Saturday, April 19, 2008

Bulochki - Sweet Russian Tea Bun

I learned how to make these bulochkis from some Russian friends in the middle of the night.  It's a long story.  But anyway, they have been a family favorite ever since.  The recipe that follows is my own, as one only can learn so much in the middle of the night.  The recipe came originally from Nadezhda and Larissa Okhotin (mother and her oldest daughter).  

1 batch of sweet dough (or half a batch if you like)
melted butter  (the Okhotins used cooking oil)
cinnamon and sugar mixture (any ratio you like, or just sugar, white or brown, I've even used almond filling)

1/4 cup sugar
1 egg white

After the dough has risen one time, punch it down and let it rest a wee bit.  Actually, if you are going to let this sit out all night to raise you do not need the first rising, just make the dough.  Then divine the dough up into little bits about the size of a large walnut or egg.  Then take each little bit and form it into a nice little round ball.  I do this by taking the lump of dough and pushing it up through my fingers on one hand that are joined to make a circle.  This would be the thumb and pointer finger.  Then as the dough comes up through the finger I close the fingers around the bottom of the dough, making a very tidy little ball.  Place all the balls out all over a board or table and let them rest there for maybe ten minutes while they easy up a bit.  You want the dough to be malleable.  

Then, with the melted butter in one dish and the cinnamon and sugar in another, you start making the bulochkis.  You need two spoons, one in each dish.  I use very little spoons.  Take a ball of dough and flatten it into a circle about 3 to 4 inches in diameter.  We do this with our hands.  The size of the circle is not hugely important.  Then first put a wee bit of butter on the disc, smoothing it around with the back of the spoon. I use very small tea spoons.  Then, using the other spoon, sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar on the disc.  Next tightly roll up the disc like a mini cinnamon roll log.  Then, using a pointy sharp knife, cut the roll in half the long way, but not all the way.   Imagine cutting a cigarette in half the long way, but not cutting the filter end.  Then take and lay open the cut part, exposing upwardly the many little layers.  Next - lift up one side and lay it over the other, with the cut sides still facing upward.  then take the piece that is on the underneath and bring it up over the first half, moving in the same direction as the first one was moved, either left to right or right to left.  Continue in this manner until there is no more to overlay.  This is about three of four cross overs in all.  Then pick put the dough and tuck the two ends to the underneath, forming something that resembles a little ball.  If you mangle the bulochki it will still taste good.  I've taught many people to do this and they usual botch their first bulochkis, but when the dough raises you don't know which ones were the botched job.

As each little ball is made put it into a large buttered baking pan.  They should be close but not touching, because they need room to raise.  If you get your pan all filled up before you have finished with all of your bulochkis then get a new pan that you think will fit the remaining buns.  When finished cover and let them rise.  If I am making these late at night for breakfast the next morning then I just leave them out covered with a slightly damp tea towel.  It's cold in our house at night so I've never had a problem.

To bake, heat the oven to about 375 degrees, not hotter as sugar burns.  Bake until done, maybe about 15 to 20 minutes.  I really don't pay attention because you can smell them when they are about done, but when I do I will write in the right time.  And hopefully I will have some pictures to add.

making the icing

Put the egg white and sugar in a small mixing bowl and using an electric hand mixer (if you have one) beat until very fluffy and very white.  This can be done with an egg beater if you really go at it.  Or you can use the small mixing bowl of a stand mixer like the Sunbeam or Hamilton kind.  When all whipped up use a pastry brush to spread the icing all over the bulochkis.

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