Updated: Jan 8
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I grew up in Ukraine, where a pastry called pyrozhki was a street food, but every grandmother would make them too. These pastries were either baked or fried.
The region where I was raised called the baked version pyrozhki and the fried version ponchiki.
I remember how on every trip to the farmers market with my mom we ended up buying one of those beauties to eat on the way home. Ah, sweet memories.
By the way, Pyrozhki were no less popular in my childhood than donuts in the US.
The very first year when we moved to the South, I met a sweet lady named Babushka Oka. She made for me pyrozhki and my heart melted at that moment. I feltlike I was home, and someone was welcoming me. As I later discovered at least half the town is familiar her pyrozhkis, for she is always making and sharing them with others. How sweet is that?
What is Pyrozhki?
This is a classic dish from my childhood. It can be baked or fried as individual-sized mini buns (pies). This homemade yeast-based dough can be filled with anything sweet like cottage cheese and raisins, nuts, berries, jams, stone fruits or anything savory from cabbage, potatoes, beans, peas, cheese, herbs or meats. Usually, these little treats are made pretty much with seasonal food. Think about even using your next BBQ meat leftovers. Yummy!
The recipe I'm offering you today is a great snack or appetizer for hungry people. Super savory, with plenty of umami flavor, crunchy on the outside, soft and garlicky on the inside. Perfect to serve warm or at room temperature. They are great as an addition to a soup or salad meal.
I love cabbage pyrozhki the best — the vegetable lends itself to the perfect combination of savory, sweet, and hearty flavors. The recipe here is for cabbage pyrozhki that reminds me of my home country. The dough has a light airy texture and slightly browned crispy outside. I love to serve these with borscht or buckwheat soup. However, they are good all on their own as a comforting portable snack.
Ideas for the fillings
Savory: Farmers cheese, garlic and herbs
Sautéed mushrooms and onions
Minced meat or ground (cooked)
Combination of any cooked veggies
Pureed peas and fried onions
Sausage with onions and peppers
Sweet: Farmers cheese and raisins
Nuts and dried fruit
Stone fresh fruit or compote
Apples or pears, fresh or dried
Fresh berries or compote
Poppy seed paste
The variations of sweet and savory fillings are unlimited; check your fridge first and feel free to use up any leftovers. It's fun to taste different results every time so be creative and use up those leftovers!
What do I need to make this recipe?
Flour - all-purpose unbleached is always my first choice.
Yeast - active yeast
Oil - for the dough and filling any oil will do, I used in the video extra-virgin sunflower oil, which is the oil my mom always used. Regarding the oil for frying, use one with a high smoke point like grapeseed or avocado. I used refined sunflower oil.
Cabbage - regular cabbage or savoy cabbage.
Carrot - I never choose pre-shredded carrots, they are always on the dried side.
Onion - any kind of onion
Garlic - fresh only
How to serve Pyrozhki?
They are good as is, but any mayo-based sauce such as aioli (check here for some easy aioli recipes), and with tzatziki sauce, or keep it vegan with a simple honey-mustard dressing, any of these will be satisfying to your taste buds. FYI, to make honey-mustard sauce, just whisk the honey and mustard together in equal proportions. That's it!
Can I freeze them?
You can, but I recommend that you use freezable zip lock bags and mark the date but keep frozen for only one month.
To reheat, place in an oven for 250 for about 20 minutes.
Let's do it...
Prep time: 15 minutes
Waiting time: 2-3 hours
Cooking time: 20-30 minutes
Total time: 3 hours 45 minutes
Yields: 24 pieces
Ingredients for the dough
5 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 Tablespoon sunflower oil (any oil)
1 1/3 cup water (room temperature is fine)
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
Ingredients for the filling
Half of a small head cabbage
half of onion
2 celery stalks
3 cloves of garlic
2-3 Tablespoons regular soy sauce (option)
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 Tablespoons of oil (I used sunflower oil in the video)
Oil for frying (I used sunflower oil, just like my mom did)
To make the dough, mix in an electric missing bowl 1 cup of water, a teaspoon of yeast, and 1 Tablespoon of flour. Mix with a spatula. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients and with a hook attachment mix all together for 5 minutes, or until the dough forms into a ball, which should be soft elastic dough.
3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and leave on the counter for a few hours or until the dough doubles in size.
4. To make the filling, chop cabbage, onion, and celery. Shred the carrot and mince the garlic. Mix all together. Add salt, black pepper and soy sauce. Give it a taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking.
5. To the pan (I used a cast iron pan in the video) add 2 Tablespoons of oil and let the pan warm up. Add the veggie mixture. Cook for 2 minutes on medium heat stirring every once in a while. Next, lower the heat, cover and let it cook for 5-7 minutes. Remove cover, stir, and let it cook for a minute or so to get the extra moisture out.
6. On a floured surface, place the dough and divide into 24 pieces. Using your hands, form each piece into the shape of a circle. You can use a rolling pin for this, but Babushka Oka did everything by hand, so please watch the video for this step.
7. Add 2 tablespoons of the filling into the center of the circle. Fold the dough upwards towards the center equally on each side and pinch the dough closed along the top. The pyrozhki will be oval shaped.
8. In a large heavy skillet (I used a Dutch oven for this) or a deep fryer, heat the oil to 375 degrees F. Deep fry the pyrozhki in batches until golden brown on one side; gently turn and fry the other side. Remove and let drain on a plate lined with paper towels.
Enjoy right away or room temperature.