Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Ukrainian Fried Pastries

These delectable and addictive pastries are from a cookbook called “Mamushka,” a compilation of recipes from the London-based Ukranian chef and cookbook author, Olia Hercules. Olia has been raising money to privately send supplies to civilian volunteers and the Ukrainian army, in their fight against the Russian invasion of their homeland, including her brother who is on the front lines. She was also among those who established the “Cook For Ukraine” initiative, where many businesses and individuals are raising money for the cause. You can follow her indefatiguable efforts on Instagram here.

In addition to donating money to various organizations helping to feed and shelter refugees from Ukraine, I hope to raise awareness by posting this recipe and sources where you can donate (see the end of the post). It’s the very least I can do when I feel helpless looking at the heartbreaking images coming from Ukraine. These pastries, “bергуни,” “verhuny” or “angel wing” pastries in English, are very similar to a pastry made all over Italy, especially at Carnevale, called “chiacchiere,” among other names. They bring back memories of my mother and my childhood too, and can’t imagine the pain of those children and women in Ukraine separated from their fathers and husbands due to the war, not knowing when or if they will ever be reunited.

Olia’s recipe calls for vodka, (we could all use a good swig right now), whereas most Italian recipes use grappa or an Italian liqueur. I followed Olia’s recipe and they were delicious.

The dough is very delicate but it rolls out easily enough on a board covered with flour. Make a slit in the center of the strips and twist one of the ends through the center.

Fry them in oil until lightly browned.

Drain them on paper towels then dust with confectioners’ sugar and enjoy. Olia’s recipe calls for serving with a dulce de leche or chocolate sauce but I prefer to eat them just with the sugar coating.

If you’re looking for places to donate, here are just a few reliable sources to check out:

World Central Kitchen – Chef Jose Andrès started this to help starving people around the world, and he’s now serving meals to Ukranian families fleeing their home and in Ukraine.

Direct Relief: – A Santa Barbara-based charity working directly with Ukraine’s ministry of health to provide medical aid.

Doctors Without Borders – As always, they are responding to medical and humanitarian needs.

Unicef – Providing life-saving support for Ukrainian children and families

Also, be on the lookout for local businesses and cooks in your area or online who are participating in the Cook For Ukraine movement, with proceeds going to help that country.

Ukrainian Fried Pastries (Verhuny”
Author: Ciao Chow Linda via Olia Hercules’ “Mamushka” cookbook
  • 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz./235 g) flour, plus extra for dusting
  • pinch of baking soda
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz/60 g) butter, cubed and chilled
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 5 teaspoons (25 g) superfine sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz. 60 g) sour cream
  • 1 taablespoon vodka
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup (250 ml) sunflower oil
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz/60 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 5 black caardaamom pods, crushed and seeds extracted, then ground into a powder
  • dulce de leche or chocolate sauce, to serve (optional)
  1. Mix the flour and baking soda together, then rub in the butter with your fingertips until well combined.
  2. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the egg, egg yolk, sugar, vinegar, sour cream, vodka, and salt, then mix well into a firm pastry dough.
  3. Flour your work surface really well and divide the dough into two pieces.
  4. Roll one piece of dough out as thinly as you can.
  5. Slice the dough into 1 1/2 inch strips and then diagonally across so that you end up with 20 diamonds.
  6. (My cuts were more random and I had more thaan 20 cookies)
  7. Make a slash in the center of each diamond and pull one of the ends through the slash.
  8. Repeat with the second piece of dough.
  9. Heat the sunflower oil in a medium saucepan until very hot.
  10. Drop the diamonds in carefully and fry them briefly until they float to the surface.
  11. Lift them out with a slotted spoon aand drain on paper towels
  12. Mix the confectioners’ sugar with the cardamom and sprinkle over the pastries.
  13. Dip into dulce de leche or chocolate sauce if desired.

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