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Like Autumn leaves or a Bow Tie
Thin stripped cookies, crunchy and crispy and ever so delicate. They resemble an elongated bow tie, dusted with powdered sugar. Citrus, lemon, vanilla and wispy, they are a welcome addition to afternoon tea. Traditionally prepared for all important occasions here in Croatia, especially weddings, they should be pale yellow to golden in color and more or less dissolve in your mouth as you eat them.
First, The Ingredients
(In the photo, take note of the tiny bubbles. That means it was fried quickly and efficiently in just enough hot vegetable oil at the right temperature, about 375F. They will be light and crispy, not heavy and oily, yum, yum!
Relatively inexpensive to prepare, here are the basic recipe.
- 6 eggs, separated (reserve three Whites, beat the remaining 3 to stiff peaks and refrigerate
- 1 T. butter
- 1 T. sugar
- 1-2 tsp. vanilla
- 1 T. Rum - I use the real thing
- grated rind of 1 lemon and 1 orange
- juice of half a lemon and half an orange
Combine the above ingredients. When the mixture is completely smooth, add to a larger bowl filled with
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 lbs. enriched flour
- 1/2 lb. (or less) cake flour depending upon how much it absorbs
krostule or hrustule (hroo-shtu-luh)
Roll the dough as thinly as possible
Once you've created your dough, all the old ladies agree - let it sit awhile. It needs time to settle, whatever that means. Cover your bowl with a damp dishrag and I even put the whole bowl in a fresh large plastic bag so it won't lose it's moisture or elasticity, fresh from dusts, insects or whatnot. In summer months keep in a cool place, preferably room temp or else if all else fails, put it in the fridge.
Next step, after it rests a little, knead the dough a bit more. Put a little vegetable oil on your hands and shape the dough into six small balls. Some people put all six balls into a plastic bag with just a little veggie oil in it. On a clean, floured surface, roll out the first ball.
The old ladies who taught me how to do this instructed me to pull the dough all the way across the table. They are really good at it! Since I couldn't manage that, I use a rolling pin and push the hell out of the dough from inwards - outwards. I have a vinyl tablecloth. If I can see the design and all its intricate patterns, then I know my dough is thin enough.
I like to use a pizza cutter, it's a roller, to get a zig-zaggedy edge. A knife can be substituted. The dough needs to be cut into vertical strips about 1-1/4 inch wide - think of a fat thumb's width - and then, at an angle, slice diagonally. This leaves you with several 5-6 inch long strips. In the center of each strip. put a tiny line which will be used to thread one corner of the cookie into before frying. They really do look like bowties before and after the oil. If they still look a little too fat, I pass the roller again on the bowtie tail, because this cookie can never be too rich or too thin.
doin' the deed
Frying and dusting
Test the oil with a drop of water to see if it's hot, if so it will sizzle. If the oil is TOO hot, turn down the heat a bit. Burned hrustule are not tasty, and after the work you put into them, don't risk it.
When I make them for guests or a customer (yes, I have sold them), I only fry four at a time. When the oil is just right it's just a matter of seconds, meaning, a minute in the oil is about enough. No time to leave your pot. Put them in, turn them over, count to ten, and out they go.
There are two or three steps. First get them out of the hot oil. They will continue metamorphizing even after. They should be barely yellow when you remove them, by the time they drain they will be a bit darker.
Second, I drain them on paper towels, because oil is not that good to eat.
Third, they need to be dusted with powdered sugar, preferably sifted powdered sugar. I do it right away so it sticks on the still-wet, but not-too-oily, freshly made hrustule.
A note about ingredients
If you make them with love and care, they will be delicious.
Farm fresh eggs and home grown lemon and orange rind is very important, so do all within your power to have them on hand when you make them, and they will be out-of-this-world!
Oil can be recycled. Once it's cooled thoroughly, I put it back into the oil bottle (using a funnel). As the oil reaches the bottom there will be cookie particles which have burned during frying. Those can be wiped out with a paper towel.
The oil can be used two times, then - bye bye. Fresh oil is important - two times is enough.
I now sell them to a local restaurant. Pricing is as follows -
Cost of ingredients - only you know. Remember to include cost of oil for frying.
Labor - a normal workday. For me, that is 100 kuna, plus materials.
Not everyone has the time or patience to make them, so if you do it well, know your price and stick to it. Those who love them will be willing to pay.
Dobar Tek! (Bon Appettit!)