This is the recipe for the kulebyaka (кулебяка) dough
that I fell in love with in Russia. It's used to make both
savory and sweet Eastern European pies. In St. Petersburg you
can find many pie fillings, including mushrooms, cabbage, cheese
and green onion, meat, fish, and so on. Everything seems to
work with this recipe, so give it a try!
In a small bowl, stir together the yeast, sugar, and warm
water; put it aside for about 10 minutes until the mixture
starts to foam. In a large bowl, combine the flour with salt
and the 1-cm cubes of butter. Use your fingers to work the
butter into flour (frictionner, as the French say!)
until it has all crumbled. Add the yeast mixture,
yogurt (or sour cream), and the whole egg. Mix everything together to make
a soft dough. Then wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and
refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or up to 12).
After it's sat long enough, bring the dough out and let it
get up to room temperature. Meanwhile, grease a bowl with 1
tsp. butter. On a floured work surface, knead the dough
for about 5 minutes until it's smooth and elastic, adding
more flour as needed. Transfer the dough to the greased bowl,
cover with a dark cloth and leave it to rise in a warm place
until doubled in size (about 1 1⁄2 hours).
Filling: At this point it's a
good time to make your filling. It can be anything you like,
but one of my favorites is mushrooms! In a skillet I sauté
1 sliced onion and 1 pound of button mushrooms with butter,
salt, pepper and just a bit of sour cream. Another great filling
is cheese: try sticking a whole brie inside this dough. It's
Putting it together
Split your dough in half
to make two balls that will form the top and bottom layer of
the pie. Roll out each dough into a large rectangle.
Transfer 1 rectangle onto parchment paper on your baking sheet.
Spread the filling over the top, but leave a border of about
one inch. Drape the remaining dough rectangle over it to form
the top of your rectangular kulebyaka. Pinch the edges closed
with your fingers, and then trim any excess dough from edges
with a knife. At this point, you'll have some extra dough scraps
that Russians usually use to decorate the pie. Take a look
at mine (this time I decided to make a circular pie rather
Let the pie rise for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your
oven to 375°F (190°C). Whisk an egg yolk with milk to make
a simple egg wash, and brush it over the top of the dough.
This is what makes the beautiful golden color of the kulebyaka.
Poke some holes in the top of the dough to allow the steam
to vent while in the oven, and bake until golden brown, about
I know it's difficult, but let it cool for 10 minutes before
slicing and eating!
If you can use European-style
butter, it will
come out better because there is less water content.
If you're using a pie filling that gives off
excessive water (like fruits), be sure to cook
them in advance. It's also a good idea to put a
layer of bread crumbs on the dough before filling
it up. The bread crumbs will help absorb some of
the excessive water.