Let me share with you a perfect winter recipe from our family kitchen! This melting sugar in the oven and the aroma of the rich yeast dough baking in the oven reminds me of the days during winter holidays when we went on skiing with my Granddad. Coming back tired but excited, we would always find our babushka (Granny) making something tasty for us – most of all we enjoyed the warm sugary buns, served with tea in the dim lit kitchen.
These buns have also played their role in my baking ‘career’ – they were that very recipe which turned me into an almost non-stop baker in January 2009. We actually call them figushki in my family as these rolls remind us of a the figa gesture (try sticking your thumb between the index and the third finger, bending them over) which is actually used when you want to communicate ‘never in this life’ or ‘nothing’. Not a very polite gesture after all =)
A year ago – Winter Light and Lemon Cake
Two years ago – Apples and Looking Back over My Shoulder
Three years ago – Birthday Mega Torte and Lots of Flowers
My Babushka’s Sugary Knots – recipe translated and adapted from the family recipe. Will make a dozen of moderately to over-sweet rich dough rolls with cinnamon, if you wish! See my remarks in italics.
For the dough – for lots of buns (make half of the recipe for one baking sheet)
- 0.5 ml milk – I made a mixture of hot water and milk
- about 70 g margarine – I used butter
- 50 g fresh yeast
- about 1 kg of flour – I tried adding some oat bran and cardamom for a change
- 3 Tbs sugar
- 2 eggs
For the filling
- melted butter
- sugar – the amount depends on your sweet tooth =) You can also try brown sugar
- cinnamon – this is my addition, the original recipe has only butter and sugar
Make the dough: Boil the milk and melt margarine (butter) in the milk and leave to cool down. Then melt the fresh yeast in the mixture. Add sugar, eggs and salt. (I usually take some hot water, melt their the butter, then add milk and yeast. After some minutes I add the rest of the ingredients). Start adding flour (Soviet recipes never give you the exact amount, so beware!) till you get a rather soft dough. Leave it to rise in a warm place, covered. When it rises, knock it down. Repeat one more time (with this amount of yeast, the dough will rise quickly. I usually decrease the amount of yeast but the dough still rises fast.).
Make the buns: Prepare your working surface: A surface dusted with flour, a rolling pin, a bowl with melted butter and a brush, a bowl with cinnamon + sugar (or just sugar). Take a small amount of dough, about the size of a tangerine, and roll out it rather thinly into an oval. Brush the oval with melted butter, sprinkle with cinnamon + sugar (about a tablespoon per bun but adjust the amount to your liking) and start rolling the bun from the shorter edge. When you get a rope-like roll, twist it into a knot and place on the baking sheet (I line it with paper as the sugar oozes out and creates puddles of caramel quite hard to remove). Repeat with the rest of the dough.
Bake in the preheated to 180 ‘C oven for about 17 minutes. If you want your buns crusty, brush them with milk before baking and also move them to the upper rack for a minute or so.
Remarks: Try making just a half of the dough first, which will make enough buns to fit on one baking sheet (about a dozen). As well as the sweetness and the type of spices in the filling, you can also adjust the size of these buns, increasing the baking time accordingly. I tried baking these at my Granny’s place recently in her Soviet oven. The buns turned out really crusty with a sugary top (I brushed the top with buttermilk and sprinkled some sugar)!
Results: The trick of these knots is in the sugar melting in the oven… The ultimate comforting aroma for the long winter evenings! Try not to overbake these buns and they will make you love your winter!
Adding these knots to Russian/Soviet recipes.