Czech sweet pastry frgale is European specialty, which is typical for region called Valassko in North-east of the Czech Republic. It is a sweet dough shaped in pizza and topped with choices of plum jam, dry pressed cottage cheese, blueberries or poppy seed filling.
Czech sweet specialty
Today I am bringing you very special recipe for sweet pastry, which will bring me back to my recent trip to Europe. As you know, my roots touches Eastern European cuisine and I am always influenced by this, when it comes to cooking or baking.
On my recent trip to Europe, we have visited many countries, including my homelands Czech & Slovak republic. And this is where I have had the chance to taste this delicious sweet pastry specialty FRGALE, which is typical pastry for region called Valassko (north-east of the Czech Republic).
What is “frgale” or “frgal”
To be grammatically clear: frgal is a singular name for one piece of this round cake pastry and frgale means many of them. Frgal has been first found in region Valassko (north-east of the Czech Republic) nearly beginning of 19th century. Frgal is a round piece of sweet pastry rolled in very thin flat cake and filled with the most delicious filling.
It can be filled with many kinds of fillings; such as pressed cottage cheese, plum jam, blueberry jam, pear jam, apricot jam, nutty filling or poppy seed filling. On the top it’s sprinkled with mixture of crumbled butter, flour and sugar, and baked in the oven. It might remind you bit of a pizza making, but it’s not a pizza, it’s a sweet dough frgal.
How to make frgal
To achieve fluffy and soft sweet pastry dough is one of the most common question I get from my family and friends. There is many factors and rules, that needs to be followed. First we need make the dough with lots of love and patience. I have learned that patience and time will make the best sweet dough.
Do not rush the process, take your time, it will pay off. So I am going to break the news, this sweet pastry dough needs 2 hours to prove in warm place. If you are making it in warmer climate country or during summer, then 2 hours will be enough. But if you decide making this sweet pastry dough during winter time, count on 3 hours rise.
Second important thing is milk. In my own experience, milk needs to be warmed up before added to the flour, around 26 – 28 C (78 F). This will make the best rise of the dough. If you used milk too hot, it would kill the yeast and too cold would not help to rise the dough.
What is yeast starter?
I call yeast starter, when you are proving just the yeast itself. Here in North America most households use dry active yeast, which are far more convenient, then fresh yeast. When you use dry yeast, most of the time you don’t need to prove it, just toss it in the flour. But I prefer making yeast starter even if using dry yeast. It helps the dough prove better.
So, like if you would be using fresh yeast, start with the yeast starter. Add dry yeast or fresh yeast (crumbled) small bowl in warm milk, together with sugar. Stir and either cover with plastic food wrap or let it stand as is on warm place, until it double in size. (10 minutes)
How do I know my yeast is still active?
Add small teaspoon of dry active yeast and add 1 tsp of warm water or milk; if the yeast starts to bubble after 5 minutes, it means your yeasts are active and alive, you are ready to make the dough. For this recipe I am using dry active yeast.
So once you are ready with your active yeast, we can start preparing the dough. Make sure you have a standing mixer with flat beater ready (dough hook will be used later) . In a large mixing bowl combine room temperature butter, sugar and egg yolks and mix until creamy & fluffy (about 2 minutes).
Preparing the dough
In another bowl combine all-purpose flour, dry active yeast, salt and zest from one lemon. Change the flat beater standing mixer attachment for dough hook and alternatively add mixture of flour and warm milk into the batter. Go slowly, add it spoon by spoon, do not rush, every time the flour gets incorporated, add the milk; once the milk is well incorporated add the flour and vice versa, until you add all the flour and milk.
Prove the dough for 2 hours minimum
At the end the batter will become lightly sticky inside, but do not stick on the surface to the bowl. If the dough is too sticky (you can’t remove it in one piece from the bowl), add little flour and if it’s too hard, add little of warm milk or melted butter. The dough has to be soft and pliable. Remove the dough hook attachment and sprinkle the dough with little of flour. Cover with clean cloth and let rise in warm place (no draft) for 2-3 hours.
What fillings to use
This recipe will make 3 round pies. One frgal will be about 35 cm (14 inch) in diameter. I am going to use three different fillings. Dry pressed cottage cheese, plum jam & poppy seed mixture. It might be harder to find poppy seed mixture, so I have written recipe how to make it from scratch, down below in the recipe card. I have found one in my local grocery store, but if you can’t find it, here is one sold on Amazon and it’s delicious.
I have been using it in many of my sweet pastries. You can also substitute the poppy seed mixture for blueberry or pear jam. Or make double filling with cottage cheese, that is my favourite.
Plum jam = prune butter or “lekvar”
Just a little note for the plum jam I used in this recipe. In North America it might be called and sold under name prune butter which is more solid plum jam, then usual one. Here in Canada I have tried several plum jams & they were all great spreading consistency, not to solid and not too liquid. But if your plum jam is too liquid, you can add a teaspoon of corn starch to it and cook it on the stove for few minutes to make it more solid.
You do not want to use runny jams on the frgal. With the temperature in the oven it will become even more liquid, and it might run all over the baking sheet to destroy the whole appearance of frgal. So keep in mind using solid consistency jams.
In the meanwhile the dough is rising, we will get ready fillings for this Czech sweet pastry frgale. Cottage cheese one will require extra work and you need to mix it together with sugar, egg yolks, melted butter and rum. I am using specific Czech rum Bozkov (it has beautiful caramel aroma), but you can use any dark rum you will find in your liqueur store. Once the cottage cheese filling is ready, cover it with plastic foil and reserve it in refrigerator for later.
Optional: you can also add dry raisins, if you’d like in the cottage cheese filling.
Streusel topping or this crumbly mixture of flour, butter and sugar
If anybody knows the real name, how to call the sprinkle/crumble mixture on top of the muffins, cakes and bars, which is made basically from flour, butter and sugar, please let me know, because I have been discussing this in many blogging groups and every time people come with different names. So in Czech we call it “drobenka”. Let me know how do you call it?
Let’s roll the frgal
So when your alarm starts to beep after 2 hours waiting time for your dough, you must have a wow smile on your face seeing the big bowl tripled in size. Yes when your dough had tripled it’s size, then we are ready to roll. On a clean surface sprinkle bit of a flour and place the dough on it. Cut it in 3 equal pieces. Reserve 2 pieces on a side and take a large piece of parchment paper.
It should be enough large to cover regular baking sheet for cookies. Take the parchment paper and place 1 piece of dough on it. Sprinkle the dough with flour, so it doesn’t stick to the roller pin and roll very thin round shape cake, in diameter of 35 cm (14″ inches).
Let’s fill the frgal
Fill the Czech sweet pastry frgale with cottage cheese filling, and leave about 1-2 cm space on the edges. The edges must me lightly rolled inside, toward the filling, to secure the filling. Imagine it like making pizza and the edges needs to be higher than the center of the pizza.
Usually the filling has to be higher than the dough itself. Meaning we should achieve 45% of the dough and 55% of the filling. Let’s not forget the cherry on the cake! After the filling, we need to get the crumble topping on our frgal. Generously sprinkle the frgal with crumbles of flour, butter, sugar mixture, we made earlier.
Second round of proving
I always preheat oven, once I start filling the frgal. Middle rack and the oven on 180 C / 356 F. The reason why, is because of second round of proving. We have to wait another 20 minutes for the frgal to prove it again, and then we can bake it. And this second proving is very important. Second proving will make this sweet frgal even better.
Once your 20 minutes proving period is over, your oven should be ready. But before you place the frgal into the oven, brush the edges with whisked whole egg and milk. This will make your edges so shiny and golden brown. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the edges turns golden brown.
Remove carefully from the oven and leave it on the baking sheet for another 10 minutes to cool down the frgal. Now cut frgal in pizza shape triangles and enjoy it.
It does take a bit of a time to make frgal, but it’s so worth at the end! Hope you will enjoy these Czech sweet pastry frgale, ENJOY IT!
Another Czech specialties
- Czech roast pork with sauerkraut and dumplings/
- Czech specialty roasted beef with cream vegetable sauce ad dumplings (svickova)
- The best apple strudel
- Strawberry sweet dumplings
- Rustic pressed cottage cheese cheesecake
HOMEMADE CZECH SWEET PASTRY FRGALE (KOLAC)
- Large kitchen bowl
- baking sheet
- Roller pin
- Parchment paper
- 2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) warm milk
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (125 g) butter (room temperature)
- 2/3 cup (75 g) sugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 cups (500 g) all-purpose flour
- zest from one medium lemon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup (250 ml) warm milk
Pressed cottage cheese filling
- 2 cups (500 g) pressed cottage cheese
- 5 tbsp confectioner (icing) sugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 3 1/2 Tbsp (50 g) soft butter (room temperature)
- 1 tbsp dark rum
Plum jam filling
- 1 & 1/2 cup (375 ml) plum jam or butter (lekvar)
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) dark rum
Poppy seed filling
- 1 & 1/2 cup (200 g) poppy seeds (ground)
- 2 tbsp plum jam
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) warm milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (60 g) granulated sugar
- 1 & 1/2 cup (360 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 & 1/2 cup (360 g) confectioner (icing) sugar
- 3/4 cup (180 g) soft butter (room temperature)
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) warm milk
For the sweet dough
- In a small bowl combine dry yeast, 1 tsp of fine sugar and warm milk. Cover with plastic food wrap and let rise for 10 minutes. This yeast started must double in size.
- In a large mixing bowl of standing mixer, combine room temperature butter, sugar and egg yolks. Mix with flat beater attachment, until creamy & fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add yeast starter and mix it in.
- In another bowl combine all-purpose flour, salt and zest from one lemon. Change the flat beater attachment for dough hook attachment and alternatively add mixture of flour and warm milk into the batter. Add it slowly; spoon by spoon, do not rush and make sure every time the flour & milk gets well incorporated.
- At the end the batter will become lightly sticky inside, but do not stick on the surface to the bowl. If the dough is too sticky, add slowly more flour and if it’s too hard, add little of warm milk or melted butter. The dough has to be soft and pliable. Remove the dough hook attachment and sprinkle the dough with 1 extra spoon of flour. Cover with clean cloth or plastic food wrap and let rise the dough in warm place (no draft) for 2 hours.
- When the dough had doubled in its size, sprinkle a bit of a flour on clean working surface and place the dough on it. Cut it in 3 equal pieces.
- Take a large piece of parchment paper, big enough to cover regular baking cookie sheet, and place 1 piece of dough on it. Sprinkle the dough with flour and roll thin round shape pie (pizza looking like) in diameter of 35 cm (14″ inches).
- Fill the round cake with dry pressed cottage cheese filling, we reserved earlier and leave about 2 cm (3/4 inch) space on the edges. Roll the edges lightly inside, toward the filling, to secure the filling. Repeat the same process with the other 2 pieces of dough and fill them with plum jam and poppy seed mixture. (if you do not have any above fillings, you can use other sort of jams or make more of cottage cheese filling)
- Generously sprinkle the frgal cake with streusel, you made earlier. And place the frgal with parchment paper onto the baking sheet. Let it prove again for another 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, the frgal is on its second proving time, place the oven rack in middle position and preheat the oven to 180 C / 356 F.
- Before you place the frgal into the oven, brush the edges with whisked whole egg & milk. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the edges turns golden brown.
- Remove carefully from the oven and leave it on the baking sheet for another 10 minutes to cool it down. Continue baking the other 2 pies.
- Cut the frgal in triangles, like you are cutting pizza and enjoy it!
Dry pressed cottage cheese filling
- With hand mixer, mix together dry pressed cottage cheese, sugar, egg yolks, melted butter and rum. Once the cottage cheese filling is ready, cover it with plastic foil and reserve it in refrigerator for later.
Plum jam filling
- Place plum jam and rum in medium bowl and mash it with fork. If the plum jam is too thick, use 1 or 2 tbsp of boiling water to thin it out.
Poppy seed filling
- In a small sauce pan, reheat milk with vanilla extract and sugar. Once the milk starts to simmer, add ground poppy seeds and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove it from heat and let this mixture to cool down.
- Meanwhile, in another small sauce pan, melt butter and add flour to stir. Cook the butter with flour on medium high heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in all the other ingredients; poppy seed mixture, rum, plum jam & combine it well.
- In a small plate or bowl, crumble in between your hands mixture of flour, sugar and butter (room temperature) to prepare streusel topping.
- The dough might be sticky when rolling it, so it’s very important to cover your hands in flour every time you will manipulate the dough.
- Use parchment paper to roll out the dough, otherwise the dough will tear up while transferring it on baking sheet. It does not have same elasticity as pizza dough.
- For the fillings: These three fillings are exact measurements for 3 different frgals. So if you decide not to use one of these filling, make sure to make double portion of the other 2 fillings. You can also use different fillings, such as blueberry or pear jam.
- Be patient with the dough, it needs lots of time proving, but it’s really worth the fluffiness of delicious pie!
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