Recipes

   
 
- Entree -
 
Struklji
 
(By Martina Kocjan)

S truklji (pronounced as: SHTROOCLEE) are a "multi-purpose" dish: they can be served as a side-dish with game or any dark meat with a heavy sauce, as an independent course (usually with a salad) or as a dessert (with a sweetened cream sauce or just dusted with sugar). There are over 60 different kinds of struklji in Slovenia and obviously every cook has her or his own secrets.

The dough is made either of very fine-grain white flour or - what is even more typical (well, maybe not for my region of the country - Primorska) - with buckwheat flour. My favorites are the white flour struklji, but I will be nice this time and give you the chance to disagree.


BUCKWHEAT DOUGH

Ingredients

  • 1 liter buckwheat flour
  • 0.1 kg wheat ("white") flour
  • 1 liter boiling water, slightly salted

Directions

Scald the buckwheat flour with boiling water, mixing with a wooden spoon; allow to cool just enough that you can knead the dough with your hands. Knead in the wheat flour and roll out the dough about ½ - 1 cm thick immediately; cut off any thicker or crooked edges and spread the filling (see further). Roll the dough and prepare for cooking (see further - directly to Cooking).




WHEAT DOUGH

Since there are many kinds and variations of struklji, I will although I try to give you a "default", which would, with some imagination from your side, enable you not only to make good traditional Slovenian struklji, but to make struklji with your own favorite fillings, have to restrict myself to one type of wheat dough struklji. Naturally it will be the one I like and know best - the one prepared with baker's yeast.

The word yeast alone usually scares me when I see it among the ingredients, because it often brings along so much trouble. Old people say, you should prepare dough with yeast in a very hot kitchen, otherwise the yeast or the dough may "catch cold" and it won't rise properly.

But nowadays you can get various kinds of yeast in powder, which are so much simpler to bake with and most importantly the result is almost "surprise free". But please do not come to the idea of using baking soda!

And there is one more reason why to prepare the struklji in the more complicated way (if the mere fact that they will taste better is not enough). The dough made with baker's yeast for the struklji is practically the same one we use - and this time I can speak about the majority of Slovenian loving moms and helpful daughters, who make it -as basis for Potica. And Potica is the most famous and typical Slovenian cake. Are you asking yourself why am I not giving you the recipe for potica then? Well, simply because most typical does not necessarily mean better, does it. And I have to save some assets for next time. But let us get back to our struklji now.

Ingredients

  • ½ kg "soft" wheat flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 dag fresh baker's yeast (or the appropriate quantity for ½ kg of flour of yeast in powder), 2 Tbsp warm milk and 1 tsp Sugar
  • Grated peel of 1 lemon (or 2 Tbsp lemon juice, when the lemon is not exactly organic)
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil or 10 dag softened butter
  • 2.5 - 3 dl warm milk
  • Pinch of salt

Directions

When struklji are meant to become a dessert - my mom and most of the "chefs" from Primorska would advise you to add some 10 dag of sugar too, but that would be considered absolutely wrong not even 50 miles away, where they for unexplainable reasons prefer to dust sugar on the top of the struklji. If you have time and are especially keen on struklji, try both and absolutely let me know, which one you like better. Again only, if struklji will be served as a dessert, you may also add a little bit of vanilla.

Sift the flour into a bowl (cover and set in a warm place). Crumb the yeast or pour the yeast in powder into a large cup, add 2 Tbsp warm milk, 1 tsp sugar and mix; set the yeast into a warm place to rise (the mixture should rise to at least twice its original volume before usage).




SALTY (SIDE-DISH) VERSION

Directions

Mix the eggs, oil/butter, lemon juice and salt and slowly add the warm (not hot!) milk. With your hands (no machines!) form the dough out of the warm flour, yeast and the milk mixture. Knead well until the dough is smooth.




SWEET (DESERT) VERSION

Directions

Mix butter, sugar and egg-yolks (you can still use the whites for the filling) and beat until the sugar is well dissolved and the mixture is frothy. Warm up the milk; mix in salt, lemon peel and the butter mixture. Form the dough out of the warm flour, yeast and the milk mixture.

The trick is not to pour in all the milk mixture immediately: use about 3/4 to start with, then add more as the dough forms (the quantity of milk you will need is not quite fixed - it depends on the quality of the flour: with very fine-grain flour, use all 3 dl; but use less with inferior quality flour). Knead well until the dough is smooth and separates easily from your hands and the working surface. Put the dough in a bowl, if you haven't been preparing it in a bowl from the very beginning, cover the bowl with a cloth and set the dough in a warm place to rise. Before continuing, the dough should rise to twice its size, which normally takes about 30 minutes

Roll out the dough just to make it flat, and then continue stretching it using the backs of your hands; the dough should be stretched to approximately 1 cm thick. Cut of the thick edges, spread with filling and prepare for cooking.




SOME IDEAS FOR FILLINGS
 

One rule only: Use your imagination! I for instance love struklji as a side dish with a spinach filling. The recipe for which does not really exist as I always adapt and hopefully improve it. But I am sure you will think of many nice ingredients that will make this recipe your own. Nevertheless, a few ideas just to get you started.

Walnut: mix ½ kg freshly ground walnuts, 2 eggs, ¼ l heavy or whipping cream, 3 Tbsp dry bread-crumbs, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, lemon zest (for desserts-to-be add 10 dag sugar)

Walnut and honey: mix ½ kg freshly ground walnuts, 2 eggs, 6 Tbsp honey, 8 dag softened butter, 3 Tbsp dry bread-crumbs, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, lemon zest;

Cottage cheese: mix ½ kg fresh smooth unsalted cottage cheese with 1 egg-yolk, 4 Tbsp whipping cream, 10 dag melted unsalted butter and the juice of ½ lemon. For desserts only add one cup of raisins or sultanas, soaked in dark rum or in my opinion even better, if soaked in wine (usually white, if you want the taste to be smoother) and 15 dag sugar;

Tarragon: mix 6 Tbsp freshly chopped tarragon, 10 dag softened unsalted butter, 1 egg, 10 dag sugar; or 8 Tbsp freshly chopped tarragon, 0.25 kg fresh unsalted cottage cheese, 2 egg-yolks, ¼ liter whipping cream, 3 Tbsp dry bread-crumbs; if for dessert only, add 0.15 kg sugar. A little confession - I have never ever made myself the tarragon struklji. Probably because I do not really like tarragon. But, if you do like it, this might be the think for you.



COOKING

After spreading the filling on the dough, roll the dough tightly, making sure that there are no air pockets in the roll. Uncooked buckwheat roll should be about 5 cm thick, wheat up to 10 cm. Moisten a thin linen cloth, wringing out excess water; spread the cloth on a flat surface and dust lightly with dry bread-crumbs or flour. Wrap the struklji tightly with the cloth and tie both ends -- the cloth should cover the struklji roll at least twice.
Bring 1 liter salted water (as for pasta) to boil; drop the roll into boiling water and cook for approximately ½ hour or until the struklji floats on the surface. Remove immediately, unwrap and cut into serving pieces. Brown some bread-crumbs on butter and pour over struklji; serve hot.
If served as a dessert with cream sauce, serve the sauce separately (Cream sauce: mix equal volumes of lightly whipped cream and sour cream, sugar lightly). Guests can add sugar to taste and will definitively want to, if you have not prepared the dough with sugar as we do in Primorska. If you want to prepare several rolls at a time, but wish to re-warm them, do not unwrap; freeze the struklji uncooked in their linen wrap, then, without unfreezing them, cook in slightly salted water as described above - until they come floating on the surface of the water.

       
       
     
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