Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” said James Beard, the father of American gastronomy. And he is absolutely right! I have been always been fascinated by bread ever since I was little. Bread loaf was probably one of the first things that I fetched for my mother from a little shop close by when I first started transacting using money. As a reward, I would get toasted bread with butter. My fascination with bread continues till date and every place I travel to, I taste the local bread available there.
Although the basic building blocks of bread happen to be the same everywhere, every place adds its own flavour, texture, taste to the bread created there. Prague was one such place I remember not just by the historical monuments or the natural beauty there, but also by the sweet smell of the cinnamon pastry called Trdelnik that is fire cooked and available on the streets. It’s actually made of sweet dough with yeast as the rising agent. The dough is allowed to ferment and then rolled into cylindrical strips, then wound around a wooden spindle called ‘trdlo’, hence the name trdelnik. The rolled dough is then basted with butter and egg paste, rolled in cinnamon sugar and then cooked on open coal grills. The end result is a beautiful cinnamon flavoured and caramelised pastry in the form of rings. What makes it so special is that it is cooked right in front of you on a charcoal grill and served absolutely fresh! It reminds me so much of Indian bangles!
There is ambiguity about the origins of Trdelnik as some say that the roots of this pastry are found in Transylvania district of Romania and then spread to central Europe. Hungary has its own version called ‘Kurtos’. Whoever may lay their claim about the origins of trdelnik, it has surely found place in Czech Republic. You cannot miss this delicious pastry or bread, when you are on a tour to Prague. It is hard not to notice the fact that, the trdelnik is cooked in a rather primitive way on charcoal grills rather than in ovens! But that is how it gets its aroma and flavour.
I wanted to create this beautiful pastry at home and wondered how to do it. Making the dough was one part of it and was pretty much doable, but cooking it was an all together different ball game. Even though we have charcoal grills at home, it is not common to have a motor operated rotisserie along with it. Electric operated ovens are easier and so I decided to create my version of Trdelnik baked in an oven. I wanted to make it in the traditional ring shape and so I created my spindle or the trdlo, as the Czech’s call it, using the cardboard rolls on which the aluminium foil or kitchen paper is wrapped. Cut the roll according to your oven size and you can wrap the roll with aluminium foil. Alternatively, you could use empty cylindrical tins or cans that are used for canned food. To make a conical shaped trdelnik, one can use the cream horns used to make cream rolls. That is another trending way of presenting a trdelnik by serving icecream in it. Once you are ready with your spindle all that remains is making the dough. Here is my version of the trdelnik.
All purpose flour or maida 320 g
Lukewarm milk 150 ml
Unsallted Butter 70 g
Sugar 20 g
Fresh Yeast 13 g
Egg Yolks 3
Salt a pinch
Brown Sugar 100 g
Cinnamon Powder 1/2 tsp
- Take lukewarm milk in a bowl and add sugar and fresh yeast to it. Set aside till it bubbles.
- Sieve flour and add salt to it.
- In a mixer bowl, beat softened butter and add yolks to it one by one while beating. Add milk mixture to it, followed by flour. Continue beating for 4-5 min at low speed. The dough will be slightly loose but should not be sticky. Add a handful of flour if sticky.
- Deposit the dough in a greased bowl and ferment for 1.5 hrs to 2 hrs till the dough rises.
- Knead the dough to knock out the air. Dust the bench with flour. Roll out the dough into cylindrical strip.
- Apply butter to the aluminium foil rolled over a cardboard roll/can/wooden spindle as explained above. Roll the dough strips around it. Leave for second fermentation for 15-20 min.
- Brush with butter and roll into the cinnamon sugar to coat completely.
- Place the roll on a baking tray with the open side down. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes till the dough cooks on the outside and the sugar caramelises. Slide the pastry off the roll/can/spindle and bake for another 5-10 minutes to cook from inside. Serve hot.
Winter is just around the corner and trdelnik is the perfect thing to enjoy in this season. So do try it out at home and I am sure you will definitely love it! Happy Baking!