1 liter 2.5% kefir
75 grams fresh yeast (1 ½ small squares)
150 grams margarine, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
7 ½ cups flour, divided
2 eggs
3 tablespoons smetana
12 tablespoons (¾ cup) sunflower oil, divided
1 egg and 2 tablespoons of water, beaten together for egg wash


Bring kefir to room temperature in the oven, microwave or just by leaving it out for several hours. Crumble yeast into large bowl of kefir and beat with a whisk or fork. Add sugar, salt and 1 ½ cups flour and beat well. Cover with a clean towel and let sit for 1 hour in a warm place.

Add 2 eggs, melted margarine and smetana. Beat well. Add 3 cups additional flour and beat with a spoon until smooth. Add 3 more cups of flour and fold in with your hands. Pour 3 tablespoons of oil on your hands and into the bowl, and knead the dough for 3 minutes. Pour 2 additional tablespoons of oil on your hands and into the bowl and knead the dough an additional 2 minutes. Cover again with a towel and let rise 20 minutes.

Pour 2 tablespoons of oil on your hands and into the bowl and knead for 5 minutes. Cover and let rise 30 minutes. Pour 2 tablespoons more of oil on your hands and into the bowl and knead one minute. Cover and let rise 20 minutes more.

Oil your hands, a clean working surface and baking sheet with the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil. Knead the dough for 1 minute and turn out onto the working surface. Squeeze small bun-size pieces of dough from the large piece of dough. Form into balls with your hands. Put on the oiled baking sheet, then repeat with remaining dough. Allow the buns to touch each other on the baking sheets, as they can be pulled apart after baking. Brush with egg wash and bake in a 300C oven until golden brown. This is the hottest temperature before broiling in a Ukrainian oven, and if there is no broiler, then it is the hottest. When the rolls are done, remove from oven and cover with a towel until ready to eat. Serve with a bowl containing 1 cup of water, 1 tablespoon sunflower oil, a pinch of salt and 10 garlic cloves cut in half. Pampushki are a traditional accompaniment to borshch. Yields 40-48 pampushki.

Bon Appetit!

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