Sweet Potato Lepniky
I should have known to ask my Slovak Vojvodina friends and family what “lepnik” was. Sure enough, “lepniky” is a word they’re familiar with that broadly means a dough base topped with something like cheese. Called Langos in Slovakia, lepniky was introduced into the Hungarian Empire a few hundred years ago by the Turks. Today lepniky is usually a fried yeast dough (made with or without potatoes), and is often sold by street vendors and at fairs. I remember watching Pauline making fried dough and then scrambling to be the first one in line as they came out of the fryer. Pauline make them with a little bit of sugar in the dough, without potatoes and sprinkled them with icing sugar before serving.
I had a leftover baked sweet potato so I decided to use it in place of a regular potato; it made a beautiful fire colored dough. Sweet potato lepniky would also taste good as a dessert, made with a little bit of sugar in the dough and spread with a sugary pecan topping.
When you fry the lepniky, the dough will puff up in seconds and turn golden brown. After briefly frying them on the other side and then patting them dry with paper towel, top the lepniky and eat them immediately.
- 1 baked sweet potato
- 1 and 3/4 cups flour
- 1 tbsp yeast
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- Scoop out the potato from the skin
- Mix the potato with the other ingredients in standing mixer until combined, 2-3 minutes
- Change to dough hook and knead 5-7 minutes
- Cover the dough with a tea towel and let rise 1 1/2 hours in warm place
- Prepare toppings
- Divide the dough into 8 pieces (you can refrigerate at this point if you wish to make them later)
- Heat 1 inch deep of vegetable oil in pan
- Stretch a small dough ball into a thin, pancake sized flat piece and drop into the hot oil
- Flip over within 1 minute when the underside starts to brown
- Take out after 30 seconds and drain on a paper towel
- Quickly spread on topping and serve
- Repeat with other pieces
- shredded Swiss Emmental cheese
- garlic aoili (I emulsified 6 cloves of garlic with 1/3 oil and a few sprigs of thyme in the food processor)
- Kosher salt, dill and sour cream
- Melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and toasted, chopped pecans
I find it fascinating that so many Slovaks from Vojvodina know what lepniky is, yet if you Google the word, you won’t find it. Lepniky has obviously been around for over 100 years (since Pauline has it in her handwritten cookbook), but it’s a Slovak word limited only to that region of the world. Pusedle (meaning “little piles”) is another frequent word in Pauline’s cookbook for meringue cookies, yet only found once on the Internet on a website from a little Slovak village in Vojvodina.