Today, my girlfriend spent half of her Saturday writing an amazing post/recipe about her favourite food. I made that food for her last week, and she documented every step of my cooking.
Unfortunately, computers are not completely reliable, and after her post was proofread by me, the entire thing vanished. She was so unhappy she did not even want to attempt to write it for the second time.
It was really a nice post, and I was the only one to have read it, so I decided to reconstruct it from my memory for her. It is not the same post that she would have written, I added some of my personal observations, but I tried to stick to the original mood as well as i could.
Here it is: Traditional Czech Žemlovka
Look how nicely it looks. You really want to make this for yourself.
This is a traditional Czech food. Although it originated in France, where they make it way much cooler, it is a staple in Czech cooking, and although the French version is much more sofisticated, Czechs make it from leftovers and still the same tasty, so we are very proud of it.
What you will need (in a picture), when you want to satisfy your sweet tooth:
4 rolls or any similar amount of leftover white bread. It does not need to be fresh, you just need to be able to cut it without a chainsaw.
250ml of milk
3 tbsp sugar (any kind will do)
a bit of butter of margarine for greasing the baking form (not necessary, but it will make your life easier)
3 big apples (they need not be pretty)
tvaroh (Cottage cheese or very fresh cheese, not salted) about 250g
Not pictured, but loved when you add it:
The recipe is pretty straightforward, but it has a reputation amongst housewives for being somewhat complicated to make. As a man, I find it very easy with some amount of planning and general knowledge about the food you are going to make.
What you need to know:
- This dish is made in layers. There are layers of rolls, apples, and cottage cheese.
- The layers are held together by a mixture of eggs, milk and sugar. It will thicken as you bake it. Make enough of this mixture so that the rolls are completely wet, but they do not need to swim.
- Top and bottom layers are rolls, so it does not fall apart.
- This dish is not very sensitive as for changes of amounts of things. Just use what you have. General suggestion: Two rolls, one apple and one egg per person.
What you need to do:
Peel, core and shred the apples. You want a nice big heap of shredded apples. Shredded apples are what makes this a thing.
You want to cut your rolls like this. Into pieces, so you can nicely layer them.
Make a layer of rolls in your greased bakeware of choice. We are using a traditional czech baking form srnčí hřbet (literally translated, it would be spine od deer. Czech language can be kinda creepy, but we love it. It adds a nice Sunday feeling to our celebratory desserts.).
Then, add a layer of apples. You can sprinkle every layer with raisins and cinnamon, it will be lovely.
Then, add a layer of Cottage cheese. Make it somewhat chunky, if there is a nicely spread even layer of impenetrable cheese, your sauce will not get to the bottom and half of your žemlovka will be dissapointingly and inedibly dry. Just throw it there in pieces, it will be fine.
Repeat the three layers, topping the dish with a final layer of dry rolls.
Now – mix the eggs, milk and sugar. You need just enough so that the rolls are very wet, but they do not need to be submerged. Wet is enough.
Now, put this beauty into the oven. I use some kind of a middle setting, for about 30 minutes. I take it out when the top rolls are getting toasty brown/golden.
Serve it immediatelly, because hot is the best. It should nicely hold together, but even if it does not (meaning you put too much sauce there, or not enough eggs), serve it in nice heaps and act like it is normal. Because it is.