Nov 23, 2010
Yesterday Mom came over and we had our first joint cooking session since I had the baby. I mean, we’ve been cooking regular meals together, or more often I’ve been shamelessly consuming dinners cooked entirely by Mom (somehow I still can’t juggle taking care of the baby and cooking), but we haven’t done anything for the blog.
So, yesterday we made Vatrushki. These are Russian/Ukrainian/Belorussian buns with sweetened cottage cheese in the middle. Vatrushki are normally made of bread dough, but we don’t really like the combination of plain bread dough and cottage cheese. So, we made our Vatrushki with a sour cream and margarine dough (the same we used for our Lemon Pie) and with plenty of cottage cheese filling. This type of yeast dough is my favourite. It remains soft and flavourful for days and days! We also folded in some dried apricots and sprinkled all this with cinnamon - believe me, the aroma of baking Vatrushki was so strong that Mom said she still smelt like Vatrushki on her way home… she supposes everyone on the bus thought she was a baker, hehe. I can imagine how envious those hungry people on their way from work could have been.
Anyway, if you are looking for a conventional recipe for this Eastern European pastry, you should really stop reading this, because we are going to present our fantasy on the theme of Vatrushki :) the recipe, however, has all the components of classic Vatrushki: a ring of dough with cottage cheese filling in the middle. Only… I arranged them too closely to each other on the baking pan… and as the dough baked through and raised, they nearly stuck to each other and their shape transformed to squares. Aaaaargh!! I promise I’ll make new pictures of correct Vatrushki next time I make them. I’m just posting what I have at the moment, okay? Please don’t judge too strictly. The shape is not a key factor after all - it’s much more important to mention that the cottage cheese filling was luscious and juicy and scented with melted dried apricots, and the crust was subtly crispy on the outside and moist and buttery on the inside. Even Stano said those were great - and he’s not a pastry eater. Oh by the way his parents are visiting us for Catholic Christmas, so we’re going to have some lovely Slovak Christmas recipes for the blog. In fact I should start saving for December/January family dinners, because we’re going to have a lot of special occasions - Catholic Christmas, then Ivanka’s Name day, then New Year’s Eve, and finally Russian Orthodox Christmas. Oh, and then there’re just 3 weeks left until my birthday ;-)
600ml all-purpose flour
250g sour cream
200g margarine, chilled and chopped
40g fresh yeast
2 tbsp sugar
500g unsalted cottage cheese
1 tbsp sour cream
50g butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla sugar
100g dried apricots, diced
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Making the dough:
Blend fresh yeast and sugar with a fork until liquid.
Stir in sour cream.
Add chopped margarine and gradually add flour, crumbling the dough with a sharp knife as you go.
When you have added all flour and you have a bowl of nice crumbs, knead the dough by hand until smooth. Refrigerate for an hour.
Making the filling:
Combine melted butter, sugar, and vanilla sugar, and blend with a fork. Add eggs and beat with a fork until well-blended. Pour this mixture into your cottage cheese, add sour cream and stir well. Fold in diced dried apricots.
Assembly and baking:
Sprinkle some flour onto your working surface.
Roll the dough until 3-4mm thick and cut out circles that are 10cm in diameter (I actually used a jar lid with sharp edges to cut out perfect circles). Reserve some dough for making the borders. Form the reserved dough into thin “snakes” and border the edges of your circles with these “snakes”. Stick the borders to the bottoms using your fingers.
Here are a couple of Vatrushki shells we made (things went fine up to this point, as you see)
Fill the Vatrushki shells with cottage cheese filling and dust with cinnamon. Optionally, brush the dough with beaten egg.
Bake at 200C until the dough has baked through (unfortunately I can’t tell the exact baking time - my electric cooker is weird and I’m still struggling to make it work more effectively.. it bakes very slowly!).
Serve warm or at room temperature.
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