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Garlic or Cheese Crescent Rolls for Midsummer (Slovak-Latvian fusion, sort of)

Garlic/Cheese Crescent Rolls for Midsummer

Midsummer (Līgo/Jāņi) is probably the most favourite and significant holiday for Latvians. It’s celebrated on 23/24th June when the night is so short that there’re only a couple of really dark hours. It’s not as evident as the famous Saint Petersburg’s “white nights”, but still enough for birds to confuse day and night: sometimes you can hear them sing or make noise after midnight. I’d say it’s even a little bit disturbing that the sky almost never turns black in June – I keep waking up at night because of that eerie blue glow coming through the curtains.

On the shortest night of the year, everyone heads out to the countryside, drinks gallons of beer, barbecues, eats traditional caraway cheese (Jāņu siers, see picture), makes (or tries to make) bonfires and almost certainly soaks in the rain, because it typically rains on Midsummer. The cities become absolutely deserted! All guys named Jānis wear heavy oak leaf wreaths and all ladies named Līga wear wreaths of flowers/oak leaves. If you see an oak leaf wreath on a car – there’s certainly a Jānis in it! Oh and there’s also that ancient tradition of searching for the mythical fern blossom, which is believed to have magical powers. Actually the fern blossom quest means more than just that – to give you a hint, a lot of children are born 9 months after Midsummer night :)

Latvian Midsummer Cheese

Even though I don’t celebrate Midsummer, I couldn’t miss the chance to buy some of that special caraway cheese and use it for some crescent rolls. I first saw garlic crescent rolls on a Slovak Christmas table and copied the recipe from Stano’s Mother. With some tweaking and the addition of some fresh dill this could make a lovely Midsummer snack, I figured. And with caraway cheese these rolls turn into a truest Midsummer treat! They pair perfectly with beer, cider, and fresh vegetables, and they’re easily transportable, in case you’re going to have a picnic. For the garlic version, there’s a lot of garlic odour while baking, but ready crescent rolls are just slightly garlicky. And they look so plump and appetizing!

Slovak Garlic/Cheese Crescent Rolls


1kg all-purpose flour
150g margarine, melted
700ml milk, lukewarm
50g baker’s yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt

Garlic filling (for ½ of the crescent rolls):
100g butter
7 cloves garlic, crushed
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tsp fresh dill, finely chopped

Cheese filling (for remaining crescent rolls):
1 cup shredded cheese (Gouda-type-like)
1 cup shredded caraway cheese (or a fresh cheese + caraway seeds)
Salt to taste
1 egg yolk

1 egg white, slightly beaten with a fork
Cilantro, sesame, nigella, cumin seeds

Makes 80 crescent rolls

In a large bowl, combine yeast, sugar, and half of the milk. Stir until well-blended and no lumps. Gradually add flour while stirring. When you’ve added about ½ of the flour, add salt and fold in melted margarine. Stir thoroughly and continue adding flour. When the dough turns thick and sticky, start kneading by hand, stretching and tossing the dough from hand to hand – this will make it airier. Continue kneading until smooth and non-sticky. When your fingers are completely clean, the dough is ready. Return it to the bowl, cover and leave for about an hour to rise.

To make garlic filling, combine all ingredients and blend with a fork.

To make cheese filling, combine two kinds of cheeses and season with salt if necessary. If you don’t have caraway cheese, use any other kind of fresh crumbly cheese and add a spoonful of cumin. Add egg yolk and stir well.

When the dough has risen, divide it into 10 parts. We will be making 5 batches of garlic crescent rolls and 5 batches of cheese crescent rolls.

Roll out each lump of dough and cut it into 8 wedges. Spread the filling on each wedge and make crescent rolls. Be sure to seal the pointed edge properly. (In the picture: We made one batch of garlic rolls without dill)

Making garlic crescent rolls

Making cheese crescent rolls

Brush the crescent rolls with beaten egg white and (optionally) sprinkle with sesame, cilantro, caraway, or nigella seeds. We used cilantro for the garlic version and sesame/caraway for the cheese version.

Making savoury crescent rolls

Bake on a medium heat for about 20 minutes.

Garlic/Cheese Crescent Rolls for Midsummer

Slovak/Latvian Crescent Rolls for Midsummer

Garlic and Dill Crescent Rolls for Midsummer

Midsummer flowers

Midsummer flowers

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27 Responses

  1. They look delicious! So neatly cut!

  2. melrose says:

    :) we have something similar, indeed not for Midsummer, we eat them just so…you photos are very nice!!

  3. Stella says:

    These rolls are beautiful. I want some right now with my afternoon tea!
    p.s. I live in a place called St. Petersburg (smile)…

  4. Kiki says:

    what dainty and yummy looking rolls!!

  5. Anna says:

    Awwww, they look so adorable, it’s a great recipe I’m sure I would love that.

  6. I love your recipe and the history or traditions of the Midsummer festival, sounds like a lot of fun :)

    • Lena says:

      This could be the appropriate blog for wants to seek out this topic.You are aware of much it’s vluartily arduous to argue along (not that I really would want…HaHa). You definitely put one more spin on a topic thats been written about for some time. Great stuff, just wonderful!

  7. suzanna says:

    Crescent shapes are quite common in Slovakia, either with savoury or sweet fillings - walnuts, poppy seeds, ricotta type cheese.
    As usually, they look very appetizing on your pictures ;-)

  8. Karolina says:

    I love summer solstice, that falls on 21/22 June and it was called KUPALA by ancient Slavs. :)

    I always thought eastern European cuisine is more into caraway seeds than cumin, so I was rather suprised by the cheese you have showed. I would love to try it. How exactly do you call it?

    Crescent rolls look fantastic. :)

  9. Alina says:

    Thank you everyone!.. And you know what? It DID RAIN as always :) and today it’s finally good weather :) You see?

  10. Christina says:

    I remember being absolutely amazed with the perpetual lightness when i was traveling through Finland in late summer (I got to Latvia at the end of September, so it wasn’t light late).

    These look amazing! I wonder if there’s somewhere in southern California that I can buy cumin cheese?

    • Alina says:

      Yeah summer nights must be really “white” in Finland! Oh I think you might try finding this cheese in an Eastern European shop, if you have any in the neighbourhood?.. Although I’m really not sure…

  11. Sook says:

    Wow! I am speechless! This is such a fantastic recipe! I love crescent rolls and I love how they are stuffed with garlic and cheese! Bookmarked!

  12. vialentino says:

    nice food recommendation indeed…like ur site and pictures a lot.

  13. Alina says:

    Thank you so much Sook! And I see you have a new post on a fantastic chocolate cake there!
    Thank you a lot Vialentino!

  14. I am sure these are amazing right out of the oven all hot with gooey cheese. Yum!

  15. Thank you very much for food recipe it’s really lovable

  16. Latvian girl says:

    sry, it’s not from our cousine, we have buns with porks fat or speck;)

  17. Latvian girl says:

    I’m from Latvia but something like this i see first time

    • Alina says:

      Dear Latvian girl! This is not an encyclopedia of Latvian traditional cooking. This is a personal blog where I feel absolutely free to experiment with conventional recipes, tweak, adapt and alter them. This recipe is filed under “Latvian” because the post tells of the Midsummer holiday, as well as because the rolls are made with Midsummer cheese. The post clearly says that this is a Slovak recipe, but I made it for Midsummer because I used that special cheese in it. Argh. I’m trying to explain such obvious things to someone who didn’t care to read any of the texts they commented on!

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