Bobalki

Although we were unable to celebrate Christmas with family this year, I did my best to recreate the magic at home for our little family of two. I paid particular attention to the Xmas Eve meal since that’s where we really stick to tradition year after year. My parents-in-law always create the same [amazing] Slovakian meal. My mother in law calls it carb heaven and if you know me, you know I love carbs so this is a meal I really look forward to each year. The meal begins with appetizers (kielbasa with cheese and shrimp cocktail – I love a snacky moment) and then moves into the main course of pierogi and bobalki. I wasn’t confident enough to take on two new recipes so I bought pre-made pierogis (thank you, Veselka) but made the bobalki from scratch.

My first time punching down dough and I found it THRILLING

What are bobalki? They are basically little balls of dough. I followed this recipe and they came out delicious…just 3x the size they’re supposed to. Oh well, I’ll know for next time. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 c. water, 3 tbsp sugar, 2 tsp salt, and 5 tbsp butter to a boil. Turn off the heat and let it get to a lukewarm temp. While it’s cooling, mix 2 packets of yeast and 1 tbsp sugar into 1/2 c. of warm water. Place 6 c. flour in the bowl of a stand mixer and add both mixtures. Let it go with the dough hook for about 7 minutes til it’s nice and smooth. You could also do this by hand, you’ll just need to knead it a bit longer. Cover the dough and let it rise for about 45 minutes until it’s doubled in size. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough 1/2- to 1-inch thick and cut into pieces that will result in 1-inch balls when rolled between the palms of the hand. HOT TIP: Roll the balls smaller than this. They’ll grow a bit and they’re supposed to be the size of a quarter. Also, they won’t be perfectly round/smooth and will have creases but that’s ok. It evens out in the oven. Place the dough balls onto on a floured cookie sheet, touching each other, and cover with plastic wrap. Let them rise again (til they double) while you preheat the oven to 375. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until the tops are browned. (Time will depend on the size of your bobalki.) Let them cool completely before breaking them apart. Place them in a colander and pour juuuust enough boiling water over them to soften them but not turn them into mush. THIS IS COUNTERINTUITIVE. It feels weird but it works. Top with toppings.

We served them two ways:

  1. Sweet(ish): Toss with honey to taste and poppy seeds (my beau still put the savory toppings on these – to each his own.
  2. Savory: Top with sauerkraut and farmers cheese (I added some pink salt to my farmers cheese – not necessary but good)

NOTE: This recipe makes a ton of bobalki. I would recommend halving it.

Aside from being larger than normal, these came out pretty perfect. They were almost like a denser parker house roll.