Many years back, while at the university, I took a quite challenging summer assessment: to document a Russian folklore language. That was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had: traveling to a little remote Russian villages, deep into the Russian North and talking to an incredible people, tasting their simple yet most delicious food, while making endless notes of their dialects. During this folklore expedition for a very first time I tried Vatrushka - a traditional Russian pastry filled with cheese.
History states that the word "vatrushka" is of ancient origin. According to one version, the word is borrowed from the Roman languages, as in Romanian «vatra» means "bread, baked on the fire." In the western dialects "Vatra" means "fire".
True to the tradition most women in the villages I visited were baking their vatrushka in firewood ovens indeed. The aroma of freshly baked goodness perfumed the entire neighborhood, and there was no need to ask for directions: just follow the smell!
For the dough:
- 400 g flour
- 1 egg (optional)
- 1 cup milk
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 50 g butter
- 0,5 tsp salt
- 8 g dry yeast (1 packet)
For the filling:
- 300 g cottage or farmer's cheese
- 2 egg yolks
- 4 Tbsp sugar
- 40 g butter
- 2 Tbsp sour cream
For the egg wash:
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon milk
1. Prepare a soft yeast dough (follow this steps) and let it rise for about 2 hours until dough doubles in it's size.
2. After two hours give the dough another good knead and let it rise for another hour or two.
3. While the dough is rising, prepare the filling. Combine all ingredients together, mix well. If the filling is too wet, add a tablespoon of flour to thicken it.
Preheat the oven to 200C (390F).
4. Divide the dough into pieces size of an egg, let it rest for a couple of minutes.
5. Stretch the dough with your hands (or roll it) into a small cakes about 1 cm (half an inch) thick.
6. Dip a bottom of the glass in flour and press the middle of the cakes to make a deepening for the filling (see photo below).
7. Lay all the cakes on a backing sheet, lined with parchment paper.
8. Brush each cake with an egg wash (1 egg mixed with a teaspoon milk).
9. Fill each cake with the filling to the edges of deepening.
10. Bake 30 minutes, rotating baking sheet 180 degrees half way through the baking.
I let it rest for 5-10 minutes and serve with some tea and a warm smile.
|Divide the dough into pieces size of an egg|
|If the filling is too wet, add a tablespoon of flour to thicken it.|
|Make an impression in the middle of each cake with a glass|
|Ready to go in the oven|
|30 minutes later...|
|A basket filled with Vatrushkas make a perfect gift...|
While on the expedition I was focused more on the language. Now I wish I wrote down more recipes. Guess what? I think I have another road trip in mind. Well, not exactly by road though... I guess it's hard to cross Atlantic Ocean by car.
Anyway, a traveling bug in me is never sleeping. And a dozen of vatrushkas can keep me going for some time! :)