This Cossack wedding pie will bring much delight to any autumn meal.Olga Brovkina
Known as the fiercest and bravest warriors, Cossacks are an ethnic-social community who have been living in the south of Russia for 500 years. A wedding in Cossack territory is usually very different from our common understanding of weddings. It has many peculiar features, especially in terms of food.
Guests, new residents, or ordinary passers-by were always heartily welcomed by the Cossacks; that’s why feasts and any kind of spontaneous dinner were frequent on the Don (their most important river, where they built their houses). The special Cossack atmosphere in most cases is due to their culinary skills – tasty and substantial food that’s made of fresh home-raised ingredients. The dishes were simple but absolutely authentic.
One such masterpiece is a pie called “kruglik” (krugly means round in Russian). Kruglik is a festive pie made of yeast dough with various fillings and colorful decorations. The pie could be filled with meat, apples, cabbages, cottage cheese, or jam.
In the past, kruglik was cooked only on major occasions, such as for weddings or solemn ceremonies. The pie symbolized hospitality and friendliness, the generosity of the owners, the well-being of the family, and respect for traditions.
There are some rules, however. For instance, if kruglik is sweet, it’s preferable to sprinkle it with powdered sugar, and if it is made with meat then one should add broth (about 300 ml) to the filling. That way, it turns out juicier and tastier. Another secret of the Cossack kruglik is an appetizing golden crust. To achieve that, you have to grease the pie with egg yolk after 15-20 minutes in the oven. And last but not least, it is better to knead the dough with your hands, without rushing.
As for major occasions, kruglik was ‘must’ for weddings. Cossack weddings were usually held in the fall after the harvest, when there was much more free time. It was also beneficial from an economic point of view: the Cossacks often celebrated for several days on a grand scale, so there must have been many various dishes and alcohol at the feast.
Kruglik pie was like a wedding cake for us today. It was handsomely decorated with leaves, flowers, and other ornaments, interwoven into certain symbols and subtexts. So, today I suggest we cook this splendid cake together, even if there is no festive occasion, and hopefully to bring happiness to our dearest and nearest.
1. Pour warm milk into a deep bowl, add an egg, salt, sugar, and yeast, and stir with a whisk. Let it rest for 10 minutes.
2. When time is up, add melted butter, whisk and begin to gradually add flour, leaving only 100-200 g for later.
3. Sift the remaining 100-200 g onto the table, transfer the dough there as well. Gradually knead the soft dough until it begins to come off your hands (within 3-5 minutes). But pay attention not to overdo kneading.
4. Put the dough in a bowl, cover with cling film, then wrap the bowl in a large warm towel and let rise for 40-50 minutes.
5. Next, take the dough out of the bowl, it will be very pliable, elastic, and warm, and will be easy to work with. Put the dough on the table sprinkled with flour.
6. Roll a piece of dough into a round cake. Fill it with sliced apples.
7. Pour jam over it. Make sure the jam doesn’t spill onto the baking sheet.
8. Roll another piece of dough and make strings as shown in the photo.
9. Lay 9 strips vertically and evenly spaced on top of the filled pie. Use the longer strips in the center and the shorter strips on the ends.
10. Fold every other strip (5 in total) all the way back so they’re almost falling off of the pie. Lay one of the 9 unused strips perpendicular on top. Unfold the 5 vertical strips back so they lay over the perpendicular one. You have 8 strips left.
11. Fold back the other 5 vertical strips. Lay one of the 8 unused strips perpendicular on top. Unfold the 5 vertical strips back so they lay over the perpendicular strip. You’re now beginning to see the beautiful woven pattern! Repeat the process with the last ones, weaving the stripes over and under one another.
12. Fold the excess dough that lays over the edges of the pie back and pinch with the bottom pie crust.
13. Divide the remaining dough into 4 balls, roll out each. Place the first circle on the table, grease with warm butter and sprinkle it with sugar.
14. Place the second circle on top and repeat the process.
15. Divide the thick circle into 8 parts.
16. Make a small hole inside each part. And turn out each piece of dough through these small holes. Look at the photo to compare the results.
17. Decorate the lattice pie crust with ornaments from the previous step.
18. Grease the pie with an egg mixed with a little milk.
19. Bake the pie for 40 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with water using a spray bottle or with a brush. Cover the pie with a towel and leave for 10-15 minutes. The pie will be very soft and tender. Enjoy!
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