Mladenčići are little honey rolls/cakes often made in Serbia for Mladenci (Newlyweds), celebrated on March 22nd. Chad and I may not be newlyweds, we actually just celebrated our 5 year anniversary, but these little rolls were too interesting to pass up.
On Mladenci, families visit and bring presents to couples who have gotten married in the past year. The bride serves 40 of these little rolls drizzled with honey to the guests. The honey is meant to represent a long and prosperous life. Mladenci also marks the beginning of spring.
The number of cakes served, 40, is linked back to the Orthodox Church in remembrance of the 40 martyred soldiers of Sebaste.
Quality honey makes a huge difference with these Mladencici. The dough itself is only lightly sweetened and has no additional spices, so most of the flavor is from the drizzled honey.
1 cup (250 milliliters) lukewarm water (105-115 degrees F)
2 1/2 teaspoons (8.2 grams) active dry yeast or 20 grams fresh yeast
500 grams (~4 cups) all purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
Honey for drizzling
In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over water. Let sit for a minute before stirring to combine. Allow to sit until frothy, about 10 minutes.
In the bowl of a large food processor fitted with a dough blade or a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt.
Mix in the yeast with water and oil until dough comes together. On a lightly floured surface, knead until dough is soft and smooth. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and allow to rest until doubled, about 1 hour.
Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment or lightly grease. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough 1/3 inch (1 cm) thick. Use a 1 3/4 inch (4.5 cm) wide round cookie cutter to cut out 40 circles of dough. Arrange on prepared baking sheets at least 1 inch apart. Prick the top of each circle several times with a toothpick and cover with towels. Allow to rest 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
Brush the tops of the circles with vegetable oil. Bake in preheated oven until golden, about 20 minutes, turning and rotating the baking sheets halfway if baking both at once. Allow to cool slightly before drizzling with honey and serving.