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January 6, 2011

Šamrolne - Slovak Butter Pipettes

In March of 1938, Hitler and his troops triumphantly marched into Vienna, Austria. Convinced that the Nazis would be occupying Yugoslavia next, Pauline, her husband Jaro, their infant daughter Drahucina (an unusual Slovak family name that means “beloved”; Datka for short), and Pauline’s parents and brothers decided to flee Yugoslavia  for Canada.  Having lived through the Great War (WWI), none of them were interested in living through another.

It was incredibly hard to leave the other family members behind. Marisa, Jaro’s mother, was too ill to travel, and on a rainy September day, moments before her son and his young family departed, Marisa held on tightly to her only grandchild, Datka, one last time, and said sadly to the one year old, “This is the last time my eyes will see you.”

Maris Andel Suster of Dolny Kubin, Jaro's mother, circa 1912

By the spring of 1939, Pauline, Jaro and Diane (Datka’s new anglicized name) had settled on a farm in Leamington, Ontario, and Pauline was pregnant with her second child, Jerry (my dad).  Letters traveled back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean between Jaro and Marisa. In one, Marisa wrote that she “tore the house apart” looking for the 1924 Sandtnerka cookbook that Jaro had requested she mail him (she must have found it, because I found the battered tome in Pauline’s collection of cookbooks after she died). And in the letter below, Marisa included a recipe for her Šamrolne (butter pipettes) that Jaro was longing for.

Butter Pipettes letter to Jaro from Marissa 1939

Jaro never saw his mother again and this letter was one of her last; she died in January, 1940, alone in a hospital in Novi Sad, calling out in vain for her son.  Remarkably, this letter was kept all those years by Pauline. The Šamrolne recipe has endured for over 70 years as well; the butter pipettes are still made in the former Yugoslavia by Marisa’s extended family.

In the pictures below, a Slovak friend in Vojvodina, Anna, demonstrates how to make the pastry for Kremes (pronounced Kremesh), which is the same pastry used for the pipettes.  The only special equipment you need are the cylinders, which you can buy on line here.

Anna making the Kremes pastry

Kremes Pastry Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain flour, plus another 1/3 as needed
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 4-6 tbsp lukewarm water
  • Pinch of salt

Egg White Filling Ingredients

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 packages vanilla sugar
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon

Ideally, make the pastry the evening (through step 10) before you roll it out and make the pipettes, or in the morning (the pastry is better when well rested).

Kremes Pastry Steps:

  1. Place the flour into two bowls, one with 1/3 cup and the other with 2/3 cup
  2. Into the bowl of flour with 1/3 cup, add butter
  3. Work into a soft dough, similar to strudel dough (you may need to add more flour so it isn’t sticky)
  4. Into the other bowl of flour, add 1 egg yolk, the salt and lukewarm water
  5. Work this flour and egg mixture into a soft dough as well, adding more water a tbsp at a time so that the dough is not stiff
  6. Leave the balls of dough to rest for 2-3 hours
  7. Take the dough with the egg yolk and roll it out
  8. Take the butter dough, flatten it, and place it on top of the rolled out dough, then fold the egg yolk dough over top of the butter dough
  9. Roll out the entire dough rectangle, and then leave to rest for ½ hr
  10. Do this twice more (letting it rest for ½ hour each time), rolling out the dough and then folding in the sides like you are folding a letter

Forming the Pipettes

  1. Cut the well rested dough in half (from one half you will make 16 large pieces, or 32 small ones)
  2. Roll out one the one half of pastry into an oblong shape, approximately 20-25 cm long, onto a tablecloth or tea towel
  3. Roll the dough over, using the tablecloth or tea towel to help roll, as Anna shows in the picture above, at least once
  4. Using a ravioli cutter, cut the dough into a strip along the edge of the roll; repeat until you have 10 rolled strips
  5. At one end, brush the dough with some egg white, to help them stick to the cylinders
  6. When 10 rolls are made using these cylindrical shapes, put them on baking tray, brush with egg white
    1. Alternately, brush them with egg yolk and sprinkle with sugar as in the picture at the bottom
  7. Make the next 10 rolls from the other half of the pastry
  8. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 10 minutes
  9. Once they have baked, leave them to cool
  10. When cooled, take them off the cylinders
  11. There is no need to grease either the baking tray or cylinders
  12. Sprinkle with powdered sugar when cooled, if you brushed them with the egg white before baking

The rolled pastry strip is rolled around the cylinder

Egg White Filling Steps

While the pipettes are baking and cooling, make this filling.  It reminds me of the Hostess Twinkie filling, and you will find that most people cannot resist eating these pipettes until they are all gone.

  1. Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form
  2. In a double boiler, mix the sugars and water and keep stirring until completely dissolved, and the temperature is 238 degrees
  3. While whipping the eggs to  stiff peaks, pour the dissolved sugar into the egg whites
  4. Squeeze the lemon juice into the egg whites too, and keep mixing for a total of about 10 minutes

Butter Pipettes are ready to bake

Filling the Pipettes

  1. Remove the pipettes from the cylinders
  2. With a pastry bag full of the whipped sugar and egg white, fill the pipettes from each end
12 Comments leave one →
  1. January 6, 2011 10:34 pm

    Hi Tonya, I am not familiar with this version of kremes. The one I know is this one:

    I love those, by the way. Sooo gooood!

    • January 7, 2011 10:21 am

      Lubos, those kremes look delicious. I assume Pauline’s pastry is the base of the kremes. I will track down the rest of the kremes recipe.

  2. astheroshe permalink
    January 7, 2011 5:54 am

    What a bittersweet post. Lovely. I am keeping this one 🙂

  3. Joanne permalink
    January 7, 2011 9:02 am

    Love the story and when I get some ambition (and time!) I’ll give this a try. Thanks for keeping up the great writing.

  4. Lily permalink
    January 7, 2011 1:41 pm

    Tonya, the story brought tears to my eyes. My mom and dad talked about my grandmother often and although she died before my birth have always felt very connected to her.


    • January 7, 2011 1:56 pm

      Thanks, Aunt Lily. I gathered the information for this story and recipe from many sources – Aunt Diane, cousins Igor in Canada and Fredrika in Slovakia and Daniela and Jaro in Vojvodina, my dad and Julka Klucik. Each one of them had a memory of Marisa, her last words to Diane, her death in Novi Sad, the recipe or the weather on the day they departed from Yugoslavia. When you put it all in context of larger world events, it makes it even more poignant, doesn’t it? Tonya

  5. Nicholas Harmon permalink
    January 11, 2011 12:25 am

    A very nice tribute to your great grandmother and the sacrifice that she made to ensure the well being of her son, daughter-in-law, and only grandchild. Looking forward to you actually making these Butter Pipettes and giving me another chance to experience a little of your Slovak heritage.

  6. January 11, 2011 2:54 pm

    Great-grandmother Marisa had a very tragic life — so sad. Thanks for writing this. I didn’t even know Aunt Diane had a Slovak name — how is Drahucina pronounced? Drahucina is pronounced with a rolling “dr”:

    drrra hoo cheena.

    • January 11, 2011 8:55 pm

      She did, didn’t she? She died at the age of 47, and everyone I’ve met who knew her said she was a wonderful person. She was tall, and used to walk around town very regally, dressed in modern clothes, while everyone else dressed in typical Pivnica clothes.

  7. Asya permalink
    August 14, 2011 2:04 am


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