You say flodni, I say fluden.
So what the heck is fluden anyway? Growing up, my grandmother made it for Purim. To me, it was something she put together after she got tired of making hamentashen. You know, there was too much dough left, and she was not rolling, cutting, filling and pinching anymore. So she just layered the dough she had left, with the prune jelly and poppy seed filling she had left, and voila, it’s fluden. Okay, so I wasn’t any more likely to eat the fluden than I was going to eat the hamentashen with the poppy seeds anyway. But, regardless, it was pretty to look at.
This past December I learned that fluden is actually a real thing! In fact, it’s a traditional Jewish pastry in Hungary! And that’s where my family is from, so now it all makes sense! Except in Hungary, they call it flodni, and it has many more layers than I thought, but it tastes, well, like fluden. So where did I learn all this? In Budapest, of course! Every kosher restaurant and bakery has this traditional layered pastry on the menu. I was so excited to see it, because it reminded me of my grandmother, and of my childhood. So of course I bought a piece everywhere kosher that it was sold. Some had more layers than others, and there were many versions— apples, walnuts, poppy seeds, plum jam. It was exciting to be able to get authentic flodni, in Hungary. Unfortunately, I still didn’t love it. Any of it. I guess the idea of it was more exciting that the taste.
So, of course, when digging up my grandmother’s hamentashen recipe to get ready for purim, I decided to try my hand at making a fluden, her way. This dough makes an amazing, flaky pastry and is very different from your standard cookie dough for hamentashen. Of course it’s a little more time consuming, but it is so worth it. By the way, with a few adjustments my fluden came out amazing, and I used the extra dough to make my first round of hamentashen.
For the dough:
6 cups flour, divided
1 lb. margarine (or butter)
¾ cup sugar
2 egg yolks (reserve whites to glaze the dough)
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups cold water
For the filling:
2 cups raisins
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 cups walnuts
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons sugar
2 heaping tablespoons prune lekvar
1 jar (10.5 oz.) apricot butter (or jam)
Prepare the dough:
In the bowl of a food processor, combine 2 cups of flour with all the margarine (cut into chunks). Pulse to combine into a paste. Place the bowl into the refrigerator while you finish the dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add remaining four cups of flour and make a well in the middle. Add the egg yolks, yeast and water into the well. Sprinkle the sugar, salt and baking powder around the sides and mix until smooth. Flour a clean surface and roll out the dough into a rectangle. The dough may seem difficult to roll out, but it will ease up. Take the flour paste out of the refrigerator and smear 1/3 of the mixture on about 2/3rds of the dough. Fold the dough into thirds and roll out again into a rectangle. Repeat smearing and folding 2 more times. You are essentially layering the dough with the margarine to create the flaky layers. Divide the dough into four pieces, wrap in plastic and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
Prepare the filling:
Soak the raisins in boiling water with lemon juice to soften (about 5-10 minutes). In the bowl of a food processor, add the walnuts and pulse a few times to chop—don’t over process into a butter! Drain the raisins and add to the bowl with the walnuts. Add the zest and sugar and pulse a few more times to chop the raisins. Add the lekvar and pulse to combine well. You should have a chunky, sticky mixture.
Flour a clean surface and roll out 1 piece of dough to fit into the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Spread the raisin/nut mixture on the dough. Flour the surface again and roll out another piece of dough, thinner than the first, and place on top of raisin mixture. Spread this second layer of dough with apricot butter. Roll out another piece of dough and either cover the apricot jam, or cut dough into strips and arrange in a pretty lattice. Brush dough with the reserved egg white and sprinkle with a little sugar.
Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes, until dough is brown and puffed. Cut into squares when cool. You should have one more piece of dough left, so make some hamentashen!
By Rachel Berger