Peynirli Poğaça - Turkish Feta And Herb Filled Savoury Buns
It has been a week since my last post and it’s not because I haven’t cooked or baked. I just decided to take a week off from blogging to enjoy a little more “family” time than usual but I am back with these little filled buns called “Poğaça” (pronounced POH-gah-cha). I first made these about a couple of weeks back and, once again, I have to thank Finla because she was responsible for that in some measure.
She recently sent me a packet of Feta cheese along with all the other stuff. Feta cheese is something that is just beginning to make an appearance on store shelves here, but is usually so expensive that I haven’t so far been able to justify (to myself) the need to buy cheese at that price. Now I know there are many ways to eat Feta, most of them pretty simple enough but when you get to lay your hands on an ingredient that isn’t easily available you want to make something unusual and memorable with it. At least, that’s the way I think.
So instead of eating it with olive oil, or in a salad or a sandwich I was looking for a simple way to use it without the feta cheese-spinach combination which seems to be a universal favourite. Then I discovered the Poğaça, and then on delving into this further I found that this bread is made, and is known by different names, in many Mediterranean and Eastern European countries in one form or the other. Where it is called Poğaça, it seems to be different in each country!
So in Serbia, Croatia and some other Balkan countries, where it is sometimes also known as Farmers’ bread, Poğaça is a yeasted flatbread which sometimes is made with a filling. This Turkish version called Peynirli Poğaça are typically filled with feta cheese and parsley (the “peynir” refers to the cheese and is probably where the Indian “paneer” comes from). These Poğaça are small palm sized soft and fluffy savoury buns, topped with nigella/ sesame seeds and eaten for breakfast or as a snack with tea.
I believe there are other types of Poğaça made in Turkey, but this one seems to be the most popular (or well-known). Traditionally, fresh parsley is used in the filling but I didn’t have any on hand and used dried parsley instead. If you have fresh parsley, then do use that but in slightly smaller quantity.
If you cannot find Feta, you can use crumbled paneer or cottage cheese. Just remember to add a bit of salt to the filling and I would suggest that fresh home-made paneer is the best because it is creamier and moist and makes a lot of difference. You could also add a bit of chilli flakes to the filling to add a bit of “zing” to these buns.
The bread part of this bun is so good, that you could use this recipe with a filling of your choice. While that would no longer be Poğaça as the Turkish know it, but it would still be one very good filled/ stuffed savoury bun.
For the dough:
For the filling:
For the topping:
- Mix together the warm milk, sugar and yeast in a small bowl and stand for 5 to 10 minutes.
- In another larger bowl (or the bowl of your food processor) mix together the flour, salt, yogurt and oil. Now add the yeast-milk mixture and knead till you have a soft and elastic dough which is not sticky. You can add a bit of flour or liquid, if needed, to get this consistency of dough.
- Roll the dough into a ball, cover and keep aside to rise for about 45 minutes to an hour. In the meanwhile, mix together the ingredients for the filling. This filling should be enough to for 12 poğaçe.
- When the dough has risen, deflate it and divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Flatten each piece in to a circle and put a spoonful of filling and bring the sides of the circle up and pinch together to form a filled bun. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Do not be tempted to over-fill the buns, because then the buns will spilt on baking with the filling spilling out!
- Place the poğaçe, the pinched side down, on lightly greased baking sheets. Brush them with cream (or milk) and sprinkle the topping of your choice. Lightly press the topping down with your fingers so they stick to the buns. Keep them at room temperature for about 20 to 30 minutes and then bake them at 180C (350F) for about 20 to 25 minutes till they’re golden brown on top.
- Let them cool a bit. Serve them warm with coffee or tea.
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