A pīrāgs (plural - pīrāgi; diminutive - pīrādziņi) is an oblong or crescent-shaped baked Latvian bread roll or pastry, often containing a filling of finely chopped bacon cubes and onion. Pīrāgi range from 5 centimetres in length to 13 centimetres, depending on if they are intended as a snack or a more substantial meal. Smaller pīrāgi are often prized for their daintiness and are considered the work of a skilled cook. Pīrāgi were not a seasonal dish in Latvian society, because most ingredients needed to make the different varieties were available from the pantry year round. After potatoes had infiltrated Latvian society from the New World, sometime potatoes were also used to replace flour in the dough, allowing the pastries to be baked even when flour was unavailable. This means that pīrāgi could be baked any time and are historically associated with Latvian celebrations year round. The two biggest historic Latvian celebrations are for summer solstice and winter solstice: Jāņi (June 24 - St. John's Day[disambiguation needed]) and Ziemassvētki (Christmas). One of the most popular and familiar Latvian Ziemassvētki folk songs mentions pīrāgi:
- 500 gm Plain Flour
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 15 gm (1 sachet) Compressed yeast
- 2 teaspoons Sugar
- 300 ml Milk
- 200 gm Butter
- 200 gm Sour Cream
- 500 gm Bacon
- 1 Onion
- Salt & Pepper to taste **Note, you need a lot of pepper so it is quite spicy, about 1/2 will disappear when being cooked in oven so make the filling a quite a bit over the top.
- 1 Egg
- Sift flour and salt into a mixing bowl.
- Warm 150 ml milk in microwave on HIGH - 30 sec (blood temperature).
- Add sugar and yeast, stir and cover with kitchen film, stand for 10 minutes. Melt butter, add remaining 150 ml of milk.
- Check it is all at blood temperature.
- Add both liquids to flour, mix to a soft dough.
- Knead dough until it is smooth, elastic and leaves the sides of the bowl cleanly.
- Add extra flour if necessary to make the dough come away from the sides of the bowl.
- Turn dough over so it is smooth on top, cover bowl and leave the dough to stand in a warm place for approximately 1 hour or until it doubles in bulk. If you have no warm place I have discovered that you can put the oven on as low as possible, and place inside with the door open for an hour and it will do the same thing - plus heat the house in winter.
- Finely chop bacon and onion.
- Fry, adding salt & pepper to taste.
- Cool before putting into dough.
- Punch down dough and add sour cream and extra flour if required (keep it tacky, not too much flour!).
- Divide dough into 4 pieces for easier handling. Break off walnut-size pieces or cut rounds.
- Press dough into 2" rounds, place in a teaspoon of bacon mix into dough and pinch sides together.
- Place join side down on baking tray.
- Brush with beaten egg and bake in very hot oven (230°C) for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.