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Speckkuchen (Bacon Cake!)

Passport & Plate - Speckkuchen

Latvia | Saturday, 7 March 2015 | 5 photos


Ingredients
Speckkuchen

Dough:

1 oz. fresh yeast (or 1 package ++ a little)
½ cup lukewarm water
1-1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
½ cup butter
2 Tbsp. oil (canola or similar)
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
5 cups plain flour


Filling

½ kg. schinckenspeck
½ kg. double smoked bacon (or regular if not available)
8 large onions

 

How to prepare this recipe
Dough:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Dissolve yeast in water. Mix milk, eggs, butter, oil, sugar, and salt. Add yeast and then flour.

Beat with spoon 5 to 10 minutes until dough is thoroughly mixed and starts to form bubbles.

Allow dough to rise. Knead lightly--do not overwork the dough.

Filling:

Dice the schinckenspeck, double smoked bacon and onions. Fry over low heat until bacon and onions become soft and golden brown, essentially like a bacon jam.

Cool the filling.

To assemble:

Roll out dough thinly. Place 1 teaspoon of filling onto dough, fold dough overtop and cut out in a half circle using a small glass. Please refer to picture!

Paint speckkuchen with egg wash.

Bake for about 15 minutes at 350 F or until golden brown.

 

The story behind this recipe
It was at a wedding in rural France that I unexpectedly found myself with a glass of schnapps in one hand and a toasty speckkuchen (literally, bacon cake) in the other and I immediately felt at home.

“Santé”! Everyone exclaimed, toasting the bride and groom. The shots of lemon peel infused vodka were drunk and then quickly followed, as tradition demands, by the speckkuchen.

Until this day, I had not so much as seen speckkuchen outside of my grandparents’ dining room on Christmas Eve.

Warm, golden brown yeast dough encasing a mixture of slowly cooked smoky bacon and onions. These little morsels, shaped like pirogues, but baked in the oven like traditional yeast bread single-handedly satisfy every human food craving with a single bite.

First the aroma and taste of freshly baked bread, and then the combined flavours and mouth-feel of smoky, salty, rich bacon and sweet caramelized onions.

The recipe originates in the Baltic States but the term speckkuchen that my family uses is actually a German word. Historically, my ancestors are Baltic German: ethnic Germans residing in the Baltic States.

Many of the recipes my grandparents cooked in my childhood and my family still prepares today have German names but are in fact amalgamations of German and Latvian cuisines.

Because the history of German people residing in the Baltic States came to an abrupt end at the beginning of the Second World War, the foods and traditions of my grandparents’ and ancestors’ lifetimes exist now only as family recipes passed down generation to generation.

While Baltic Germans are no longer considered to exist as a distinct ethnic group, the foods, recipes and traditions that have been passed down serve as a link to keeping our family’s culture alive.

Try drinking a schnapps followed with a speckkuchen and imagine yourself then in rural Latvia, traveling through the snow to visit a friend by horse drawn cart, staying warm under a pile of furs warmed by hot stones…

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