Ossetian beet tops and cheese pies
over 2 hours
10 to 30 mins
These flat, stuffed pies are filled with cheese and beetroot tops, a much underused part of the beetroot.
over 2 hours
10 to 30 mins
For the dough
- 7g fast-action dried yeast
- 1 tbsp honey
- 150ml/5fl oz warm milk
- 2 tsp crushed sea salt
- 100ml/3½fl oz kefir or yoghurt
- 400g/14oz strong flour
- polenta or semolina, for dusting
For the filling
To make the dough, add the yeast and honey to the warm milk in large bowl and leave to rest for 5–10 minutes or until you see it starting to bubble. Add the salt and the kefir and gradually mix in 300g/10½oz of the flour with a fork until it looks like thick cake batter. Cover with cling film and leave somewhere warm to prove for 1–2 hours.
To make the filling, heat 50g/1¾oz of the butter in a sauté or deep frying pan. Add the garlic and cook over a very low heat for a minute. Add the beetroot tops and cook for about 5 minutes or until wilted and softened.
Put the cheeses, spring onions, dill and lemon zest into a large bowl. Add the beetroot tops mixture and combine well with a fork. Leave to cool slightly. Now, squeeze the filling with your hands to bring the ingredients together a bit more and then transfer to the fridge to chill.
When the dough has risen, flour your work surface and hands heavily with some of the remaining flour. Place the dough on the work surface and gently knead, sprinkling a little more flour over as you work. You want it to stop sticking but to remain soft. When the dough stops sticking, divide the dough into two even pieces. Flatten one piece of dough gently with the palm of your hand and dust the work surface. With a rolling pin, gently roll the dough piece out into a 30cm/12in circle. Divide the filling mixture in two and roll each piece into a ball. Place one filling ball in the centre of the dough circle.
Line two baking trays with baking paper and sprinkle some polenta over the paper.
To fold the pie, take one edge of the circle and fold it up into the middle around the filling mixture. Bring all the other edges of the dough up around the filling to enclose it and pinch the dough together at the top to seal. Flatten the pie down with the palms of your hands, gently pushing from the centre out to the edges so the dough flattens out and the filling spreads into all the edges of the dough. You should end up with a 20–25cm/8–10in flatbread and the filling evenly spread through the middle. Flour the top again, carefully turn the pie over and flatten again slightly. Transfer to the baking tray. Sprinkle a little more polenta over the top and make a little hole in the middle to let the steam out. Repeat with the other dough half. Cover the pies with a damp tea towel and prove again for around 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 230C/210C Fan/Gas 8.
Put the pies in the oven and cook for 10 minutes. If they are not deep golden brown yet, give them another 2–3 minutes.
Melt the remaining butter and as soon as the pies come out of the oven, brush them generously with the melted butter. Alternatively, you can make a beurre noisette by heating a frying pan until hot, adding the butter and heating until it turns a nut-brown colour. Brush the beurre noisette generously over the pies. Cut the pies into slices and serve.
The filling freezes very well and so do the breads once shaped! Just bake from frozen for 15 minutes instead of 10.