Saturday, April 15, 2006
Vatrushki are brioche-like pastries with a tvorog filling. I've wanted to make these all week because a) I needed to test my mettle in making yeast dough for the first time and b) I had a pound of tvorog to use up.
I followed the recipe from Anya von Bremzen's Please to the Table. I still think this is the bible of Russian cooking--just be aware that it needs more proofreading than it got. The recipe asks for yeast dough, although when you flip to the dough section, you find out that you actually have to make sweet yeast dough--yes, those are different.
I used a mixer to make the dough, like Anya suggests, though I suspect that a KitchenAid would make this much easier. I combined 1.5 cups warm milk, 2 packets of yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar and let it stand for 5 minutes (the ingredient list calls for 1 teaspoon; the instructions for 1 tablespoon--see what I mean about proofreading?). Then I added 4 egg yolks, 3/4 cup sugar and a stick of butter, melted and cooled to room temperature.
Then you add 4-4.5 cups of flour, one at a time, and mix, mix, mix. After that, knead for 7 minutes. Anya says the dough shouldn't stick to your hands. Yeah, right. It will stick. Christ, how it'll stick! For a while, as I kneaded, I had the weirdest feeling of not having hands or fingers because they were completely covered with sticky dough that had not intentions of coming off. I think I kneaded for 20 minutes and used 6 cups of flour before the dough became reasonably pliant. I put it in a buttered bowl, covered with a linen towel and left to rise for an hour and 15 minutes.
It rose, making a nice, round dome under the towel. Anya calls for 1/2 recipe of the sweet yeast dough for the vatruski, enough to make about 15. Wrong again. Half the yeast dough made about 4 or 5 vatrushkis. So I used all of it, rolling it out and ultimately cutting out 14 4-inch rounds.
For the tvorog filling, I mixed a pound of tvorog with 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons of sour cream, a tablespoon of flour, a tablespoon of sugar (Anya calls for 3) and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Anya calls for raisins, too, but I didn't bother this time.
I made indentations in the dough, put a couple of tablespoons of filling in the middle, and put the vatrushki on a greased baking sheet to let them rise for 20 minutes before baking at 350 for 30 minutes. (Anya has you brush these with an egg glaze, but I didn't, to no ill effect. ) Before going in, they looked like this:
Final verdict: Quite good. We ate them with jam. Next time I'd use raisins in the filling. 30 minutes in the oven may be too long; some of the bottoms were a little burnt. If making these for company, I'd brush them with the egg glaze. I no longer have blind faith in Anya von Bremzen's recipes.