Slovak Bread Rolls (Rožky)
Ingredients for 8 rolls: 2 cups flour (225g), 1 cup milk (1/4L), 4 tbsp oil (60g), 1 tbsp sugar and 0.5 tbsp of salt, half a packet of yeast
Prep time: only about 20 minutes of actual work, two hours to let the dough rise, 20 minutes for baking
If you have visited Slovakia, you surely came across little slightly-curved mini baguettes called rožky. These baked bread rolls are a HUGE part of Slovak cuisine. I have no statistics to back this up, but I suspect Slovaks get at least half of their bread in the form of rožky (plural of rožok). In this recipe, I show you how you too can bake them at home. The recipe is based on an article on SME.sk, titled “Bake your own bread rolls, everyone can do it!”. Very true, indeed. Baking these bread rolls is really easy, and you don’t need any fancy bread machine.
Combine all the ingredients in a container. Knead the dough by hand, or with a food processor with attached dough hooks. I have this handy mixer, so I used that a bit. But I don’t know if it was really easier on my hands. The hand-held gizmo produced quite a bit of torque which my wrist had to compensate form. So, if you are planning on doing much baking and cooking, you should get a stationary dough mixer, like the one shown in the video on the SME recipe page. The dough is done when it becomes smooth and elastic.
Take each half and roll it out into a circle about 4mm thick. Make sure to flip the dough while rolling to get it smooth on both sides. Cut the circle into four sections. You can use a knife, but if you can find them, get one of these dough cutters. They work great! Now, let’s make rožky using the following four-step process. First, grab the triangle by the “ears” and stretch them out a bit. Fold the ears over. Second, tuck the long end over and roll up. Third, continue rolling with the palm of one or both hands. Fourth, there really isn’t a fourth step. Just finish rolling and place the tube onto a greased baking pan, the tail piece down.
Let them sit in the baking pan for about 20 minutes, so they rise again. I gave the rolls a little bend too, to make them look more like rožky you would find in a bakery shop. In the mean time, preheat the oven to 375F. Bake in the middle for about 20 minutes, until they turn golden brown. Ah, there is nothing like home-baked bread! Slightly crunchy on the outside, yet fluffy on the inside.
Next make some Parisian salad to go with them.
If you compare my rožky with those you will find in Slovakia, you will see that mine are much more twisty-looking. I am not sure why this is – and since this was my first time ever trying this method, I have not yet had a chance to experiment. The issue is that the individual layers should have fused together. Since they didn’t, I suspect my dough was tad too stiff. I wasn’t very precise with the measurements, so perhaps I had just a bit too much flour, or slightly too little liquid. I will report any findings – I will definitely be baking these again. And in the mean time, feel free to share your experiences by leaving a comment.
Update May 11th, 2010
I figured I give rožky another try, and boy, did this second batch turn out great! Although still not as pretty as you would find in a bakery, the taste was amazing! Lightly crunchy on the outside and fluffily soft on the inside.
The main thing I did different this time is that I let the tubes rise an extra time, about an hour, before baking. You can see how they doubled in the photos below. I also let the dough rise overnight in a fridge, but I don’t think this made any difference. Turns out, you can make the dough the night before, let it sit overnight in the fridge, and in the morning have dough ready for baking.
One great thing to do with these rolls is to top them with butter and jam and make a quick mid-afternoon snack.
Update January 16th, 2011
And one more update. This time they are looking much more like the way they are supposed to. It’s partly because I let the dough rise for over a day, not on purpose but because of various social commitments that got in the way of baking. These were nice and fluffy. By the way, If you have to let the dough rise for a long time like this, you can sprinkle flour over the top to keep it from drying up, and also place it in the fridge to slow down the yeast activity and to prevent the dough from going sour.