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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » June 3, 2014
Regional and Traditional Products
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Kukiełka Lisiecka
June 3, 2014   
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One of the most famous baked goods from Małopolska province entered on the List of Traditional Products is a white bread roll called kukiełka lisiecka made with yeast. It owes its name to the village of Liszki near Cracow, where the traditional method of making these rolls is followed to this day.

The region where the art of baking kukiełka rolls emerged and developed is Małopolska, or more exactly Cracow and its environs. Kukiełka rolls became a well-known product after Duke Kazimierz the Restorer granted special privileges to the Cracow bakers’ guild. In Cracow and surrounding areas the name kukiełka was used for an elongated roll made from bread dough. Historical sources report that kukiełka rolls were made either in Kleparz (a district of Cracow) or bought from bakers from Golkowice and Liszki, hence the names kukiełka golkowska and kukiełka lisiecka.

Since the late 18th century the traditional method of baking kukiełka rolls is only followed by bakers from Liszki.

A typical kukiełka roll weighs about 250 grams, its length ranges from 25 to 30 cm, and it is 7 cm wide at its thickest. The outer color is golden to dark brown, the crumb is milky white with visible large holes. A kukiełka roll is springy, going back to its original shape after being pressed down. Some people compare the flavor to an Italian ciabatta, but according to gourmets the crust is much tastier.

Making kukiełka lisiecka rolls the traditional way is no simple matter. The kneading process is time-consuming because it takes about eight hours from making the leaven to taking the bread out of the oven. The first thing to do is make the leaven from flour, salt, yeast and water. The dough is formed into spindle-like shapes, then left to rise on a wooden shelf for about 30 minutes. Before they are put in the oven, kukiełka rolls are brushed with zanka—wheat starch of the same consistency as cream. On each kukiełka you have to place a small roll of dough that stops the bread from cracking at the sides during baking. Pricking the dough with a fork does the same job. A so-called przybierka, made of small rectangles of dough, is placed on top of each kukiełka. The rolls are then placed in an oven fueled with pinewood mixed with deciduous wood, and baked at a very high temperature for 10-15 minutes.

In the Małopolska region the name kukiełka was used for other kinds of bread as well. Kukiełka uszewska from the village of Uszew, Gnojnik commune, is a roll 30 cm long with a special braided pattern made from two strands of dough on top. The tradition of baking kukiełka uszewska dates back to the 14th century – and the rolls are still popular today. This product is part and parcel of local traditions and these kukiełka rolls are found at harvest festivals and all kinds of contests and exhibitions. Kukiełka podegrodzka is a traditional bread baked for wi±zowiny, or a christening. In this tradition, the godmother brought her godchild a kukiełka measuring up to 1.5 meters and weighing up to 10 kg. The recipe for this bread, specifying how to prepare and decorate it, was passed on from mother to daughter. Kukiełka podegrodzka has become popular again, and even though the wi±zowiny custom has disappeared, many young women learn how to make this traditional sweet bread.
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