This recipe I remember my grandma having told me over the phone, with quite imprecise amounts and without even caring whether I had time enough to take note – I guess just like most grandparents do in such situations ! Hopefully, it was really easy to go through, and this allowed me to come up with a recipe I find even better and I’m thus glad to share with you. Good news is, unlike some of my previous recipes involving specific ingredients or tools, this one might be whipped up in any kitchen, with substitute ingredients that work like a dream.
I did not check whether this is a traditional Hungarian sweet dish, but I witnessed both my Czech grandpa and Hungarian grandma making it at least once during each of their visits to us (among lots of other treats, as always). And, I wouldn’t go far wrong saying it is a kind of dessert one could find wherever túró-like cheeses are to be found too.
What’s that túró then ? This « curd cheese » belongs to the same dairy products sub-family as cottage cheese, but unlike this one it comes with no whey, hence a much crumblier texture. The method of production also imparts a taste which is slightly different, yet in an indescriptible way. Were I asked, I might say it is less sour, somewhat sweeter, with a more pronounced milk flavour. It seems to be present all over Eastern Europa, what the Slovak packaging of the one shown in the picture above partly evidences !
I had frozen some which it was time to use up, so I made túrós rétes, actually one of the few ways to use túró that I know. It also happens to be a spring-friendly dessert, fresh and light-tasting (though not that light in fact).
Its name (which is to be pronounced « too-rosh ray-tesh ») means « flaky (or layered) roll with túró », but mind you, it’s not flaky the way you might think it is : a cheesy, moist filling including some raisins, is encased in only a few layers of a paperthin and silky pastry, similar to phyllo pastry (which I got used to substitute to the original one, hard to find here).
As a result, the taste of cheese is emphasized, but the rolls don’t remain crisp long. But even though they’re better eaten right after having cooled down, I find them still yummy the day after, when they have been chilled overnight. I may even enjoy them for breakfast if I’m in the mood for having a sweet one.
While my grandparents make it simple as can be, I took the liberty, on a whim, to use some orange blossom water to soak the raisins, which actually happened to work pretty well. The raisins infusing that distinctive flavour to the filling, the whole dessert takes on a new dimension. However, if you’re not a fan of it, or of raisins (for me, they’ve been an acquired taste), or both, you happily may skip them and still enjoy the túrós rétes !
Yields 2 rolls (about 12-inch / 30 cm long).
- 1 pc (275 gr.) of vacuum-packed sweet curd cheese, or same amount of well-drained (same way than in this recipe) cottage cheese
- 50 to 75 gr. sugar – adjust to your sweet tooth and to the cheese used (túró being neutral, even sweet, the sugar content is better brought out)
- 1 package (~ 8 gr.) vanilla sugar
- 1 large egg
- ~ 2 tbsp raisins (optional)
- 3 tbsp orange blossom water (optional)
- 8 phyllo pastry sheets
- icing sugar for dusting
If using raisins, soak them in orange blossom water (or plain water) for at least 1 hour (use a small bowl, or add a bit of orange blossom water in order to cover completely the raisins) till they look no longer shrivelled up, just like in this recipe, then drain them well.
In a mixing bowl, crumble up the cheese to get rid of curd lumps. Add the sugar, vanilla sugar, egg, and mix thoroughly.
It is fine if it is slightly dry at the beginning, then turns more runny : the sugar content of the filling causes the cheeses moisture to seep out, but no worries, it would firm up when baked, no matter how runny it is. The only thing is, do not let it sit too long, or the rolling would become tricky.
Stir in the drained raisins, trying to distribute them evenly.
Preheat the oven at 350°F / 180°C.
Place 4 sheets of phyllo pastry on top of each other on your working desk or directly on a baking tray, lined with greaseproof paper.
Give the filling a good stir and eyeball it into two parts.
Using a spoon, arrange one of them in a thick line along the edge of the longer and closer side, leaving some room at the edges.
Fold the edges over the filling, starting by the longer side, followed by the left and right sides, making sure to enclose the filling.
Roll carefully up the whole to the opposite end to form a log. Do not make it too tightly since it might cause the rolls to burst. It is ok if they turn slightly flatter then, after having sat a while.
Repeat the same with the remaining phyllo sheets and filling half.
Put the rolls straight into the oven and bake for 20 mns or until lightly browned on the top.
Let them cool before dusting with icing sugar, using a small fine sieve ; if you have one, I suggest a tea strainer, which is most convenient.
With a sharp knife, cut carefully into slices of desired size, but remember the filling might be pulled out if they are too thin.
Serve at room temperature or after a few hours of chilling, and enjoy ! (keep leftovers in the fridge and eat within about 2 days)