When it comes to desserts, I think the best choice are the traditional ones and one of my favourites are undoubtedly Ballokume of Elbasan.
In this city there is a tradition, they celebrate “Summer day“ on March 14. After some years, to preserve this tradition this date became a national holiday. I have tried ballokume these last years, when the “Summer Day” began to be celebrated in Tirana as well and it was love at the first taste undoubtedly.
Since they are a tradition of the Elbasan area, of course the recipe is taken from the source, by a friend of mine and on this occasion I want to thank her publicly (yes A … .., I’m talking to you)
The beauty of traditional cooking is that each recipe has a ritual to be followed. For example, if I had to write it down according to the tradition, as it had been done from our grandmothers, the butter and sugar should be mixed by hand with a wooden spoon, not in a mixer and foremost in copper containers.
Yes, made of copper, which being a perfect conductor of heat, during the mixing process helped melting the sugar . This method would not over rise ballokume during baking and the most important thing it would not require extra flour; therefore, ballokume would bake perfectly without the need for the first test bake.
Serves 15 ballokume
Cooking time: 1 hour and 40 min
- 1 kg caster sugar
- ½ kg melted butter
- 1 kg super fine yellow cornmeal + 200gr extra if needed
- 7 eggs + 1 shell of water (we’ll be using to fill twice half egg shell as a measuring cup)
- Add butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and start mixing until the mixture becomes creamy, fluffy and the sugar is almost dissolved(as pictured)
- Start adding the eggs one at a time making sure that the first is fully incorporated. After the forth egg make sure to add the water ( remember that the egg shell is the measuring cup here), mix well and continue with the remaining eggs.
- Add the cornmeal and mix until well blended. If you see that the mixer has started to overload, continue mixing with a wooden spoon by hand or a spatula ( I used the spatula). The dough should reach the consistency as shown in the picture. If it is still runny start adding the extra flour; the extra 200gr that I have listed above). In the mean time preheat the oven to 180 °C
- Now its time to bake the first ballokume. This is a test to see if the dough has reached the right consistency or the oven is hot at the desired temperature. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Take a tablespoon of the dough and drop it over the tray (do not shape it). Bake for 40-45 minutes until golden brown to the sides, but not coloured on top. If you see that ballokume is rising while baking, that’s a good sign, otherwise add a tablespoon of cornmeal one at a time until reached the right consistency.
- Depending on the flour type or brand you are using, you have to adjust the amounts, anyway I think that with the above ingredients there will be no need to add more flour than specified.
- Here is the final product. … well, mostly because I couldn’t resist it:
Ps: Be careful not to eat all of them at once ..