Mucenici (moldovenesti)

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Mucenici is a Christian feast of the 40 Martyrs of Sebaste, a traditional holiday in Romania. It coincides with the start of the agricultural year. Those who observe this holiday clean their households and light fire to garbage collected from their homes, to bring warmth outside.

Some believe that when the Martyrs were drowned, flowers rose to the surface. As a result, for the date of 9 March, every, year, there is a typical dessert with the same name, Mucenici. The desserts are made in the figure 8 to look like garlands. Others believe that the figure 8 denotes a stylized human form of the martyrs themselves.

Another tradition most enjoyed by men, is on March 9th to drink 44 glasses of alcohol. It is said, since ancient roman times, that who will drink the 44 glasses will be strong for the whole year, as the wine will convert into blood.

Beginning with March 9th, the days of the old men start, Baba Dochia’s days are over and the calendar is turning into good weather as the old men are good and wise.

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Dough ingredients:

  • 500 g flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 15 g dry yeast
  • 250 ml milk
  • 150 g butter
  • 150 g sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon rum extract
  • 250 g grounded walnuts
  • 50 g honey
  • 1 egg for eggwash

Syrup ingredients:

  • 250 g water
  • 150 g sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1 teaspoon rum extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For best results, all the ingredients must be kept at the room temperature at least 3 hours before preparing the mucenici dough.

Beat 3 eggs with sugar. Add lemon zest, rum and vanilla. Let it rest for 15-20 minutes. Mix the dry yeast with the flour. Pour lukewarm milk into the eggs’ composition  and  then pour the resulting mixture over the flour mixed with the yeast. Add slowly the melted butter and knead the dough until it can easily separate from the hands. Cover and let it rest in a warm place until the size of the dough doubles.

Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Roll each portion into small ball. Flour a table and roll every ball until become a string (thick as a finger). Make a circle and twist it into an eight figure.

Grease a baking tray with butter and flour the surface. Put the mucenici on the tray and let them rise at warm for about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees C. Prepare a beaten egg and brush over the top of mucenici. Bake about 30-40 minutes at 180 C (until they become golden-brown).

Syrup Preparation: Boil the water with sugar, vanilla and rum extract. Simmer until it becomes thicker. Let it cool and add the grated lemon zest.

Put the mucenici on a serving plate with higher borders and pour 2-3 tablespoons syrup on each of them. Spread  honey on the top and sprinkle with finely chopped walnuts. Put enough syrup on the plate so the mucenici are soaked. 

Makes 12.

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