Slovak Sweet Bread Balls (Bobalki)

Slovak sweet bobalki recipe

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  • Total: 35 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Yield: about 36 sweet bobalki
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
1751 Calories
84g Fat
255g Carbs
15g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: about 36 sweet bobalki
Amount per serving
Calories 1751
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 84g 108%
Saturated Fat 8g 42%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 6086mg 265%
Total Carbohydrate 255g 93%
Dietary Fiber 14g 49%
Protein 15g
Calcium 279mg 21%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Bobalki (also spelled bobalky, babalki, babalky) are Slovak baked balls of dough.

They can be served sweet with ground poppy seeds and honey, or savory with sauerkraut and onion.

They are a favorite for Slovak Christmas Eve, known as velija, and during Lent, but these light and airy balls of dough are delicious any time of year.

Ingredients

  • For the Dough:
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 tablespoons canola oil or butter (if not fasting)
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • For the Syrup:
  • 1/2 cup poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup honey

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this dessert is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Make the Dough Balls

  1. Gather the ingredients. 

    Ingredients for dough balls
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring to boil the water, sugar, salt, and oil or butter if not fasting. Cool to lukewarm.

    Water in pan
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  3. Meanwhile, dissolve yeast in 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 cup warm water.

    Dissolve yeast
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  4. Place flour in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl. Add lukewarm water-sugar-oil mixture and yeast-sugar-water mixture.

    Place flour in bowl
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  5. Combine thoroughly and knead until smooth, about 7 minutes in the mixer and at least 10 minutes by hand. Cover and let rise until doubled.

    Rise dough
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  6. Punch down dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough 1/2- to 1-inch thick and cut into pieces that will result in 1-inch balls when rolled between the palms of the hand.

    Punch down dough
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  7. Place on a parchment-lined or well-floured cookie sheet with dough ball sides touching.

    Place on a cookie sheet
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  8. Heat oven to 375 F. Let rise, covered with oiled plastic wrap until nearly doubled.

    Let rise
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  9. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely.

    Bake
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Make the Syrup and Assemble

  1. Gather the ingredients. 

    Ingredients for topping
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  2. Grind poppy seeds in a mortar and pestle with a little water or milk and set aside.

    Grind poppy seeds
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  3. When the bobalki are cool, break the balls apart and place them in a colander. Pour just enough boiling water over bobalki to soften them but not turn them into mush. Drain well.

    Place bolbaki in colander
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  4. Pour warm honey and ground poppy seeds over all. Stir lightly and serve immediately.

    Pour warm honey over
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Recipe Variation

  • To make a savory version: instead of using poppy seeds and honey, rinse a 1-pound can sauerkraut and squeeze out all moisture. Sauté chopped onion in butter (or oil if following a strict fast). Mix with baked bobalki and season with salt and pepper to taste.