In Polish called simply drożdżówki. As a child, I couldn’t imagine a school trip without my mum packing me some. There is an amazing variety of those pastries in Poland, available in every shop, from tiny local shops to big supermarkets. You can get drożdżówki with cheese, with custard, with strawberries, blueberries, cheese and poppy seeds, chocolate, rhubarb, and many more. Whereas some of the pastries with fruit are seasonal (rhubarb, strawberry, blueberry), some like the ones with cheese will be available all year round.
Even though in Poland they are rather bought from a grocery shop (baked fresh every morning, worth mentioning that in every Polish shop, even in tiny villages, there will be freshly baked bread, bread rolls and pastries delivered every morning), I made an effort to recreate them at home. Living abroad has its issues, one of them is not being able to simply find the flavour I know from childhood, since they might not be available in local supermarkets where I live.
The only option is, sometimes, making everything at home. I admit, it does give me a lot of satisfaction, being able to bake things I always used to buy from a shop, when living in Poland.
Let me introduce you to a recipe for those sweet little treats called in Polish Drożdżówki z serem.
TWISTED SWEET CHEESE PASTRIES
25g fresh yeast (or 12,5g dry yeast)
2 tbsp sugar
340g good quality wheat flour
3 egg yolks
4 tbsp sugar
few drops vanilla extract
small pinch of salt
500g curd cheese
4 tbsp sugar
vanilla sugar or vanilla extract (few drops)
1 egg (to brush the pastries before baking)
1 cup icing sugar (both to make icing)
HOW TO MAKE?
1. Heat up the milk slightly (we don’t need it too hot! just lukewarm). Pour out half of the milk to a big bowl, leaving the other half in a smaller dish. Add yeast and 2 tablespoons of sugar into a small dish with milk, mix until the yeast dissolves. Cover the dish with a cloth and set aside (preferably somewhere warm so the yeast will work quicker). It’ll take about 25-30 minutes for the yeast to start working.
2. Sieve the flour onto the pastry board. Add salt.
3. Add butter into the bowl with remaining milk and heat up slightly in the microwave. Add sugar and egg yolks and mix with your electric mixer. Add the mixture to the flour together with yeast leaven (when ready).
4. Knead the dough with your hands, adding a little bit more flour if required. The dough should be smooth and elastic. Form a ball, cover with a clean cloth and set aside until doubled in size. Again, the warmer your kitchen is, the quicker the yeast will do its job. Sometimes it may take up to an hour for the dough to double the size. Usually I place my dough in a big bowl and place it near the cooking hob (while I’m using it), that’s how I make sure it’s warm enough for the yeast to work.
5. Meanwhile, we can prepare the cheese filling. Curd cheese tends to be a bit grainy, not amazingly smooth, that’s why it needs to be minced before using. When minced, place the cheese into a big bowl, add an egg, sugar and vanilla extract and combine everything using your electric mixer. Done.
6. After about an hour, when the dough had doubled its size, we need to get rid of the unnecessary gas (yeast, when working, creates air bubbles inside the dough which we need to get rid of now). To do so, we simply need to punch the dough with a fist, once or twice. After that, knead the dough again, form a ball and set aside for another 20 minutes.
7. After that time, move your dough into the pastry board, add a bit flour if needed. Roll out the dough, in a shape of a 30x60cm rectangle.
8. Spread the cheese filling on the rectangle, trying to do it evenly.
Starting from the longer side, fold the dough. First, fold one third of the rectangle, to the middle, then from the other side, another third, covering the one already folded. Same way as you would fold official documents before placing them into an envelope.
9. Using a sharp knife, divide folded dough into more or less 12 pieces.
Each piece needs to be twisted now. To do so, hold each piece by two ends and twist it, pulling each end into opposite sides.
10. Place your pastries on a baking tray lined with parchment, cover with a clean cloth and set aside for about 20 minutes, letting them grow one more time before baking. After that time, beat the egg white until it becomes foam and brush the pastries with it.
11. Bake in a preheated oven, in a temperature of 180 degrees, for about 20 minutes. When baked, take them out of the oven and move to a wire rack, letting them cool.
12. When chilled, decorate them with either icing or icing sugar. To make the icing simply mix freshly squeezed lemon juice with icing sugar, until thick enough to be called icing. Don’t decorate with icing when the pastries are still warm because the icing will not set on the pastries and soak in instead. Enjoy with coffee or – like Polish kids – with a glass of milk.