By Klarida Rrogozi, RBI |

In our last post we showed you that Albania is a mecca for coffee drinkers. And because coffee tastes just wonderful with sweets, we want to share with you a traditional Albanian cookie recipe. That way, you can recreate the Albanian cafe feeling at home. 🙂

When it comes to desserts, the traditional ones are in my opinion the best choice, and one such Albanian dessert is undoubtedly “Ballokume of Elbasan”. In Elbasan it is a tradition to celebrate “Summer Day” on 14 March. And to preserve this tradition, after a few years this date became a national holiday. However, regardless of this, Ballokume can be enjoyed all year round, of course.

The beauty of traditional cooking is that every recipe follows a ritual. For example, if I were to write it down according to the tradition as it was done by our grandmothers, the butter and sugar should be mixed by hand with a wooden spoon, not with a mixer – and foremost in copper containers.

Yes, made of copper, which is a perfect conductor of heat and helps melt the sugar during the mixing process. With this method, the Ballokume would not rise excessively during baking, and the most important thing is that no extra flour is needed; therefore, the Ballokume would bake perfectly without the need for an initial test baking.

Recipe:

Serves 15 Ballokume

Cooking time: 1 hour and 40 min

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg caster sugar
  • ½ kg melted butter
  • 1 kg superfine yellow cornmeal + 200gr extra if needed
  • 7 eggs + 1 shell of water (we use half an eggshell as a measuring cup twice)

1. Add butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and start mixing until the mixture becomes creamy, fluffy and the sugar is almost dissolved.

2. Start adding the eggs one at a time making sure that the first is fully incorporated. After the fourth egg make sure to add the water (remember that the eggshell is the measuring cup here), mix well and continue with the remaining eggs.

3. Add the cornmeal and mix until well blended. If you see that the mixer has started to overload, continue mixing with a wooden spoon by hand or a spatula (I used the spatula). The dough should reach the consistency as shown in the picture. If it is still runny start adding the extra flour; the extra 200gr that I have listed above. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 180 °C.

ballokume

4. Now it’s time to bake the first Ballokume. This is a test to see if the dough has reached the right consistency or the oven is hot at the desired temperature. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Take a tablespoon of the dough and drop it over the tray (do not shape it). Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown to the sides, but not colored on top. If you see that Ballokume is rising while baking, that’s a good sign, otherwise add one tablespoon of cornmeal at a time until the right consistency is reached.

ballokume

5. Depending on the type or brand of flour you use, you may need to adjust the amounts. However, I think that with the above ingredients you do not need to add more flour than specified.