What's a Vatrushka?
Vatrushka Sweet Cheese Buns (Ватрушки) pronounced Vat-roosh-ka is a delicious Russian baked sweet yeast bread filled with Tvorog, also known as Farmer's Cheese or Quark. It's a childhood favorite which I remember my mum and grandmother making. We always ate this with Russian tea.
Vatrushka Buns (Ватрушки) are sometimes called Shaneshki (Шанежки), however there are they are slightly different recipes. The sweet yeast dough pastry (сдобное sdobnoe) and the filling is the same in both recipes, but when making a Vatrushka, you make a well and fill it with the Tvorog Cheese filling. When making Shaneshki, the cheese filling is simply smeared across the top the the sweet yeast dough.
The cheapest and easiest way to make Farmer's Cheese is from scratch. It can be hard to find store-bought Farmers Cheese or Tvorog, you can substitute quark if that's available and you don't want to make you own homemade tvorog cheese.
Bread Machine or Traditional Dough?
It can be time consuming to make the Russian sweet yeast dough (сдобное sdobnoe). We are all so time poor, so I bought a Cuisinart Bread Maker to speed up the process. There is a dough cycle which does all the mixing, kneading and raising for you. I simply throw in all the ingredients, turn it on and in 90 minutes, I'm ready to start making the Vatrushka Russian sweet buns. You can see the video below on how to make the basic Sdobnoye Sweet Yeast Dough recipe, if you dont have a bread machine! I've included both ways of making the yeast dough for Vatrushki.
I make a variation of this recipe I called Russian Pastry with Strawberries. It's kind of a cake/pie/bun with the same ingredients, topped with sliced strawberries. Perfect for something different during strawberry season. Some recipes and Russian expressions are really hard to translate into English, but it's worth checking out!
Vatrushka Cheese Filling
The cheapest and easiest way to make Farmer's Cheese is from scratch. It can be hard to find store-bought Farmers Cheese or Tvorog. You can substitute with Quark if that's available, otherwise make your own. If making homemade tvorog cheese, make sure you drip dry it in a cheesecloth, as you don't want to use a very wet Tvorog.
The Vatrushka filling is really easy to make. You can use regular Vanilla Essence, however I recommend using Vanilla Bean Paste. You can buy it in supermarkets and even Costco. The difference that Vanilla Beans make to the flavor is noticeable, and makes babushkas recipe a little bit fancy. Using a fork, the Tvorog filling is mixed with egg, sour cream, vanilla bean paste, Tvorog and sugar.
How to Make Vatrushka Buns
This Vatrushka recipe makes 12 sweet buns. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll them into balls and place them on a line baking tray. You want to make a well or indentation in the dough ball, using the bottom of a glass. This is so you can fill it with the Tvorog Cheese filling. Place it in a warm place until the dough rises again before brushing with an egg wash. Each Vatrushka will be around 5" round. They only take 20 minutes to bake. It's a sweet baked recipe that reminds me of babushkas house.
Vatrushka Buns are a Russian classic, baked sweet buns filled with sweet Tvorog cheese. A light bun, like a Russian brioche, and a tasty treat. Vatrushka Sweet Cheese Buns (Ватрушка) Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
Bread Maker 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 bread machine yeast
Traditional Yeast Dough Ingredients
- 1 ⅓ cups lukewarm warm milk
- 1 tablespoon yeast
- 7 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups flour plus more for kneading
- 2 eggs
- 5 tablespoons oil or melted butter
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
- egg wash 2 egg yolks with 1 tablespoon of whipping cream
Bread Maker Dough Instructions
- Place the Sweet Yeast Dough ingredients in the order listed up until the yeast into your bread machine and select the dough program. This will take around 90 minutes.
Traditional Yeast Dough Instructions
- Pour yeast, ½ of the lukewarm milk in a bowl and 1 tablespoon sugar. Whisk together and mix in ½ cup of flour. Allow to site for 15 minutes in a warm place until it starts to bubble and foam, then the yeast is activated.
- In a bowl, mix together 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon salt, 5 tablespoons sugar, 5 tablespoons oil. Mix in the remaining milk. Pour into the yeast mixture and slowly add the remaining flour until it forms a dough ball. Knead on a floured surface, adding more flour if needed, for about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.
- Place back into bowl, cover with cling wrap. Place in a warm place until it rises, about 1 ½ hours. Punch down dough, gently knead and you are ready to use.
Making Vatrushka Buns
- Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.
- To make the cheese filling, Mix together the tvorog, vanilla bean paste, egg, sugar and sour cream.
- When the dough is ready, cut into 12 even pieces. Using your palms, roll each piece into a round ball. Place on parchment paper on a baking tray.
- Using the bottom of a drinking glass, press down in the middle of the dough ball, making an indentation like a well, to hold the tvorog cheese filling. Spoon in the tvorog cheese to fill the pastry. The vatrushki will be around 5" round. Allow to rise in a warm place for about 15 minutes. Make an egg wash with one egg and 2 tablespoons milk. Brush the edges of the vatrushka with the egg yolk.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes until golden brown.