22 marzo 2014

Pīrāgi - Bocconcini al bacon - Bacon Buns

la ricetta in italiano qui

Had to cook a Latvian recipe for the Culinary ABC of the European Community and my choice fell on Pīrāgi.

 pīrāgi-bacon buns-bocconcini alla pancetta

Pīrāgs goes pīrāgi for plural and pīrādziņi as diminutive, such a funny name that made me smile first and then so willing to taste them.  They are often named speķa rauši as well.
They are small bread buns usually filled with bacon and onion stew. They can vary for shape and size, depending on if they will be served as a snack/appetizer or as a meal.
It's a very popular recipe and for this reason each family keeps its own version.
The stuffing can change: bacon, meat, fish, cabbage and cheese. Therefore we can have kartupeļu pīrāgi (with potatoes), sēņu pīrāgi (with mushrooms), kāpostu pīrāgi (with cabbage). For the sweet version: apple, rhubarb, fresh cheese ... and many other possible combinations.
Pīrāgi are considered one of the most popular and traditional dish in Latvian cuisine as they can be prepared at any time (their ingredients are available in every season) and are historically associated with the Latvian celebrations that take place during the year (as a matter of fact, when potatos came to Latvian cuisine after the  discovery of America, sometimes the dough were made with potatoes to replace unavailable flour in difficult economic times, so pīrāgi were always present).

The two biggest historic Latvian celebrations are for summer solstice and winter solstice: Jāņi (June 24 - St. John's Day) and Ziemassvētki (Christmas). One of the most popular and familiar Latvian Ziemassvētki folk songs mentions pīrāgi:

Ziemassvētki sabraukuši
Rakstītām kamanām
Pīrāgam nabagam
Abi gali apdeguši

Christmas arrived
In a decorated sleigh
Oh that poor pīrāgs
Both ends were burnt

(from wikipedia)

Pīrāgi are the Latvian woman’s secret weapon. None can withstand their delightful onslaught!

 Elvis Stumbergs immigrated to the United States in 1990 and dedicated a site to pīrāgi and associated folklore.

pīrāgi-bacon buns-bocconcini alla pancetta

Serving 20/22 small buns:

400 g all-purpose flour
(or 200 g all-purpose flour and 200 g spelled flour)
100/120 ml  lukewarm milk
30 g water
25 g soft butter
5 g salt
a teaspoon of barley malt
5 g dry yeast
a little egg, slightly beaten
2 tbs sour cream, optional
(for a softer dough)


a small onion, finely chopped
(or 2-3 spring onions)
200 g bacon, coarsely chopped
extra virgin olive oil

an egg beaten with a little milk to brush
any seed for garnish

 pīrāgi-bacon buns-bocconcini alla pancetta

Filling: sautée the bacon with the onion in a little oil , then allow to cool.

Dough: you can use a stand mixer .
Mix the yeast with the flour. Dissolve the barley malt in the milk, add water and pour into the flour, little by little and start to knead. Add the egg and butter, salt at last .
Knead until the dough is smooth and homogeneous. Shape into a ball and let rise in a lightly greased bowl, covered, until doubled.
Depending on the shape you like, divide the dough into small pieces, roll out one at a time with a rolling pin, pou a tablespoon/teaspoon of filling, close and seal well.
Should you like little croissants, roll a third of the dough into a long rectangular strip and then cut into triangles, place a tablespoon/teaspoon of filling on the long side and roll up (you can have a look at the pictures here how to shape croissants).
I shaped my pīrāgi  into round buns, croissants,  square and rectangular buns, but they can also be oval, half-moon, like calzone.
Arrange the small buns on the baking tray lined with parchment paper and let rise covered until almost doubled.
Brush with beaten egg, sprinkle with seeds if you like (not mandatory) and bake at 190°for about 15 minutes, depending on the size.

This recipe also goes to Susan's weekly YeastSpotting.

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