Every 5th of December in the evening, children in Romania make sure that they’ve cleaned their shoes and placed them by the entrance door so that at midnight, Saint Nicholas can leave fruits and sweets in them. Of course, only those children who have been meritorious during the year receive goodies. For the naughty ones, he would leave a long, thin wooden stick, which parents can use in the way they find fit.
Over the years, this day left behind the fruits and sweets and is more about small gifts and cash put in the boots, shoes or slippers found near the entrance. Sometimes it looks like a ‘mini’ Christmas day. Of course, no naughty kids either.
In the countryside, people bake these small breads with the cross of St. Nicholas on top, then give them away to the kids in the village.
The recipe below gives you the method for the decoration too, but even if you don’t want to make the decoration, the buns are delicious for sandwiches, especially with ham and cheese or corned beef.
Mix all the ingredients together, apart from the egg, and knead by machine for 10 minutes. Cover the bowl and leave in a warm place (around 21C) for 1.5 hours.
Turn the dough onto the work surface and divide into 6 balls. If you wish to make the decorations, use 15g of each dough ball, further divide into two and roll into two long strings, then twist them together. Place them on top of each ball.
Allow the breads to proof for 45 minutes, covered and in a warm place. Brush with the egg and bake in the oven at 200C for 30 minutes or until they form a dark coloured, shiny crust.