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 a 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 very 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.
Salenjaci, also known as “Croatian croissants with character,” are a sweet dessert coming from Slavonia, the eastern part of Croatia. Here is how to make Salenjaci!
- 1 liter milk (4 1/4 cups)
- 3 or 4 40 g cubes of yeast
- 1 kg flour (7 cups)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 500 g pork leaf fat (17.6 oz)
- 1 cup walnuts, ground
- Jam of your choice
- Place 100 ml of warm milk with 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, 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 and faster
- Roll out the dough into a thin layer and spread the one-third of pork leaf fat all over the surface
- Thoroughly flour the dough, and fold it as follows: first, fold the left side inward, and then fold in the right side over it, and then also fold down the top side and bottom side (refer to the photos to see what we mean)
- Place it in the fridge for 30 mins
- Roll out the dough again, and place another 1/3 one-third of pork leaf fat all over the surface. Fold and refrigerate again
- Repeat this step one more time
- Roll out the pastry dough (1 cm thick), and cut into 8x8 cm squares, fill with jam and ground walnuts, fold two opposite ends and roll the remaining one back or form a bun. On the photos in the blog post, you can see a few different options of how best to fold them so feel free to use one that suits you best
- Once folded, leave them to rest for 15-20 minutes before baking
- Stack them onto a baking tray, being sure to leave some space between each one to expand, and bake them at 200°C (390°F) 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 if you eat them straight out of the oven, as that jam will be hot!