Pīragi

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Overview
These bacon buns are at the very centre of Latvian cuisine. The singular version is “pīrags”, but nobody can eat just one so this word is never used. Everybody loves them. There are many variations to these, but the traditional filling is bacon and onion. This is my own dough recipe, which is softer and sweeter than “normal” (if you want it more traditional, remove 1/4 cup of sugar in the milk mixture). They store very well in the freezer – pop in the microwave for 15-20 seconds and off you go!

I usually double the recipe, as it’s challenging not to eat them straight away. Having enough to freeze for emergency snacking is also a great idea. They’re best served reheated.

Time
Preparation and dough rising – approximately 2 hours
Baking time 11-12 minutes

Ingredients
2 onions, diced finely
1kg bacon, diced finely
freshly cracked pepper

¼ cup warm water
1 ts sugar
2 ts yeast

1/2 cup milk
90g butter
90g fat (goose or duck)
¼ cup plus 1 TB sugar
1 ts salt

1 egg, slightly beaten
¼ cup sour cream

4 – 5 cups plain flour

Egg wash

Method

1 – Cook the finely chopped bacon and onion in a large frying pan with butter. Season generously with freshly cracked pepper. Set aside to cool.
Cook the bacon and onion well in advance. It can be done while the dough is rising, but when made in large quantities the filling will still be warm and that’s not a good thing. The day or morning before assembly is recommended.

2 – Combine water, sugar and yeast. Set aside.

3 – Scald milk. Add butter, fat, sugar and salt. In a large bowl, set aside until only warm.

4 – Combine egg with sour cream. Add to milk mixture.

5 – Add yeast to milk mixture.

6 – Slowly add flour to the milk mixture to form a dough. Let rise in a greased bowl.

7 – Preheat oven to 200° C.

8 – Punch down and roll out dough into a long sausage on a floured board.

9 – Cut small sections of dough and roll into circles.

10 – Place 1 tsp of filling in the middle and pinch shut.

11 – Brush with egg, prick with a fork (optional – lots of Latvians do this).

12 – Bake on Glad Bake covered trays 11 minutes until golden brown. Cool on racks.

Store in air-tight containers or freeze when cold.