In Hungary obtaining bilberries requires some planning and forward-thinking. If you are lucky enough, you can buy them on the local market, otherwise you need to look for a “dealer” or picker, who can supply you directly with those nearly black, juicy berries. Bilberries are difficult to grow and have small fruits, therefore they are not or seldom cultivated. Fruits are picked from wild plants – the nearest habitat to my home can be found in the forests of Transylvanian Mountains.
Bilberries are softer and juicier than blueberries, making them difficult to transport. Due to these factors, bilberries are only available fresh on markets. They are eaten fresh or made into jams and dishes. Bilberries have been used in the folklore medicine. The fruit has a good effect on the intestinal flora, it makes the mucous membrane resistant to digestive problems, chronic enteritis, infections and diarrhea. It can also cure mouth diseases. Bilberry leaf tea lowers blood sugar.
A few weeks ago I made bilberry jam. I often use it as a sauce for wild games, but now I wanted to bake something sweet. I made a yeast dough, filled with a mixture of melted chocolate, cocoa powder and bilberry jam and rolled up into tiny crescents. The result became superb.
For the dough:
- 600 g (~4 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 egg
- 300 ml (~1 1/4 cup) lukewarm milk
- 35 g fresh yeast (3 1/2 tsp dry yeast)
- 70 g (~1/3 cup) melted butter
For the filling:
- 100 g (~3 1/2 oz) dark chocolate
- 20 g (~1 1/2 tbsp) butter
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 3 tbsp bilberry jam
- 1 egg for the egg wash
Dissolve yeast with a dessertspoon of sugar in 100 ml of lukewarm milk.
Sift the flour in a bowl. Add salt, two dessertspoons of sugar, egg, activated yeast and the rest of the milk, and start to knead using a stand or hand mixer. When the dough begins to hold together, pour in the melted butter in a fine stream while kneading continuously. Knead the dough until smooth and it pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Form a ball, cover and let it rise until it doubles in size (it takes approx.40-50 min.).
In the meantime prepare the filling. Melt chocolate and butter either in the microwave oven or over a pot of boiling water. Add sugar, cocoa powder and bilberry jam, and mix until well combined. Set aside.
Divide the dough into four equal pieces and form balls.
Roll out a ball into a 2-3 mm thin circle. Spread half of the filling on the top evenly. Roll out another ball into a circle of the same size and cover the filling. With a pizza cutter cut into 16 equal slices. Roll them up and place them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the other two dough balls.
Brush the tops with beaten egg and let the crescents rest for 10-15 minutes. Put them into the oven preheated to 200°C / 392°F and bake for 15 minutes.