Some may argue that Slovak dishes are heavy and not very healthy to eat. Well, I’d say there’s something to feel guilty about in each cuisine if you go by today’s health guidelines or some freak new diets. True, we don’t eat as much fresh fruit and vegetables now as, say Italians, Spanish or Greeks. But it’s the end of winter at our latitudes and the countryside is slowly waking up into another spring right now. That’s why we still have to rely on the vitamins and nutrients conserved last summer – until we have the first, hopefully plentiful crop of fresh ones in a few weeks.
Easter came quite early this year, and my family celebrated the arrival of spring with a little feast. Apart from the Breaded Pork Steaks with Potato Salad we baked an Easter Wreath, a yeast-based fruit cake from last-year’s garden produce. However, in the recipe I’m sharing below plums can be replaced with raisins, or any other fresh or canned fruit. Here, as everywhere else on the site, I use fresh yeast to make yeasted dough. For the dried or instant alternative, it’s good to read instructions on the packet.
- 300 g flour (plain wheat can be combined with wholemeal in a desired ratio)
- 200 ml milk
- 21 g fresh yeast (or 7 g dried one)
- 50 g butter (unsalted)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- a pinch of salt
- 600 g bottled plums (or 1 kg fresh ones)
- 1 sachet vanilla sugar (about 20 g)
- ground cinnamon to taste
- icing sugar to drizzle
Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl and add a pinch of salt. Make sure you stir it well into the flour, so the yeast doesn’t come in direct contact with the yeast at the next stage.
Heat the milk in a heatproof mug over a low heat until warm. Add a little sugar to the warm milk and stir well. Transfer half of the milk into a glass. Between the tips of your fingers, crumble the yeast into the glass. Stir well until the yeast dissolves. Add a pinch of flour to kick-start fermentation. Cover the glass and leave it in a warm place.
Slowly, heat the butter over a low heat in a heatproof mug or a small saucepan. Stir all the time, as the butter burns easily.
When the yeast rises up to the brim, pour all the contents of the glass onto the flour. Add the remaining warm/lukewarm milk and half of the melted butter. Knead by hand until smooth. Pour in a little warm water, if needed, to make a dough of medium thickness. Cover and leave to stand in a warm place for an hour.
Meanwhile, wash and stone the plums. If you’re using bottled or canned ones, strain them on as sieve and save the juice for drizzling at a later stage.
Grease and lightly dust a round baking dish, ideally a bundt-style one with a cylindrical hole in the centre.
When the dough has risen, transfer it on a floured rolling board and roll out into a long oval shape, as seen in the photos below. Pat the dough with more flour each time it starts sticking to either your fingers or the board. Spread half of the remaining melted butter over the dough and distribute the plums evenly all around it:
Sprinkle with the vanilla sugar and the cinnamon. Roll in and carefully transfer into the baking dish.
Bake in the oven at 180ºC for about 25 minutes or until the crust turns golden brown. Let cool after taking the cake out of the oven, and gently ease from the sides of the dish with a spatula. Transfer onto a large plate or a serving tray, drizzle with icing sugar and a generous amount of the plum juice.
Some of you may find our Easter Wreath too dry despite all the fruit juices it contains. I guess my English friends would dunk it in custard or vanilla sauce, or possibly scoop plenty of ice-cream over the top. Hmmh, am I right here or not? 😉