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Rožky

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 30 October 2013 at 18:02
Rožky
Slovak Bread Rolls

Rožky (the plural form of the singular rožok) are a staple in Slovak cuisine, found everywhere from humble cottages in the forest to bakeries and sidewalk bistros in the towns to fine eating establishments in the cities; indeed, it has been estimated that at least half of the bread consumed in Slovakia is in the form of rožky

Although I am sure there is more to it than this, these simple yet utterly delicious bread rolls remind me of a cross between a mini-baguette and a croissant, with a bit of Slovak magic that provides a unique and homey character that - to me - is all about comfort on a cold, grey day. These little bits of paradise are good on any occasion, but in my opinion they are best enjoyed with a hot, thick belly-warming stew, or perhaps a steaming plate of holúbky:


I first learned about rožky from Luboš Brieda, the creator of www.SlovakCooking.com:


If you want to learn a lot of great things about Slovak cuisine and culture, you can do yourself a favour and visit his site; over the past couple of years I have found myself there many times, picking up bits of the Slovak language, learning some history and seeing how families celebrate great times together. Most of all, I've been salivating over so many wonderful-looking traditional and modern Slovak recipes, with easy, step-by-step photos of their preparation. Luboš's focus is entirely on Slovak cuisine and his special interest is in what he calls the "grandmother recipes," as he cites his two grandmothers as his inspiration. Considering that I became interested in Slovak cuisine thanks to my wife's grandmother, who emigrated from Žakarovce, Slovakia soon after World War One, I have a deep appreciation and sincere respect for what Luboš is doing on his site, and hope that I do justice to his efforts with this pictorial.

As stated above, there aren't too many things that are easier to make than rožky, so I highly recommend that you give them a try. Here's all that you need for 16 rožky:


4 cups flour
2 cups milk
Oil, butter, lard or some other type of fat (see note below for the amount)
2 Tablespoons sugar (any kind, or honey if you prefer)
1 Tablespoon salt
1 package of yeast

Note: Luboš's recipe calls for 4 tablespoons of fat (he used oil, and so did I) in order to make 8 rožky; because I was making 16 rožky, I doubled this amount (along with the rest of the recipe). In retrospect, this amount seemed like way too much; in fact, I needed to add more than a cup of extra flour in order to make up for it. After taking a look at the Slovak video link embedded in Luboš's pictorial, I am convinced that it should be 2 tablespoons of fat for 8 rožky, and 4 tablespoons of fat for 16. Those are the amounts that I recommend, but your mileage may vary! Please visit Luboš's site - read the recipe, watch the video in the embedded link, and decide which amount to use. I am very open to comments, opinions and possible corrections on this point, so if anyone tries this, please share your experiences and your thoughts regarding the amount of fat you used and how the rožky turned out. More on this below.

My first step in making the rožky was to proof the yeast. There is probably a more-correct way to do this, but what I did was heat one cup of milk until it was "blood warm" (right around 100 degrees Fahrenheit). I then added the sugar and the yeast: 


A note on the sugar: I used dark brown sugar for this, but any sugar will do, as will honey. Since I was doubling the original source recipe, I used 2 tablespoons of sugar with good results.

While the yeast was proofing, I added the salt to the flour:


And stirred them together with a fork.

For this project, I elected to use a porcelain-covered metal bowl that my wife got from her Slovak grandmother. I often use this bowl for my "grandmother recipes," as well as sausage making and other similar projects. It is old, and the rim is chipped in places, but it seems to me that there is a lot of love in that bowl, and through some sort of magic, that love tends to end up in the things that I make in it.

When the yeast had proofed to the point where it resembled a "brain" I heated the rest of the milk to the same blood-warm temperature and added it:


I then added the yeast mixture to the flour:


I stirred the wet and dry ingredients together with a wooden spoon:


Once everything was incorporated into a dough-like consistency, I then took it upon myself to add one step to the original recipe; I covered the bowl and let it sit for about 20 minutes:


This step is called autolysation, is just a fancy word for "doing nothing and letting the mixture sit so that the liquid can incorporate into the flour." I generally do this with most, if not all, of my bread-making projects before adding any fat or oil; in my opinion, it is a step worth taking that helps in the development of the dough, resulting in a better final product.

Once the 20 minutes had passed, I added the olive oil in an amount which reflected a doubling of the original recipe (8 tablespoons):


My instincts told me that this would be far too much, even before I added it; however, since I had never made rožky before, I decided to try the recipe as written until I knew more about it. As I mentioned above, it seems that my instincts were indeed correct, since I ended up adding quite a bit of flour in order to make up for the extra oil. The additional flour meant that everything came out in the end, but With that in mind, I recommend 2 tablespoons of fat for a single batch (8 rožky) and 4 tablespoons for a double batch (16 rožky). This is half the amount called for in Luboš's recipe, so if you try these, do your research and decide for yourself how much to use - then please share your results and conclusions!

As mentioned above, I added some flour, kneaded it in, then added some more flour and kneaded it in, until I got something that started to once again resemble bread dough:


I continued to knead the dough until it became smooth, not-sticky and elastic, at which point I considered myself back on track:


I then lightly-oiled and covered the dough. From this point, you can put it in the refrigerator overnight and make your rožky the next day, after letting the dough warm to room temperature and rise; or, you can continue, as I did.

I allowed the dough to rise in my turned-off oven with the light on until it had doubled - about 2 hours. When this was done, I punched down the dough and worked it into a nice, smooth ball on the floured table:


Next, I divided the dough into 4 equal portions:


Remember that this was a double batch for 16 rožky; If making 8 rožky, you would be using half the amount of ingredients, and would only need to divide the dough in half.

I then took one portion and dusted it with flour: 


And proceeded to roll it out flat into a circle, flipping it over and rotating it three or four times in the process to ensure that it would be smooth:


I didn't measure the diametre of the circle, but it is probably irrelevant, since I had to add so much extra flour; the important thing is that the circle was about 1/8 of an inch thick:


Next, I cut the circle into 4 quarters:


It is at this point that the rožky will take shape!

Take one of the 4 quarters and lay it out in front of you, stretching the "ears" at each end a bit as you do:


Fold in the "ears" a little from the ends:


Roll up the quarter into a croissant-like roll:


Finally, continue to "channel the croissant," and give the roll a bit of a bend:


That's it! You've just made a rožok! Now place it on a greased or oiled baking sheet with the corner or "tail" piece down and get back to work!

Continue with the rest of the quarters of the circle you rolled out, then roll out the remaining portions of dough in turn, cut them into quarters and roll your rožky.

Here are all of the rožky, laid out on greased baking sheets:


Next, lightly dust your rožky with a little flour, then cover them with a tea towel or something similar and then allow them to rest and rise for at least half an hour (up to an hour, if you'd like) so that they can take on a light airiness when they bake:


IF you haven't already preheated your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, do so now. Once the oven is hot, Place the baking sheets in the middle of the oven and bake them for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through the time in order to ensure even baking. 

As the rožky bake, you're going to notice that your home is beginning to smell a little bit like something between Grandma's kitchen and heaven, depending on your childhood experiences. The aroma released by these bread rolls is so much worth the modest amount of time and effort it takes to make them, and it is quite easy to understand why they are so popular in Slovakia. By the time they are done, you will be craving them, I promise!

The actual time might vary a bit, but you want them to turn a nice golden-grown, like this:


Not too bad, for a first attempt! As you can see in the photo, only a few of them actually look the way they should as far as the shape is concerned; the rest managed to adjust themselves ads they were baking into forms that were a little unconventional, to say the least:


No matter ~ the taste is what really counts! Prudence requires you to let them cool a bit, in order to dissipate the moisture inside; however, you probably won't be able to stand waiting that long, so you might as well get some butter out and enjoy one.


A proper rožok will be a beautiful, deep golden on the outside, light and airy on the inside, with the interior layers nearly indistinguishable. When you bite into one, it will have a crisp, slightly-crunchy outside that explodes with fresh-baked flavour, and a tender, feathery inside that will send you to heaven on a cloud.


Rožky can be enjoyed simply on their own, or as part of any meal of the day. You can slather them with butter or bacon grease, dip them in your soup, sop up the gravy or juices on your plate - or you can just grab one and dig right in; I can assure you that no matter how you use rožky, you will love them.


Thanks for taking a look at this time-honoured, traditional Slovak bread roll, which will make a perfect addition to any Slovak meal, or almost any non-Slovak meal as well, for that matter. I implore you to give rožky a try, and to share your experiences! If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to ask.

Dobrú chuť!

Ron
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 October 2013 at 06:58
Wow! I have got to try these, Ron. Great job.

And, I have to say, your definition of autolyse is spot on. It's part of the somewhat snobbish lexicon of artisan bakers, and all it means is, as older recipes said, "let it rest."

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 October 2013 at 09:32
Next time my Boss asks me what I'm doing, I'll reply "I'm autolysing"!!!!Tongue
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MarkR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 October 2013 at 10:13
Ron they look excellent! Fairly simple recipe too. That's a keeper.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 October 2013 at 14:50
Next time my Boss asks me what I'm doing, I'll reply "I'm autolysing"!!!!

LOL

Personally, I prefer the immortal words of Snoopy: "I'm not daydreaming; I'm conceptualizing."
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 November 2013 at 01:22
Nice job my friend!

Now that it's baking weather again, I'll have to put this one on my list.Clap
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 November 2013 at 17:12
Thanks for the comments, guys, it really is a good recipe for some great rolls. i look forward to hearing everyone's thoughts on them ~
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