Ukrainian and Slovak Pagach Bread (Pagac)

Pagach stuffed with cabbage

Oxana Denezhkina/Getty Images

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Rising Time: 2 hrs 30 mins
Total: 3 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 12 servings

Ukrainian/Slovak pagac or pagach (puh-GAHTCH) is traditionally served at meatless meals as for Advent, Lent, and the beautiful Christmas Eve supper known as velija.

Pagac is a flatbread with a potato or cabbage filling and makes an excellent vegetarian entrée. Some people call this Slavic pizza. The name shares the same origin in Greek with focaccia, and like it would be baked simply in the fireplace or oven in eras past.

This recipe uses a yeast dough to produce a springy bread base. That adds a significant amount of time to the recipe as the dough goes through two rises, but gives a very nice result.

Ingredients

For the Dough:

  • 1 1/4 cups water, divided

  • 6 teaspoons sugar, divided

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons canola oil or butter

  • 1 package active dry yeast

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

For the Potato Filling:

  • 2 cups potatoes, cubed

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 cup water, 4 1/2 teaspoons sugar, salt, and oil to a boil. Remove pan from heat and let cool to lukewarm.

  3. Dissolve yeast and 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar in 1/4 cup lukewarm water and set aside.

  4. Place flour in bowl of a stand mixer or regular bowl and add sugar-water mixture and yeast-water mixture. Mix until well incorporated and then knead dough until smooth, about 7 minutes by machine or at least 10 minutes by hand.

  5. Transfer dough to a greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled.

  6. While dough is rising, make potato filling. Boil potatoes in water until soft. Drain and mash potatoes. Season mashed potatoes with salt to taste. Add d grated cheese to hot potatoes and mix well. Allow potato filling to cool before continuing with filling of dough.

  7. Punch down dough and turn out onto a floured surface and divide into two portions. Cover dough with greased plastic and let rest for 15 minutes.

  8. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, roll one portion of dough into a 9-by-13-inch rectangle or 12-inch circle. Spread potato filling on dough to within 1/2 inch of the edge.

  9. Roll second portion of dough on a lightly floured surface and place on top of filling. Pinch edges together to seal. Prick top all over with a fork to (this will allow steam to escape during baking). Let bread rise, covered with greased plastic, for 30 minutes.

  10. Heat oven to 375 F. Bake bread 30 minutes or until it is browned on top and bottom. Remove from oven and cool bread on a rack.

Variation

To make cabbage filling rather than potato, core and chop 1/2 pound cabbage. Sauté the cabbage in oil or butter and season to taste with salt. Allow the filling to cool before placing it on the dough.