Valentine’s Shishki

Unlike in most western countries where Shrove Tuesday is celebrated as a Pancake Day, in Slovakia Fašiangový utorok is associated with doughnuts or šišky (pronounced as shishki), as we call our little doughnuts in Slovak. Shrove Tuesday is a religious name for the last day before Lent, a fasting season that starts on Ash Wednesday and lasts until Easter.

Shrove Tuesday traditionally marks the end of winter carnivals and parties, as well as gorging on heavy, fatty foods. This year, the end of the party season (Fašiangy in Slovak) coincides with Valentine’s Day, so why not celebrate it with a special edition of Slovak shishki?

When preparing Valentine’s Shishki, you will also learn how to make yeast-leavened dough.

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Valentine’s Shishki

Makes about 30 (depending on the cutter size)

  • 300 g flour (plain wheat can be combined with wholemeal in a desired ratio)
  • 200 ml milk
  • 21 g fresh yeast*
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of sugar
  • jam (ideally home-made)
  • oil for frying
*If you can’t get hold of fresh yeast in your country, use the dried or instant one (21 g fresh = 7 g instant), and follow the instructions on the packet. 

Method:

  1. To make the yeast-leavened dough for shishki, follow the photo-guide here.
  2. When the dough has doubled in volume, which will take about an hour, transfer it onto a floured rolling board. Remember to also dust your hands before working with the dough, as it will stick to your fingers. Scrape the remains of the dough off your hands with the back of a cutlery knife or a wooden spatula.
  3. Roll out the dough to 1 cm thickness and cut out the heart-shaped shishki. To avoid waste, put the dough cut-offs aside, gently knead them into a ball and roll out again to make more shishki hearts. Let stand for 15 – 20 minutes to allow them to rise.
  4. Pour some oil in a frying pan and heat over a medium heat. When the shishki have risen, gently press your finger in the middle of each one to make a small hole. Put the shishki in the hot oil and fry on both sides until golden brown. The shishki should be immersed half-way in the oil, so add some more if needed. Depending on the size of your pan, you will have to cook shishki in two or three batches.
  5. Take the shishki out and place on a napkin or kitchen paper to drain any excess oil. Cover to keep warm.
  6. Serve with a dollop of jam placed in the hole of each heart.

For this special occasion, I have opened the bilberry jam I made two years ago from hand-picked forest berries. It still retains their fragrance and inimitable flavour.

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