My grandmother always told me that a house becomes a real home first when we start cooking in it. Maybe it is because of the smells which give a promise of gatherings with delicious food and lots of fun. Or maybe because of the life that we bring into the house by taking the old wooden board, kneading a dough and beating the eggs for the cream. Our kitchen is amazingly small, there aren’t any drawers rolling on wheels or any built-in kitchen furniture because we wanted to use all the treasures we found in the house when we moved in. I love the old cupboard which we won’t repaint although many people suggested to do so. There is an old wooden table where guests can sit down when they pass by and that is also the only surface for me for preparations. Above it there is a so called antique “téka” a small cupboard that I bought once in a craft market, in Etyek, a winemaker’s village near Budapest. From the kitchen we directly enter to the pantry, a traditional old-styled cool pantry which fortunately has a big storage capacity which the kitchen doesn’t. Now it is better to take on a sweater before entering, but I am sure we will really enjoy this freshness in hot summer days.
My sister’s birthday gave me a good opportunity to bring life into the kitchen. I was wondering what I could bake for her what she has never made herself. She graduated with a degree in patisserie so it was not so easy. I was going through old recipes and found the pastry, that was her favorite when she was a little girl. In my family it is known as Godmother’s pastry because it was the speciality of my mother’s godmother, aunt Margit who was an amazingly warm-hearted person with a constant smile on her face. I loved being in her house when I was a child because she let me playing piano in the living room and taking out the two antique porcelain dolls into the garden to play picnic under the nut trees, while I had a wonderful view on the castle hill of my home town, Veszprém. I am still amazed how beautiful the view was from that garden but also how I was able NOT to break the dolls…Godmother’s speciality that she baked for any occasions is basically coconut rolls, a wonderful, soft yeasted dough filled with beaten egg whites which was before mixed with sugar and grated coconut. It will grow a little bit in the oven, the cream will be crunchy outside and a little bit sticky inside. It is just delicious. When I was going through the recipe I realized that it is missing some important details. So I called my grandmother and asked her: “Mami, I was thinking about baking Godmother’s cake for my sister’s birthday but I would need some help with the recipe.”
For a short moment my grandmother stayed quiet then she answered with a deeply moved voice: “ Judit, how did you know that? I was thinking about the same…but I have such a pain in my fingers, I just cannot do it any more..” So finally we baked the coconut rolls together. My grandmother gave me instructions on the phone and I used my hands to put them into shape. We handed over the box full with the rolls on Sunday at the birthday celebration. My sister grabbed a piece with a happy smile on her face and asked who baked it for her. I just winked at my grandmother: “It was team work, right Mami? ”
Godmother’s pastry, alias coconut rolls
Ingredients: 500 g flour, 250 g butter or margarine, 4 eggs, 20 g yeast, 100 ml milk, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, 350 g confectioner’s sugar, 1 teaspoon vinegar, 50 g grated coconut
Dissolve the yeast and the granulated sugar in lukewarm milk and let it rest for 5 minutes. Mix the flour with the butter then add the egg yolks and the milk with the yeast, knead it until it is soft and smooth, cover it with a piece of plastic foil and let it rest for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 190-200 °C degrees. Start beating the egg whites and add the confectioner’s sugar and the vinegar when it is already white. Beat it until it forms stiff peaks then add the grated coconut. (According to the original recipe it should be beaten by putting the bowl over a warm water bath but aunt Margit always did it cold, so did I.) Divide the dough into 4-5 pieces and roll out only one piece by once which you will put directly into the oven. Now the tricky part comes. Roll the dough out app. 3 mm thick, put some egg white on it and roll it up loosely without pushing it so you keep the filling in the roll as much as you can. Cut it into 2 cm pieces. My method was cutting it slowly and carefully, my grandmother prefers quick cut with one single movement. Try which is the best for you. Anyway for me a wet knife was very helpful. Put the rolls on a tray with a parchment paper and let it rest 10 minutes more. If some filling spilled out simply put it on the top of the rolls. Bake it until the dough is light brown and the cream has set. (app. 15 minutes)