At my office in Hungary, you couldn’t have a meeting without pogácsa. Pogi, as they are affectionately known, are sort of the bagels of Budapest; if you organized a coffee break, you’d better provide pogácsa!
There are about as many different ways of making pogi as there are bakeries, and everyone has an opinion about where to find the very best. Some are rich and flaky, more like an American biscuit, while others are more solid, rather like a scone. They come in different sizes, too, from just an inch or so across to as big as a fist. You can get pogácsa made with cheese, with potato, with pumpkin seeds, with little bits of pork crackling, or any combination of all of that. Naturally, our favorite Budapest czukraszda, Daubner, makes some of the most tender, delicate and delicious pogácsa – they’re worth waiting in the long lines to get some hot from the oven.
Unlike some other bakery specialties, like Dobos Tort or Sacher Torte, though, you can make pogi at home easily and successfully. Valerian’s mother makes a version that is as much potato as flour, and every family seems to have its own treasured recipe. The ones we’re making here are both flaky and fluffy, studded with seeds and tangy with chèvre. Maybe you’d like to make some to bring to the office, as a change of pace. We took some to the preschool for Valentine’s Day, so instead of the traditional little rounds, we cut them in heart shapes. Whatever shape yours take, let us know how you like them!
Pogácsa – Hungarian cheese biscuits
This is a yeast dough, so factor in a couple of hours to let it rise. If you prefer, leave the pumpkin seeds whole for a different texture.
Makes about 2 dozen small pogácsa
- 1⅓ cups flour
- 1 Tbs instant yeast
- 2 heaping Tbs salt
- 4 oz/113 g chèvre (soft goat cheese)
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds
- 4 Tbs olive oil or pumpkin seed oil
- 1 egg
- 1 cup sour cream
- yolk of one egg, for the wash
- In a dry pan over medium heat, toast the pumpkin seeds until they begin to hiss and pop. When they have cooled a bit, pulse them a few times in a food processor, or roughly chop with a knife.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, yeast, and chèvre to form a soft dough. Stir in the whole egg, the sour cream, and the the pumpkin seeds. With a wooden spoon or in a stand mixer, knead the dough until it forms a shaggy, somewhat sticky ball.
- Cover and let rise in a warm place until double, about 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350° F/190° C.
- Turn out the dough onto a floured surface. Sprinkling more flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking, roll it out to about ¼”/1 cm thick, then fold it in half, in half again, and one more time. Roll it out again to ¼” thick and repeat the folding twice more.
- Rolls out the dough to about half an inch thick, and cut out your pogi with a biscuit cutter or even a small glass. Reroll as necessary to use up all the dough. Put the cut shapes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Lightly beat the egg yolk and brush it over the tops of your pogácsa for a nice shine.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the tops are nicely golden. Place on a wire rack to cool, and enjoy!