Viburnum, highly cherished in Ukraine, embodies more than just a berry. It symbolizes the native land, home, courage, indomitable spirit, and the struggle for the independence of the Motherland. An adage echoes among the people: “Without willow and viburnum, there is no Ukraine.”
Beyond symbolism, viburnum is a powerhouse of vitamins E, A, P, C, and K and an array of essential minerals — calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iodine, plus pectin and amino acids. This versatile plant is a cornerstone in traditional medicine and cuisine, offering versatility for various culinary endeavors.
Ukrainians cook many tasty viburnum dishes. First of all, jam is made by grinding berries with sugar. Then, such jam is used to prepare berry tea or as an addition to pancakes, cakes, porridge, etc. But in ancient Ukrainian cuisine, there is a wonderful recipe for hand pies with viburnum (in Ukraine, we call them pyrizhky), the roots of which go back to ancient times in the Poltava region. Embrace this original dish, a hidden gem of Ukrainian cuisine, and savor the experience!
For yeast dough:
- 400 g wheat flour
- 15 g fresh yeast / 8 g dry yeast
- 250 ml milk
- 2 eggs (one for the dough, one for greasing pies)
- 50 ml vegetable oil
- 30 g sugar
- a pinch of salt
For the filling:
- 200 g viburnum berries
- 100 g sugar
- 10 g vanilla sugar
- Zest of half a lemon
1. Dough preparation. Begin by making the pre-dough. Heat the milk to approximately 30 degrees — be cautious not to surpass this temperature! High heat can spoil the yeast, hindering the dough from rising. Add yeast (quantity depends on type) and 30 g of sugar to the warm milk. Stir this mixture thoroughly with a whisk or spoon, ensuring all ingredients dissolve, and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
2. After this time, proceed by incorporating other dough ingredients. Add one egg to the mixture and gradually pour in the vegetable oil while stirring continuously. To prevent lumps and maintain dough consistency, add the flour slowly. Knead the dough until it’s soft, then transfer it to a container, covering it with a towel. Leave it in a warm place to rise for 30-45 minutes.
3. Filling preparation. Separate the berries from the twigs and wash them. Transfer the viburnum to a paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Once sufficiently dry, transfer them to a bowl, add sugar, and grate the zest of half a lemon. Carefully stir the mixture so that the berries remain whole and juicy.
4. Hand pies formation. First, roll the dough and divide it into equal parts. Whether cutting it into pieces or using scales, create circles by rolling out each dough portion. Roll out each piece of dough with a rolling pin to get a circle, fill the center of each circle with 1-1.5 tablespoons of the prepared filling, and carefully pinch the edges to form individual patties.
5. Baking pies. When all the patties are shaped, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or greased with oil. Brush each pie with beaten egg and bake in an oven preheated to 180 degrees. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a golden-brown crust is achieved.
After taking the viburnum pies out of the oven, allow them to cool slightly before serving. These homemade delights pair wonderfully with milk, tea, a favorite brew, or any preferred beverage.
Additional tips for cooking pies with viburnum for Christmas
– Working with viburnum filling can be tricky; ensure the berries don’t release excessive juice, which might leave the pies undercooked after baking.
– Use whole berries for the filling. An ideal option is fresh bunches with twigs or frozen viburnum. If using frozen berries, thaw them at the start of dough preparation to prevent them from softening too much. Mix the filling with several slow movements to avoid turning it into a puree.
– For the dough, ensure ideal conditions for the pre-dough by warming the milk to the right temperature — warm, not hot. This step also serves as a yeast quality test. If bubbles form in the foam after 10-15 minutes, it’s a good sign. If not, consider using fresh yeast and make the pre-dough again.
These excellent viburnum pyrizhky are ideal for Christmas celebrations — vibrant additions to your table and a delightful, healthy, and delicious blend of yeast dough with luscious berries, perfectly complementing the holiday!