Ballokume is a traditional Albanian cookie snack made by the people of Elbasan during the summer festival, Dita e Veres. Traditionally it is kneaded in a copper bowl to improve the texture of the dough.
Origin & History of Ballokume
Ballokume is an Albanian cookie that originated from the city of Elbasan but is popular throughout the country. It is typically eaten during an Albanian pagan holiday called Dita e Veres which is celebrated on March 14.
The ingredients of ballokume are very simple and consist of only butter, sugar, eggs, water ashes/milk and cornmeal. Yet the preparation of Ballokume is not an easy task because everything is prepared by hand with the help of just a wooden spoon and a copper bowl.
Ballokume has become part of the Albanian tradition that, in its preparation, only the men of the house should prepare the recipe since the dough has to be kneaded vigorously. It requires strength when kneading to achieve the desired texture of the pastry.
The history of ballokume dates back to a division of the former Ottoman Empire called Sandjak, consisting of many clan leaders that were Persian, Turkish, Albanian, and North African. They were called Bey.
The title Sandjak-Bey, which means “the lord of the banner” was given in the Ottoman Empire to a Bey. He was a senior officer appointed to the military and administrative command of a district.
At the end of the 16th century, the Sandjak-Bey of Elbasan shouted “është ba si llokume!” meaning “It’s as good as a lokum” after tasting a small cake made of cornflour, cooked in a wood fire. From there they contracted a few words from the Bey’s exclaimation and named this traditional Elbasan dessert ballokume.
- Butter (warm and melted) - 2 cups
- Caster Sugar - 2 ½ cups
- Eggs - 8 pieces
- Water Ashes/Milk - 2 Tbsp
- Cornmeal - 6 cups
- In a bowl, pour 1 tablespoon of ashes from a wood fire. Then, add 3 tablespoons of water and stir well. Let it steep for 30 minutes before straining it using a cheesecloth. (Water ashes can be substituted with milk instead.)
- In a large container, mix the melted butter and sugar and using a wooden spoon for about 3 minutes or until the mixture becomes foamy.
- Add eggs one by one into the mixture and continue beating for 10 minutes.
- Add 2 tablespoons of water ashes or milk and beat again for another 5 minutes.
- Gradually add the flour and mix all the ingredients until well combined and the dough is formed.
- If the mixture is too wet, just add 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour then mix again.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap or cheese cloth at room temperature for 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 F before putting the pastries.
- Line the baking sheet with parchment paper then form 2 oz balls of dough and place it in the baking sheet.
- Slightly flatten each ball before shaping the dough.
- Bake it for 40 minutes and when out of the oven, let it rest in the tray for about 20 minutes before transferring it on a rack to cool it completely.
- It is best to store the baked goodies in an airtight metal box to preserve its freshness.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 2134Total Fat: 109gSaturated Fat: 63gTrans Fat: 4gUnsaturated Fat: 38gCholesterol: 621mgSodium: 971mgCarbohydrates: 270gFiber: 13gSugar: 126gProtein: 31g
Photo credit: Margott