This Vatrushka Russian Pastry with Strawberries and Farmer’s Cheese (Сдобный творожный пирог) is a mouthful to pronounce, but so delicious to eat! A sweet yeast dough topped with a slightly tart tvorog and strawberries reminds me of eating fresh baked goods at my babushka’s house.
This yeasty sweet bread is made from a Russian style of brioche dough called sdobnoe (сдобное). It’s the basis of many Russian baked goods like Vatrushki, Kulich, and sweet blueberry Piroshki. I use a bread maker to make this yeast dough recipe, it saves so much time and is so easy!
It’s been hard to translate the sdobnoe into English. Sometimes it’s describes as a pastry (but it has less butter) and is similar to a brioche. A traditional Vatrushka is much smaller and not usually topped with fruit. I still call this a Giant Vatrushka Russian Pastry with Sweet Farmer’s Cheese and Strawberries.
Making any sweet yeast dough recipe takes time, and usually I don’t have enough of it! I bought a bread maker just so I can use the dough setting to make the yeast dough for me. Throw all the ingredients in and 90 minutes later, I have an easy yeast dough ready to bake.
Russians love eating and making tvorog, which is a fresh cheese that is very easy to make. If you are lucky enough to live near a store that sells it, then save time and buy it, but it’s much cheaper to make. It’s also known as Quark or Farmers Cheese, as there are no stores around me that sell tvorog and I was in a hurry.
This Vatrushka Russian Pastry with Strawberries is similar to Russian Shaneshki (Шанежки), which are sweet buns smeared with tvorog cheese and baked together. This recipe makes 2 giant Shaneshki style strawberry pastry pies, which can be sliced and served with tea.
When the strawberries come out of the oven, they will look a bit dehydrated and dull. I brushed sugar syrup on the strawberries to help rehydrate them and give them a bit of a nicer shine for serving. To make the sugar syrup, take 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon of boiling water and mix until the sugar is dissolved and allow to cool before using.
I’d like to say that this recipe freezes well (and I assume it does) but it never lasts that long at my house. Usually I will make one for company, and eat the second one the following day! One of my favorite desserts during strawberry season. Hard to explain, easy to make, Vatrushka style Russian sweet bread with strawberries. Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
Vatrushka Russian Pastry with Strawberries (Сдобный пирог)
This giant Vatrushka Russian Pastry with Strawberries and Farmer's Cheese (Сдобный творожный пирог) is a mouthful to pronounce, but so delicious! A baked brioche style yeast bun generously smothered with sweet Tvorog, Farmer's Cheese or Quark and baked with fresh strawberries.
Sweet Dough Ingredients
- 1 cup milk lukewarm
- 2 medium eggs
- 7 tablespoons sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon sour cream room temp
- 4 tablespoons melted butter - using 15ml measure
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3⅓ cups of flour
- 2 teaspoons yeast - slightly less than a ¼ oz. bread machine yeast packet
Cheese Filling ingredients
- 1 lb/450g tvorog or quark
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 2 small eggs can use 1 large egg
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 250 g punnet strawberries sliced
- egg wash
- sugar syrup
Place sweet dough ingredients in the order listed up into your bread machine and select the dough program. It will take around 90 minutes to complete the cycle.
Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.
To make the smooth tvorog cheese filling, you need to prepare the tvorog cheese. Homemade tvorog can be quite grainy and the cheese mixture must be smooth. Store-bought tvorog cheese or quark tends to be smooth, and might not need this step. Place tvorog into a metal sieve and using the back of a spoon, push through the sieve making tvorog a smooth consistency. You could also use a food processor or blender to mix all ingredients together, skipping the metal sieve. Mix together the tvorog, vanilla bean paste, egg, sugar and sour cream.
When the sweet dough is ready, place on a floured surface and gently knead. Cut the dough evenly in half. Place both dough pieces on parchment paper on a baking tray. I use 2 trays. Using your hands, stretch and pat the dough into a round 30cm diameter round shape. Place the half of the tvorog cheese mixture on each of the round dough pastries, leaving a small border. Randomly cover the tvorog mixture with sliced strawberries.
Put in a warm place and allow to rise for about 15 minutes. Brush the edges with an egg wash.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes until golden brown. To make sugar syrup, place 1 tablespoon of sugar with 1 tablespoon hot water and mix until dissolved. Using a pastry brush, cover the baked strawberries with the sugar syrup for a nicer looking finish. Serve warm or at room temperature.