Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Latvian Piragi

 After mentioning these in another post and getting a few comments on them, I thought i'd make a batch and do a quick blog for you incase anyone else wants to try them out..... They are delicious!!! :)
 I was first introduced to these years ago when I was little. A friend of the family (Marta) relocated here during the war from latvia, and it was her that used to make these for us.... my dad and I could never get enough of them when she made them....  and there was always a freshly baked supply of them whenever we visited her farm!(that phonecall the day before worked every time :) Unfortunately she died about 18 months ago and will be missed greatly. While at the funeral I happened to have a chat with one of her daughters and mentioned these in passing... next thing I know I have the recipe for these little delights! Now and then I throw a batch together and it always brings back memories of Marta and her farm.

 Firstly.. The ingredients..

For the bread...
  • 1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp dryed yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 or 6 cups of strong white bread flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (softened)

For the filling...
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pound cooked ham diced into small cubes
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds (or more if you love it like me)
  • 1 tsp black pepper

For the glaze...
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp water

  • Combine the yeast, 1 tbsp sugar and 1/2 cup of water in a small bowl and set aside to activate.
  • Combine 1/2 cup of sugar, salt and 2 1/2 cups of the flour in a mixing bowl, then add the butter, yeast mixture and the rest of the water. Stir it all, then add more flour until you make a soft dough.
  • Knead the dough on a floured surface until it's smooth and elastic, which usually takes me about 5 minutes. Place the dough in a large greased bowl and cover the top with clingfilm. Leave to rise for about 1 1/2 hours.
  • While the dough is rising, cook the bacon in a small pan, drain it and then chop it up into small pieces then soften the onion in a pan with the butter.
  • I bake my own ham in the oven with a few cloves and some honey the night before I make these, but you can get it ready cooked from the supermarket if you like.

  • When ready, add the ham to the onion. Stir in the caraway seeds, pepper and chopped bacon. Cook for a minute, then remove from the heat.
  • When the dough has risen sufficiently, punch it down and divide it into 4 pieces.
  • Roll each piece of dough out into a rough circle about 1/8" thick.
  • Now you can decide what size you want your Piragi. I like mine a reasonable size... something like a small pasty, so I use a cutter to make circles of about 6" ... but you can go down as small as 2 1/2" circles for little bite size Piragi if you like.
  • Spoon some of the filling into the centre of your round piece of dough, enough to fill it out when folded, then fold it in half to make your pasty shape and pinch the edges to stick it closed.

  • Place the Piragi on a baking sheet or tin with the seam underneath it, combine the egg and water, and then brush the Piragi with the egg wash.
  • Bake in the oven at about 190 or gas 5 until golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.... or you could do what I like to do, and scoff the lot and get a burnt mouth!!!! :)

Now I know i'm no Jamie or Gordon, and this isn't exactly top class restaurant food, but I would love to hear about any of you trying these out.



  1. They look absolutely yummy. How nice that the traditional recipe is not only handed-down to the next generation, but also shared around to people of other cultures (I take it you are not Latvian yourself??)
    Once when I was visiting Lithuania I experienced what they called "Little Zeppelins" which were superficially similar, but seemed to be made with flabby suet pastry or something - not like thoese lovely golden Piragi you have made :)

  2. Dear Simon, Although I am absolutely no cook, I have noted this receipt and will pass it on to my Mrs N who 'comes and does' and occasionally cooks. The Piragi look and, I am sure, taste delicious......the Latvian equivalent of a Cornish Pasty?

  3. They look lovely, Simon. thanks for the recipe I'll give them a go.

  4. Great Idea! Thanks for sharing, I will probably fill mine with chicken in place of ham.

  5. They look lovely, Simon. I have my elenvenses about 10. Would you pop one over?


  6. Morning Dave, I would love to pop one over to you... but i've scoffed the lot as usual! :) I'll post you one next time.

    Hi Dawn, sounds like a good idea. Let me know how the chicken works out.

    Hi Evelyn, let me know how yours turn out... even better... send me one! :)

    Good morning Edith, I guess they are the equivalent of a Cornish pasty... maybe i will change the filling slightly next time to something more like the traditional Cornish filling... thankyou for giving me that idea!

    Hi Mark, No.. i'm not Latvian.. born and bred in the midlands. Hopefully I can hand the recipe on further at some point... hang on, I just did that in this blog!! :)

    Jo... they are!! :)

  7. They look good! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe, I'm sure Marta would approve?
    I'll be trying this one :)Mo

  8. Simon! I'm so excited about this recipe! I just made these piragi again for our Easter celebration and posted on them also! I got my recipe from a favorite cookbook that was published by Yankee Magazine years ago ... the chef who submitted the recipe had it passed to him from Latvians who emigrated to the States! What a coincidence that I found this post while exploring your blog!

  9. mmmm these are so great!. I have great memories of my Latvian grandmother making these. No ham in hers just bacon and onion. I am making some this week

  10. my husband is Latvian and he was so surmised when I made these for him! he was delighted said it tasted like home! and they are sooo good! love Latvian cooking!!