For the longest time perepechi were considered as just one of the traditional regional dishes from the Udmurt region, but lately they have become really popular all over the country. The name of these open pastry shells, which have signature pinched edges and various fillings, literally means “something baked behind the oven” – since they were traditionally baked in Russian stoves over a low fire.
I’d say that perepechi are quite unique as far as pastries go: it looks like a classic shortcrust at first sight, but it is actually not that crumbly and much more tender. Moreover, initially perepechi were made from rye flour, and even though the majority of modern recipes do not have it, and use plain wheat flour instead, I’m all for adding some rye flour because it gives the very signature and rich rye taste, making the pastry more “Russian-like”.
Perepechi are delicious with any type of savory filling. The most traditional are mashed potatoes, mushrooms, cabbage, nettle and meat, which is the one that I use in this particular recipe. Another signature aspect about the filling is that it is always poured with the mixture of eggs and milk, giving perepechi a kind of French quiche vibe.
1. Start with your pastry: in a large bowl mix softened butter, egg, both types of flour, water, sugar and salt, and start kneading the pastry. Talking of flour: traditional perepechi are made of rye flour exclusively, but I feel that adding wheat flour makes the pastry more tender; so you better use a mixture of the two. The total amount of flour should be around 250g, but you decide the proportions – you can take 50/50 wheat-to-rye flour or even not use rye flour at all, if you don’t have it on hand.
2. You should get a soft pastry that does not stick to your hands. Cover it with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for around 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Finely chop one small onion and fry it on medium heat with a couple tablespoons of oil.
4. When it becomes soft, add minced meat, and fry until cooked. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and any meat seasoning that you like.
5. For the second part of the filling simply whisk eggs with milk and add a pinch of salt as for your basic omelet – then set aside.
6. Back to the pastry – divide it into 8-10 small equal balls, then take one at a time and roll quite thinly to around 10 cm in diameter.
7. Carefully pinch the edges and create a border – you should get a kind of tart shell. Repeat with all the pastry pieces.
8. Now fill each tartlet with 1 heaped tablespoon of meat filling. Next, carefully pour in the egg mixture.
9. Transform your perepechi on a baking tray covered with a sheet of parchment and bake at 180°C for 20-25 minutes.
10. Serve immediately – they are insanely delicious straight from the oven: the pastry is so soft and slightly crispy, while the filling is tender and rich. You definitely need to try it – priyatnogo appetita!
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