1586 Sweet layered Russian pirog*

Sloenyj sladkij russkij pirog


Ingredients (for a large pirog)

  • 5 lbs flour
  • 6 eggs
  • teaspoon salt
  • lb sugar
  • about glasses, or nearly 1 lb, clarified butter
  • not less than 1 lb, or glasses, jam
  • 1 wineglass vodka


(For meat or fast days.) Beat 6 eggs, or 1 glass eggs, in a wooden bowl. Add 3 glasses sweet water, that is, lb sugar dissolved in water, 1 wineglass vodka, and ½ teaspoon salt. Mix thoroughly, sprinkle on lbs sieved fine wheat flour gradually, beating with [the end of] a rolling pin** as well as possible until the dough begins to pull away from the rolling pin.

Transfer the dough onto a table sprinkled with ½ lb of the remaining flour. Cut the dough into 60 pieces, lightly roll each piece into a small bun, and then, sprinkling with flour and using a rolling pin, roll out each bun into a flat cake the size of a small dish. Pile these flat cakes one on top of another, sprinkling thoroughly with flour so that they do not stick together. Using a cloth or a small feather, grease a large round platter with clarified butter. Take one cake and stretch it out in your hands, using your fingers to work the edges first so that they are not too thick, and then work on the center, stretching the dough over your fists so as not to tear it. Stretch the dough out onto the platter, tuck in the edges, and grease this layer with a buttered cloth. Top this with the next stretched layer, grease with butter, etc.

Add 25 sheets in this way and spread the top layer with jam and fruit without the least bit of juice, using 1 lb or a little bit more. Turn up the edge of this layer so the jam does not leak out (this layer of pastry must not have the slightest hole). Add 35 more layers on top of the jam, greasing each with butter and tucking the edges under the platter.

Trim off the extra dough from under the edge of the platter (krendels can be made from this dough), grease the cake with butter, and bake it for half an hour in an oven that is not too hot. To serve, the edges may be trimmed again with a sharp knife. Sprinkle with sugar. This pirog may be made in the evening, kept in a cold place overnight, and baked the next day. It will keep for more than a month in a cold place. It is unnecessary to reheat it before serving.

For 6–8 persons, prepare the pirog from half the indicated proportions, make 45 layers in all, place 20 under the jam and 25 over the jam, and stretch out on a glazed dish.

Do not add even a drop of butter to the dough; use it only to grease the layers.

A pirog for fast days is prepared in exactly the same way, but the eggs are omitted. Instead of using eggs, add 1 glass water for the large proportions and ½ glass for the small pirog, and substitute poppy seed or sunflower seed oil for the butter.

*According to Barbara Wheaton, Lancelot de Casteau gave a recipe for a similarly layered pastry in his Ovverture de Cuisine that was published in Liège in 1604.

**By turning a rolling pin or skalka on end, it could be used for beating or pounding.