Polish Easter Lamb

The Lamb is a symbol of Christ Resurrected  – The  Lamb of God – The Saviour of the World.

In Poland there is a tradition of having a Lamb  on the table at Easter.  This would be made out of moulded butter or sugar or baked as a cake.  There are moulds available for making a lamb-shaped cake into which you pour the cake mixture before you bake it.

My auntie in America sent me the instructions for making a lamb using bread dough. I think the result is super.

I used my basic enriched bread dough (click here for link to the recipe).

You can use this or your favourite bread dough recipe using 500g of flour.

Make the dough until it is ready for shaping.

Shaping the Lamb

Grease a large baking sheet.

Pre-heat the oven to GM 5 – 200°C.

Prepare an egg white wash by whisking an egg white in a bowl or an egg white and 1 tablespoon of water.

Divide the dough into 3 parts.

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Use 1 of the pieces and shape it into a large oval – this will be the “body

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Chop 1 of the pieces into 4 parts

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Shape 1 part into an oval “head

Shape 1 part into an oval “tail

Shape the remaining  2 parts into long oval “legs

Attach these to the body by pinching them slightly together.

Cut a vertical slit in each leg.

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Using the remaining pieces of dough, pinch off small amounts to make around 24 x 2.5 cm balls and 11 x 1cm balls by rolling the pieces in your hand.

Arrange the larger balls over the body leaving a border of around 1cm uncovered.

Arrange the smaller balls between the larger balls and on the top of the head.

Insert a currant or a raisin for the eye.

 

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Brush with egg white wash and bake for 10 minutes.

Quickly brush on more egg white wash and sprinkle sesame seeds over the head and body.

Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or slightly longer until lightly browned on top.

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Bułeczki – Bread Rolls

First let me start by trying to explain a  little bit of linguistic confusion around the use of the word bread.

The Polish for bread is chleb and is used for rye bread and any bread which contains at least some rye flour.

The word bułka means a loaf and bułeczka means a little loaf or roll (bułeczki – is the plural) and these words are used for soft  wheat loaves or rolls.

So bułeczki are what in England are called bread rolls or bread buns.

However the word is also used for sweet dough yeast buns or sometimes small cakes in general.

The following instructions are for an enriched dough for bread rolls or buns – that is a dough with added milk, butter and eggs.

I will write write about sweet yeast buns in the future

A few pointers – learnt over the past few weeks

  • Learn to be patient – you cannot control the timings exactly with yeast, it depends on the temperature of the room and the flour used and other variables.
  • Do yeast baking on a day you are planning to be in & have other things to do, but ones you can break off from when needed.
  • Heat the milk so it is at body temperature – use the finger test – too hot and you will kill the yeast – too cold is okay – it will just take longer.
  • Strong flour gave me the best results.
  • Have the dough as wet & soft as you can handle – do not be tempted to add more and more flour as you form the dough at the beginning.
  • Knead the dough as much as possible – it can be quite relaxing once you get going.
  • Use the amount of salt as and when stated in the recipe, it gives the bread taste and controls the yeast.
  • An egg glaze often burns too quickly –  I have found an egg white or egg white & water glaze gives a better result.

The Polish recipes I have looked at make a rozczyn – a leaven in the form of a batter or starter to begin with – I have liked using this method very much.

The older Polish recipes use fresh yeast. I have used dried yeast and had very good results.  (I have not tried using easy bake yeast for this recipe).

Basic Enriched Bread Dough 

Ingredients

Leaven

250ml tepid milk

25g fresh yeast or 15g dried yeast(1 tablespoon)

1 tbs sugar

100g strong flour

Dough

400g strong flour

1 egg

1 tsp salt

50g butter or margarine or 2 tbs vegetable oil

Wash

1 egg white or

1egg white  &  1 tbs water

Optional

Poppy seeds

Sesame seeds

 Method

Mix the yeast and sugar with the warmed milk – if using dried yeast leave for a few minutes to let the yeast start to work.

Put the 100g of flour into a bowl and add the milk and yeast mixture, mix it all in to form a batter.

Cover the bowl with a tea towel or cling-film and leave it to rise.

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Put the 400g of flour in a large bowl.

Whisk the egg with the salt.

Add the leaven and the egg mixture to the flour and bring it together by hand to from a ball.  You might have to add extra milk to get a soft ball – try not to add more flour.

In a small pan melt the butter and leave it cool

Turn the dough out onto a firm surface and knead until you have a nice smooth ball – one of my books says do this for 30 minutes! – knead it for at least 10 minutes.

Now this is the hardest part!

Flatten out the dough and pour the butter or oil over it.

Then incorporate the butter or oil into the dough  and knead it until once again you have a nice smooth ball.

Place the dough into a clean bowl and  with a tea towel or cling-film and leave it to double in size.

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Pre-heat the oven to GM5 – 200°C

Grease a large baking sheet.

Take the dough and on a floured surface roll it out into a rectangle.

The next part is to shape the dough, brush with an egg white wash and sprinkle with seeds as desired and bake for 15 minutes.

Three Traditional Shapes

Bułeczki – Kajzerki – Rogaliki

Bułeczki – Round Buns

This amount of dough will make 12 buns.

Use a sharp knife or a dough cutter to divide the dough.

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Stainless Steel Dough Cutter

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Divide the dough into 2, then each half divide into 2 again. Then divide each piece into 3 equal pieces so giving you 12 pieces. Roll each piece of  dough in your hands to make a smooth round ball.  Place these on the greased baking sheet with space between them for them to rise. Cover loosely with a cloth and leave them to rise.

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Pre-heat the oven to GM5 – 200°C

Make an egg white wash by whisking an egg white in a little bowl or an egg white and 1 tablespoon of water.

Use a pastry brush to brush the tops of the buns.

Sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds if desired.

Bake for around 15 minutes until they are golden brown – check a little earlier and move them lower in the oven or lower the temperature if the tops are beginning to burn.

Kajzerki

These are Kaiser rolls and originated in Austria – they are meant to look like a crown for the Kaiser. Cut a cross on the top of the dough using a sharp knife –  this expands  as the dough rises – or you can make 3 cuts to make a 6 pointed star.  However the traditions Kaiser roll does in fact have a 5 point cut at the top.

Make 12 buns as in the instructions above

Cut a cross in the top of each bun – cover them with a cloth and leave them to rise.

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Pre-heat the oven to GM5 – 200°C

Make an egg white wash by whisking an egg white in a little bowl or an egg white and 1 tablespoon of water.

Use a pastry brush to brush the tops of the buns.

Sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds if desired.

Bake for around 15 minutes until they are golden brown – check a little earlier and move them lower in the oven or lower the temperature if the tops are beginning to burn.

 

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A couple of days after making these rolls I went to Harrogate and saw this crown!

Rogaliki – Crescent Rolls

Rogaliki means little horns and these rolls are made into a crescent shaped which look like horns.

This amount of dough makes 8 rolls and you will need 2 greased baking sheets.

Take the dough and divide it into 2, take each piece separately and roll it out into a rectangle, as thinly as possible, and cut this diagonally across to make 4 triangles.

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Starting with the long end roll up each piece ending with the point at the top. Curve the shape around to make a crescent shape.

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Place these on the greased baking sheet with space between them. Cover loosely with a cloth and leave them to rise.

Pre-heat the oven to GM5 – 200°C

Brush with the egg white wash and sprinkle with seeds as desired.

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Bake for around 15 minutes until they are golden brown – check a little earlier and move them lower in the oven or lower the temperature if the tops are beginning to burn.

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Breadcrumbs – Bułka tarta

Breadcrumbs are needed for many recipes in Polish cookery and especially in the topping à la Polonaise.

So I always make sure I have some in my store cupboard.

Bułka tarta is usually translated as breadcrumbs  –  they are the  dried and then ground or grated crumbs from white rolls (bułka is a bread roll) or white (wheat) bread.

Bread in Poland is normally made from rye flour or a mixture of rye and wheat flour.  White bread and rolls were viewed as a luxury in days gone by.

I usually make my own breadcrumbs as in the past the ones you could buy in England were often dyed orange and I did not like them at all.

Nowadays there are many Polish shops and Polish bakeries that sell these dried breadcrumbs.

I have used them and they are good.

If you want to buy them then

Bułka tarta

is what you are looking for – usually sold in 500g bags.

I still make my own as they are a good use of any type of white bread you have left over and the crumbs keep for ages in an airtight box.

Making Breadcrumbs

You need white (wheat) bread – either slices from a loaf or bread rolls – cut in half.

Put your oven on its lowest setting – on mine this is GM1

You can put the slices of bread directly on the oven shelves or you can use a silicone mesh sheet which is good as the moisture which come off the bread does not condense under the bread and it is easier to remove the dried bread from the oven when it is ready.

Leave the bread in the oven for an hour or more – it wants to be a golden brown.

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Lightly Dried Bread – It can be a darker brown if desired

Put the dried bread on a chopping board and use a rolling pin to crush it.

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I store my breadcrumbs in an airtight plastic box – I use  Sistema™ boxes which are made in New Zealand.

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