This recipe is adapted from Olia Hercules’ book Kaukasis. We made them with her in Ukraine last summer, or perhaps she did all the making and we did all the eating! They are truly delicious!
This Spring, these breads are seeing us through the hunger gap as a brilliant way to use kale, perpetual spinach & chard from the garden – some of the few crops still in plentiful supply. Adding in a bit of foraged wild garlic gives a little bit allium zing. Olia uses beetroot leaves in her recipe, which is great for the summer months. The leaves from beetroot, chard, perpetual spinach and sea beet are all pretty much interchangeable as they are all variations on the same plant Beta vulgaris.
Makes 3 large breads (each ‘pie’ serves 2-3 people)
Ingredients for the dough:
7g fast action dried yeast
1 teaspoon honey
150ml lukewarm kefir or whey (or replace this with water – the recipe still works really well)
150ml lukewarm milk
500g strong white flour, extra for dusting
1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
1 – 2 teaspoons of polenta (optional)
Ingredients for the filling:
60g butter, divided – 40g for the brown butter and 20g to cook the greens
250g greens (such as perpetual spinach, swiss chard, sea beet, kale or beet tops)
20 wild garlic leaves, roughly chopped
½ lemon zest
150g gouda, grated
100g feta cheese, crumbled
75g spring onions, chopped
1 tablespoon dill, finely chopped
Salt & Pepper
For the dough mix the yeast and honey into the lukewarm kefir/whey/water and milk in a jug and leave for 10 minutes or until you see bubbles appearing on the surface.
Pour the yeast mixture into a large bowl, then gradually add about half the flour and mix together until you have a soft, very wet dough. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.
Remove the stalks from the greens, thinly slice the stalks (unless they are very woody kale stalks which you can just put on the compost) and roughly chop the leaves. Heat 20g of butter and once foaming add the stalks and leaves and cook for about 5 minutes. The stalks should be tender but not totally falling apart. Allow the greens to cool and then add the wild garlic, lemon zest, gouda, feta, and dill. Stir really well to combine and season with salt and pepper to your liking.
Now make brown butter to glaze the pies later. Heat 40g of butter in a saucepan over a medium-low heat until it starts foaming and changes to a deep golden and smells nutty. Immediately tip into a bowl and set aside for later.
Preheat the oven to 220°C, line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment.
Flour your hands, knead the salt and some remaining flour into the risen dough until it stops sticking to your hands. It should still be very soft and pillowy. Divide the dough into 3 even pieces. Flatten each piece with your hand and roll out lightly on a floured surface to 2cm thick rounds. Place a third of the greens mixture onto each dough round. Bring the edge of the dough up over the filling, pleat as you go, and pinch together very well at the top – to look like a money purse. Sprinkle flour on top, and flip the money purse over, flatten the pouch gently with your hand, spreading the filling inside out to the edges. You can use a rolling pin to flatten them further, I roll them out until they are about 2 – 3 cm thick.
Put the pies on the prepared baking sheets, and sprinkle the tops with a little polenta (if using) to give a nice crunch. Make a slit in each pie (to release the steam) and bake for 15 – 20 minutes. The dough should be golden and the bottoms of the pies should be dry. Brush the pies with the brown butter as soon as they are out of the oven. These breads are delicious served warm straight from the oven but are also great cold as part of a picnic lunch.