she used. I was going to use the same dough I use to make rugelach (butter/cream cheese based) for the kolache, until I remembered that that’s a very tender dough, and worried that I would have problems sealing them. So I tried a dough recipe that I found on line for the triangular cookies served for Purim, called “hamantaschen” or “Haman’s ears”.

Jam (especially plum or apricot), poppy seed or walnut are probably the most popular fillings for kolache, hamantaschen or papucs. Since mincemeat is widely available at this time of year, and since I had bought a jar to make no churn ice cream with, that’s what I used for some of my cookies.

Mincemeat Kolache Platter

Baked and ready to have icing sugar sifted over the top … if you really want to

Kolache Recipe:

The cookie dough was rolled 1/8th inch thick, cut into 2 inch by 2 inch squares, filled with a half teaspoon of the filling of choice, sealed and baked in an oven preheated to 350 deg F for 16-18 minutes.

And, since I was making the hamantaschen dough, I made some hamantaschen too. I got better at shaping as I went along. The poppy seed filling is the same one used for my cozonac in an earlier post.

Poppy seed Hamantaschen

 

Romanian Cozonac, Hungarian Kalacs/Beigli or Ukrainian Babka

Whether you call it cozonac, kalacs/beigli, or babka, this sweet bread filled with ground nuts (usually walnuts), poppy seeds, raisins or even rahat/lokum (a gummy middle eastern candy known in the west as ‘Turkish delight’) is served at Easter and Christmas in many eastern European countries. I can’t remember my mom ever making this though, knowing her difficulties with yeast based baking, it’s unlikely. However, I HAVE eaten it at Romanian and Hungarian church and community center bake sales.

Poppy seed isn’t a filling I’ve used often so I thought I’d give it a try for a change of pace. I bought a fresh, one pound bag at the grocery store, even though I’ve got a couple pounds, at least, in the freezer downstairs. I’m not quite sure how long it’s been there. Several years at least, I think, so I didn’t want to take a chance that the poppy seeds were stale.

I followed the shaping instructions on one of the web sites I researched which said to fold in the ends of the roll but I wasn’t happy with the ‘knobs’. Next time, I’ll risk the filling oozing out and leave them open.

The end piece … dough is nice and fluffy, or as they say in Romanian, pufos.

Cozonac cu Mac (Cozonac Filled with Poppy Seed) – 1.14 kg (2 1/2 lb) of dough, makes 2 11 by 14 inch rolls

For the Filling

200 gm ground poppy seeds
100 gm of sugar
150 ml of milk
1 tsp butter
1 pkt vanilla sugar
1 tbsp of lemon zest (reduce to 1 tsp)

For the Dough

4-5 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup milk, warmed to 80 deg F
2 tsp active dry yeast
3 eggs, 1 egg divided
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp freshly grated lemon zest (optional)
1 tsp salt

NOTE (12/10/2017): used ~2 tsp grated lemon zest, increased butter to 4 tbsp, used close to 5 cups of flour

Making the Filling

Mix the ground poppy seeds, milk, butter and sugar and bring to the boil over medium heat. Cook until a creamy composition is obtained, about 5 min, while stirring constantly. Add vanilla and lemon peel and leave to cool.

Making the Dough

In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cup of flour, warm milk, sugar, and yeast. Cover the mixture and place it in a warm place for 25-30 minutes, until bubbly.

Separate ONE of the eggs, placing the white in a separate bowl and setting it aside. (White is whisked until frothy and used later to brush the bread before it goes into the oven.)

Once the flour and yeast mixture is nice and bubbly, mix in the 2 eggs and one egg yolk.

Add 2 1/2 cups of flour, the soft butter, vanilla, lemon zest and salt. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Then, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until it is smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes, adding only as much of the remaining 1 cup of flour as is necessary to keep it from sticking to your hands.

(Alternately, you can mix the dough in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook for 2-3 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic, adding flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the sides of the bowl.)

Place the dough into a clean, well greased bowl and cover it with a damp tea towel. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft free place until it has roughly tripled in bulk, about 1 1/2-2 hours.

Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it a few times. Divide the dough in half.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured working surface and roll out into a rectangle about 11 inches by 14 inches. Spread with half the poppy seed filling to 1/2 an inch from the edge.

Roll the dough and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with the second portion of dough and filling.

Cover with a lightly oiled sheet of food wrap or a damp towel and let rise until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg F.

Beat the reserved egg white and brush over each of the two loaves. Bake for 45-50 minutes until set and the top is golden brown. Check after 15-20 minutes and if the top seems to be browning too quickly, cover with a large sheet of aluminum foil and continue baking. Rotate the baking sheet half way through the bake.

Let cool completely before cutting.