The Southern Coal region of Pennsylvania is known as “Little Lithuania”. Anthracite and the industry surrounding it lured many Lithuanians in during the 1860s-1910s era.
Shenandoah (Pa), earned itself the nickname, “the Vilnius of North America” and was a much larger town then than it is today, with a population of upwards of 40 000, a quarter of them Lithuanians.
Lithuanian migration to the Coal Region was often a result of Lithuanians back home being discriminated against under the Russian Imperial rule with their language banned between years 1865 and 1904. The locations with the most Lithuanian heritage in Schuylkill County are Shenandoah itself, Shenandoah Heights, Frackville, Mahanoy City, Mount Carmel, and Tamaqua. Almost every town here has (or had) a Lithuanian church, cemetery, and club(s). Is it any wonder that Lithuanian foods are such a part of our Coal Region heritage and holiday celebrations?
A Christmas time treat in many homes in the Coal Region is lasineciai – Lithuanian Bacon Buns. These special bites of heaven are passed around during Christmas in Lithuanian homes. accompanied with the salutation, “Linksmu Kaledu,” which means Merry Christmas!
- Semi-frozen bacon is much easier to cut into pieces.
Use a nice, meaty bacon like you find at a good farmers’ market or butcher shop.
- You can make these with frozen, thawed bread dough from the grocery store, but they will not be the same taste and texture as the scratch made dough – which is rich and a little sweet like a brioche dough – but it does cut down dramatically on prep-time.
- As you make successive batches and get more proficient, you may find you prefer to pinch off individual balls of dough and flatten, fill, and shape them using that method rather than a cutter.
Lithuanian Bacon BunsCourse: Bread, AppetizersCuisine: Eastern European, Coal RegionDifficulty: Intermediate
3/4 pound good bacon, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup whole milk
1/4 pound unsalted butter
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package active dry yeast or 2 1/4 teaspoons from a jar of yeast
3 large room temperature eggs, beaten
3 cups all-purpose flour
Egg Wash: 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 Tablespoon water
- Put bacon and onion in frying pan, add water to barely cover. With lid on, simmer until water evaporates watching closely. Place filling in refrigerator to cool completely. Do not brown the bacon.
- Scald milk. Whisk in butter, sugar, and salt. Cool to lukewarm (110 – 115 F degrees). Whisk in the yeast. Place this mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer or other large bowl.
- Add the beaten eggs and flour and beat vigorously with wooden spoon or mixer’s paddle attachment until smooth.
- Lightly grease top of dough, cover bowl with towel and let rise until doubled in warm spot.
- Punch down dough and let rise until doubled one more time. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut in half and work with one half of dough at a time, keeping other half covered.
- Roll dough about 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick. Cut out 3 inch circles of dough with a round cutter.
- Place a tablespoon or so of cooled bacon mixture in center of circle. Fold over and pinch edges of dough together to completely cover the filling.
- Shape into a ball or torpedo shape and place seam side down on parchment lined baking sheet leaving space between buns to rise and expand.
- Repeat with other half of dough; re-roll scraps.
- Cover rolls lightly with greased plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled.
- Pre-heat oven to 375 F. Brush rolls with egg wash.
- Bake 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Brush with butter when removed from oven if desired.
- Can be served hot, at room temperature or reheated in the oven.
DID YOU MAKE THIS?
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