Our recipe picks:

Lithuania holiday pastries test

Link to the test: TEST

Kursenai roll (Kuršėnų vyniotinis)

Easter Sunday is one of the most festive days in a Christian world. It commemorates Jesus resurrection from death. It is the day of joy and celebration.

The celebration starts from the morning. The Catholic families go to church services first and just after it, all the family members gather together to eat festive breakfast. The mandatory dish is eggs. Before eating it, everybody plays the cheerful egg tapping game. Each person chooses a hard-boiled egg and  taps the tip of their egg over their opponent’s. Unbroken eggs, continue the game, till the last “healthy” egg remains.

One more playful tradition is eggs rolling. Boiled and painted eggs are taken into competition. Eggs roll down the wooden chute in order to hit the opponent’s egg. One the egg is hit, the holder can take the “tapped” egg. The person whose egg hits the most of the other eggs is the winner of the contest.

In Lithuania, the Easter Granny (Velykų Senelė) delivers Easter eggs and treats to children. Children often prepare for the Easter Granny by leaving empty homemade egg nests outside their homes in gardens and shrubs. On Easter morning, they wake to search for their hidden margučiai treasures. The Lithuanian Easter buffet is a lavish contrast to the meatless Lenten fast. Opulent displays of roasted pork, baked ham, lamb, veal, sausages, roasted duck, and roasted chicken abound. If lamb is not served, then butter or cheese is molded into the shape of a lamb and served to symbolize Easter. Accompaniments include homemade cheeses, hard-boiled eggs, sautéed or creamed mushroomskugelis, rye bread, assorted salads, and horseradish. Wine flows and an equally impressive dessert selection of poppy seed rolls, nut rolls, cottage cheese rolls, and raisin and/or dried fruit “boba” breads follows the meal.

Honey cake (Medutis)

Christmas traditions in Lithuania are similar to that of other Baltic nations, and the traditional celebrations combine both pagan and Christian customs. However, in Lithuania, Christmas eve is more important than Christmas day itself. Going to church with your family on Christmas morning is one of our Christmas traditions. Lithuania is a Catholic country, however most of Lithuanians do not attend church every Sunday. Only Christmas and Easter are the celebrations that bring more people to church than usual. Usually the first day of Christmas is spent with your closest family members, and the second one is for visiting other relatives or friends. Popular Christmas Tree decorations in Lithuania are ones made from white paper straws. They are often in the shapes of stars, snowflakes and other geometric shapes. Nativity Cribs are also popular in Lithuania with very large scenes often being put outside churches. While Christmas Eve in Lithuania may be important, Christmas Day (Kalėdos) is not overlooked as an opportunity for gathering and even more eating. This day is also a day for eating a more substantial meal—this one with meat. The main dish may be roast beef, duck, chicken, or pork, with various side accompaniments. The holiday table may also feature traditional Lithuanian desserts, like Honey cake.

Christmas eve cookies (Kūčiukai)

The ancient dish Kūčia was made from wheat, beans, peas, barley, poppies and seasoned with honey. In Aukštaitija, for some time, Kūčia was called porridge of coarse barley groats, eaten with poppies and tossing – honey-sweetened water. A common feature of the various Christmas variants was that the dish was made from whole or slightly crushed cereals, groats and flavored with honey, poppy seeds or hemp. After the First World War, small poppy seed buns were started to bake in Lithuania, which is called Kūčiukai.

Small round wheat flour with yeast has acquired the common name for Kūčiukai (Christmas cakes) relatively recently.This dish became especially popular after the restoration of Independence, when Christmas celebrations began to be celebrated again. That’s probably happened most likely due to the fact that Christmas cakes have become widespread and popular all over the country due to their attractive shape and taste.

In some places, Kūčiukai were baked not only from wheat, but also from barley or buckwheat flour. You have to wipe the yeast with the sugar, heat the water a little and add the yeast and some flour. Stir, sprinkle with a layer of flour and place warm to rise. When the dough rises, add some more flour, oil, poppy seeds, salt and knead until the dough becomes elastic, no longer sticks to your hands. Place the kneaded dough in a warm place for 50-60 minutes to rise. Knead the raised dough well and roll the thin rollers. Cut them into pieces and sprinkle with floured tins. Bake for 6-8 mins in a 180 °C (356 °F) oven until nicely browned.

In different regions of the country the dish is called differently, there are counted about 25 different Christmas cake names, such as: prėskučiai, prėskieniai, šližikai (šlyžikai, sližikai), skrebučiai, riešutėliai, barškučiai, kleckai (kleckučiai, kleckiukai), parpeliai (parpeliukai), buldikai, galkutės, kalėdukai, pyragiukai (mini cakes), balbolikai, bambolikai, pulkeliai, kukuliai, propuliai, paršeliukai (engl.: piglet).