An English-speaking lady with Slovak roots has contacted me recently asking for two ‘very Slovak’ recipes her Grandma used to make. Although I didn’t recognize them by the names given, they sounded like some sort of pasta dishes, so I asked for their description. It turned out that the first one was, in fact, a very old name for Halushki, and the second dish is very likely to be what we call Šúľance (transcribed into English as Shoolantze) today.
Šúľance are little pieces of pasta that get their name from the rolling movement (šúľanie in Slovak) applied to the dough by hand in the process of making. Most Slovaks will serve šúľance with ground poppy seeds, which are very common and popular in Slovak cuisine, but my Mum would often top them with home-made breadcrumbs or even ground walnuts. Whatever topping you’ll choose, melted butter is the vital ingredient to give ‘shoolantze’ that delicious velvety finish.
Šúľance or Shoolantze
- 600 g potatoes
- 200 g coarse/strong/bread flour*
- pinch of salt
- about 150 g ground poppy seeds or breadcrumbs
- 100 g unsalted butter, melted
- powdered sugar for dusting
*The amount of the flour may change slightly according to the type of the potatoes, as well as the flour used. Anyway, the instructions and pictures below should be a good guide to what you need to achieve in the dough.
Clean the potato skins with a damp sponge and place in a pot. Fill it with enough cold water to cover the potatoes. Bring to the boil, adjust the heat and let cook for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a skewer.
Drain the potatoes and let cool down until they are cold enough to handle. Peel them and mash with a potato masher or a fork. Add the flour and a pinch of salt. Work into a smooth, slightly sticky dough. Cover with a dish-towel and put in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, grind the poppy seeds, or dry-roast the breadcrumbs in a saucepan over a low heat. Remember to stir the breadcrumbs all the time to prevent them from burning. Set aside.
Take the dough out of the fridge and transfer onto a floured rolling board. Dust your hands with flour, sprinkle some over the dough and divide into 8 parts – sort of balls. To make shoolantze, gently roll each ball into a long rope of 1 cm thickness. Cut into pieces about 5 cm long, dust with flour and put aside on a floured surface.
When you have used all the dough, bring a large pot of slightly salted water to the boil. Turn down the heat and throw the shoolantze in it one by one. Depending on the size of your pot, you may have to throw them in two or three batches.
Stir gently and cook each batch over a medium-low heat until the shoolantze come up to the surface. Take them out with a sieve or a slotted spoon, and transfer onto plates. Stir in a tablespoon of the melted butter. Cover and keep warm.
When all the shoolantze have been cooked and buttered, sprinkle each serving with the ground poppy seeds or the roasted breadcrumbs. Dust with the powdered sugar and pour the rest of the warm melted butter over the top. Serve immediately.
I hope the lady who was an inspiration for this post will find what she was looking for. Thanks to her, I have rediscovered a delicious meal I haven’t made for ages. True, I had to call my Mum to tie up a few loose ends, but I believe the recipe we have put together for Shoolantze will delight many of those with a sweet tooth.