THE GREAT EUROPEAN FOOD ADVENTURE | Saint Petersburg | Pyshki Piterskiye Пышки Питерские (Petersburg ‘donuts’)

Known as ‘pyshki Piterskiye’ and regarded with affection, they look like donuts and they have a similar taste to donuts, just don’t tell a native of Saint Petersburg that you like their prized donuts, because you will be told they are not donuts – they are dumplings.

Closer to home the real debate about their ‘pyshki’ is whether the home-made can replicate the machine-made.

For some, who like their nostalga and the taste that accompanies childhood through the years, there is no debate.

For others, who believe that the taste will always be personal, the home-made versions give the cook an opportunity to play with the flavours, to produce a unique taste.

Never mind the shape or the hole in the middle, it is the taste that matters.

Baking powder or yeast?

We believe the yeast dough makes the best ‘pyshki’. Then they are not genuine Petersburg, they are fake Moscow!

You can’t win.

Pre-Ferment

  • 135 ml water, warmed
  • 30 g vanilla sugar
  • 10 g flour
  • 10 g yeast

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water, add the flour and sugar, whisk into a batter, leave to ferment for 45 minutes.

Dough

  • 500 g flour
  • 275 ml yeast mixture
  • 90 g sour cream
  • 90 g vanilla sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 40 g butter, melted
  • 5 g salt
  • Oil, for frying
  • Icing sugar, for coating

Work the butter into the flour, add the salt, vanilla sugar and egg yolks and mix with a wooden spoon. Add the yeast mixture, knead for ten minutes to produce a smooth but slightly sticky dough.

Leave to rise for an hour, de-gas, leave for another hour.

Cut the dough into 45 g pieces, shape into balls, leave for 30 minutes. Punch a hole in each ball, widen into a ring.

Heat the oil to 180ºC.

Place dough rings into oil, fry for 90 seconds each side. Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels on a large plate.

If you want your ‘pyshki’ to have a melted coating apply the icing sugar at this stage. If you want a speckled appearance wait until the ‘pyshki’ have cooled a little. They should be eaten fresh.