March 06, 2022

A Doughy but Cozy Plyushka


A Doughy but Cozy Plyushka
A hearty snack with a hearty shape. Wikimedia Commons, Gryllida.

The plyushka pastry – a warm, fluffy, and doughy dessert – is one of Russia's oldest culinary traditions. They are similar to cinnamon buns, with less spice and frosting, and more buttery sweetness.

Plyushki originated during pagan times and was utilized in sun rituals during the harsh, frozen winters. Through the generations, plyushki transformed from a largely ritualistic and traditional delicacy to a more common family tradition. It is also cheap, and easy to make.

The term plyushka is rumored to have originated from the name of an old bird during pagan times. The plural form, plyushki, is the commonly usage, because no one ever just makes (or eats) one plyushka.

Plyushki are a great pastry for any holiday event or celebration. It's a cozy way to spend time together in the kitchen – baking with your babushka.

The doughy pastry is usually twisted into the shape of a heart. However, they can be twisted into any shape you like. Bows or birds are also popular.

Sugar, spice, and .... you know the rest. Pexels, Mareefe. 

Plyushki are often topped with a generous amount of cinnamon or sugar. This is where the pastry collects the majority of its sweet and savory flavor. But some choose to get creative with their toppings. Fruit jams, syrups, and even cream cheese are used to mix things up. The most traditional way to enjoy plyushki is with a glass of warm milk, tea, or coffee.

There are two routes to take when preparing plyushki. The first involves less than a handful of ingredients and very little time. This was the most used recipe in Soviet times. The other is a more extensive method that adds more ingredients. If you have a lot of time on your hands, or if you want to impress someone at the next family gathering with your culinary expertise, take the more involved route. But, no matter what, plyushki are delicious!

      

There is usually a need for kneading. Pexels, Klaus Nielsen.

Below is a great recipe for a more extensive version of plyushki from The Moscow Times. Simpler recipes are easy to find through a Google search.

Ingredients

Plyushki Dough

  • 1 package (7 grams) instant yeast
  • 1 cup (235 ml) whole milk, warmed to 105ºF
  • 1 Tbsp orange zest
  • 2/3 cup (155 ml) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (117 grams) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 4 ½ cups (560 grams) all-purpose flour

Filling

  • 1 ½ cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp orange zest
  • 1 Tbsp cardamom seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • ½ Tbsp cardamom seeds, whole
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Butter Mix

  • ½ cup (117 grams) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup (117 ml) fresh orange juice
  • ¼ tsp orange extract

Egg Wash

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp cold water

Dough Instructions

  • Combine warmed milk, yeast, and 1 tsp of sugar into the bowl of a standing mixer and whisk gently to combine.
  • Leave to proof for 10 minutes until frothy.
  • Work the orange zest into the remaining sugar with your fingers.
  • When the yeast mixture is frothy and bubbly, add the orange zest and sugar mixture and mix with the paddle attachment on low. Add the softened butter and mix for 1-2 minutes until butter is broken into smaller pieces.
  • Add spices, salt, vanilla extract and continue to mix on low.
  • Add beaten eggs to the mixture.
  • Attach dough hook to the mixer and add the flour gradually in 12 cup (117 ml) increments, allowing several turns to incorporate the flour.
  • When the mixture is fully incorporated into an elastic dough, raise the speed to medium and knead for 5 minutes.
  • Turn the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for another 3 minutes.
  • Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly oiled non-reactive bowl.
  • Lightly oil the top of the dough, cover, and place in a warm location to proof for 2 hours or until dough has doubled in size.
  • Preheat the oven to 200º F, switch it off when it reaches full heat, then wait 15 minutes and place dough inside the oven

Filling Instructions

  • Work the orange zest into the sugar until fully incorporated, and the sugar is the consistency of slightly wet sand.
  • Add the ground and whole cardamom seeds, cinnamon, and poppy seeds and use a fork to thoroughly combine.
  • Melt the butter and orange juice in a small saucepan and whisk to combine.
  • When fully melted and incorporated, add the orange extract.
  • Cool to room temperature.

Assembly Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350º F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper
  • Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, punch it down, then knead it into a disk.
  • Divide the dough into four equal parts.
  • Work with one part at a time, keeping the other dough covered with a damp cloth so it does not dry out
  • Divide each part into thirds – each third approximately 100 grams (3.5 oz)
  • Roll each part into a rectangle about 1/8 inch thick
  • Brush the butter mixture over the rectangle, then spoon the sugar mixture onto the dough, leaving a ¼ inch rim around the perimeter.
  • Roll the rectangle into a tight log from the end, and pinch the seams to combine
  • Fold the log lengthwise with the seam sides together.
  • Press the ends together to seal and turn the log flat side up.
  • Use a small, sharp knife to slice into the log at the folded end about two-thirds of the length of the log
  • Gently open the cut edges to form a heart shape.
  • Gently arrange the plyushki on the prepared baking sheet, leaving space between them as they will expand as they bake. Press the stem of the heart down gently
  • Brush the egg wash onto the plyushki, skirting around the exposed filling.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 22 minutes.
  • Cool the plyushki on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely
Wait, is that plyushki? Pexels, Cottonbro. 

 

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