Pierogi are not exclusively savoury treat. There are as many (if not more) sweet fillings for pierogi as savoury ones. Especially in the summer, when the trees and bushes in the garden are laden with seasonal fruit, the school is closed for two whole months in Poland and kids are demanding treats for dinner, tired after all day of running around.
Sweet lunches are something that Żubrek used to found bewildering on his first visits to Poland. Crepes with sugary cottage cheese, a dollop of cream and sprinkle of cinnamon? Yes, please! How about pasta with sweet cottage cheese, sugar and cinnamon? Fried doughnuts? Or racuchy, a type of thick fritter/pancake, with chunks of apples? I’ll take it all.
Pierogi, however, will always have a very special corner in my heart. Nothing says ‘I care for you’ more than a plate of steaming pierogi, lovingly made by mum or grandma for the family’s enjoyment. And the world of summer pierogi fillings is all about la dolce vita: fresh strawberry-filled pierogi, cottage cheese and cinnamon, plum, apple and cinnamon or bilberry, my all-time favourite.
While living in Bolara, Istria I was once surprised by Anna, our host, with a basket of fresh bilberries she found at the local market and bought for me. Imagine the joy, that Anna’s gift has brought into my life! I knew straight away what will be the two things that I will make using this summer bilberry bounty: jagodzianki (bilberry buns) and pierogi, served with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of sugar (or icing sugar, my babcia’s way). I couldn’t wait for the moment when, with the first forkful of pierogi, the bilberry juice will spill out of the dumpling cut in half, creating, at first, swirls of deep purple and white, and then suddenly becoming a velvety and utterly delicious sauce, a mix of sour cream, sugar and bilberry juice that is to die for.
PIEROGI WITH WILD BILBERRIES
for the dough
pinch of salt
about 100ml milk
for the filling
bilberries (fresh or frozen)
1-2tsp potato starch
sugar (brown, white or icing)
HOW TO MAKE?
- Start with making the dough. Prepare a pastry board (or another flat surface). Add flour onto the board, make a well in the middle and add the egg with a little bit of salt. Then, add milk.
- Pour hot water on the flour and mix everything. Be careful not to burn yourself.
- Knead the dough until it’s firm and smooth. Shape into a ball, cover with a clean kitchen cloth and set aside to rest for at least 10-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Wash and dry the berries with some kitchen towel. Add them into a bowl and mix the potato starch in. Some people like to add a bit of sugar, too, but I find the sugar that is sprinkled on pierogi when serving sufficient. Your call!
- Divide the dough into 3 pieces and roll one out. The dough should be thin and elastic. If it sticks to the board you can use a bit of flour when rolling.
- Cut out circles out of the rolled dough. You can use a glass or a cookie cutter. Cover the circles with a slightly damp towel to prevent them from drying.
- Place the filling (about one teaspoon) in the centre of the circle, don’t try to overfill!
- Fold in half, pinching the sides shut with your fingers, or gently with a fork to seal. Remember to ‘close’ it tightly, otherwise, they will open up while boiling.
- Working in small batches, boil in salted water 2 to 3 minutes, until they float. Remove from water onto a strainer or, using a slotted spoon, into a bowl with cold water and then drain.
- Serve hot with dollops of sour cream, a generous sprinkle of sugar and/or melted butter and cinnamon, if you like.