Some of Romanians' favorite dishes for the New Year's festive meals.
The New Year’s party in Romania has its specific food, stemming from both traditional countryside and more recent traditions. Most of the main dishes are made of pork, predictably, since the New Year party comes a very short time after the break of Nativity Fast. Typical entrees are deviled eggs, cheeses, or fish roe with olives, among other things.
However, the absolute must of every Christmas meal is the obligatory dessert, Christmas cake, which is a variation on what’s known as pound cake. In fact, it is more like a loaf of very airy and very well knead bread, which is made by rolling up a filling into the stretched out dough.
You need the following ingredients: 1kg of flour, 50 g of fresh yeast, 500 ml of milk, 100 g of butter, 250 g of sugar, 5 egg yolks, a teaspoon of salt, grated lemon and orange zest, and 2 bags of vanilla-flavored sugar. For the filling you need 250 g of ground walnuts, 5 egg whites, 100 g of sugar, two tablespoons of sugar, a pinch of salt, and essence of rum.
First sift the flour 3 times, about an hour ahead of making the cake. Also remember to keep the butter at room temperature before using it. Warm up the milk in a bowl, add the grated lemon and orange zest and the 2 bags of vanilla-flavored sugar, and mix well. Separately mix the egg yolks with 250 g of sugar. Then break up the lump of yeast and mix it with a teaspoon of sugar to obtain a homogeneous mass, then add 3 tablespoons of warm milk and a tablespoon of flour, and mix a little. Put the entire amount of flour in a large bowl, make a hole in the middle and place the leavening mixture there, and then leave to rise for 15 minutes. Add a pinch of salt, the rest of the warm milk, and the egg yolks mixed with sugar.
For the pound cakes to rise, you will have to knead the dough well for about 30 minutes. When kneading the dough, make sure to oil your hands. Leave the whole mixture to rise in a warm environment for about one hour. While the dough is left to rise, you can prepare the filling.
Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt and add 100 g of sugar gradually. Mix the ground walnuts with the cocoa and rum essence, and trickle into the whisked egg whites for the mixture to stay foamy.
When the dough has risen, divide it into 4 equal parts. Spread flour on a flat area and spread the dough until its diameter is equal to that of the cake tray. Spread ¼ of the cocoa filling on each of the 4 pieces of dough and then roll.
Place baking paper into the trays and oil. Place the rolled dough in the trays and leave to rise in a warm environment until the dough doubles its volume.
After the dough has risen, baste the cakes with a mixture made of one egg beaten with 1 teaspoon of sugar. Place in an oven heated at 180 degrees C and bake for about one hour. Check if your Christmas cakes are baked using a toothpick. This is a difficult recipe involving a lot of skill, so take your time, and we hope you enjoy it as much as everyone here.
(Translated by C. Cotoiu)