Monday, June 09, 2014

Prairie Kitchens - Scuffles

Trick question: How many early settlers to Saskatchewan came from Ukraine? Answer: None.

At the height of prairie settlement, prior to World War I, the country of Ukraine did not yet exist. According to Settling Saskatchewan by Alan Anderson, these settlers spoke different dialects and identified with their local regions:

"Ukrainian Canadians first considered themselves primarily as Galicians, Bukovinians, Ruthenians, and so on and secondarily possibly as Austro-Hungarians, Poles, Russians, Czechoslovaks, or Romanians. Only gradually did a common identity as Ukrainians emerge."

Just as ethnicities crossed borders, so did their cuisines. Perogie is a Polish word. The Ukrainian name for this popular dumpling is verenyky. Cabbage rolls (holubtsi in Ukrainian) were common among many cultures that settled Saskatchewan, from Croatians at Kenaston to Hungarians at Esterhazy to the Jewish colony at Edenbridge.

While we primarily think of borscht as Ukrainian beet soup, other cultures make it, too, some without beets such as Mennonite summer borscht with sorrel and sausage. The correct Ukrainian spelling is borshch.

In 2011, the national household survey found that, in Saskatchewan, 13.5 percent of people claim Ukrainian heritage, 24.9 percent English and 28.6 percent German, including Mennonites and Hutterites. So, why does Ukrainian cuisine loom so large in Saskatchewan? Why do we associate cabbage rolls and not Yorkshire pudding with community suppers and raise funds by selling frozen perogies and not German maultaschen?

And why do these delicious cinnamon crescents, associated with generations of Babas, go by the very un-Ukrainian name of scuffles?

2 1/4 tsp yeast (1 packet)
1/4 cup warm water
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
1 cup soft butter
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
Sugar and cinnamon for rolling

Dissolve yeast in warm water. In a bowl, stir together flour, salt and sugar. Work in butter with your fingers. Combine milk, eggs and yeast. Add to flour, mixing well. Turn onto a floured surface and knead briefly until smooth. The dough will be sticky. Wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Divide dough in six parts, working with one part at a time. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon generously on the countertop, place dough on top and roll to a circle 1/8 inch thick. Cut the circle into 12 wedges, like pieces of a pie. Roll up each wedge from the wide end to the pointed end. Place 1 inch apart on lightly-greased baking sheet and bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes.


JoyD said...

My mom of Ukrainian heritage called scuffles - "rohalyky"; others used the Russian pronunciation "rogalky". She probably would argue with your textbook explanation of the "existence" of Ukraine. My historical knowledge is limited but I remember heated discussions about this around the kitchen table and the person who took the position that Ukraine did not exist did not stay for dinner.

Faye Kiss said...

Hi Amy Jo
Enjoyed this recipe. I acquired a variation of this recipe from an older German lady in Paradise Hill back in the 70s. Pastry is the same though she taught me to add a dollop of thick jam on each triangle and roll it up. After baking she would drizzle a light milk icing sugar icing. Also very delicious. A great treat with afternoon coffee.

Amy Jo Ehman said...

Thanks for the historical comment, Joy. Wish I could be a part of that heated discussion, but I would keep my mouth shut and stay for dinner!!

Rigby Blue said...

Actually the Ukraine and Ukrainians have been around for centuries. I think you mean when the Ukraine became independent in 1917 from the Russian empire.

Amy Jo Ehman said...

Thanks for the clarification, Rigby Blue. Yes, I was speaking of the country, and also of the shifting borders in western Europe where Ukrainian, Polish and other ethnicities found themselves "between" countries not of their own making.