New Year’s Day traditions invariably involve resolutions, a fresh start and the consumption of certain foods which are believed to hold the promise of good luck, good health and prosperity and undoubtedly help to lessen the effects of hangovers! In the South, black-eyed peas and collard greens are the key ingredients, while in Italy and Brazil it’s lentils. The Spaniards eat twelve grapes at midnight, one for each coming month, and in Poland and Germany herring and sauerkraut work their magic.
In my native Serbia, the tradition is to eat krofne. Krofne are sweet and airy doughnuts that are made with a yeast-activated dough similar to beignets, Dutch oliebollen and Polish pączki. As the yeast feeds on the sugar, the dough rises and so will your good fortune! Always round in shape, krofne symbolize that we have come full circle and are about to start anew.
Krofne are delicious hot with just a sprinkling of sugar, or filled with jam, preserves, honey, cinnamon or even Nutella. Each person fills their own once they are served. These come with a warning: once you’ve had one, you have to have another, and another, and another…!
Krofne (Serbian doughnuts) adapted from Violet Sekulich’s recipe at St Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in Merrillville, Indiana.
7 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting and kneading
1 tablespoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 stick (4 ozs.) unsalted butter, cut up into 1 tablespoon chunks
3 large eggs
1/2 gallon vegetable oil
Blend 7 cups flour and instant yeast in a large bowl. Set aside.
Combine milk, water, sugar, salt and butter in a microwave-safe bowl (I use a glass measuring bowl). Microwave at intervals (depending on how strong your microwave is), until the liquids register between 110° – 120°F. Pour liquids and eggs into flour and yeast mixture and beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture in blended and sticky.
Generously flour a work surface and dump the dough on the flour. Knead for about 5 minutes, adding flour a little at a time until the dough is smooth and slightly sticky. Lightly grease a bowl with oil. Place the dough in the bowl and flip it over so that the entire surface of the dough is covered in oil. Place the dough in a warm part of the kitchen and allow it to rise until it is double in size. When the dough has doubled in size, place it on a floured work surface and punch it down with your hands.
Sprinkle a little flour on top and fold the dough over itself a couple of times. Knead for a couple of minutes and using a rolling pin, roll the dough until it is about 1/2” thick. Using a 2.5” cookie cutter dipped in flour, cut dough into rounds as shown below. Here we’re using an old cookie cutter which is leaving a circular impression in the dough which disappeared as the doughnuts rose.
Transfer each dough round onto a floured cookie sheet lined with a silpat, parchment or wax paper. Allow to rest for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a fryer to 350°F. Fry doughnuts until light brown, flipping them over after about 2 minutes. Drain for a couple of minutes on a cookie rack that has been placed on newspaper.
Transfer the doughnuts to a serving platter and dust with confectioner’s sugar. Serve with your choice of jams or preserves, honey, cinnamon or Nutella.
I wish all of my readers and their families peace, love, understanding and joy in 2010!