photo: Zuzana Habšudová
After wafers or bread with honey and garlic, most families would start the dinner with kapustnica - cabbage soup (The Slovak Spectator published a recipe in Vol 8 No 49). Some families living near the Hungarian border had fish soup. The west and centre of the country would then continue the feast with carp and potato salad, while the east, mainly the Ruthenian ethnicity, followed with pirohy s kapustou (boiled dumplings with cabbage). The special bobaľky or pupáky s makom (small balls of dough sprinkled with poppy seeds) could also be found on some menus.
Today, the most ordinary Slovak Christmas dinner starts with prípitok, (toast, which used to be the traditional greasy hriatô, but nowadays anything works just as well), followed by wafers with honey and garlic, and optionally the poppy-seed bobaľky. Then come the main courses: kapustnica eaten with potatoes or the special vianočka pastry, and fried carp with potato salad. After a moment of relaxation, a rich palette of various cakes arrives. This Christmas, The Slovak Spectator has decided to bring you closer to the sweet part of the Slovak Christmas. With help from Slovak mothers and grandmothers, we have compiled the most typical and easiest Christmas cake recipes, including those for bobaľky and vianočka.
When Ľubica Karpatyová married a Spiš native in whose family it was a custom to eat the sweet vianočka along with Christmas cabbage soup, she had to learn how to bake it. She found the recipe in what is today an almost 30-year-old book, and has been baking it accordingly ever since. Here it is:
120 grams baking fat (Hera)
100 grams icing sugar
30 grams yeast (droždie)
20 grams raisins (soaked)
0.4 litre milk
3 small spoons of sugar
grated lemon peel
Warm up the milk to body temperature, and add three small spoons of sugar, and pinches of yeast. Let the yeast rise to the top. Pour it into a mixture of the flour, Hera, icing sugar, three egg yolks (keep the whites for later), raisins, salt, and grated lemon peel. Make the dough harder and thicker (beat it by hand or mix it in a mixer for 30 minutes). Sprinkle flour on the top (so it does not dry out) and let it rise on a warm place. Put the dough on a board and divide it into eight equal parts.
Bobaľky / Pupáky s makom
Called bobaľky in Slovakia's east and pupáky in the country's north and west, this dish is begun a week before Christmas. Bake the small dough pieces first, leaving them to cool and harden until Christmas, when they are served scalded with hot water or milk. Some eat them at the end of Christmas dinner, some after the wafer starter. Some add butter or oil, but the tradition preserved by Helena Tkáčová from the east does neither. Here is her recipe:
1000 grams half-thick flour (polohrubá múka)
0.5 - 0.7 litre milk
40 grams yeast
1 litre water
ground poppy seeds
On Christmas, gradually pour one litre of boiling water with three tablespoons of sugar on the dried bobaľky. First, let them soak in a smaller amount of water. Add water until they are soft, but not too sodden. Sprinkle with ground poppy seeds, and add honey.
2 250-gram packages BB chocolate pudding4 tbsp sugar
125 grams butter
4-5 tbsp icing sugar
1 package vanilla sugar
200 grams coconut powder
100 chopped walnuts
0.05 - 0.15 litre
canned fruit (pineapple or cherry)
Drown the sponge cakes in milk, let them soak. Add the other ingredients (only about 50 grams of coconut powder though), apart from the canned fruit, and mix it together. Form little balls with a cherry or a piece of pineapple inside, covering them in coconut powder.
370 grams flour (hladká múka)
120 grams icing sugar
1 stick (250 grams) butter
2 egg yolks
a bit of soda bicarbonate
jam (not watery)
Make dough from all ingredients, apart from jam and chocolate. Roll it out on a board and cut shapes out of it. Join two identical pieces together with the jam. Bake at 150 degrees Celsius for a while, until golden brown. Melt the chocolate and gently pour on the baked cakes.
300 grams icing sugar
2 250-gram packages baking fat (Visa is the most suitable brand in Slovakia)
2 250-gram packages BB chocolate pudding
3 tbsp cocoa powder
200 grams chopped walnuts
300 grams icing sugar
120 grams sponge cakes (piškóty)
0.2 litre milk
0.1 - 0.2 litre rum
Slowly cook all ingredients for the dough in a pot over steam. Let the sponge cakes soak in the milk, add the other ingredients, and mix them together. First put a spoon of the melted dough into a paper basket, add a spoon of the filling, and again put dough over it. Decorate with walnut or almond on the top.
(Salty little cakes)
1 package of sponge cakes (piškóty)
250 grams butter or baking fat (Hera)
250 grams tvaroh (sheep cheese - curd)
250 grams four (hladká múka)
Mix all the ingredients together to make dough. If you prefer variability, divide the dough into three parts; leave one part as it is, add grated cheese to the second one, and spices (caraway, or any kind of dry herbs) to the third one. Let the dough settle during the night. Out on a board, roll the dough out to a height of one centimetre, and make shapes out of it (simple round shapes can be cut out with a glass). Put brush-beaten egg yolk over the pieces before baking, and add walnuts, almonds, or caraway seeds on the top. Bake them for 15 minutes at 220 degrees Celsius.
15. Dec 2003 at 0:00 | Nataša Košútová