Ossetian Pies (Dough Tutorial)

One of the recipes that I have been working on posting here is for Ossetian pies (осетинские пироги).  These round pies, reminiscent of pizza, are one of the traditional foods in Ossetia, where my husband is from.  There are several variations on the basic theme of a yeast dough with some kind of filling (generally savory) inside.  I find that the easiest is called kartofdjin (картофджын), which has a filling made from mashed potatoes and cheese.   This post, however, is only for the dough, so keep an eye out for the filling recipes soon to follow!  I will also include instructions for how to form the pies in the recipes for the fillings, so you won't have to switch between recipes constantly.

Traditionally, these pies are made entirely with bread flour.  I personally find that the lack of any whole wheat makes the dough part of the pies somewhat bland, and so have strayed from tradition in my version.  This works for us, but if you would prefer the white bread taste then simply use an equal amount of bread flour to replace the white whole wheat listed below.

Right then, let's get started!

3 C, plus 1 Tbsp bread flour
3 C white whole wheat flour, plus extra for kneading in
1 1/2 C warm milk (about 100°F)
3 C warm water  (about 100°F)
1 packet rapid rise yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp salt
1/2 C vegetable oil, plus extra to grease the top of the dough

A note about the flour:  I'm not sure why this is, but not every bread flour seems to work equally well in this recipe.  I've tried just about every brand that the store here carries, and the one that I have had the best results with, consistently, is King Arthur brand (no, I'm not being compensated for recommending them - I just want to save you some guesswork, since I've already done the experimenting).

Step one:  Pour one cup of your warm water into a decent-sized cup.  I used a two-cup measuring cup for this purpose.  Sprinkle your yeast across the surface of the water and then add the one tablespoon each of bread flour and sugar.  Using your fingers, gently stir the yeast, sugar and flour together into the water.
Next, while you are waiting for the yeast to start working (you will know when it does, because it will begin to foam and rise in the cup), measure out your three cups each of bread and white whole wheat flour into a large mixing bowl.  I use a very large one that I got from my mom.  I have no idea where she got it, but I suspect some kind of restaurant supply store, because I haven't seen measuring bowls that size in other stores.  Just use the biggest one you have, and you should be fine (remembering that you are starting with six cups of flour, and the dough will double in size as it rises...).  Add the salt and mix well.

Step three:  Pour the yeast water and milk into the flour and, using your hand, start mixing.  Yes, you will get messy, but using a wooden spoon risks leaving chunks of unincorporated flour.  This method works better.

Mix as well as you can with the liquid you've already added, and then slowly add in the remaining two cups of warm water.  This will produce a very wet dough, allowing you to work out all the flour chunks and make a smooth dough (it will look more like batter at this point).

Knead the dough in the bowl by scraping a handful of dough and working it through to the other side of the bowl, working out any lumps and bumps you might feel along the way.  Add the vegetable oil a little at a time while you are kneading.  Keep this up for several minutes, until you have a sticky and wet but smooth batter/dough.

Next, sprinkle a small handful of white whole wheat flour over the dough and knead it in.  Repeat this step four times (for a total of five small handfuls of flour).

Now drizzle a small amount of vegetable oil over the top of the dough, cover it with plastic wrap (placed directly on the dough) and a clean, non-terrycloth dish towel.  Set it in a warm, draft-free place to rise.  If it happens to be laundry day, I find that setting it inside a blanket on top of the dryer works very nicely.  Otherwise, you can heat your oven to the lowest temperature it will go to (mine goes to 180°F), turn it off, and set the bowl inside.

 Meanwhile, make your filling.  When your dough has risen to approximately double its size (this usually takes around 45 minutes), you are ready to form and bake your pies!

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