This set of yeasty sweet buns in a single pie, which has been essential on Ural region tables for decades, is a perfect example of how to make show stopping pastry from the simplest ingredients.
In Slavic tradition, this kind of pie consisted of lots of stuck together buns, and has several names depending on the region. The most used in the Urals is razbornik, which derives from the Russian verb literally meaning 'to take to pieces'. The pastry is also known as Chamomile and United Family Pie - so all the names are about the iconic multi-bun shape of the pie.
Despite being considered very Russian, razbornik is more likely to have European roots: it is very similar to Buchteln yeasty rolls which are traditional in Bohemian and Austrian cuisine. So, perhaps razbornik was the creation of Volga Germans who brought the recipe with them when invited to Russia during the reign of Catherine the Great.
The authentic Buchteln had a very similar shape, were usually filled with plum jam and served with creamy vanilla sauce. In Russia, however, these multi-bun pies are baked not only with sweet but also savory fillings: fish, minced meat, spring onions with egg and others. Regarding the sweet variations of stuffing, the most popular are surprisingly candies! You can add chocolate, caramel, fudge or any other type of candies right inside each bun and bake razbornik so the candies melt in the oven in order to get a nice and smooth filling.
It is also common to add jams, boiled condensed milk (Russian dulce de leche) or poppy seed paste - basically the only rule for razbornik filling is that it's thick enough not to leak. Another great thing is mixing all these various fillings in a pie to make razbornik with a sweet surprise: add different stuffing in each bun without having any idea which one you'll get.
Today I'm cooking one of the most traditional versions - with thick apricot jam; there's nothing like the combo of airy bun stuffed with sweet-and-sour fruity filling.
Ingredients for the dough:
- 150 ml milk
- 320 g plain flour
- 50 g butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp yeast powder
- 2 tbsps sugar
- ½ tsp salt
Ingredients for the filling:
- 200 g apricot jam (or any other sweet thick filling such as fudge, dulce de leche etc.)
- 20 ml oil
- + icing sugar for serving
1. Start with your classic yeast rich dough: in a bowl mix lukewarm milk, salt and sugar. Whisk 2 eggs and add 2/3 into the milk mixture - leave 1/3 of the egg wash to smear the pie right before baking.
2. In a separate large bowl, sift flour with yeast powder and add chopped butter. With hands grind the mixture into fine crumbs to get a kind of sandy consistency, then make a 'crater' in the middle.
3. Pour in milky mixture inside, and start carefully mixing liquid and dry ingredients together. When you notice the dough becomes thicker, transfer it onto a cooking surface dusted with some flour and continue kneading with hands or a stand mixer for 7-10 minutes. Add another tablespoon of flour if needed.
4. Round the dough into a ball, put it into a slightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm corner for around an hour.
5. When the dough doubles or even triples in size, gently punch it down and move to form your razbornik pie.
6. Separate the dough into 15-17 equal parts, round each into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
7. Next, working with one ball at a time, gently flatten it with your hands and put a heaped tablespoon of the filling in the middle. Tightly pinch the edges and form a nice seamless bun. Repeat with all the dough pieces.
8. Before assembling razbornik in a baking form, smear each bun with some flavorless vegetable oil ever so slightly - it will help to easily take the buns apart from the ready pie.
9. Cover the pie with plastic wrap and leave for another 15 minutes to rise. Then gently smear the top with the remaining egg wash and bake for 30-40 minutes at 160C.
10. The ready pie should be golden-brown outside and well baked inside. Let it cool at least to room temperature; then dust with icing sugar and enjoy.