As a special birthday treat for my delightful, dark haired daughter Eva, who officially turned 12 today, I mixed up a batch of these little fried fritter cakes that my brothers, cousins and I used to feast on as children. Although they are fried in hot oil like a doughnut, kolacice are neither circular in shape, nor do they have a hole in the middle. They also go by various names including ustipkepriganice or krofne. Popular in the Balkans for either breakfast or as a snack, they were a specialty of my late maternal grandmother, Baba Joka. We adored them. Baba made them with love and served them with a smile. She anticipated our excitement as we opened the lid of the blue-trimmed, white enamel serving dish that cradled the puffy little edible delights. I served this evening’s sweet treats in the same dish. 

Crisp on the outside with a light, soft interior, these imperfectly round dumplings are dusted with sugar and best eaten warm. As for left overs? I can’t remember there ever being any, because it’s impossible to stop at one!

I jotted down my grandmother’s recipe for kolacice about 10 years ago, during one of my conversations with her. Although I moved to Sydney in my early 20’s, the 3,500 kilometre distance didn’t break that firm bond we had and weekly telephone calls became a welcome ritual. I remember Baba describing the amount of flour that was needed in terms of ” ordinary cups” as I endeavoured to understand what sort of a cup; a tea cup, coffee mug, larger or smaller?  When it came to measuring out the milk and water I was instructed to “…pour it in slowly until you have enough.” I converted our conversation into standard metric measurements, ran them past my grandmother to ensure she was satisfied and then gave her recipe a couple of test runs. It worked beautifully then and it is still perfect today. 

I have included two versions of kolacice: one with yeast which was published previously in June 2014; and one without. I made today’s yeast-free batch pictured above, using a low protein self raising flour (the White Wings and Anchor Lighthouse brands are both consistent) and perfect for this recipe. My kolacice were crisp on the outside but satisfyingly soft and fluffy inside. 

Little Fried Fitter Cakes – Kolacice (with yeast)
makes approximately 50 – 60 portions

4 cups plain flour – for best results use a super fine, high protein bread making flour which reacts with the yeast for superb stretch and ability to rise. If unavailable, then use a good quality plain flour.  
4 pinches table salt
2 – 3 eggs – if the eggs are large use 2, if they are small use 3. 
1 sachet of dried yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
350 ml warm water
400 ml warm milk
750ml – 1 litre oil (use either a light olive oil, canola or vegetable oil)
Icing or caster sugar to serve

1) Mix the yeast, sugar and warm water in a small bowl or jug and set aside to become frothy (about 10 minutes).

 2) In the meantime, combine the flour and salt in a deep mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and crack in the eggs. Use a mixing spoon to beat the eggs together drawing in the surrounding dry ingredients. 

3) Pour in the yeasty water and warm milk and beat together vigorously until the mixture is completely combined, smooth and resembles a sticky, thick batter similar to Greek style yoghurt. It should be able to slowly fall off the mixing spoon. 

4) Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place for 1 hour. The surface of the mixture will develop bubbles indicating it is ready to cook. 

5) Find a deep saucepan (about 4 litres or so) and pour in the oil in which to fry the batter. Don’t panic – the kolacice bob about on top as they cook. Heat the oil so that it is hot and then reduce the heat to medium. Drop in tablespoonfuls of batter, taking care not to overcrowd the pan because each fritter cake will expand in size. Now, keep a beady eye on them as they cook. As soon as the surface of each one is dotted with bubbles and the edges have turned golden, flip them over and continue to cook until each one is an even golden brown colour. 

6) Remove with a slotted spoon onto paper towels, and then toss into a bowl or platter with icing or caster sugar to coat each one. Best eaten immediately. 

Little Fried Fitter Cakes – Kolacice (without yeast)
makes approximately 50 – 60 portions 

4 cups low protein self raising flour (sifted) 
4 pinches table salt
2 – 3 eggs – if the eggs are large use 2, if they are small use 3. 
400 ml tap water
400 ml cold milk
750ml – 1 litre oil (use either a light olive oil, canola or vegetable oil)
Icing or caster sugar to serve

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and water. 

Add the salt and flour and whisk again until completely smooth. The mixture should be thick, but able to fall easily off a spoon. 

Drop tablespoonfuls of the batter into a wide saucepan or deep saute style frypan in which oil has been heating. I set my temperature knob to medium. This allows the cakes to fry evenly, cook though but not burn. If your oil starts to smoke when you add the batter, then your heat is up too high. 

Watch the cakes carefully to make sure they don’t burn. You will notice a golden rim beginning to form around the middle of each cake along with tiny bubbles on top and that is when they need to be turned. So after about a minute, flip them over using tongs or a couple of forks. 

Once ready, lift the cakes out and drain briefly on paper towels. Then toss in a bowl with either icing or caster sugar. Repeat with the remaining batter. Kolacice are best served warm.