2020 has been a year like no other; even though Christmas and winter holidays are very different for most of us, this doesn’t mean we can’t create little cosy and festive miracles at home. Why not learn to bake kūčiukai (also called šližikai), a traditional Christmas Eve dish in Lithuania?
Kūčiukai are tiny, usually a little bit sweet, pastries that require only a few ingredients and can be eaten warm or cold, dry or with poppy milk, or cranberry kisielius (kissel). Many families in Lithuania have their own recipes – and this is ours. This particular variation has been passed from one generation to another for decades.
500 g flour
200 ml of warm water
a few drops of oil (not necessary)
4-6 spoons of sugar
10 grams of fresh yeast (dry yeast can also be used)
a pinch of salt
2-3 spoons of poppy seeds
Take the fresh yeast and blend it with sugar; add the warm water and let the mixture sit for some 15 minutes. Add half of the flour, mix everything, cover with a towel and let the dough rise (we usually put the pot near a warm radiator or oven – use your imagination!). It should rise in some 30 minutes.
Add the remaining flour and the poppy seeds; you can also add some oil if you think the dough needs it. Work on the dough for a while with your hands, think of nice things and sing Christmas carols (optional). Let the dough rise again in a warm place.
Make long rolls from the dough. Cut them into small (the yeast will make them bigger!) pieces. Roll the pieces in your palms to make them round. Put the kūčiukai in the oven (pre-heated to 180°C) and bake for 10-12 minutes until they’re golden; remove just before they get too brown. Repeat until the dough is gone. You can create bigger pastries from remaining rolls.
Our version of kūčiukai is crispy outside and soft inside. If kept dry, they can be enjoyed throughout the whole festive season. We usually run out before the New Year, though…
Photo by Aistė Jūrė/Real is Beautiful Stock