This classic Russian pirog (perog) is similar to a slab pie, but utilizes a firm buttery cake in place of the flaky pastry. Vibrant, orange-hued apricot preserves or jam comprise the filling for this easy and traditional recipe.
(This recipe was originally published in February 2014 as part of an Olympic Party series, but was updated with new photos and content in 2020).
My parents grew up in Armenia during the Soviet era. During this time, there was a lot of Russian influence on the people. This included Russian recipes filtering down to the masses. Russian pirog is a particular dessert that has withstood the test of time in my family.
I grew up enjoying these treats, and still do! Although there are savory recipes for pirog (essentially pie), this sweet version is the one I am most familiar with. It’s extremely easy to make, and absolutely delicious!
A moist, but firm buttery cake makes up the bulk of this dessert. Apricot jam filling adds sweetness. This is the perfect treat to enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee in the morning or afternoon. It’s a great after dinner sweet as well, and is great for entertaining guests or bringing to a potluck.
If you have basic baking staples on hand (butter, flour, leavening, sugar, and eggs) you are golden. A jar of apricot preserves or jam is all you need to take those simple ingredients to next level amazing! You can also try making this Russian pirog with a different variety of jam filling. We always use apricot, but this pastry would also be great with peach, raspberry, or strawberry jam if you want to try something different.
How to make Russian pirog
If you know how to make cookie dough, you can make this recipe. The dough itself is very similar to cookie dough in texture. We just take it a step further by layering it into this fantastic dessert stuffed with sweet jam.
First, prepare a 9-by-13-inch baking pan by either greasing it, or lining it with parchment paper. I like lining it with a piece of parchment large enough for an overhang on either side. This way I can easily lift the entire baked pirog out of the pan and cut it on my cutting board. This way I won’t scratch up the interior of my nonstick baking pan either.
Next, combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. In an electric mixer beat together the room temperature butter with sugar. Then one by one beat in your eggs, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions. Add the dry ingredients a little at a time, and mix just until combined. This will be a very stiff dough. You will need to give it a good stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to make sure all the dry bits gets combined. Use your hands if necessary to bring it all together into a cohesive mass.
Now we’re ready to assemble! Press about half of the dough into the bottom of your prepared pan.
Do your best to make it even and smooth. You can use your hands or even the bottom of a measuring cup sometimes helps to make it even and flat.
Stir the apricot preserves to soften them and make sure they are smooth. Spread the preserves evenly on the surface of the dough, leaving about 1/4-inch uncovered at the edges.
Next, roll pieces of the remaining dough into 1/2-inch thick ropes. Arrange the ropes diagonally in opposite directions alternating rows (for example: think of the pan as a map. Arrange ropes from southwest to northeast, skipping rows in between. Then arrange ropes from northwest to southeast, skipping rows in between. Then go back and fill in the skipped rows from southwest to northeast and so on. This will create an alternating lattice-type look).
Finally, use a long rope of dough (or several longer ropes) to create a border around the entire pan.
Very carefully brush egg wash over the ropes of dough, making sure you don’t accidentally get jam on your pastry brush. This will burn on your dough, so make sure you only brush the dough and not the jam. Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees F until golden brown.
Cool completely before cutting into squares and serving.
We like to serve squares of this Russian pirog in muffin or cupcake liners.
Other dessert recipes you may like
- Guava and Cheese Pastries
- Peach Cobbler
- Apfeslstrudel (German Apple Strudel)
- Guava Bars
- Date and Chocolate Rugelach
- Brown-Sugar Banana Date Bread
- Honeyed Cardamom Marshmallows with Pistachio
- Mango Tarte Tatin
- Strawberry Cheesecake Bread Pudding
Whether you grew up eating Russian pirog with apricot jam like I did, or are trying it for the first time, I’m sure you will love this recipe! Please leave me a comment if you try this, and don’t forget to rate the recipe as well.
Russian Pirog with Apricot Preserves
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 (12 ounce) jar apricot preserves or jam (About 1 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 13-by-9-inch pan or line it with parchment paper, leaving a bit of overhang so you can use it to lift out from the pan after baking. Set aside.
- Mix together the flour, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar until soft and fluffy. Beat in 2 of the eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly combined. And the vanilla and mix again. Then add the dry ingredients a little at a time, and continue mixing until combined. It will be stiff, and have the consistency of cookie dough.
- Press about half of the dough into the bottom of the greased pan. Stir the apricot jam to soften its texture and spread it evenly over the dough almost up to the edges, leaving about 1/4 inch up to the edges uncovered. Then take the remaining dough and roll pieces of it into ropes about 1/2-inch thick. Arrange the ropes diagonally in opposite directions alternating rows (for example: think of the pan as a map. Arrange ropes from southwest to northeast, skipping rows in between. Then arrange ropes from northwest to southeast, skipping rows in between. Then go back and fill in the skipped rows from southwest to northeast and so on. This will create an alternating lattice-type look). Finally, use a long rope of dough (or several longer ropes) to create a border around the entire pan.
- Beat the last egg and carefully brush it over the dough on top, being cautious to avoid the jam. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares (5 rows by 7 rows will yield 35 squares) and serving.