Pirozhki (or piroshki) are baked or sometimes fried buns made from yeast dough, stuffed with different sour fillings, and among the most common types are minced beef, stewed cabbage, rice and mushrooms, as well as many more. Occasionally the stuffing is sweet, in the form of a jam, cottage cheese or chopped lemon with sugar.
Pirozhki are perfect for breakfast or picnic basket, for Sunday brunch, or even for afternoon tea – we tried them on many occasions. We just love pirozhki in our family! During the cold festive Christmas days, we finally found time to make them, trying various fillings and taking pictures, and they were well appreciated from all the family, our guest and neighbors.
To be honest, it’s quite a task to make them from scratch, especially if you prepare them on your own, but with some help and good company the task feels way lighter. Not that the pirozhki are some complicated or fanciful bake, it’s on the contrary – the dough is simple and easy to work with, plus you can choose from the various fillings that match your taste or mood, or kitchen skills. The most popular fillings are easy enough, although I guess there are some challenging ones out there, particularly in the so many Russian and Polish food blogs. The baking process is not difficult, too. However, there are simply too many steps involved the making of pirozhki.
The good news is that you can make the filling in advance, say the evening before, and make the rest the next morning, surprising your family or friends with these traditional Russian bakeries.
Summary: Traditional Russian buns, stuffed with ground beef, made from scratch.
Preparation time: 2 hours
Cooking time: 20 – 25 minutes
Makes 20 pirozhki
For the dough:
480 g all-purpose flour
200 ml yogurt (natural, Greek)*
100 ml sunflower oil
11 g dry yeast
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
For the filling:
500g ground beef
400g onions, finely chopped
200ml tomato juice or passata
50ml sunflower oil
freshly ground black pepper or melange
1 egg (for brushing them before baking)
First make the dough for the pirozhki. In a bowl mix the sifted flour with the dry yeast.
In a small saucepan mix the yogurt with the oil and heat it slightly to reach just above lukewarm temperature, add salt and the sugar and whisk the mixture well. Start adding to the flour with the yeast.
We kneaded the dough by hand, using a wooden spoon in the beginning, until all the flour is absorbed, and then just couple of minutes of kneading in order to achieve smooth and soft, and not sticky dough. If you prefer, you can use your stand mixer on low speed but make sure to not overwork it.
Leave the dough to rise, covered in a bowl in a draft-free place, for about 40 minutes up to an hour, which will depend on the air temperature in your kitchen.
In the meantime prepare the filling:
In a big frying pan heat the oil, add the finely chopped onions and sauté them on low to medium heat for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Add the ground meat and stir well, trying to break any big lumps – you need the mixture to be rather homogeneous, like a dry Bolognese sauce. When the meat is almost done, add the tomato sauce and stir from time to time until the moist evaporates and the mixture is somewhat dry-ish, to avoid soggy dough. Set aside and let the mixture cool.
When the dough is ready (raised and doubled in volume), divide it in small balls. We split those at 40g each, which made us 19-21 pieces (mostly depending on how eager our tree-years-old daughter is to help with the dough).
Using a rolling pin flat each small ball into circle, about 2-3 mm. thin (about 15 cm /6 inches in diameter). The dough should be very elastic and smooth and it doesn’t require the surface to be floured.
Line two baking sheets with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 200C/390F.
Pour a heaping tablespoon of the cooled filling over the dough circle and seal by pressing the both sides of the circle together (I hope the pictures will make you figure out this step better).
When all the circles are filled and sealed, arrange them in the baking sheets, putting the sealed side down. Leave some space between them, as they will puff slightly (around 2-3cm in between should be enough).
Cover the baking sheets with cling film, and leave them for a second rise, for about 30 minutes.
When ready to bake, brush them generously with the egg, beaten with a splash of water and put in the oven. Don’t worry if by this time some of your pirozhki will be slightly open – you can’t avoid it some definitely will…
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. We bake the two sheets together, shifting their places in the oven after the first 10-15 minutes of baking.
When ready, let them slightly cool on a rack. Serving temperature: hot, warm or cold – they are delicious in any state.