Merry Christmas friends, family and everyone around the world reading my blog! I hope this year has been good for you all. We’ve seen some losses this year, haven’t we? And I think it’s safe to say that 2017 really, really needs to be a better one! So anywho, continuing on with festivities, I had a double celebration..since it’s also my Dad’s birthday, and his 60th one too! Christmas birthday, what fun 😀 And of course, I had a feast!!! Like, duh 😉 but we’ll get to that later…. For now, enjoy some of my Romanian pastries! POALE-N BRAU!
Christmas traditions around the world are so different, and yet, tied together in more ways than one. I found this recipe while browsing through a food blog; a Romanian recipe that is usually made for Christmas as part of their celebrations, the Poale-n Brau is a sweet bread or sweet pastry, that is filled with sweet cheese & raisins and is enjoyed during Christmas feasts. Sadly, this particular blog didn’t have the recipe, so I hunted and after some initial hitches, found a recipe in English with a pictorial description. Because frankly, this kind of takes some expertise and a lot of practice, neither of which I possess.
But a risk taker that I am, I plunged headfirst and took the challenge…….and fumbled with the first few pastries. Shaping them is the difficult part, and as much as you try, the expanding bread dough tends to open up and the filling goes everywhere unless you’re verrrry verrrryyyy careful. So…after destroying the first 2 pastries… I kinda, sorta managed to bake a couple of them. Their shapes aren’t great, not close to perfect in any way, but the way my guests and family gobbled them up, I guess I passed…eh? 😛
Funnily enough, I found these pastries easy to make, except the shaping part, it’s quite an easy recipe. And once you get the knack of folding and sealing the ends, they make for some great snack options. We really enjoyed having these with our evening cuppa, but they work really well on their own too. Heat them up, add a dollop of butter and munch away.
I really loved the golden glaze on the pastries; this is my first try with an egg wash and I’m totally in love. I wish I could bake more, especially breads, but with limited time it kind of becomes difficult. But then, I guess I shouldn’t despair too much, since I compensate by cooking something in place of baking 😀 Hah.
POALE-n BRAU (Romanian Sweet Cheese & Raisin Pastries)
Recipe credits, adapted from —- http://www.Jocooks.com
Ingredients (I have halved the recipe and got about 12)
- All-purpose Flour – 3 cups
- Ricotta cheese – 1 cup (150 gms)
- Sugar – 3/4 cup (1/2 for dough and 1/4 for the filling)
- Milk powder – 4 tbsp (optional)
- Golden raisins – 60 gms
- Active dry yeast – 2 and 1/4 tsp
- Warm water – 1/2 cup
- Vegetable oil – 1/2 cup (I used 1/4 cup melted butter and 1/4 cup oil)
- Eggs – 3 (1 for the dough, 1 for the filling) and 1 for egg wash
- Zest of 1 lemon
- In a bowl, add lukewarm water, and dissolve 1 tbsp sugar.
- To this, add the yeast, and stir with a spoon to mix it in.
- Let this sit for 10 mins, or until you see the top bubbly and frothy. (I usually make two batches of the yeast mixture in case one fails)
- In a large bowl, add the flour and make a well in the center.
- Add the lemon zest, and mix it in.
- Now add the yeast mixture and mix it through the flour.
- Add the melted butter & oil and the egg
- Add the sugar, and mix everything with a large spoon.
- Now begin kneading the flour; use your hands, or use a beater/mixer with the dough hook attachment.
- Knead until you have a smooth, slightly sticky, soft dough..about 8 to 10 mins.
- Now oil another large bowl and place the dough in it. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and place it in a warm spot in the kitchen to rise for 1 hour. (I put it inside my preheated oven for 1 hour 30 mins).
- In a bowl, add the ricotta, milk powder, remaining sugar and raisins.
- Mix and keep in the fridge until use.
- After the hour is up, check the dough. Punch it and deflate the dough.
- Now roll it out into a log, and make equal sized dough portions out of it.
- Take each dough and roll it out into a 6 inch by 6 inch square shape…it will be quite thin, but don’t worry since it will rise some more.
- Place 2 tsp of the cheese mixture in the center of each square and then fold over each corner of the square over to the middle and pinch in the middle to make the dough stick.
- Now fold each newly formed corner over to the middle again and pinch it in the middle.
- Make sure you pinch it well, otherwise the dough will open up. (this is where I faltered. So I used a dab of water to make the dough ends glue together)
- Repeat with remaining dough and cheese mixture.
- Preheat oven to 170 C
- Brush the pastries with egg wash and let the pastries sit out for another 10 minutes so they rise a bit more.
- Bake for 30 to 35 mins or until pastries are golden on top.
- Cool on a wire rack, and dust powdered sugar before serving.
- Grab a cup of tea or coffee and enjoy these sweet treats.
- The milk powder is optional. I felt like my filling was too liquid and thus added a bit.
- The pastries are best enjoyed warm right out of the oven.
- If you need to store them, do so in an air-tight container…keeps well for a week.
- You can double the quantity to make about 25 pastries.
- The dough can be refrigerated after the first rise; wrap it in cling film and refrigerate until next use.