Moldavian Mucenici - A Traditional Romanian Pastry Dessert

Moldavian Mucenici - A Traditional Romanian Pastry Dessert

Moldavian Mucenici are also a Romanian dessert, from Moldavian region. They are  similar to the Muntenian Mucenici  as they are both eaten traditionally on March, 9 when it is celebrated an old Orthodox tradition: the 40 Christian martyrs that were sentenced to death by freezing in a cold lake. 

In this case, the dough shaped like figure 8 is much bigger in size and is baked instead of boiled in water. They are served with crushed walnuts and honey and flavoured with lemon or orange zest.

The ingredients below are for 8-9 servings

Ingredients for Moldavian Mucenici dough:

  • 500 g all purpose flour
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 7 g active dry yeast or 25 g fresh yeast
  • 1/3 cup neutral oil
  • 1 cup almond milk (can be easily replaced with water), lukewarm
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Ingredients for Moldavian Mucenici syrup:
  • 1 cup water
  • 150 g sugar
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Ingredients for serving Moldavian Mucenici:
  • 150 g crushed walnuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 150 g honey

Syrup Preparation:

  • In a small sauce pan, over medium-low heat, boil the water with sugar, lemon zest and vanilla extract. Let it simmer until it becomes thicker. Remove from heat and allow to cool down while preparing the dough.

How to make Moldavian Mucenici:

  • Stir the yeast into the lukewarm milk. Using a spoon, stir well to combine. Set aside.
  • Place flour in a large bowl. Make a hole in the centre of the flour and then add the sugar, yeast&milk mixture, oil, lemon zest and vanilla extract.
  • Knead the dough until starts to hold, then add the salt. Knead more until it easily separates from the hands and becomes smooth and elastic.
  • Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with cling film and let it rest for about 1 hour at room temperature (or somewhere warm), allowing the dough to double its size.
  • When ready, divide the dough into equal portions and then roll each one into small ball.
  • Roll every ball onto a floured surface, until you end up with a long and thick string. Shape it into an eight figure. There are few ways of doing this: either you coil one end in a direction until it reaches the middle of the string and the other end in the opposite direction, or you simply create a circle by bringing together both ends and then twist it into an 8 or even roll the string longer and thinner, make a U shape from it and starting from the loose end braid the 2 strings together, create a circle by closing the ends and then twist to make an 8.
  • Lightly grease a baking sheet with oil and dust with a bit of flour. Place the Mucenici on the prepared baking sheet and let them rise at room temperature for at least 20 minutes.
  • Brush them over the top with a bit of warm milk. Bake in the preheat the oven (180°C) for aprox. 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  • When ready, remove from oven and allow to cool before the next step.
  • Pour the sugar syrup over the Mucenici (2-3 tablespoons on each of them) and allow them to absorb it for aprox. 20 minutes.
  • Brush the tops of the Mucenici with warm honey and then sprinkle with crushed walnuts and a bit of cinnamon.
  • Keep them covered to prevent drying.
See the Muntenian variant of this dessert, Muntenian Mucenici which is easier to make and suitable for vegetarians too. Find more of our desserts here or read more about Romanian Cuisine on wikipedia.