Drożdżówki (sweet buns) filled with jam, fruit, sweet cheese, custard or poppy seed stuffing [and obligatory crumble on top] are engraved into Polish culture! We have them as a second breakfast at work or school, a quick “on the go” snack at any time of the day, or as a weekend treat with our favorite coffee or tea. They are extremely versatile, quite generous in size [about palm-sized] and come in a few well known shapes and forms: round with plaited dough, rectangular twists, snails and regular stuffed buns. They are all based on yeast dough so in that respect they are similar to American cinnamon buns but with less spice, usually less fluffy and with crumble or sugar icing on top rather than cream cheese.
As a kid and teenager, I absolutely loved them. But as a carbs and sugar conscious adult, I’ve had some mixed feelings. However, as a baking enthusiast who loves the smell of fresh yeast dough, it’s simply something that is very hard to resist or forget about.
Similar sweet buns are also well known in the German, Hungarian, Austrian (buchteln) and Scandinavian cuisines and they are most commonly spiced with cardamom that is omnipresent in Scandinavian baking. Obviously there is also the French Brioche, that is the absolute queen of yeast dough-based baked goods and an ideal many attempt to achieve with looong hours of overnight proofing.
It all sounds lovely and so enticing, and that’s why I decided to take the best of each of those inspirations and use a quick brioche recipe to create a smaller but light and fluffy sweet bun with less sugar, spiced with cardamom and best quality Polish cream cheese and homemade raspberry jam on top. Ideal for three delicious bites that will surely remind many people of their childhood days.
Dough recipe based on: Kwestia Smaku
50 g (1,7 oz.) fresh yeast*
(or 14 g/5 teaspoons instant yeast)
370 g (almost 3 cups) all purpose wheat flour
100 g (3,5 oz) soft butter
50 g (1/4 cup) fine sugar
100 ml (1/2 cup) full fat milk
3 medium size eggs
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
200 g (3,5 oz.) cream cheese
6 tablespoons homemade raspberry jam
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons almond flakes (optional)
1 small egg
1 tablespoon milk
30 minutes + 1,5 h proofing
15 medium size buns
If you’re using fresh yeast, start with a larger bowl or container and prepare the leaven by mixing crumbled yeast with one teaspoon of sugar, one tablespoon of flour and 100 ml of warm milk. The milk shouldn’t be too hot, simply warm to touch, otherwise the yeast won’t get activated. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and put it aside in a warm place for around 20 minutes or until the leaven quadruples in size.
- Separately, prepare a larger bowl with remaining flour and sugar, add salt, cardamom and eggs. When the leaven is ready, add it to the bowl with flour and stir everything. If you’re using instant yeast, simply mix it in a bowl with flour and other ingredients.
- Kneed the dough for around 10 minutes until it becomes smooth. I recommend doing it in a kitchen robot with a dough hook but it will be absolutely fine if you do it by hand. Though I have to warn you: get ready for a serious effort!
When ready, start gradually adding butter, continue kneading until it’s well incorporated and smooth and silky dough forms that doesn’t stick to your hands anymore. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and leave in a warm place for around 1 h for the dough to at least double in size. If you want to speed up the process place the bowl in the oven turned on to the lowest temperature mark (with just the light on).
After 45 minutes of rising, preheat the oven to 180 C (370 F) and prepare two baking trays lined with baking paper.
When the dough has risen, take it out of the bowl and divide into 15 equal pieces. Form each one to a ball and place on the baking tray leaving some space in between each as they will rise while baking. Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside for 20 minutes for additional rise.
In the meantime, in a separate bowl mix the cream cheese with orange zest and sugar (adjust the amount to your taste).
After the dough rises, using a bottom of a glass or a cup create an indentation in the middle of each bun (into around half the depth of the bun), brush the edges with egg wash (mixture of egg and milk) and fill the buns with cheese and raspberry jam. Sprinkle some almond flakes.
Place in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 15-20 minutes (with a fan) until nice golden brown.
Serve warm or cooled, as to your liking. Enjoy those melt-in-your-mouth pillows with a cup of coffee or tea.
*Baker’s Note: If you’re using fresh bakers’ yeast make sure that you buy really fresh ones stored in the fridge. Yeast quality is a major factor in preparing any yeast dough.