Written by Sarah Mottlova
Pork crackling buns probably originated in Hungary, and they are also very popular in Slovakia. However, crackling buns are considered a specialty in the south of Moravia as well. The word pagace comes from pogacsa which in used in South Slavic languages. The name derives from the word focacea (baked dough), which is associated with the Latin word “focus,” which means fire. The reason why these biscuits are associated with fire is that people were used to baking pagace together with ashes by the fireplace.
Crackling buns can be served in many different ways. Some Czechs eat pagace together with another Hungarian dish, goulash. Nevertheless, crackling buns are mostly eaten as a snack with beer or wine. Other Czech people may enjoy the freshly baked pagace with soup cooked from legumes. It is possible to serve them as a welcome snack.
Crackling buns are obviously made of cracklings and lard. In the Czech Republic, cracklings are easily accessible as almost every butcher provides them. In other countries, it can be much harder to buy cracklings in a store. But if you can obtain pork fat, you can make cracklings at home by rendering lard. This process will provide you with two main ingredients to make this tasty snack.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
5 tsp active dry yeast
2 Tbs lard, divided
2 eggs, divided
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups cracklings
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
In lukewarm milk dissolve the dry yeast with 1 tsp granulated sugar; leave it for a few minutes to activate the yeast. Sift the flour in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the activated yeast, 1 egg, and 1 Tbs lard. Knead the mixture into a smooth dough until pliable and soft. Season with salt and pepper. Then leave the dough to rise for at least 30 minutes.
In the meantime, push the cracklings through a food grinder. Chopping the cracklings finely would be also possible. Combine ground cracklings with 1 Tbs lard.
On a floured surface roll out the prepared dough into a 1/8-inch thick rectangle. Spread one-third of the ground cracklings evenly all over the rolled dough. Imagine that the rectangle is divided into three equal rectangles. Then take the left one and fold onto the middle one. Do this step again with the rectangle on the right side. Repeat this process with the newly created rectangle. Cover the dough with a dishcloth and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then roll out the dough again and repeat the whole process another two times. Roll out the dough for the fourth time but now into a 1-inch thick rectangle. Then cut out buns with a round or square-shaped biscuit cutter. Re-roll the dough scraps and cut more shapes.
Place the buns on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Spread the tops with beaten egg and let them rise for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 355F. Bake the crackling buns for 20 minutes or until they turn golden brown.