The way to embrace imperfections: burgonyás kalács

burgonyás kalács from the Taste of Memories Hungarian country kitchenWho said that only perfect is good enough? Not me, but the truth is that I am a really enthusiastic fan of perfectionism. I MUST do perfect work, I must be a perfect couple, daughter, sister, friend and my house must (hm..or should) look well-organised and neat, so must the garden. Obviously anything that comes out of my kitchen must be perfect. My father told me once that “either you do something well, or you better don’t do it” and apparently it really deeply ingrained into my attitude.
I had to partly give up my attachment to perfectionism first, when we moved into a house which is almost 90 years old. If something, an old house is far from perfect, especially if it wasn’t looked after for a while. Plaster is peeling off in the cellar, the wooden stairs going down there are completely rotten by time. The attic is full with odds and ends waiting for organising, the old wooden floor in the living room is is creeping and moving on some spots, in the garden lawn is full with dandelions and nettles and mole-hills pop up in surprising spots. Thousands and thousands of things to do. Of course I could fight tooth and nail to make imperfect perfect- immediately, if possible- but it would be similar to the effort to run a marathon with an always moving finish line. Or, I can decide to embrace imperfections. Easier said than done. Sometimes I succeed. For instance when I bake the ‘burgonyás kalács’ (a kind of brioche made with a dough with potato) from Ica’s grandmother’s recipe book (story here) and when I take it out of the oven, I realise that the top is broken. Obviously it pops into my mind that I will be tricky and only use the unbroken part but what about honesty then…? Or should I bake another one? As I look at it, I find that the caramelised crunchy filling that poured out is quite inviting…So it happened that I took photos of this imperfect ‘burgonyás kalács’ which remains soft for long time, as Ica’s grandmother describes in the recipe. I must say she was right even if it is broken on top and filling partly poured out and slightly caramelised. Or it is even more delicious.
I leave nettles growing wherever they want, I will use them for organic spraying or make a stew from it. We will level ground where mole has been working, this summer finally renovate the cellar and organise attic where we might find hidden treasures as well.
In any case, during works it will feel so good to have a slice of ‘burgonyás kalács’, no matter if it is broken or not.
Because imperfect is good enough too.

Burgonyás kalács
Ingredients:
300 g flour
260 g potatoes, cooked
2 eggs
2+2 tbsp melted butter or pork fat
20 g fresh yeast
1 +4 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp Dutch cocoa powder

Cook potatoes in salted water, peel them and crush them. Add flour, one tablespoon sugar, grate fresh yeast and add to potatoes alongside with 2 tablespoon of melted butter and eggs. Knead it well, cover it and let it rest for 45 minutes. Mix 4 tablespoon sugar with cocoa powder. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Brush it with melted butter and sprinkle with the cocoa-sugar mixture. Roll it up tightly, like a strudel. Place it on a baking sheet covered with baking paper. Brush the top again with melted butter. Preheat the oven to 200 °C and bake until it gets golden brown. burgonyás kalács from the Taste of Memories Hungarian country kitchenburgonyás kalács from the Taste of Memories Hungarian country kitchen burgonyás kalács from the Taste of Memories Hungarian country kitchen burgonyás kalács from the Taste of Memories Hungarian country kitchen burgonyás kalács from the Taste of Memories Hungarian country kitchen burgonyás kalács from the Taste of Memories Hungarian country kitchen burgonyás kalács from the Taste of Memories Hungarian country kitchen burgonyás kalács from the Taste of Memories Hungarian country kitchen burgonyás kalács from the Taste of Memories Hungarian country kitchen burgonyás kalács from the Taste of Memories Hungarian country kitchen burgonyás kalács from the Taste of Memories Hungarian country kitchen burgonyás kalács from the Taste of Memories Hungarian country kitchen burgonyás kalács from the Taste of Memories Hungarian country kitchen burgonyás kalács from the Taste of Memories Hungarian country kitchen burgonyás kalács from the Taste of Memories Hungarian country kitchen burgonyás kalács from the Taste of Memories Hungarian country kitchen burgonyás kalács from the Taste of Memories Hungarian country kitchenburgonyás kalács from the Taste of Memories Hungarian country kitchen burgonyás kalács from the Taste of Memories Hungarian country kitchen

Judit Neubauer

Judit Neubauer

Judit Neubauer is a food photographer, chef and writer living in a small village in Northwestern Hungary. Her bilingual blog, Taste of Memories is about life in the Hungarian countryside. While she is bringing new life into the 90 year-old house and orchard of 18 fruit trees she cooks and bakes her family’s old recipes and tries to preserve traditions and old knowledge about how to live in rhythm and harmony with nature.

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2 hozzászólás

  1. Válasz

    Mari

    2017-04-06

    I’ve been reading yeast and baking chemistry books for professional bakers and pastry chefs and I still don’t know why this happens. I mean, they say the dough didn’t rise enough, it’s risen too much, the temperature this, the oven that, hundreds of do and don’ts. And yet, like it has the mind of it’s own, sometimes it breaks and it drives me crazy! I totally understand your “I want to do it right” point of view, especially because, like you, I baked enough bread and yeast rolls to the Moon and back. But still, it’s completely perfect. It’s delicious, with all the perfect ingredients, perfectly baked and sweet just enough, and it even has a certain charm when the filling that came out gets that sweet, caramelised crust. It’s perfect, because you gave all your heart to it and that makes it perfect even more.
    Just as the nettles and dandelions in your garden. And your perfectly imperfect old house. And little hills moles made. You enjoyed perfect kalacs, in your perfect house, surrounded by your perfect, healthy garden for moles and plants to live in. Because you are in the perfect place for you to be and do what your heart tells you to.
    Thank you for this recipe, I will surely try it! I didn’t bake much with mashed potatoes, although I also hear that that gives special taste and moisture to the dough. Especially if it’s from old recipe book, then it MUST be perfect 🙂

    • Judit Neubauer
      Válasz

      Judit Neubauer

      2017-04-07

      Dear Mari, thank you so much for your kind comment! Now I am a little bit more relaxed, knowing that I am not the only one confused what could be the reason for breaks…I always think of yeasted dough as a living thing, that has its own character that needs love and care but still there are some factors that cannot be controlled.. 😀 Thank you so much for your kind words, I was so touched when reading! I am so grateful for life that I found this place, where I have the harmony and peace and happiness for that I was always longing and looking for. You are completely right, our heart always tell you the truth, it never mistaken, we only have to listen to its gentle voice! Ps.: I was really happy because I brought some kalács to my grandmother and she called me yesterday to tell me how much she liked it, and couldn’t stop eating it! Definitely, we can trust old recipes!:)

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