November 11, 2008

Pagach (Slovak Cabbage Bread)

In between rounds of Sushi Go Round (Thanks Allergy Mom! It's my new game addiction) I found myself in the mood for some comfort food. My cravings turned to something I've wanted to make for awhile, pagach. Pagach is Slovak bread filled with cabbage or sometimes potatoes. I always loved it slathered in butter when my mom and grandma Helen would make it. I had my parents dig out the recipe from my grandmother's church cookbook a while back only to find out that the recipe calls for ten cups of flour!! My dad also found this recipe online for a smaller batch and with a few alterations I made my first batch on my own. I was happy with the result. Though my batch was a tad thinner it could have easily passed for one made by my mom or grandma. Here's what I did:

Pagach (Slovak Cabbage Bread)
Makes 2 large flat breads (approximately 11x14 inches)
Adapted from and The Sacred Heart League Cookbook from Livonia, Michigan.

3 1/2 cups flour (I used white spelt, but I plan on using all-purpose next time)
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 pkg) dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon of sugar
2/3 cup scalded milk, cooled to lukewarm (I used warmed soy milk)
1 egg
1/3 butter, melted (I used Earth Balance margarine)

1 medium to large head of cabbage, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
4-6 tablespoons of butter (again EB for me*)
salt and pepper
*Optional: 1/4 teaspoon of granulated garlic (I found that when I'm using Earth Balance instead of margarine a tiny bit of dry garlic makes cooked cabbage taste more like it was cooked in butter. I have no idea why this works but I do it all the time.)

Additional butter (or EB)

-Stir the yeast in the water and a pinch of sugar and let sit for a few minutes to proof.
-Add flour and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook and stir together to distribute.
-Beat the egg into the warm milk along with the melted butter and remaining sugar. Add the wet ingredients to the flour and salt and mix until a smooth dough forms.
-Place the dough in a oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rest until doubled.
-When doubled, punch the dough and give it a few quick kneads before recovering and allowing it to double again.
-Make the cabbage filling by cooking down the cabbage, onion and butter (garlic powder optional) with salt and pepper to taste. You want the cabbage and onion to get soft and golden brown. I cook it over medium-low heat and stir frequently. Allow it to cool.
-When the dough has doubled a second time divide it into quarters. Take one quarter and roll it out on parchment with a little flour until it is ~1/2 inch thick. Spread half of the cabbage mixture on top. Roll out a second quarter to match and lay it on top of the cabbage. Pinch the edges closed, cover with a damp cloth and allow it to rest for half an hour. Repeat with the remaining quarters of dough.
-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
-Roll out the sandwiched dough and cabbage as thin as you like (1/2 to 3/4 inch.) Brush with butter (or EB) and prick the top with a fork. Transfer the dough onto a baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on top. Cut into pieces and serve with more butter (or EB.)
-Realize that cabbage and starch is a wonderfully comforting thing.

These places have a potato filling if you are interested in trying it that way:
The Joy of Soup: Pagach

I'm adding this to Yeastspotting which is a wonderful weekly collection of recipes that use yeast. My collection of to-do bread, cracker, and other recipes always increases with each roundup.