Thursday, August 1, 2013

Making Anna Sweet

I grew up visiting my grandmother's house in Pennsylvania. Anna Baldovski was an incredibly willfull and strong woman. She was one of those stoic 1940s figures from the farmlands of the former Czech Republic who made a life in America. Anna was pragmatic and simple. She did everything herself: cleaned gutters, crocheted lace, pickled vegetable from her garden, etc... Above all, Anna was an incredible baker.

When the heat of this summer rolled around, I thought of those sweet pastries, cookies, cakes and "made from scratch things" that filled Anna's humble kitchen. So, I set myself a challenge and created my grandmother Anna's Cottage Cheese Rolls (recipe follows). These are little Slovak breakfast pastries which were/are held in high regard in our family. I swallowed my pride, did my best and produced something close to the soft, semi sweet pastry dough which held succulent golden raisins and sweet cottage cheese filling.

They were great to eat, sketch, paint and ink.

Here's my tribute, Anna Sweet, in the form of a character.  

Of course, I had my cannibal moment after this sketch and gobbled Anna Sweet. She's lovely and a warm welcome addition to a pastry story I am working on. More on that later! A bientot!

Recipe (courtesy of Slovak-American Cook Book, first published in 1892):
Slovak Cottage Cheese Rolls
6 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 packets of yeast
1 pound soft butter
5 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 cup milk

2 16 oz cartons of cottage cheese, drained
1/2 box golden raisins
2 eggs
1 cup of granulated sugar (combine filling ingredients and blend well)

Sift dry ingredients. Mix butter and yeast and add to the mixture. Work together until well blended. Add yolks, whole egg and milk. Mix well. Chill dough overnight. Roll out dough 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 3 inch squares. Place a teaspoon of filling on each square. Gather up the four corners and fold one over the other and pinch together. Place on ungreased baking sheet and allow to rise (about 1 hour). Brush with beaten egg yolk, mixed with one tablespoon of milk. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Bake at 350 F until golden brown (about 20 - 25 minutes). Enjoy!

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