Often considered a snack food, vatrushka is an Eastern European pastry similar to a danish. Popular in Russia, the Ukraine, and Belarus, vatrushkas are usually made with sweet dough and contains cheese or fruit filling. In the country of Georgia, this pastry is referred to as khachapuri.
Bread flour is used to make vatrushka dough. White, rye, or wheat flour can be used, but different flours do alter the taste of the finished pastry. In addition to flour, sugar, eggs, butter, and salt are also added. Yeast is often included, though baking soda and vinegar are used in some versions. Milk or sour cream is added to the dough as well.
The filling usually consists of some type of sweet cheese. Russian farmer's cheese, called tvorog, is frequently used, but cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, or even a combination or feta and mozzarella may be used instead. The cheese is often mixed with sugar, and raisins or other fruit may be added as well. Black olives, onions, or bell peppers can be included in the filling for less sweet versions.
To make vatrushka dough, milk and warm water are combined with the yeast and allowed to sit. Then, flour, sugar, salt, and eggs are added and the mixture is kneaded into dough. After the dough forms, it is set aside to rise, doubling its size. If yeast is not used, the eggs are whipped with the sugar and then flour, vinegar, and baking soda are added, as well as sour cream and melted butter.
The filling is usually made by mixing eggs and sugar with the cheese. Sugar may be omitted depending on the sweetness desired. Fruits or vegetables are chopped and combined with the cheese mixture.
Once the dough is complete, it is cut into smaller portions and rolled or molded into round or oblong shapes. Afterward a small depression is made in the center of each shape and the filling is placed in the depression. Alternatively, the dough can be rolled into flat pieces and the filling placed inside the dough. Then, the dough is folded over along the edges, creating a pocket where the filling can still be seen.
When all the vatrushkas are complete, the outside of each is brushed with beaten eggs. This step is mostly aesthetic since it produces a deep, even, golden coloring on the finished pastries. The vatrushka is then baked, resulting in a light, but rich, snack.