Yeast dough is the basis for many desserts in the Czech Republic, among them buchty, stuffed buns; bohemian tarts, little pizza-like confections with filling placed in hollowed centers on top; and moravian tarts, which are prepared like buchty, but then flattened like bohemian tarts and the depression filled in the same way.
Zuzana Schreiberova, a member of Prague's Bejt Simcha, a growing Progressive (Reform) synagogue community, fills her buchty with sweet cheese. Here, I combine Czech culture with Jewish tradition, placing the symbolic holiday apple inside the traditional Czech dough and making it into a ring to symbolize a year of never-ending good.
- Place 3 cups of flour and the yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook (or place in a 4-quart bowl if mixing by hand). Combine for 10 seconds, making sure the yeast is incorporated with the flour. Set aside.
- Lightly beat the eggs and the vanilla in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Combine the milk, sugar, butter, salt, and nutmeg in a 1-quart saucepan. Over moderate heat, stir occasionally until the sugar and butter dissolve and the mixture is hot to the touch, but not simmering (about 120ºF).
- With the mixer turned on low speed, or while you are stirring, carefully add the hot liquid to the flour mixture. Immediately pour in the egg mixture, stirring until well combined.
- Gradually add the remaining flour, again on low speed or by hand. Knead the dough for approximately 7 minutes, until it is smooth and not very sticky.
- Rub a 3-quart bowl with the oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it over to fully coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a draft-free area such as a turned-off oven. Let the dough rise for about 1–3 hours until it is double in size. To have the dough rise slowly, place it in the refrigerator overnight.
- While the dough rises, make the Fresh Apple Spice Filling (below).
- When the dough has risen, punch it down. Roll the dough on a flat surface lightly dusted with confectioner’s sugar or flour. If making rings, divide the dough in half and roll out into 8" x 14" rectangles of about ¼-inch thickness. If making stuffed buchty, cut the rolled dough into 2 or 3-inch circles.
- For large rings, spread half of the filling onto each rectangle, leaving a l-inch border on the top and ends, then roll up from the long side. Join the ends together to form a ring and pinch to seal them. Place the seam side down on a parchment-lined, low-sided cookie sheet. Let the dough rise for about another 30-45 minutes, until it’s doubled in size. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 350ºF for 35–40 minutes or until the rings are golden brown and hollow sounding when thumped with your fingers. Cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting and serving. Yield: 2 9-inch rings, about 24 servings.
- For individual buchty, place 1 heaping teaspoon of filling in the center of each dough circle. Fold up the sides to seal the filling and create a round ball. Place on a parchment-lined, low-sided cookie sheet. Let it rise for about another ½ hour, until doubled in size. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 350ºF for 20–30 minutes, until the buchty are golden brown and hollow sounding when thumped with your fingers. Serve warm or room temperature. Yield: about 2 dozen fruit-filled dumplings or 24 servings.
Fresh Apple Spice Filling
- Combine the raisins and rum in a small custard cup. Set aside.
- Peel, core, and dice the apples into 1⁄2-inch chunks. Place in a bowl and combine with the soaked raisins and remaining ingredients. Cover. Set aside until needed. Yield: enough for 2 rings or 24 buchty.
- If you let your dough rise in the refrigerator, bring it to room temperature for 15–30 minutes before you roll out and shape it. It will roll out much more easily; you’ll be glad you waited.