The Mediterranean Sea has forged the path between Africa, Europe and Asia for centuries. Pirog is a buttery jam-filled snack cake that was born in Russia, but traveled all the way to Iran and Armenia where it reigns supreme to this day. Bakeries boast their prowess in producing the best Pirog, usually with apricot jam or cherry preserve, but nothing compares to the one you bake right in your own home.
Food binds us. It reminds us of our most basic need for nutrition and comfort. We all share that, regardless of our foothold. Italians, Greeks, Arabs, Iranians, Armenians, Eastern Europeans are all famous for big family gatherings, hospitality and lavish entertaining.
But there are two subjects one must never discuss: Politics & religion, both of which are purely subjective. There are few disputes that cannot be resolved around a bountiful table. Best have a Pirog ready, just in case an argument erupts over coffee.
Pirog with Jam
Note: This recipe makes a large sheet cake and can easily be cut into half to produce 2 little squares. Just use 3 eggs for 1 big cake or 4 for 2 little cakes, 2 eggs each. Savvy?
Makes: One 13×9 or two 8×8’s
Prep: 30 mins
Oven: 400 *F
Bake: 30 mins
2 sticks butter, @ room temp
1 cup sugar
3 free-range eggs, @ room temp
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
12 oz jam (apricot, cherry, berry, etc)
1 more egg + splash of milk for brushing
Preheat oven to 400 *F.
Butter and flour a 13 x 9 baking pan and set aside.
Cream butter and sugar til soft and fluffy.
Add 2 eggs and vanilla.
Sift flour, baking powder and baking soda over the bowl and mix just until a soft dough forms.
Divide the dough into 2 parts.
Press about 1/2 of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan.
Stir jam and spread it evenly over dough.
Dust a clean flat surface with a bit of flour.
Roll remaining dough tp about 1/2-inch thick.
Use a clean, plastic ruler to cut and scrape strips of dough.
Arrange strips in a lattice pattern over the jam, then gently press strips along the borders.
Beat the last egg with a touch of milk and brush it over dough ropes.
Avoid getting egg onto jam, if you can.
Bake for 25 mins.
Cool completely before cutting into squares and serving.
Different, but the Same
When we think of food, we have a tendency to think certain flavors firmly planted in the land they represent. But, if you look at what you’ve seen in the history books, Man has always been restless, curiosity pushing him across the borders. Viking ships landing on Celtic shores seems unlikely, til you look at a map and realize that Scandinavia really isn’t far from the United Kingdom and, for all their incessant conflicts, Israel and Palestine are more alike than different. Just look at the food they share. Imagine what they could accomplish with a slab of Pirog at the negotiation table.