Christmas Favorites: Christmas Compote Kompotas, Christmas Bread Kalėdų Pyragas, Honey Cake Meduolis, Cranberry Pudding Kisielius

with Dana Siliūnas.

Christmas favorites

From “Treasures o f Lithuanian Cooking”, “Popular Lithuanian Recipes”, and other sources.


4 cups water
1 (8-ounce) package mixed dried fruit
1 cup pitted prunes
1 cup dried apples
1/2 cup golden raisins
4 cloves
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup fruit brandy or kirsch

In large saucepan, combine water, mixed fruit, cloves and cinnamon. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until fruit is soft. Remove from heat; stir in brandy and lemon juice. Refrigerate overnight and serve chilled.

Note: Fruit compote is also typical of the desserts made for the Kucios dinner.

4 cups cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 cup potato starch, dissolved in 1 1/2 cups cold water
1/4 cup lemon juice
5 cups water

Rinse cranberries, removing any stems or brown berries. Place in large pot and fill with water, covering cranberries by about 1 inch. Bring cranberries to a boil and simmer, covered, until berries split and soften. Remove from heat. Strain berries and liquid into another large pot, forcing them through a sieve, or use a food mill. Slowly simmer until mixture begins to boil; gradually add sugar, lemon juice and potato starch mixture, stirring constantly. Simmer until pudding begins to thicken. Adjust sweetness to taste. Pour into large serving bowl; cover with plastic wrap, placing it directly on the surface of the pudding so that a “skin” does not form.

Note: Some Lithuanians prefer a more liquid “kisielius,” which can be drunk from glasses. An excessive amount of starch will produce a stiff, pink junket which may send you back to the store for more cranberries.

Kaledu pyragas

1 yeast cake or
1 package dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup scalded milk
1/4 cup cold water
1 egg
1 1/2 cups golden raisins
1/4 cup poppy seeds
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water. Combine butter, sugar, salt, milk, and cold water, and add to this the egg, raisins, poppy seeds, together with dissolved yeat. Add sifted flour and mix well till blended thoroughly. Grease a pan (9” x 5” x 3”) and pour mixture into it. Cover with clean dish towel and let rise in a warm place (85°) for about 1 1/2 hours until light. Bake in a moderate oven 50-60 minutes. The last 5 minutes of baking, remove from oven, brush with honey that has been warmed slightly, and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Be careful not to let honey get too dark, so watch last 5 minutes.


1 cup honey
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs
2 Tbsps. melted butter
3 cups flour
2 tsps. baking soda
1 Tbsp. mixed spices (cinnamon, cloves, pepper, ginger, cardamon, grated rind of lemon and orange)
1/2 cup almonds

Beat honey, gradually adding sugar and sour cream. Beat in eggs one at a time. Sift flour and soda. Add flour, spices and butter gradually to honey mixture, beating constantly. (For a richer color, add 3 Tbsps. caramelized sugar). Pour batter (about one inch thick) into baking pan. Bake 30 minutes in 350° oven. For a moister cake — when done, sprinkle top with sweetened water to which rum or flavoring has been added. Spread top of cake with fruit puree. Sprinkle with chopped almonds. Cut into triangular pieces for serving.