Getting a bread roll with dinner is popular all around the world, but in Ukraine that dinner roll is likely to be a pampushky, or, fluffy garlic bread.
Ever since moving to Ukraine I’ve started eating tons of the food (of course), but the majority of my traditional food consumption occurs when I visit Alona’s grandmother’s house. Like most grandmothers, forcing people full of delicious food is tradition, and one of the most commonplace dishes is a freshly baked loaf of Pampushky. Pampushky, or written properly, пампушки, are Ukraine’s version of garlic bread, and one of the most popular Ukrainian recipes!
Like most bread recipes, there is little change between various individuals way of making them. Some people make pampushky in little two bite balls, some make one giant loaf meant to be sliced. I prefer somewhere in between; Medium sized rolls that are easy to rip apart, while still providing enough bread to enjoy. As this is Alona’s grandmother’s recipe, I do it exactly like she does. I believe it’s the best pampushky I’ve ever had.
How To Make Traditional Pampushky
Like most bread recipes this one begins with activating the yeast. Most people say 10 minutes is all you need, but I let my yeast mixture foam up for a full half hour. I use one metric cup of water (250 ml) and one tablespoon of active dry yeast. Whisk that together for a minute and then let site for 30 minutes on a counter top.
I knead this bread dough (in the beginning) using my stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. While most people will do it by hand (stand mixers are prohibitively expensive in Ukraine for most people) I find using the mixer to save a lot of time and mess. I add 500 grams of flour and 25 ml of Olive Oil to the bowl and turn the mixer on the lowest speed. Then I slowly pour in the yeasty liquid and let the machine run for 5 minutes, or until well combined.
I remove the dough from the stand mixer and form it into a ball. I coat the ball with oil and place it in a large bowl. Next, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and place it in a warm location to rise. I put it in my oven with just the light on. After two hours the dough should be near tripled in size.
How To Form The Dough Into Balls
After two hours of rising, punch down the ball of dough and knead it again for 5 minutes. Grab a hunk of the dough and squeeze off a ball as seen in the picture above. I know it is hard to tell size, so just assume I have really large hands (like impressively big). Oil the ball and place it in a round baking dish like a pie or cake tin.
On the left are the rolls right after I pinch off the dough balls. The right side have been re-covered with the kitchen towel and placed back in the warm location for another half hour.
Before popping the bread in the oven I like to give it an egg wash. This is completely optional, but it does create a darker, crustier top for the bread. Some people like the whole thing to be soft and spongy, I like the top to be hard (since I use the top as a spoon to scoop up the first bite of borsch). Just beat the egg and brush it over the dough balls. Then pop them in the oven preheated to 225 Celsius for 23 minutes.
Making The Ukrainian Garlic Bread Sauce
In Ukraine we use young garlic, which is more “wet” than what you will find most places. The garlic tends to be spicier and more flavorful, and this is what is traditionally used to make pampushky. You can of course use regular garlic as well.
So far we haven’t added any garlic to the bread at all, so how is it Ukrainian garlic bread? That all comes down to the sauce or glaze. In fact the traditional Ukrainian pampushky method is to make a paste of olive oil and garlic. Sound familiar? That’s actually what an aioli is. Real aioli doesn’t use egg or mayonnaise, it is just an emulsion of garlic and oil.
You can whisk the emulsion by hand, but I find it easier to just pop 5-6 cloves of garlic with a glug of oil into a blender and let it rip. You’re left with a thick yellow paste that will be brushed on the bread right as soon as you take it from the oven. As you brush on the garlic sauce you will hear it sputter once it hits the hot bread, and this fuses delicious garlic flavor to the pampushky rolls.
What Do You Eat Pampushky With?
Pampushky are traditionally paired with borsch, the famous Ukrainian beetroot soup. In fact, I’ve never been to a restaurant here and ordered borsch without being given a roll of delicious garlicky soft bread. It’s pretty much a match made in heaven. These garlic bread rolls are also popular with other soups, although the pairing is less iconic as with borsch.
One thing that isn’t traditional, but is one of my favorite things to do, is to make the pampushky dough balls a little larger and turn them into hamburger buns. I know it sounds odd, but the bread outside is stronger than a brioche, while still still being rich and soft on the inside. You can also cut it into strips, fry them, and make a sort of white bread grenki as opposed to the traditional rye.
Pampushky (Ukrainian Garlic Bread)
- Stand Mixer (optional)
- Baking Dish
- Food Processor or Blender (optional)
- 500 grams Flour I used AP, but you can also use bread flour
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil plus more for coating the dough and making the garlic sauce
- 250 ml Water lukewarm
- 1 tbsp Yeast active dry
- 1 tbsp Sugar white, granulated
- 5 cloves Garlic young garlic is traditional, but regular garlic is fine too
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 Egg beaten
- In a small bowl add the lukewarm water, yeast, and sugar. Whisk together for a minute then let sit for a half hour.
- Using a stand mixer (or by hand) add the flour, salt, and olive oil and turn the machine on to the lowest speed. As it combines slowly pour in the yeasty liquid. Let the machine run for 5 minutes or until well kneaded.
- Form the dough into a ball with your hands, rub with a little oil, and place in a bowl. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and place in a warm place. I use the oven with the light on. Let rise for 2 hours.
- Remove the dough from the warm place, punch it down and knead for another 5 minutes. Using your thumb and forefinger pinch off smooth balls of dough and place in a baking tray like a pie or cake dish. Cover with the kitchen towel and place back in the warm place to rise for another half hour.
- Take out the risen dough balls and preheat your oven to 225 Celsius. Give the dough balls a brush over with the egg wash (optional) and place in the oven to bake for 23 minutes or until golden brown.
- While the bread is baking add the garlic cloves with a bit of oil to a blender and let it emulsify until you get a thick paste. The more oil you use the whiter the paste will look, but you don't need much since this is garlic bread. You can do it traditionally by whisking minced garlic with the oil rapidly for a long time.
- As soon as the bread is done, remove it from the oven and brush over the garlic sauce. You want to do this step as soon as you remove the bread while it is still at its hottest point. Brush on all the sauce, and pour over any extra so it seeps down the cracks and sides. Let rest for 5 minutes before tearing in. Enjoy with a classic bowl of traditional Ukrainian borscht.