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How To Make Salenjaci (Croissants With Character)
Salenjaci, also known as “Croatian croissants with character,” are a sweet dessert coming from Slavonia, the eastern part of Croatia. It’s usually made in winter when you can find fresh pork leaf lard.
The highest grade of lard, known as leaf lard, is obtained from the fat surrounding the kidneys and inside the loin. Leaf lard has minimal pork flavor, making it ideal for use in baked goods, where it is valued for its ability to produce flaky, moist pie crusts.
These little pastry wraps filled with some homemade jam and ground walnuts will make you feel that “can’t stop eating” feeling on the first bite. They are not made so often today; unfortunately, the young generation may not even know leaf lard is, and if they would know from what this delicacy is made of, presumably, they would never try it.
Salenjaci have a beautiful layered structure that is achieved by folding the pastry multiple times when it is rolled out and coated with the leaf lard. This recipe is my most beautiful sweet childhood memory of winter in Slavonia.
- 1 liter of milk
- 3/4 cubes of yeast
- 1 kg flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- half a tablespoon of salt
- 500 g pork leaf fat
- 1 cup of walnuts and jam for stuffing
How To Make Salenjaci
- Separate 100 mls of milk, add the yeast, a teaspoon of sugar, mix it well and let it rise for 10-15 minutes or until the yeast is activated
- Make a dough with the remaining milk, flour, boiled yeast, and salt and keep it in a warm space for 45 minutes to allow it to rise
- With a knife, remove the veins from the fat and place it in the fridge. Then scrape the knife over the leaf fat and scrape off the fat into small slithers. You can also use the electric grinder to make it easier faster
- Roll out the dough into a thin layer and spread the one-third of pork leaf fat all over the surface
- Thoroughly flour, folding the left side and right side over it, then the top side and bottom side
- Repeat this step three times. Leave it for half an hour in the fridge each time
- Roll out the pastry dough (1 cm thick), and cut into 8×8 cm squares, fill with jam and a little ground nuts, fold two opposite ends and roll the remaining one back or form a bun. On the photos above, you can see a few different options of folding the so feel free to use one that suits you best
- When folded, leave them to rest for 15-20 minutes
- Stack them onto a baking tray, being sure to leave some space between and bake them at 200 degrees for around 20 minutes or until they become golden
- While still hot, dust them with powdered sugar and serve. Just be careful not to burn your tongue because that jam will be hot!