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.
8ounces(2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1teaspoonpure vanilla extract
1(12 ounce) jar apricot preserves or jam(About 1 cup plus 1 ½ tablespoons)
Preheat the oven to 400°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 ¼ inch up to the edges uncovered. Then take the remaining dough and roll pieces of it into ropes about ½-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.
I like lining my pan 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, and won't scratch up the interior of my nonstick baking pan in the process.
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.
The Greeks have a similar jam tart called pasta flora. It's usually shaped into a circle like a pie, and also features a lattice topping.