Some luscious little cherry pirozhki – baked hand pies made with a soft and flaky sour cream pastry and filled with sweet, fresh macerated cherries – for a summer picnic treat.
June’s Daring Kitchen challenge from Sarah at Sassy Suppers was to make either fried or baked pirozhki. They are Russian pastry that have been enjoyed as a street food since Peter the Great’s time, filled with all sorts of things, classic versions being meat, mushrooms, cabbage, cheese, jam or fruit. I went for the baked version because I’m not a big fan of deep frying. The fried version uses a yeasted dough which I’ve yet to try, but this super soft and flaky sour cream pastry is a dream to work with. You can find the other pastry recipe (plus savoury filling recipes) here, if you’re keen to give it a go.
Makes: about 15
Preparation: 15 minutes
Resting: at least 1 hour
Filling: 15 minutes
Baking: 30 minutes
Note: these hand pies are not overly sweet – you can increase the sugar for macerating to half a cup if you want them sweeter
300g (about 10 oz) sweet cherries
a squeeze of lemon juice
1 Tbsp sugar
Halve and pit the cherries (quarter them if they are very big), place in a bowl, squeeze a little lemon juice over them, sprinkle with sugar, stir and allow to macerate for at least an hour. The aim is to draw a lot of the liquid out of them, so you don’t end up with soggy pirozhki.
Sour cream pastry
190g (1 1/2 cups, spooned & scraped) all-purpose (plain) flour
2 tsp sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
100g (7 Tbsp) cold unsalted butter, diced
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
80g (1/3 cup) sour cream
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.
Add the butter and, using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs. You can use your fingertips, but be careful not to break up the butter too much, otherwise you won’t get flaky pastry.
Mix the egg yolk and the sour cream together and then add it to the flour mixture. Use your hands or a spatula to combine.
On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough together very briefly, only about 30 seconds. Form dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour.
Filling and baking
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tsp milk for egg wash
2 tsp sugar for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 175°C / 350ºF / Gas Mark 4. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Drain the cherries (you can reserve the liquid to add to drinks).
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a thickness of 1/3cm or 1/8″.
With a 9 – 10cm or 3 1/2 – 4″ round cutter, cut out rounds from the dough, re-rolling and re-cutting until you have used it all up.
Place a spoonful of cherries in the middle of each circle of dough. Brush the edges with water or egg wash, fold the edges and press firmly to seal. Arrange on the baking sheet.
Brush the pirozhki with the egg wash, sprinkle with sugar and bake in the middle of the oven until golden brown, 30 – 35 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Serve at room temperature.