Don’t confuse these pirozhki with pierogies, which are more like a dumpling. Pirozhki – the diminutive of pierogi, from the root pir, meaning feast – are small, fluffy buns, baked or fried, stuffed with a sweet or savory filling: mashed potatoes, cabbage, meat, mushrooms, or cherries, berries, peaches, plums, or even with jam and preserve. Any ex-Soviet who grew up in Brooklyn doubtlessly has many memories of eating pirozhki on Brighton Beach, walking down the curving boardwalk along the crowded stretch of the Atlantic, biting into the spongy dough as grease poured down their chin, searching out the salty and savory meat, briny sauerkraut or tart, syrupy cherries hidden inside. “Nedakus [not enough of a bite], perekus [too big of a bite],” they often thought, being unable to find the promised stuffing, remembering the Soviet Union: I haven’t reached it yet; now I’ve gone too far.
- 1 ½ cup milk or liquid whey
- ¼ oz active dry yeast
- 4 tbsp sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp salt
- 9 tbsp (1 ⅛ stick) butter
- 4 cups sifted flour
- About 2 tbsp cornstrach
- 2 lbs sour or regular cherries pitted
- 3 to 4 tbsp sugar to taste
- Warm up a third of the milk so that it’s room temperature; add yeast and a teaspoon of sugar. Stir and leave the mixture in a warm place until the yeast bubbles (about 15 minutes).
- Add 2 eggs, the rest of the sugar and a pinch of salt; mix well.
- Melt butter, pour it to the mixture, and mix. Gradually add the flour while mixing, then begin to knead the dough with your hands. Continue kneading until it no longer sticks to your hands, 15 to 20 minutes. Put the dough in a clean bowl, lightly greased with olive oil, cover with saran wrap and a towel, and leave for 1 ½ hours in a warm place. After that, knead the dough again for several minutes, rewrap, and leave for 40 more minutes.
- At this point, the dough should be two times larger. Spread some flour on the table so that the dough doesn’t stick to it.
- Divide the dough into 4 pieces; roll each piece into a sausage approximately 2 inches in diameter and slice it into equal-sized pieces, approximately 2 inches thick. Roll each piece into a sphere, flatten it with your hands or a rolling pin, so that it’s about an eighth of an inch thick.
- Once you’ve divided up the dough, you’re ready to assemble the buns. In the middle of each dough circle, put a pinch of starch, 4 to 5 sour cherries, and sprinkle with sugar. Starch is needed in order for the berries’ juice to thicken and not leak out while the buns are baking.
- Fold the dough over and pinch the edges together to form a bun. Make sure the edge is well sealed and the filling can’t leak out.
- Place the buns on a baking sheet, seam side down, with enough room between them to allow them to rise.
- Leave the buns to rise another 10 minutes before baking. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350°F. Put the buns in and bake for about 10 minutes, until the surface starts to form a crust.
- Whisk remaining egg. Take the buns out, brush each one with the egg wash and bake for 20-30 more minutes.
- Once the buns are ready, brush them with melted butter to prevent them from drying out.