Bottled Chanterelles

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They’re springing up everywhere right now. Unlike last summer, which was extremely hot and dry, mushrooms have perfect conditions for growing this year. Warm weather and plenty of rain is what they like, so it’s no wonder our forests are filling with mushrooms of all shapes and sizes. Not to mention their manifold colours and smells.

I wasn’t planning for it, but when my husband brought a sizeable batch of fleshy, aromatic chanterelles from his Saturday walk, I couldn’t resist the urge to have their golden caps preserved for colder months.

Chanterelle or kuriatko (as we call it in Slovakia) is a wild mushroom with a shiny orange colour and an unmistakable aroma. It grows in clusters from May until November and can be found in mossy places, in the grass or under leaves in our deciduous or coniferous forests. Slovaks like to preserve it as a pickle, which is a popular accompaniment to many of our dishes.

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Kuriatko jedlé – Cantharellus cibarius (Photo courtesy of Milan Zajac)

Here’s a recipe for pickled  chanterelles that I adapted from a Slovak website devoted to mushroom picking.

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Bottled Chanterelles

  • a batch of chanterelles or ‘kuriatka’
  • salt
  • sugar
  • allspice, black peppercorns
  • white vinegar
  • water

Method:

Wash and dry jars of 700 ml volume capacity.

Clean the mushrooms with a soft brush, a damp cloth or your finger. If it doesn’t remove all the forest debris, rinse them gently under a slowly running tap. Do not soak them, as mushrooms absorb a lot of water, which dulls their flavour.

Break the larger pieces and start laying them in the dry jars. Use the smaller chanterelles to fill in the spaces between the bigger ones. Continue until you have filled up all the jars or used all the mushrooms.

Stand the jars in a row on the table. In each one, put the pickling seasoning as follows: 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, 2 allspice corns, 3 black peppercorns. If you’re using smaller jars, reduce the amount of the ingredients correspondingly.

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Add 75 ml white vinegar and fill with the water up to the grooves of the jar. Again, adjust the amount of the vinegar to your jar size.

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Bottled Chanterelles or ‘Kuriatka’

Shake slightly to help spread the pickling mixture around the jar and get rid of the air bubbles.

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Now screw on the lids and sterilize in a boiling water canner at 100ºC for 20 minutes. Store in a dark, cool place. Once opened, keep in the refrigerator and use within a week.

Wheat Kasha

This is another recipe that will appear in the forthcoming book about Slovak cuisine, although with different photographs. Wheat kasha is deeply rooted in my childhood memories as a simple yet nourishing breakfast, or a light, satisfying evening dish. I know children are fed with all sorts of ready-made cereal mixtures these days, but perhaps we shouldn’t quite abandon traditional recipes that use fresh, good-quality ingredients and take very little time to prepare.

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Wheat Kasha
Serves 2

  • 500 ml milk
  • 4 tablespoons coarse wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ground cinnamon and vanilla sugar to taste
  • fresh or home-bottled fruit
  • 2 teaspoons butter

Method:

  1. Pour the milk in a saucepan and warm it over a low heat. Add the sugar and let dissolve.
  2. Spoon by spoon add the flour, stirring well all the time. Increase the heat slightly and continue stirring until the milky mixture comes to the boil and thickens. Turn down the heat and continue cooking for another 3 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Transfer into bowls and dust with ground cinnamon and vanilla sugar. Place a teaspoon of butter in the middle of each helping and decorate with the fruit.

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Wheat kasha can be served and eaten either hot or cold, so it’s a nice dish to have on a hot summer day, especially if served with fresh local fruit.

Home-made Elderflower Cordial

I wasn’t very pleased with my last year’s attempt at elderflower cordial – I didn’t quite like its look and somewhat bitter taste but then again, I may have chosen the wrong recipe. When my friend phoned me last week saying she had more elderflowers she could possibly cope with, I was hesitant at first. But when the freshly picked elderflower heads arrived, they looked and smelt so different from last year’s crop – the clusters of creamy white flowers were sending out a wonderful summery aroma I couldn’t resist.

I knew instantly I was going to have another go at elderflower cordial, so I searched through a few English and Slovak websites before picking a recipe that looked just right to me. The end result was more than satisfying – I loved the shiny, golden hue of the cordial and its tangy-sweet flavour, which gave such a pleasingly refreshing drink when mixed with cold water.

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Home-made Elderflower Cordial

  • 2 l water
  • 40 elderflower heads
  • 1½ kg sugar
  • 3 lemons

Method:

In a large cooking pot, bring the water to the boil and let cool down to room temperature. Trim the flowers off the firm stems, leaving the clusters intact. Squeeze the juice out of the lemons.

Soak the flowers in the cooled water, add the lemon juice and stir to combine. Cover the pot with a lid and let stand in a cool, dark place for two days.

Gently squeeze the flowers in your hands before removing them from the pot. This will ensure all the flavours and aroma are caught in the extract. Strain the extract through a fine-meshed sieve into a clean pot. Discard any remaining flowers and line the sieve with a cheesecloth. Pass the extract through it to achieve a clear, shiny look.

Place the pot with the extract over a medium heat and add the sugar. Warm to about 50ºC (or until you can dip your finger in it without getting burnt). Stir all the time until the sugar has dissolved. Turn off the heat.

While still warm, pour the syrupy liquid into clean, dry bottles or jars*. Screw on the lids and stand the jars upside down or lay the bottles horizontally on a table to cool slowly and ensure a good seal.

Keep in the fridge and serve mixed with cold water as a light, refreshing summer drink.

*We in Slovakia often reuse bottles and jars from other drinks, but we’ll always make sure they’re thoroughly washed and dried before filling them again.

Traditional Slovak cheeses

If you’ve already been to Slovakia, the chances are you have tried our korbáčik, parenica or oštiepok – the three cheeses that are still being made the traditional way at salashes and small mountain farms. Depending on the place and time of year, they can be more or less salty, but that’s exactly how most Slovaks like their cheese.

The history of our cheese making goes back to the 14th century when Valachian people fleeing from Romania settled in the mountainous regions of what is now Slovakia. They were tough, hardy shepherds who had brought with them sturdy breeds of sheep fit to survive our harsh winters. The Valachians quickly blended with the native population who readily accepted their way of farming – and making cheese, among other things.

I have already mentioned a book about Slovak cuisine we’re preparing for publication right now. Let’s have a quick look at the second chapter that’s just being laid out. It shows the art of traditional cheese making in Slovakia, and although the best pictures have been reserved for the book, the ones below will give a good preview.

Whether it is korbáčik, parenica or oštiepok, the traditional techniques use the pliability of sheep’s or cow’s milk cheese at temperatures between 80 – 90ºC. The hot cheese is pulled out into long threads and plaited, rolled into small drums, or simply placed in hand-carved wooden moulds.

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There are annual competitions in some mountain villages to award the best cheeses and the most imaginative works made of them.

On top of their attractive look, these little cheesy figures and ornamental flowers are also pretty edible.

Although sheep’s milk is three times as expensive as cow’s milk, it’s also much more nutritious and easier to digest, not to mention its delicate creamy consistence and strong antimicrobial effects. It’s no wonder that the demand for sheep’s milk cheese has soared in the last decade, and our sheep farming is thriving again after a long spell of decline.

If you want to try traditional Slovak food, have a glimpse of a salash life and see our cheese being made on the spot, check out this website:

http://www.syrex.sk/?lang=en

You may find more shepherds like those in the picture below, enjoying the hard work at a salash (a wooden cottage close to the pastures) and the scenic beauty of our mountains.

 

Let’s dance!

The season of food festivals, outdoor parties and dancing shows has already started here in Slovakia. It’s that time of year when we like to get together and spend weekends out in the open, have a mug of beer and a good chat with friends, or enjoy a family meal at a village fair. More often than not, these social gatherings will involve traditional folk dancing – and singing.

As much as it’s the case with food, each Slovak region has its own music, dance, and a distinctive costume embellished by old folk motifs and dazzling hand-sewn ornaments. The Podpoľanie region, where I was born and grew up in, is famous for a unique embroidery done by a krivá ihla (or a hook-shaped needle).

Detvian embroidery from the Podpoľanie region in Slovakia

The same beautiful patterns grace traditional costumes of folk dancers from the Podpoľanec (pronounced as Podpolyanyetz) ensemble.

No matter how ‘outdated’ the music may sound to some ears, it continues to capture the minds and hearts of all generations.

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You have to be really fit and train hard to be able to do all the jumps and spins, not to mention the intricate footwork this type of dancing entails.

Unlikely as it may seem, these young people are not professionals. They meet outside their working hours and train all through the year to bring exciting new choreographies out for each summer season. Clearly there must be something much stronger than money that unites this happy folk. Is it the massive applause they get from the audience, and the enthusiastic calls for repeats that keep them going on this hot afternoon?Breathless and sweating after the performance, the dancers are given instructions from their managers. Another show starts in an hour, so they have to change quickly and get on the bus taking them to a nearby town.

Do make sure you see one of the traditional summer festivals they take part in. The sheer joy, energy and passion these young people exude certainly won’t leave you cold.

Podpoľanec (or Podpolyanyetz) folk ensemble
Podpoľanec (or Podpolyanyetz) folk ensemble

Bryndza Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

Bryndza Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

I introduced our famed cheese in the post on Bryndza Cheese Sticks last year. With this year’s sheep farming season in full spate and some fine weather over the last month, our mountain meadows have turned into luscious pastures, so we are getting fresh supplies of bryndza cheese again.

The May bryndza, as we in Slovakia call it, is creamier and more flavourful than that made of sheep’s milk cheese stored in wooden barrels over the winter. It’s also less salty, as this is the ingredient used for preserving ground sheep’s milk cheese in the winter.

To do some aditional photography for the book I’m writing, I bought different bryndza labels a couple of weeks ago and tried a few more recipes. The one I want to share with you today also uses the bear garlic I got from my friend. Her parents have a large orchard in a remote hamlet in the mountains, so whatever she brings down from her weekend visits can be classified as bio-produce.

Bear garlic, also known under the names of ramsons, buckrams, wild garlic or wood garlic, is a wild plant that grows not only in forested areas of continental Europe and northern Asia, but also in British woodlands and eastern regions of Canada and the USA. I hear the herb can also be found in some London’s parks. If you want to have a go at Bryndza Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms outside the bear garlic season, feel free to replace bear garlic with other fresh herbs like chives, spinach or parsley greens.

To substitute Bryndza cheese in the recipe below, you can use any soft sheep’s milk cheese you can get locally, although I’m quite sure it won’t taste anywhere near as Slovak Bryndza🙂

Bryndza Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
Serves 4

  • 12 mushrooms
  • 150 g bryndza cheese
  • 2 handfuls bear garlic
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • a little oil for frying
  • radishes or other seasonal vegetables to garnish

Method:

Take the cheese out of the fridge 30 minutes prior the cooking to let it soften.

  1. Rinse the bear garlic leaves and let them dry off on a chopping board. Rinse the mushrooms, remove the stems and make a little hole in each cap by scooping out some of the insides. Don’t discard either the stems or the insides, as they both add flavour to sauces or make a wonderful soup (they can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to two days).
  2. Put the cheese in a bowl and mash it with a fork. Chop the bear garlic leaves and add to the cheese (leave some herbs to garnish if you prefer). Add the paprika and mix well to spread the bear garlic and paprika all around the cheese paste.
  3. Heat a little oil in a pan and fry the mushroom caps over a medium heat until slightly charred. If you want them tender, add a little water and let the caps sweat in a pan for 10 minutes. Set aside and cover to keep warm.
  4. In another small pan, quickly fry the sesame seeds over a medium heat to lightly char them.
  5. Put three mushroom caps on a plate, place a mound of the cheese paste inside each cap, top with the sesame seeds, and garnish with the radishes or other seasonal vegetables. Serve warm on its own or with fresh bread on the side.

Enjoy and let me know how it works for you!

Exploring Liptov

Although it’s a small country when compared to its neighbours, Slovakia’s landscape varies quite dramatically as you travel from the High Tatras mountains in the north to the Danube Lowland in the south. A similar variety can be perceived in regional cuisines, local accents and the people’s mentality as you go from one Slovak region to another.

The Liptov region in the north of the country is certainly one of the most visited. It’s got beautiful mountains, ski resorts and thermal spas, as well as caves, cycling trails or outdoor swimming pools.

When I went to Liptov two weeks ago, it was mainly because I wanted to do some more photography for the book I’m preparing about Slovak cuisine. But at the same time, I needed to get out of the city and closer to the countryside, which brings out all shades of green and a wonderful array of flowers at this time of year.

I knew they made a famed sheep’s milk cheese at a salash (a Slovak word for a sheep farm) in Liptovská Lúžna, and had heard about the friendliness of local people, so that was where I wanted to spend my Saturday.

Getting to Liptov is easy, as it lies on the main railway line connecting Bratislava – the capital of Slovakia – with Košice, the country’s metropolis in the east. The Liptov region is served by regular fast trains stopping in Ružomberok and Liptovský Mikuláš, where you will find convenient bus services to all tourist attractions in the area. And if you’re as lucky with the weather as I was, you may soon find yourself basking in the fresh spring colours somewhere far away from the madding crowds.

I fell in love with the village of Liptovská Lúžna in an instant. Wherever I walked, my eyes met tastefully designed country houses with neat courtyards and well-kempt gardens. It looked like a long village to walk through, but it helped me feel its atmosphere and get to know the people. Some were locals, others just weekend residents spending a couple of days at their cottages out in the countryside.

It’s not very touristy up there, so I was immediately acknowledged as a visitor, and greeted with a friendly “Dobrý deň” (or ‘Good day to you’). Saturday is a ‘cleaning day’ in most Slovak households, and for village people it also means working in the fields or gardens, cleaning up courtyards or engaging in DIY.

The highlight of my trip to Liptovská Lúžna was, of course, my visit to the milk farm, which is set at the end of a small road leading to the pastures. When you see the lush greenery of the meadows, the happy sheep flock and even happier farm workers, you understand why their cheese is such a success. I particularly liked the painting on the front wall of the main farm building. It shows two happy-go-lucky shepherds from my favourite children’s book Maťko and Kubko.

I had a chat with the farm workers, and was offered to have a taste of fresh sheep’s milk cheese and a mug of žinčica. I couldn’t help but take another photo of Maťko and Kubko riding a bear – an illustration from the episode I have translated into English for the forthcoming book.

I was curious to see how žinčica was prepared, so they let me have a look inside a traditional cooking hut, where the whey was being heated slowly over a small fire.

Žinčica is a by-product of sheep’s milk cheese making process

I was told that at temperatures around 85 – 90ºC the whey starts throwing gentle bubbles, which is when the cauldron is taken off the fire and the thick upper layer is scooped away by a large wooden ladle. It is then poured into a metal milk can where it cools down, while being stirred gently to make žinčica smoother and creamier. Žinčica is often likened to an ‘elixir of life’ by Slovak cheese experts, as it is a high quality probiotic drink with a wide antimicrobial effect. It used to be an everyday food and drink of shepherds and salash workers.

There are quite a few salashes in Liptov and the one in Liptovská Lúžna is definitely worth a visit. They move the sheep pens around the village to ensure the best quality of pastures, so you may not find all the sheep in one place, but you can always buy fresh sheep’s milk products at their milk farm shop.

A welcome sign above the entrance of the milk farm shop in Liptovská Lúžna
A welcome sign above the entrance of the milk farm shop in Liptovská Lúžna

How to make chocolate icing

Pour the hot chocolate icing all over the cake.

OK, you can buy ready-made chocolate icing in most shops and supermarkets. All you need to do is heat the packet together with its contents, then pour it out onto the cake or pastry. Very convenient indeed, but you can’t control what they put in there, so you’ll have to be content with ‘a mix of vegetable oils’ and ’emulgators’ among other ingredients showing on the packet. At least here in Slovakia. I don’t really know anyone who’d use the store-bought stuff to replace fresh, home-made chocolate icing. It’s easy and fun to do, doesn’t take long and, above all, it tastes much better than the mass-produced chocolate mix.

Managing chocolate icing has always been in the forefront of my Mum’s baking. If she didn’t like her icing, she wouldn’t be happy with the cake – no matter how delicious it was. So I learnt to make my own chocolate icing quite early in my baking life, although I’ve never been such a perfectionist as my Mum. I want to share with you today what she taught me, and hope my daughters will pick the advice when they feel like it.

Basically, you only need two ingredients to make chocolate icing – and that is:

  • 100 g chocolate (cooking or dark one)
  • 50 g margarine or shortening

I’ve been using these same measurements for all the desserts so far, whether it be Banana No-bake Minicakes, Creamy Banana No-bake Cake, Dobosh Cookies, or plenty others.  Not only does it yield enough chocolate icing to cover most desserts, but I’m very often left with a surplus. The good thing is that, once made, you can store the chocolate icing in the fridge, and reheat it whenever and whatever you need it for.

The choice of the right ingredients plays a crucial role if you want your cake/cookies look and taste good. For example, we in Slovakia almost always go for a regular cooking chocolate, which is available in all stores around the country. I used it for Banana No-bake Minicakes last Silvester:

No-bake Banana Minicakes
No-bake Banana Minicakes

However, when we were making Dobosh cookies with my daughter recently,  I had no cooking chocolate at home but a Slovak brand of dark chocolate. I was surprised how shiny and deep in colour our cookies came out when dipped in the icing:

They looked almost as immaculate as my Mum’s.

As for the margarine or shortening, again we have a special brand in Slovakia that works very well for icing, so that’s what most Slovak housewives use, including my family. I guess each country has its own selection of margarines and shortenings, so feel free to share your favourite ones in the comments.

Method:

Break the chocolate and the margarine/shortening into a small cooking pot and melt over a medium-low heat. You can do this by placing the pot straight on a cooker plate, or in a steam bath, as seen in the photos below:

Put aside to let cool a little.

Depending on the cake or pastry you want to coat, pour or spoon the icing over the top and smooth to achieve a nice finish.

Pour the hot chocolate icing all over the cake.
Pour the hot chocolate icing all over the cake.

In some cases, the recipe will call for dipping the individual cakes/cookies in the warm chocolate mixture:

And here are a few examples of what it may look like in the end:

What is your experience with chocolate icing and how do you make it?
I’d love to hear your suggestions and ideas.

Healthy eating – what do you mean?

Flourless – yes or no?

When I heard recently that wheat flour is number 1 killer in our lives, I stopped in my tracks and asked: ‘Oh really? What on earth’s wrong with flour? Why is good, honest wholemeal bread bad for you?’ The person in question couldn’t give the answer, but they continued following this new ‘fad’ anyway. Then I saw quite a few cakes on the internet that claimed to be made ‘without flour’, and was intrigued to know what they replace it with if flour is such a no-no. I have discovered that these flourless desserts use cornstarch, a bulk of chocolate or cocoa powder and definitely more powdered sugar than I would use in a similar flour-based variation. I don’t know much about cornstarch, but both chocolate and cocoa powder are heavier than flour, so you will end up needing more eggs or baking powder if you want to keep your cake fluffy. Does that sound healthier? Not to me, I’m afraid.

Slovak ‘flourless’ recipes use ground poppy seeds, nuts (almost exclusively walnuts, which are native to Slovakia) or breadcrumbs (is it not baked bread, after all?), but they fail to achieve the fluffiness of the flour-based cakes, and indeed they don’t seem to be catching on. Is it because Slovak flour (and bread) is so good? Or does the cost of the substitutes play a role?

I understand that those with a celiac disease have to replace wheat flour with gluten-free alternatives. Still it’s amazing how many people join in every single diet craze, despite not having any particular health problems or food allergies.

Eggless or not?

Personally, I don’t know anybody with an allergy to eggs, although I’ve met a few people who didn’t like them – at least in their pure form. However, no Slovak housewife questions the importance of eggs in our pastries and doughs, even though we don’t use as many as we did before ‘the great cholesterol diet’ ensued.

I remember a tram from the 1980s Bratislava – the capital of Slovakia – bearing a large advert along its roof that read: AN EGG A DAY . The general belief at that time was that proteins, especially animal ones, were good for you, and so we were encouraged to eat them on a daily basis. At least until 1989, when the Iron Curtain was taken down and new ideas began pouring in about western eating habits and lifestyle. We in Slovakia were introduced to a vegetarian diet and had learnt that, among other nutrients, eggs were also packed with cholesterol – the sly enemy that attacked our arteries and made us more prone to a heart-attack.

It seems though that nutrition scientists are changing their minds about cholesterol and, with evidence based on the latest studies, they are backing away from the conclusions made a few decades ago. Eggs, among other culprits, have been cleared and reintegrated into our diets, to a great joy of Slovak cuisine, which heavily relies on eggs.

With or without dairy?

Another childhood memory well-rooted in my mind is of the ‘morning dairy snacks’ served in school canteens all over the country. They would comprise a half-litre bag of milk with a straw attached to it for drinking, and a bread roll that was occasionally replaced by a brioche or a jam turnover, all for a mere 1 koruna a day. I don’t remember a family who wouldn’t take advantage of this generous offer subsidized by our socialistic government. It was part of the state’s effort to provide us with quality proteins, and vitamins as well. At least we got them in their natural form, unlike these days when lots of children have to take them in pills. Why there were no reports of milk allergies back then, I don’t know. The fact is we loved our twenty-minute ‘dairy’ break that would come at about 10 o’clock. Who wouldn’t? It meant chatting and hanging out with friends, as well as having our bellies filled and happy until lunchtime. I think our parents loved it even more, as they didn’t have to bother about our diet. We were fed a hot meal at the school canteen at lunchtime, and would only have a family meal in the afternoon when everyone was back at home.

Butter or margarine?

There was no question about it until I was 15 or 17 perhaps? Bread and butter was a routine breakfast in my family, along with a cup of hot cocoa drink or lemon tea. Then a fashion of hydrogenated fats arrived and with it another slogan that went like “HERA – vlastná sestra masla” or ‘HERA – a proper sister of butter’. A decade later a new line of fats came from behind the Iron Curtain, and I remember buying a tub of margarine with a glitzy cover and a magically sounding German name for three times the price of Slovak butter. We had to try what we’d been deprived of for so long, didn’t we? Yes, we all seemed to go crazy with this ‘plant-based’ butter, as it was called at the time. Not only did it come in variety of containers, colours and names, but it was claimed to be healthier than traditional butter or pork lard – the two basic fats Slovaks used to spread on their bread slice before.

And the list of questions could go on …

Where do nutritionists stand on ‘healthy eating’ today? Well, they’ve decided (or discovered) recently that it’s not fat that makes us fat and sick. Instead, sugar is said to be the problem, or better still, our ‘high-carb’ diet, as they call it this time. What will they come up with next?

Fortunately, I’ve become immune to all this ‘healthy eating’ craze over years, and have learnt to follow my body’s advice rather than latest nutritional trends. I’ve never been a big meat eater (except in my puberty and three pregnancies), but will probably never give up bread, legumes, fruit and good, home-made desserts. I like vegetables, but only pick those my body is happy with. Quality of food is more important for me than its amount, and so are the people I share it with. I do believe that you can eat what you like, as long as it is in moderation, and balanced with an active lifestyle.

What do you think?

Let me have your thoughts if you feel so🙂

Dobosh cookies

Dobosh cookies

My daughter and I have tried another old recipe from my hand-written cookbook recently – it’s one of those I got from my Mum years ago. I remember I quite liked Dobošové kolieska’ (Dobosh cookies) as a child, not to mention the fact they always looked immaculate when Mum laid her hands on them. She’s always been so particular about the look of her desserts, unlike me, who took this very casual approach to baking of sorts: ‘What’s the point? It’s going to be eaten in a fraction of time anyway.’

For Mum, each dessert is a work of art, and she’ll give hers a great deal of time and attention. When I chose to recreate her Dobosh cookies this past Easter, it was because honey-based cookies are popular Easter bakes in Slovakia.

Dobosh cookies
Dobosh cookies

Unlike the round cookies in my Mum’s original recipe, I gave mine a more seasonable shape. So here goes the recipe:

Dobosh cookies

For the dough:

  • 150 g fine sugar
  • 80 g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons runny honey
  • 1 sachet baking powder (13 g in Slovakia)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 300 g strong (coarse) flour
  • 200 g fine (pastry) flour

For the cream:

  • 250 ml milk
  • 20 g strong (coarse) flour
  • 1 sachet vanilla sugar (20 g in Slovakia)
  • 120 g butter
  • 100 g fine sugar

For the chocolate icing:

  • 100 g dark chocolate
  • 50 g margarine or butter

Method:

Take the butter out of the fridge to let it soften. Place the amount assigned for the cream in a mixing bowl.

To make the dough, put the butter in a saucepan together with the sugar, honey, eggs and the ground cinnamon. Melt over a low heat, stirring all the time. Don’t cook! Add the baking powder, the lemon juice and stir again. Set aside to cool awhile.

While the mixture is still warm, add to it the strong (coarse) flour and work into a smooth dough of medium thickness.

Sieve the fine (pastry) flour onto a rolling board, and transfer the doughy mixture on top. Work into a smooth, thick dough and divide into two balls.

Roll out each ball evenly until the dough is about 3 mm thick. Cut out cookies of various shapes and transfer onto a baking tray lined up with a piece of parchment. Bake in batches at 180ºC until the cookies turn golden brown.

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To make the cream, pour the milk in a saucepan and add the strong (coarse) flour together with the vanilla sugar. Cook over a medium heat until the mixture has thickened. Set aside and let cool down.

Meanwhile, cream the soft butter with the fine sugar in the mixing bowl. Spoon by spoon, add the vanilla cream and combine until smooth. Spread a teaspoon of the vanilla buttercream in between two cookies and press slightly with your fingers. Smooth the edges for a nice finish.

To make the chocolate icing, break the chocolate and the margarine or butter into a small saucepan. Place over a low heat and stir until the ingredients combine into a smooth, loose mixture. Put aside.

Lay a piece of parchment on a worktop. When the chocolate has thickened slightly, dip each cookie in it and hold for a second to let the excess chocolate drop off. Stand the cookies on the parchment to let the chocolate set.

If it gets too thick, reheat the chocolate gently to make it loose again. When you have covered all the cookies, let them stand at room temperature for an hour or two. This will allow the chocolate to set, as well as penetrate through the dough to soften it and enhance the flavours.

At the end of the day, you’ll be rewarded with a sizeable batch of Dobosh cookies – a delectable treat for your guests, or a finger-licking accompaniment to your afternoon tea.

Dobosh cookies
Dobosh cookies