Saturday, December 25, 2010

Baka's Christmas Cookies - Sape (Paws)





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For years I've been making  “medvjeđe šape” for the Christmas holidays (Bozic in the Serbo Croatian language). Sometimes I also make them on other holiday occasions in the winter. The recipe I have from my grandmother is the following:
2 c Nuts, 2 c Crisco or Butter, 3 c Flour (you might need to add a bit more), 1 c Sugar, 2 eggs and 1/8 tsp Baking Powder. Mix, put in special tins, bake at 375 till brown (10-15) Take out of tins while still hot and dip in powdered sugar

My Baka  used Crisco, which in later years, finding my own way through the kitchen, I always found odd.  Once I did a bit of investigating I figured it out.
When the sisters married the Americans, they brought Crisco home along with the Folgers and the Smirnoff.  Baka used to call the 'mast' (fat) she used in the cookies 'kokos fett'.  My life long I could never figure out what she used- what could  'kokos fett' actually be? Sounded like coconut (kokos in Pidgin Bosnian/German) but I never remember seeing any coconut butter or coconut oil in the kitchen.
The big mystery was solved when exploring the possibilities with my mother as to what type of fat she might have used, I remembered that it was preternaturally white.
That's how we figured out it must have been Crisco.
Last year I made them half with Crisco and half with Butter. Crisco was easy to work with, but the taste was definitely compromised. It still tasted good - but that weird aftertaste of Crisco was really strong. So, I prefer to use Butter. I am going to assume that Baka used Crisco because my mom brought home  a new, cool,  American food that no one had ever seen  before.In that little Alpine kaf, we were definitely the glamorous and Bohemian off Broadway set.  In the day Crisco was probably pure awesomeness.

5 comments:

  1. Does anyone knows where to buy Crisco in either Bosnia or Croatia? I was buying it in Germany (supermarkets of Karstadt department stores) and American shop in Vienna, but I've run out of it long time ago...

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    1. Tarik, I know it has been a long time since you posted here and I apologize for my late reply. Since I live here in the States Crisco is easy to get at any supermarket. I am not sure where to get it in Bosnia but I imagine there are some expats there that might know some 'in' store. Thanks for looking at my blog! Cao

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  2. AGH! The stuff fobbed of on our poor grandmas. Let's here it for butter. Or even better, lard!

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  3. Oh my God!!! I've been trying to find this recipe for years. My grandma use to make these every Christmas. I was never able to get the recipe from her, because she had a massive stroke in 1998 & past away shortly thereafter. Thank you, thank you!!! I'm going to try this & see if it's what I remember hers tasting like. Now I only wish I had her tins. My grandfather throughout everything after she died. I live in Cleveland, Ohio, so I may have a hard time finding them.

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    1. Hi Athena! How nice that you found what you were looking for! And thank you for leaving a message here too. It's really great to communicate with people who have a strong connection to the culture and the food. Alas, the tins are a bit of a problem. I have some of my grandmothers' tins and a few I have found here and ther. I prize them of course! I do believe though that in Cleveland and in that general area there are many people from what is now ex Yugoslavia. I would be willing to say that if you investigate a bit into stores that sell products from that general area (Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia etc) you might find out where to get the tins. This is a typical sweet cookie made in Central Bosnia for Christmas, but of course it is common in many other parts of that country and indeed all over Europe in some shape and form. Would love to hear from you if you find the tins (in Serbo-Croatian they are Kalupe)and how the recipe turns out for you. Thanks for writing in and good luck Athena!

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