As you read through, you may begin to see why I have never given this recipe out...it's a bit tedious.
A classic Hungarian pastry composed of four thin layers of honey biscuit filled with white velvety cream. Though some recipes call for a chocolate glaze, I find it eclipses the delicate honey flavor, and prefer a light dusting of powder sugar. This must be made a day ahead to allow the pastry layers to soften.
Mezes Zserbo consists of 3 components: the Sweet Bechamel, (preferable made the day before to allow proper cooling), the pastry dough, and the butter cream (which will be combined with the béchamel). I offer detailed instructions here and welcome questions and comments.
2/3 cup all purpose flour
½ cup sugar
2 cups whole milk
In a saucepan, combine flour with sugar stirring with a wire whisk to break up flour clumps. Starting with several tablespoons of the milk, gradually whisk in the milk until it’s fully incorporated. Cook on medium heat to start, and then reduce heat to low to prevent scorching. As it begins to thicken, you will notice that it will seem to be getting lumpy, but it will eventually become smooth as you continue to whisk. This is a very think béchamel! Cover by placing plastic wrap, wax or parchment paper directly on the top surface to prevent skin from forming as it cools. Cool completely in refrigerator. This is best made the day before.
2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
¼ cup honey
2-3 tbsp sour cream
Set oven for 350 degrees
Cut a perfect rectangle out of parchment paper to 9”X12” size
Prepare clear and clean counter/table surface where you will cool 4 sheets of pastry, 9”X12” each.
Mix dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Work in the butter by hand until it becomes a mealy baking mix. This is not like making pie dough where you want some fat clumps to remain, but instead, the butter is to be nicely incorporated, see the images below.
On a floured surface, form the dough into a large log, and divide into four equal parts (see images). A kitchen scale comes in handy here to ensure 4 equal weights. Depending on the weight of the flour, the eggs and the amount of sour cream you needed, it should weigh approximately 25-26 ounces, making each piece of dough around 6.5 ounces. Cover the dough with plastic to prevent drying out.
Now here’s the trickiest part, rolling out the dough ultra thin! On a rimless cookie sheet, sprinkle some flour (no butter or cooking spray). Take one of the dough pieces, well floured, and begin to flatten it to a disk shape in your hand. Placing it on the cookie sheet, while continuing to flatten, use your hand to coax it into a rectangle shape, pressing it thinner in the process. Then using a rolling pin, carefully expand the dough into 9”x12”, using your parchment template and don’t worry if the dough sticks to the cookie sheet. It will come away from the pan after baking as you run a frosting spatula under it to remove it from the pan.
In a 350 degree oven, bake the layer for 6 minutes, or until evenly golden.
Repeat for the 3 other pieces of dough. If you do not have 4 cookie sheets, wait until the pan cools completely before reusing it as the dough will become too soft to roll on a warm pan.
8 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
2 ½ cups powder sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 recipe Sweet Bechamel *(see above)
Beat together powder sugar, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy. On medium speed, beat in cold béchamel just until fully incorporated.
Saving the most perfect pastry layer for the top, place one pastry layer on cleaned rimless baking sheet. Spread with 1½ cups of the filling all the way to edges. Continue assembling by alternating pastry and filling, using the reserved best layer for the top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.
To serve, (this is best room temperature) cut away rough edges of assembled and set pastry (this is your secret kitchen stash!). Cut a 1½” strip of pastry, and then cut the log into diamonds. Place on serving platter, dust with powder sugar just before serving. Enjoy your reward and bask in the glory of a job well done!