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Passport & Plate - Mákos kifli (Poppy seeds crescents)

Hungary | Friday, 14 March 2014 | 5 photos


Mákos kifli (Poppy seeds crescents)
Filling:
• 250 g poppy seeds, freshly grinded
• 2 apples, peeled and grated
• 25 g raisins
• 200 g to 300 g of honey
Pastry:
• 10 g yeast
• 80 ml milk
• 400 g flour
• 70 g sugar
• 1 pinch of salt
• 180 g unsalted butter, cutted in cubes
• 4 egg yolks (2 for brushing)

1. In a large pan mix the poppy seeds with the apple and raisins. Pour half of the honey and cook on low heat, stirring often. Taste the filling (let it cool in the spoon before tasting) and if it´s necessary add more honey. Cook and stir until the apple is totally melted and the mixture it´s creamy (about 30 minutes). Remove from heat and let it cool.
2. Meanwhile, make the pastry: start dissolving the yeast in the milk.
3. Place the flour, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir to mix well. Add the butter and use your fingertips to pinch the butter into the dry ingredients until you have fine crumbs. Add 2 yolks and the milk and mix well to form a dought, using your hands. Add 2 or 3 table spoons of milk if it is required.
4. Turn the dought out on a flour surface and knead for 5 minutes or until smooth.
5. Lightly flour the surface again and roll the dough to a uniform thickness of about 0,5 cm. Cut out circles of about 5 cm and gently roll each circle into an oblong oval shape. Place 2 to 3 teaspoons of the filling at the center of each piece of dough, fold one side then roll to form a small, tapered cigar. Press gingerly to seal, shape it into a crescent and place on ungreased sheet, about 2 cm apart. You might have scraps of dough left over; they can be re-rolled. Use all the filling.
6. Allow to sit for at least 1 hour before baking.
7. Preheat the oven to 180ºC, brush the crescents with 2 egg yolks beaten with 2 tablespoons of water. Bake fo 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Take out of the oven and with a spatula transfer to a wire cooling rack. These are great warm, but also store for 3 or 4 days, if they don’t´all get eaten straight away!
The Story behind the Recipe

I cannot remember my grandmother using a recipe book. Her version of this Hungarian popular recipe may have come to Brazil in her memory, since she came in 1957 with her 4 daughters and a couple of bags.
In this distant country, the food was a weird mix, things that did not fit together at all in her mind. To begin with the celebration food upon arrival, the feijoada (black beans and pork) harmonized with orange slices.
But she soon gave the change with Hungarian cuisine. Unfortunately, some ingredients were impossible to find. Delicacies made with poppy seeds were reserved for special occasions only. In this she was accompanied by many others. All those immigrants trying to keep the essence of their culinary culture in a foreign land gave many interesting stories. Think of Germans making their own sauerkraut, Japanese making misso paste, or Lebanese rearing sheep in their backyards, just to stay with the smelly tales…
This fostered a rich gastronomic culture, where industries and trade flourished, and gave what foreigners craving for their homeland flavour needed. Except for the Hungarians…
Recently, poppy seeds were banned by a law designed to curb drugs, under the understanding that it could be used to make opium. Such surreal situation gave way to…
…trafficking! Old ladies smuggling bags of poppy seed concealed in their books, clothes, handbags… It did not arrive to the point one Russian grandma reached: Cans of Caviar concealed in the bra, but the sense of danger gave these stories their special flavour.
The dough itself is traditionally finished with a twist, making it a crescent moon shape. Why? Just ask any Hungarian about the great victory over the Turks, long ago, when in celebration the hitherto plain kifli was shaped as a crescent.
The kifli tastes like victory. The freshly ground poppy seed, ingenuously done with a specially fitted coffee grinder is cooked with spices, and then baked. Only a few friends get tasters of it for Christmas. It never lasts long.

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