I haven't even had time to "recover" (read lose those unwanted pounds) from Christmas holidays and now Easter is here. It seem to come so soon to me :D If you don't know what to bake for this festival, you may try several of my traditional and less traditional recipes :) Every year (I serious - EVERY year) I bake Hot Cross Buns - traditional English Easter buns - and perníčky and jidáše. I can't imagine any Easter without them. Of course, I can't forget to mention the most traditional cake - Easter Lamb Cake. In my country there we often bake an Easter wreath - this yeasted one not so traditional but absolutely delicious! And now let's bake jidáše...
Jidáše (pronunciation here, literally traslated as Judases) are traditional Easter baked goods made from yeasted buttery dough and they are served drizzled with honey. They have their typical shape that is said to symbolize the rope which Judas hanged himself with. Judas was one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus. Jidáše are baked on Maundy Thursday and according to old sayings they should protect us from health diseases and if you eat jidáš before sunrise, you'll strengthen your health. Well, I bake them on Thursday morning when the sun already shines, but I think I've been quite healthy so far :D
The dough consists of several basic ingredients and I bet you have 90% of them at home right now: flour, sugar, cream, yeast, egg yolks and butter. In fact, there are also a pinch of salt, grated lemon zest and honey for drizzling. Each ingredients is not very strong tasting as is, that!s why it's important to use the best quality you can afford so that the result is the best as well :)
There are some questions whether to use milk or cream. When it comes to jidáše, I'm undoubtedly for half cream or half and half (fat around 12%). I'm not saying that by using milk you'll do something wrong, but not to use the best :) You know, the milk sold in paper boxes is not at all as good as the milk you get from a farmer though I'm trying to judge anyone, we buy the "boxed" milk too. So go for cream :D
As for the yeast, definitely try to find, buy and use fresh yeast. Dried yeast will make the jod too, but the taste the dough gets from fresh yeast is irreplaceable. The same in fact applies to butter. No margarine will give you the wonderful buttery taste. When you make yeasted dough it usually doesn't matter whether you use melted or softened butter, however, I always use softened butter when making jidáše - their texture (when they're baked) is kind of flaky. I know it's mainly thanks to kneading and rising, but softened butter helps a lot.
The preparation is not complicated at all. You make leaven, dough and then you knead. That's the most important part, really, don't be afraid to punch and hit the dough a few times. Just relax and imagine it's your punching bag or some sort of enemy/someone who's upset you. Whatever. You'll feel great and the dough will be awesome :D When I knead it, I punch it many times - I hope it'll help to build muscles on my arms :D Thanks to perfect and intensive kneading you'll have beautiful jidáše with smooth surface after baking and nicely airy and flaky inside.
Before I'll the recipe with you, I'd like to say that the inseparable ingredient is honey which they are served with. Jidáše aren't very sweet so honey really is necessary not only because of the tradition. I admit I usually spread them with butter at first and then with honey and sometimes I eat them plain though the traditional way is the best. The choice of honey is quite important - you have to like its taste. The best would be buying your honey from a farmer or organic. And now, finally, jidáše :D
30g (3 1/2 tbsp) fresh yeast
500g (4 cups) all-purpose flour
70g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
260ml (1 cup + 1 tbsp) half cream, lukewarm
a pinch of salt
grated zest from 1 lemon
100g (2/5 cup) butter, softened and chopped
2 egg yolks
egg for egg wash
honey for drizzling
For the leaven pour 130ml lukewarm cream into a bowl, sprinkle with fresh yeast and add 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tbsp flour. Stir to dissolve yeast completely. Let stand 15 minutes in a warm place or until foamy and doubled in size. In another bowl, combine the rest of flour with the rest of sugar, salt and lemon zest. Stir in chopped butter and then pour in the leaven, egg yolks and stir well. Pour in the rest of cream. Mix well using a wooden spoon. Now use your hands to create a smooth dough. Knead using your hands for about 10 minutes until elastic, firm and not sticky. Put into a big bowl, cover with tea cloth and let rest in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Then remove it from the bowl and knead again just to get the air out of it. Divide the dough into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a thin log, bend it in half and curl it into a spiral. Place the finished spirals on a lined baking sheet, cover with tea towel and allowe to rest for 30 minutes (they'll become bigger). Brush with egg wash, bake in preheated oven to 170C for 20-25 minutes until golden. Remove, drizzle with honey and devour them :D
- If you're allergic to honey, add additional 50g sugar into the dough and you can eat them plain, otherwise substitute honey with agave nectar, molasses, golden syrup etc. I'm slightly allergis to honey so I always overdose with my allergy pills :D
- Jidáše taste great for the first 8 hours, then they're not so good (as any yeasted baked goods) so if you have leftovers, freeze them asap. Then just microwave or bake them for a while and they'll taste just like the fresh ones.
I have my own notebook where stick/write down all my recipes to keep them handy. I write notes everywhere to know what to change etc. and this is what I've written under jidáše: always make a double batch (they disappear so fast!), daddy loves them - he eats at least 7 of them so always count carefully how much to bake :D I think this says it all. Last Easter I made only one batch (really bad counting!), me and my sister ate two, my mum one and the rest was left on the table. After 10 minutes (I swear it was not more) I returned to kitchen and there were no jidáše left. I looked at daddy and asked him where they were. Daddy's answer: "Well, they were so good I ate a few." A few? There were 7 of them! He didn't believe me, it seemed to him like a few bites :D In fact, everytime I bake something he asks me when I will bake jidáše. Soon, dad, I promise!
Two verdict paragraphs for the first time :) I have to describe them for you. The dough is soft, silky, flaky, tender and airy. It's not too sweet, just a little, lightly buttery with slight lemon aroma. If you use organic or your hen's eggs, they'll have nice yellow colour. I always make a double batch except for the last year and freeze what's left (although there's hardly anything) :D
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