I was born and raised in Riga, capital city of Latvia. Latvian cuisine is well-known for its wonderful variety of delicious cakes, sweet buns, scrolls and mouth-watering savoury pastries. One of the most popular ones, suitable for practically any occasion, are usually tiny, savoury pastries with smoked speck filling, made from the rich yeast dough.
We never made them at home. They were available everywhere, at every coffee shop and café, were absolutely delicious and never disappointed. Occasionally we had them served warm, just from the oven. It was a delicious and nourishing breakfast or lunch on the run during our students years. Two weeks ago I noticed something unexpected – smoked speck – in our local Aldi supermarket, and I decided that it was the time I tried to make these pastries gluten free.
I am glad that I first made these pastries, and only later did research on the recipes of the authentic dough. It is truly a very rich dough, closer to brioche ingredients, compared to regular yeast dough for pastries. It has a considerable amount of sugar, butter and eggs. In some industrial recipes, which I managed to find, I have encountered quite an unusual ingredient in this dough recipe – mashed potatoes. I was not completely surprised, because mashed potatoes are used, together with the potato water, in Amish recipes for their famous, amazingly soft dinner rolls. The ratio of mashed potatoes to flour is 1:4. However, this is only my gluten free and health conscious version of these pastries. The filling is flavoursome and rich enough, to allow me to use Well@Good Crusty Bread Mix as a base for the dough, with the addition of an egg and a small amount of sugar and butter.
for the filling
- 150g finely diced smoked speck (I trimmed all the fat bits, but it was my personal choice), any good quality smoked bacon, trimmed of fat excess can be used. In some of the recipes speck is mixed with ham
- 3 medium or 2 large onions finely diced
- pinch of fennel or caraway seeds
- 1 table spoon of olive oil or unsalted butter
- salt and pepper for seasoning
for the dough
For the dough, the quantities are given for the half of the contents of the Crusty Bread Mix box, if the second half is used to make a bread loaf. It makes the dough for 14 individual pastries. When using the whole box of bread mix to make the dough for pastries, double quantities of extra ingredients
- 200g or half portion of dry ingredient mix from gluten free Crusty Bread Mix box
- half of the yeast sachet from the box
- dusting flour (half from the box, but any gluten free plain flour will do)
- 1 egg, room temperature, just lightly beaten with a fork
- 200 ml warm water
- 2 table spoons of Lurpak spreadable unsalted butter (or any unsalted, melted and cooled butter)
- 1 table spoon of sugar, 10g
- 1 egg
smoked speck filling
- dice onions and lightly fry them with fennel seeds in oil/butter on low heat
- add finely diced smoked speck, add salt and pepper
- cook smoked speck with onions on low heat until onions are completely translucent
- put the filling aside and let it cool
- dissolve sugar in warm water, add half of the yeast from the sachet, combine the yeast with water
- mix cooled melted butter (just warm) with lightly beaten egg
- in a big bowl combine dry ingredient mix with both wet ingredients, stir everything together with a spoon
- rest the dough for 15 min
- dust the working surface with flour and remove the dough from the bowl, using spatula dipped in water
- dust the dough and coat your hands with flour, knead the dough for 1-2 min
- make a dough in a long log, cut the log in 14 individual pieces, form a ball shape from each piece
- roll each piece individually to make 5-6mm thick circles
- add smoked speck and onion filling, the dough is moist enough to close the edges by pinching them together, always have your fingers dry and covered with flour
- transfer pastries on a baking tray lined with the baking paper, putting them the edge down
- make an egg wash, lightly beating an egg with 2 table spoons of water with a fork
- brush pastries with an egg wash, cover them with warm wet towel and let them prove for 30min, place baking tray in a warm place or on top of the bowl with warm water
- start an oven at 190 degrees, after 5 min, when the temperature is around 100 degrees place baking tray into the oven and bake pastries for 25-30 min.
It is the second time I make savoury pastries using Well@Good Crusty Bread Mix as a base for the dough. In this post I did not use step by step images of working with the dough. They can be seen in mushroom pastries recipe.
I am surprised that, notwithstanding the use of gluten free flours and quite a simple dough recipe, the taste of speck pastries was exactly as I remember it. They were at their best still warm from the oven, but the next day it took only 10 sec in microwave to bring their taste and texture back. My husband said, that my pastries are better than what he remembers, but I know he is biased.
Labu apetīti, or bon appetite in Latvian!