Growing up my family didn't have too many holiday traditions. Sometimes we had a Christmas tree, and sometimes we didn't. Sometimes we lit a menorah, and sometimes we didn't. But one thing you could count on was the Christmas eve meal: mushroom soup, fish, peas and onions, orange slices, walnuts, and bobalki. All paying homage to my mother's 100% Slovak heritage.
Honestly, bobalki was not something we really loved growing up. But a few years ago my mother realized that she had been skipping a weird step at the end, which ended up making all the difference and now bobalki is something we ask for even when it's not Christmas eve. For those who don't know, bobalki are little dough balls, that are not themselves very sweet, but are covered in honey and poppy seeds. Be forewarned that there are A LOT of poppy seeds, so if you're eating in mixed company, you may want to serve them with a side of floss. :o)
1 1/2 tbsp plus 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tbsp butter
1 pkg dry, active yeast
3 cups flour
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1 tbsp milk
1/4 cup honey
1. Boil 1 cup water, 1 1/2 tbsp sugar, and salt. Cool until room temperature. Meanwhile, dissolve yeast and 1/2 tbsp of sugar in 1/4 cup warm water.
2. Place flour in a large bowl and add water/sugar mixture and yeast mixture. Mix thoroughly and knead for about 10 minutes. Adding a little more flour to ensure the dough isn't sticking to your fingers. Cover for about an hour, until dough has doubled.
3. Punch down the dough and turn out onto a floured surface. Tear off pieces of dough and form them into 1/2 inch balls.
4. Place balls on a parchment lined cookie sheet, so they are touching each other. Heat oven to 375 F and cover the cookie sheet with a piece of oiled plastic wrap, wait about 30 minutes until balls have almost doubled. Bake 15-20 minutes until balls are light brown.
5. Set sheet on a cooling rack and let balls cool completely; pull balls apart. Place balls in a colander and pour a little boiling water over them—not so much that they become mush.
6. Grind poppy seeds and milk in a food processor. Add poppy seed mixture to honey and pour over the dough balls, stirring to ensure even coverage. Serve immediately.