Christmas traditional sweets in Croatia

In recent years, there have been a lot of new, modern flavors, interesting sweet creations on the holiday table, but Christmas used to have its proper sweets.

 

It’s an excellent opportunity to remind ourselves of some delicious traditional cakes and cookies any Croatian household will feast on its table during the cold December. If you want to make some of those yourself, we’re also bringing you simple recipes to bring your family together. Ready? Here we go!

Photo by Christian Bowen on Unsplash
Photo by Christian Bowen on Unsplash

Famous Poppy cake

Poppy cake, or popularly called “Makovnjača” in Croatia, is a dish you can hardly bypass during Christmas or even birthday parties. Looking like a loaf of bread with a twirly inside, you might expect something you can barely taste, but when you take your first bite, all stereotypes fall. It’s is a unique sweet dish that people often give to others in the spirit of good relations. So why not try to make one of your own? Once you master the recipe, every other time making the poppy cake will seem like a child’s game. Ready?

Photo by Mathilde Langevin on Unsplash
Photo by Mathilde Langevin on Unsplash

     Ingredients:

A dough: 600 g flour, 250 ml milk, 100 g sugar, 80 g margarine, 30g baker’s yeast,  five yolks, one lemon (zested), a pinch of salt.

Poppy cake


Filling: 400 g minced poppy, 25 ml milk,220 g sugar, five egg white, raisins soaked in rum, cinnamon;

Preparation:

Dough: Sift flour in a plastic bowl. Heat milk in a kettle until warm, not hot. Pour half in a second bowl, add little sugar, crumbled yeast and leave to rise. Form a pit in the flour, pour in a mixture of yeast and milk, cover with some flour and leave for a while. In the meantime, separate egg yolk from egg white. Whisk in the yolk, margarine, sugar, and lemon zest into a smooth mixture, pour the mixture onto the flour, add leftover lukewarm milk, knead, and salt. Knead the dough on a wooden board coated with flour until smooth. Leave to rise until it doubles in size.

Poppy cake by Croatian cuisine
Poppy cake by Croatian cuisine

Filling: Bring milk with sugar to boil, then stir in minced poppy. Stir it creamy but not too watery. Beat five egg white until stiff. Once cooled, stir in egg white and sprinkle with cinnamon. Once the dough rises/doubles in size, split in half. Roll out each half, spread filling on top, garnish with raisins (let out moisture), and form into a roll. Place on a greased and floured baking pan and bake in an oven heated to 190-200 degrees. Bake for 60-70 minutes. When done, leave in a warm pan for additional 15 minutes, turn it upside down on a wooden board, cover with a kitchen cloth and leave to cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into slices.

Don’t forget to check your teeth after poppy cake. It might be a good scene. 🙂

Walnut cake or ‘orehnjača’ is prepared in exactly the same way, with the filling being ground walnuts instead of poppies.

Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash
Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash

Paprenjaci – famous Croatian pepper biscuits

Pepper biscuits by Croatian cuisine
Pepper biscuits by Croatian cuisine

Traditional pepper biscuits, “Paprenjaci,” are considered a Croatian symbol. You may have encountered these biscuits in case you’ve traveled with Croatia’s national airline company. They are often prepared for the holidays, and the scent of their preparation is usually associated with Christmas. Since they are a dry kind of biscuits, they can stay for days because they can’t get bad in a long time. Cheer your family with the simplest recipe for this sweet course!

Ingredients:

45 dkg hard flour,18 dkg lard,15 dkg sugar,15 dkg walnuts, one egg, three yolks, two tablespoon honey, cinnamon, clove, pepper, nutmeg

croatian-black-pepper-biscuit-paprenjaci.jpg

Preparation:

Crumble lard, mix with flour, add sugar, minced walnuts, egg, yolk, honey, cinnamon, powdered clove, nutmeg, and black pepper, and whisk into a dough. Leave to sit for 2 hours in a cold place. Roll out the dough on a wooden board, cut the biscuits with a special wooden mold. Place them on a greased baking pan and bake for about 25 minutes at the 200-220 ° C temperature.

Photo by Paige Cody on Unsplash
Photo by Paige Cody on Unsplash

Practical tip:

This is an original Croatian biscuit, which textured flavor represents the diversity of Croatian people. For tasty biscuits, it is important to dose spices in equal amounts to prevent domination of one flavor. Specially carved wooden mold is embossed with folk motifs. If you do not have one, you can use biscuits molds.

The Ischl tartlets – maybe not so Croatian, but very Christmas cookie

A delicious and simple recipe for tasty treats that hide one of the most beautiful love stories of the 19th century. ISCHL TARTLETS are shortbread cookies mostly made for the holidays. Still, any Croatian housewife would be glad to prepare a few if you ask.

These tiny, dark brown cookies combined with a delicate cream and decorated with a perfect chocolate blend are a classic when Christmas comes. Therefore, the recipe is shared from knee to knee from moms, grandmothers, aunts, etc.

ischl-tartlets.jpg

A history ‘bite’

The first Ischl tartlets were made in the small town of Bad Ischl, famous for being a fairy-tale and magical little village, and the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franjo Josip and his beautiful wife, Princess Elizabeth, nationally known better as Sissi, decided to make this their summer residency. And just in that small Bad Ischl, Franz Joseph had seen Sissi one year ago and fell in love with her and decided to marry her, and the rest is history. Since Croatia has been under the Austro-Hungarian Empire for quite a time, it’s no wonder that these cookies had an impact on Croatian cuisine.

Ingredients:

Dough ingredients: 20 dkg hard flour,16 dkg butter, ten dkg powdered sugar, ten dkg walnuts, one egg yolk; Filling ingredients: 2 eggs,14 dkg powdered sugar,14 dkg butter, three chocolate chunks, one vanillin sugar, melted chocolate glaze;

Preparation:

Making the filling: whisk in egg, sugar, chocolate, and vanillin sugar. Steam cook with constant stirring until thickens, remove from heat, cool, and stir in foamy butter. Knead dough from flour, butter, sugar, minced walnuts, and yolks, and leave to cool for an hour. Roll out the dough and cut it into small tarts using a cup—Bake at 200°C for about 15 minutes. Spread filling over cooled tarts and stick them together (like a sandwich)—place tarts on a wire rack and coat with chocolate glaze.

Practical tip:

Place the clean baking paper under the rack to use a leftover glaze.

Get your family and friends closer to the cooking table, but make sure that every one of them brings some of the ingredients with them…and make the delicious party ever.

Merry Christmas! 

Advent Zagreb 2019, Croatia -photo by J. Duval, photo credit by Zagreb city TB
Advent Zagreb 2019, Croatia -photo by J. Duval, photo credit by Zagreb city TBž

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash
Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

Gastronomy of Croatia

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