Hiiii! I’m Kaja and I love to bastardize food. I take recipes that I know from childhood, learned during travels or while living in other countries and I bastardize them. I add Korean Kimchi to Italian pasta, throw Chinese crispy chili oil on German, French & Swedish dishes and like today, bake traditional Polish blueberry yeast buns with a twist.
Traditional Jagodzianki are blueberry filled buns, made from a yeast dough, covered with a crumble, powdered sugar, sometimes with a sugar glaze.
These aren’t just buns to me, they’re special. They aren’t only tasty but bring me back to childhood, everytime I see or eat them. My mom’s parents were Polish, living in Warsaw. They had a country house not far away, where we would drive with my granddad’s light blue old BMW. It smelled dusty and like old car but in a nice way, making me excited every time I had to sit squeezed in there. Usually, I sat between my mom and dad, sometimes other people, who would go with us to the weekend house. The drive seemed endless although it was just about an hour and 5 minutes before arriving to our wooden house, there was a small local shop where we always stopped. My Bacia bought what felt like a kilo of yellow string beans per person, I insisted on getting a tube of condensed milk that was extremely sticky but so good pressed from the tube straight into your mouth and then, of course, she and my mom bought a generous amount of Jagodzianki. Yeast buns filled with blueberries. Generous, because everything a Polish mom or grandmother prepare or make or buy is generous. The buns, too, were generously filled with the berries and so I was running around with a purple face, teeth and stains on my clothes for the following few hours. All these memories are hiding in these small innocent buns.
Where comes my touch to it? Many traditional recipes call for melted butter in this recipe. I use soft butter and fold it in step by step, like I do in general with enriched yeast doughs.
Usually, you simply add some sugar to the blueberries, to make them jammy and soft and sitcky. I make a sugar syrup (this goes super fast, promise) with Jasmine tea, so they taste a bit floral, blossomy. I mix the blueberries with some of it and am adding a bit of extra sugar when folding the buns. Also, at the end of baking, I’m brushing the buns with the remaining syrup, so they stay nice and fresh longer.
Then, I’m also adding fresh thyme to the blueberries and to the crumble, to add a hint of the typical citrus taste that thyme has.
For 10-12 buns
For the jasmine syrup
2 tbsp jasmine tea
200 ml water
For the ‘Jagodzianki’
1 pinch of salt
150ml milk, lukewarm
25g fresh yeast
1 egg + 1 yolk, whisked together
100g soft butter (not melted)
500g wild blueberries
around 15 thyme sprigs
extra sugar for filling the buns
For the crumble
80g butter, soft
3 thyme sprigs, just the leafs
1 egg, whisked with 1 tbsp milk
Boil water and let it cool to 70C (around 15 minutes if you’re using a cooker). Add the Jasmine tea and let stand for around 10 minutes, until the water took up an intense Jasmine taste. For the sugar syrup add sugar and the Jasmine tea you just cooked to a small pot and heat up on your stove on medium heat. Skim off any foam that forms. Let simmer for around 5 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved, turn off and let cool down. Done.
For the dough, mix flour, salt, sugar in a bowl and set aside. Mix milk with fresh yeast and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes until it foams.
Add your whisked eggs to the yeast and milk and whisk again. Add this to your flour. Mix and then knead until an even, elastic dough forms with no lumps, around 10 minutes. Cover, let rest for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, knead your dough again and add butter, in batches, piece by piece until incorporated. Done best with some type of kitchen machine/ Kitchen Aid. It will get sticky if done by hand, but be patient, it will come together. Knead until a smooth, shiny and elastic dough has formed. Form into a ball, cover, let rest for 1-1.5h until more or less doubled in size. Or, after covering, rest overnight in fridge instead (will proof slower but equally well).
During the time the dough proofs, wash your blueberries, and gently mix them with half of the cooled down syrup. Add 5 whole thyme sprigs. Cover and let infuse until the dough is ready. Then, put your blueberries into a sieve, so the syrup can drain.
Mix flour, butter, sugar, thyme leaves until they come together into a dry dough and are well mixed. Break it up into crumbles.
Assembling the buns
Once proofed, punch dough in and knead again. Divide into 70g or around 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Then, with a dough pin, roll into a 3mm thick circle. Fill each bun with 2 generous tbsp of blueberries, leaves from 1 thyme sprig and 1/2 tsp of additional sugar each. Fold like a dumpling, closing all sides VERY TIGHTLY. Or check out this video. Place on a lined baking tray, seam side down. Repeat with all buns, leaving around 3cm space between each bun. Cover tray with a kitchen towel and let rest for another hour.
Preheat oven to 200C oven setting. Once proofed, brush buns with egg wash, sprinkle some crumbles on top, as well as 1/2 tsp sugar. Gently press down, so the crumbles stick to the bun. Bake buns for 15 minutes until golden brown. Brush each bun with the remaining Jasmine syrup. Let cool slightly, I love to eat them warm.