On the other hand, though its name says it's a bread, it's not just a bread... It's more like a pastry made of several common ingredients, offering lots of options for serving, which makes it perfect for the have-no-idea-what-to-cook-today situations.
In all of those countries, this fried bread is sold as street food or fast food, but it's also a very popular homemade delicacy prepared by the skillful home chefs.
It is worth mentioning that in Macedonia this bread even has a ceremonial role: it is made whenever a baby is born, to celebrate the new life and to share the joy with family and friends.
This fried bread is usually served with savory condiments, but some sweet ones are common as well. You'll read more about those condiments in the serving section. :)
As for the bread itself, the recipe says the basic dough is made of flour, yeast and water only, but there are many enriched versions that differ between regions, so eggs, milk, yogurt or boiled potatoes can be added. In this post I'll stick to the basic recipe, and I'll present the "fortified" ones some other time...
Let's now see what ingredients you'll need... Prepare the following:
- Combine yeast and sugar with 150 ml of lukewarm water, until yeast is dissolved. Set aside for a few minutes to activate.
- Combine flour and salt in a bowl. Add yeast solution and brandy and start stirring with a wooden spoon. Gradually pour in some more water while stirring energetically, until you get a soft and sticky dough. You may need a bit more water than listed.
Note that adding the brandy is optional, but recommended. It is a hint I learnt from my mom: it somehow helps the bread to absorb less fat during frying. And don't worry - you won't feel the taste and it will still be kids-friendly! :)
- Cover the bowl and let it rise until it triples its volume. Then mix it with a spoon so it goes down, and let it rise once again. Do not mix it for the second time. This is how it should look like when raised and mixed for the first time...
5. Now, pour some larger quantity of oil into a deep pan and heat it over medium fire. Test it with a pinch of dough: if it starts sizzling and frying once you put it into the oil, it's ready.
Keep in mind that it's the best to use medium fire - if oil is too hot, the bread will burn from the outside and stay raw from the inside, and if oil is not heated enough, the bread will soak too much fat.
6. Wet your hands and grab a piece of dough, approx. 1 tablespoon. Stretch the dough with your hands to make (almost) round-shaped piece of bread and carefully place it into the heated oil. Fry it until golden-brown, then turn it over to brown on the other side. You'll need approx. 30-40 seconds for each side. Take the fried bread out with a fork or tongs, and place it on a paper towel, if you wish, to absorb the excess fat.
Repeat the same procedure with the remaining dough. You may need to add some more oil during frying. In that case, wait for it to reheat and continue frying. Of course, you can fry several pieces at a time.
This is how it looks like...
- There is a hint I regularly use to spend less oil and to fry the bread quicker: instead of adding a lot of oil and deep fry the dough, I rather put less (approx. 2-2,5 cm deep). Then, when I lay the dough, I splash it a few times with the hot oil using a spoon. This helps it to pop up quickly and be done sooner.
Serve the bread warm, plain or with some condiments.
When it comes to the savory ones, you can choose cheese, sour cream, yogurt, tomatoes or any spread or cream salad. There are millions of options!
If you, however, prefer sweet toppings, you can use fruit jam, melted chocolate or powdered sugar (even granulated one will do perfect!)
I, personally, enjoy the most when dipping the bread in granulated sugar. I liked it ever since I was a kid, I still like it now! :)
Here are some of the toppings and condiments I used...
Enjoy and bon appétit!