A large part of the Börzsöny is covered with oak and beech. The mountains are still registered 16 species of mammals. The 117 species of birds occur each year in the mountains, of whom 90 are regularly spend. Best-known songbirds are the nightingale, the thrush and the skylark. Among the amphibians the most spectacular is the spotted salamander.
Visiting a little farm was also a great experience itself. City dwellers like us wandered around and looked at the animals with amazement, especially a 2 weeks old baby horse. She was so cute.
We spent our last day in Esztergom. The town lies in Komárom-Esztergom county, on the right bank of the river Danube, which forms the border with Slovakia there. Esztergom was the capital of Hungary from the 10th till the mid-13th century when King Béla IV of Hungary moved the royal seat to Buda.
Esztergom is the seat of the prímás (primate/bishop) of the Roman Catholic Church in Hungary. It’s also the official seat of the Constitutional Court of Hungary. The town has the largest ecclesiastical collection in Hungary. Its cathedral, Esztergom Basilica is the largest church in Hungary and it is dedicated to the Saint Mary of the Assumption and Saint Adalbert.
Our beautiful trip was celebrated with a cup of creamy, dark hot chocolate. We couldn’t find a better end to say good-bye to this wonderful weekend filled with lots of laugh, friends, energy and beautiful nature. What a fantastic weekend it was! Actually it was everything we could have wished for!
– 7-8 potatoes
– 250-300 g flour
– 2 tablespoons sunflower oil (+ a little to fry breadcrumbs)
– pinch of salt
– 20-25 plums, halved and pitted
– 2 teaspoons cinnamon
– 5 teaspoons cane sugar
– 8 tablespoons breadcrumbs
– icing sugar
In a small bowl mix cinnamon with cane sugar and set aside.
Heat small amount of sunflower oil in a pan and over low heat fry breadcrumbs – stirring quickly – until golden brown. Set it aside to cool.
Peel potatoes, cut into cubes and cook in salted water. If it’s cooked, drain, smash and let it cool for about 10 minutes. Then add sunflower oil, flour – slowly – and start kneading the dough. If it’s needed, add more flour until you get springy dough and set aside.
Boil water in a large pot. Meanwhile sprinkle small amount flour on a board and roll out the dough until it’s 0,5-1 cm thick (approx. 1/3 inch). From the rolled dough cut about 10*12 cm square (approx. 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 inches) shapes. Place a half plum on each square. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar in the middle of the plums then put the other half on the candied plums. Knead the dough arund plums making dumplings.
Place dumplings in the boiling water (if all the dumplings don’t fit in the pot at the same time, cook in several doses but you don’t have to change the cooking water). They are cooked if they float on the top of the water. Drain dumplings, roll them in the fried breadcrumbs to cover them everywhere.
When serving, sprinkle with more cinnamon and icing sugar.
Kalács, the Hungarian Sweet Braided Bread
Ingredients (makes 1 loaf and 8 pieces of brioche)
– 400 ml lukewarm milk
– 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar (to rise the yeast)
– 25 g fresh yeast
– 60 g butter, melted
– 650 g all-purpose wheat flour, sifted
– 1 organic egg +1 for the egg wash
– 11 teaspoon granulated sugar
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
One hour before starting, place everything on the table and keep them on room temperature.
In a small bowl crumble the yeast with 100 ml lukewarm milk and 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Allow yeast to proof.
In another bowl whisk the egg with the remaining sugar (11 teaspoon) and salt. Add the proofed yeast mixture, the reamining milk (300 ml) and about 430 g flour. Mix everything with a wooden spoon until just combined. Start adding the melted butter step by step and work it in the dough with the wooden spoon until the dough comes off (pull away) the bowl and gets very shiny (about 10 minutes). It is not easy to work with your hands instead of a standing mixer but you will appreciate the end result. 🙂
Now change the wooden spoon into your hands. Start adding the remaining flour (220 g) step by step while kneading the dough until it gets moist, shiny but not sticky (about 10-15 minutes). Leave the dough in the bowl, cover with a clean cloth and let it rise for 30-40 minutes or until it has doubled in bulk.
Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto floured board. Divide in half and knead each half for 5 minutes, then divide one half into thirds and roll into long snake (set the other half aside). Pinch the ends of the three snakes together firmly and start breading with the pinched end across from you, work from left to righ, moving the left outermost strand over the second strand, under the third strand. Then start from the left again (the second strand in the previous braid is now the first strand). Repeat until the braided bread is complete (how to braid kalács). Press braided ends tightly and tuck them under the dough. Grease a baking tray with butter and carefully place finished braid on it. Set aside.
Divide the other half dough into 8 equal pieces. Divide each piece into thirds and roll into snakes again. Form braid into a round braided loaf by bringing ends together, curving braid into a circle, pinch ends together. (Here is another technique to form brioche.) Repeat with the 7 remaining pieces then place them onto the baking tray next to the kalács. Cover with the cloth and let rise about 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180-190C (360-375F).
Beat the egg and brush a generous amount over the kalács and brioche. Bake at 180-190C (360-375F) for about 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool before slicing.
Doughnuts are the most popular dessert – or trade mark – of the merry carnival season in Hungary which bids farewell to winter and stretches from the Epiphany to Ash Wednesday. Ribboned doughnuts, thus named for the white stripe around the golden brown sweet, are the best known.
Ingredients (makes about 50)
– 500 g flour, sifted
– 25 g fresh yeast
– 2 egg yolks
– 50 g powder sugar
– 50 g butter, melted
– 500 ml milk
– pinch of salt
– 2 tablespoons of rum
Before you start making the doughnuts keep all the ingredients on room temperature for an hour. Dissolve the yeast with a pinch of powder sugar in 300 ml lukewarm milk and leave to work. In a bowl mix together the egg yolks with the remaining powder sugar. Add the yeast mixture to the yolks, then the melted butter, the flour, the remaining milk, the rum and the pinch of salt to have a medium soft dough. Knead thoroughly, then cover it with a dish cloth and in a moderately warm place let it rise until it is about one and a half times in volume. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a floured surface. Roll out to a thickness of half an inch, cut with a large (about 7 cm long in diameter) pastry cutter and leave to prove under the dish cloth again for a further 30 minutes.
Before you start frying them press a small hollow with your thumb on each doughnut. Fry them in plenty of medium hot oil. Cover with a lid a fry one side until golden brown. Turn over and fry the other side without the lid. That’s how you get the “ribbon” running along the sides. Serve with apricot jam (spoon it in the middle of the hollow). Sprinkle them with powder sugar. Yum!