Kūčiukai - Lithuanian Christmas Eve Special Cookies

Recipe Author Lithuanian in the USA

Kūčiukai - Lithuanian Christmas Eve Special Cookies
What an indescribable aroma occurs in home, when the Christmas Eve cookies (Kūčiukai) are baking in the oven!!! It’s just impossible to imagine Christmas Eve (Kūčios) itself without Christmas Eve cookies (Kūčiukai)… It’s like a mother – Kūčia (Christmas Eve) with her children – Kūčiukai (Christmas Eve cookies)… I think Christmas Eve is a very special, sacred and significant occasion for every Lithuanian. And the most important – late Christmas Eve Mass and wonderful, only once a year so be prepared – Christmas Eve table. I have no doubt that many Lithuanians, no matter where in the world they live, remember all their childhood Christmas Eves (Kūčias) and try to repeat it at their own home, with their families, at least a fraction of what is so customary since old times on Christmas Eve in Lithuania…

I am celebrating the last few Christmas Eves not in Lithuania, so Christmas Eve dinner (Kūčios) table remains just my responsibility. And I can not imagine Christmas Eve table without the Christmas Eve cookies (Kūčiukai), herring, beetroot salad and cranberry kissiel. It doesn’t matter in which corner of the world I would be – I always need to be sure to have necessary products, that on my Christmas Eve (Kūčios) table would be served mentioned dishes.

As usual, Christmas Eve cookies (Kūčiukai) are eaten with poppy seeds milk, but unfortunately, I don’t make it, simply because this dish physically has no place after all the meals 😀 Oh, and I would probably be the one whose eating it… That’s why, for me its enough just Christmas Eve cookies (Kūčiukai), which I can enjoy for several weeks.

I don’t know how about the rest of Lithuanians, but I’m not baking Christmas Eve cookies (Kūčiukai) the day before Christmas Eve, as it is customary in Lithuania, but a week or at least a couple of days before Christmas Eve. I love to bake Christmas Eve cookies (Kūčiukai) by myself, quietly, without urgency, during the evening, when it’s already a dusk, the Christmas music is playing, Christmas lights are happily flickering on the Christmas tree and festive mood sparks are in the air. Oh, Christmas… My favorite holiday… (after my birthday, of course).

Ingredients

    • ~500 g (~3 1/3 cups) all purpose flour
    • 4 g (half package) dry yeast
    • 2 1/2 tbsp. poppy seeds
    • 200 ml (3/4 cup) warm water
    • 7 tbsp. granulated sugar (you can use less)
    • ¼ tsp. salt

    Recipe Directions

  1. 1. Add sugar and yeast into warm water, stir until yeast dissolves. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel, leave it in a warm place for ~15-20 minutes, until the yeast foams.
  2. 2. Sieve 250 g (2 cups) flour into a separate big bowl, pour the yeast mixture, add salt, mix well. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and leave it again in a warm place for 30-40 minutes, until the dough rises.
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  4. 3. When the dough is ready, add all the poppy seeds. Then add as much flour until the dough will barely stick to your hands, but still remain soft and will be easy to knead (don’t add too much flour, that your cookies wouldn’t be too hard). Form a ball from the dough, put it in a bowl, sprinkle with a little bit of flour and cover with a kitchen towel. Leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, until the dough ball doubles in size.
  5. 4. Take a small piece of the dough, twist it in a string (the string should be an index finger thickness) and cut it into small pieces (about 1 cm thickness). Since Christmas Eve cookies swell a lot while baking, I suggest to cut them in a small pieces. If you cut in large pieces, you’ll get buns). That’s how form all the Christmas Eve cookies.
  6. 5. Lay down a sheet of parchment paper on the oven tray, put the cookies. Leave ~2-3 cm (~1 inch) between cookies. Bake them in a preheated 180 C (350 F) oven for ~15-17 minutes. You should get about 2 large oven trays.
  7. 6. Leave your cookies at room temperature for a couple of days, then they will harden.
  8. 7. Note: If you don’t like sweet cookies, you can add less sugar. I like sweet Christmas Eve cookies (kūčiukai), so 7 tablespoons of sugar was just perfect.
Kūčiukai - Lithuanian Christmas Eve Special Cookies
Kūčiukai - Lithuanian Christmas Eve Special Cookies
Kūčiukai - Lithuanian Christmas Eve Special Cookies