Easy Russian Vatrushka Recipe: Delicious, fluffy and healthy farmer’s cheese individual sweet buns look impressive and take a bit more than an hour to make! They make for a great tea-time treat, dessert as well as Thanksgiving or Christmas breakfast.
If you have ever tried vatrushki, you know how fluffy and delicious they are. These individual open-faced Russian buns filled with farmer’s cheese and seasonal berries are one of my all-time favorite tea time treats.
With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I was looking for something unusual, comforting and yet healthyish and easy to make, so my choice fell on these babies.
Not only these vatrushka buns are delicious, pretty looking and perfect for your Thanksgiving table but they are also healthy and easy. Hard to believe but it’s true. Additionally, you can use up the rest of your cranberry sauce on top of your vatrushka buns! No reason not to make these little buddies this Thanksgiving!
I have no doubts that your kids will love vatrushka buns and will beg you to bake more. Serve them for breakfast or as a dessert or a tea-time sweet treat.
What Are Russian Vatrushka Buns?
Traditional vatrushka is a Russian/Eastern European sweet pastry formed as a ring of yeast dough filled with farmer’s cheese (cottage cheese, quark…) and berries or raisins.
The name derives from an old Slavic word “hearth” or “fire”, that is probably why vatrushka buns look like sun, just like Russian pancakes. Original festive vatrushka was as big as a pie but it evolved into individual palm-sized buns.
There are savory versions with onions and non-sweetened dough but they are less common. Usually, vatrushka buns are served for tea as a sweet treat.
The yeast dough used for vatrushka buns is fluffy and light, brushed with an egg yolk before baking, for the ruddy top. Sweetened farmer’s cheese or quark is traditionally used for the filling, with an addition of raisins or berries. Other options may include jams or applesauce.
How to Make Russian Vatrushka Buns
This recipe is one of the easiest and quickest. You would need 1 hour 20 minutes of time from start to finish, which is a very short time for yeast dough.
I used spelt flour for this recipe, as it is more nutritious and has a lovely nutty flavor. You can feel free to use all-purpose flour as well.
As a filling, I used farmer’s cheese flavored with vanilla and sweetened with honey. Other options can be apple sauce or jam. You can even use the rest of cranberry sauce if you want.
You want your cottage cheese to be as dry as possible. If yours is rather creamy, wrap it in a cheesecloth and hang over a sink or a big bowl to strain the liquid. You can use it afterwards instead of milk for pancakes for example.
Another option would be to make farmer’s cheese yourself using milk and vinegar. Here is a simple recipe: Farmer’s Cheese (Творог).
To start with, sift the flour into a large bowl and create a well in the middle. Mix yeast with milk and a bit of demerara sugar and pour the mixture into the well. Let rest covered for 10 minutes or until the surface is bubbly.
Add the rest of sugar, butter and egg yolk and knead until smooth. Let rest for 30 more minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Mix farmer’s cheese with egg, honey and vanilla extract.
When the dough has doubled in size, knead it once again and divide into 8 balls. To do this, you can cut the dough ball in halves with a very sharp knife, then in quarters and then in eighths. Form eight balls.
Using a rolling pin, roll each ball, working from the center – outwards, until it is about 16 cm or 6 inches in diameter. Fold the edges inwards to form a well in the middle for the filling. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Add the filling into the wells, one tablespoon at a time. Sprinkle with cranberries, lingonberries or other berries. You can also use cranberry sauce, apple sauce or jam for the topping.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool and enjoy with tea!
Here is the full recipe. Hope you and your family will love it!
P.S.Here is another Russian pastry you must try: Russian Apple Cinnamon Cupcakes.