Piragi (Latvian bacon rolls)

(continued)…the most popular holiday snack in the Latvian household. The house filled with the cosy fragrance of baking Piragi usually means a special occasion or holiday – especially Christmas.

This recipe is especially handy because it can be stretched out over two days. The day before you prepare the dough which can rise in the fridge. Also the filling can be prepared and cooled for the final preparation the next day. You can use your bread machine if you have one for the mixing and kneading part which really simplifies everything. Just follow the order of the ingredients placed in it given for your machine. Stop it after the first or second rising.

Pastry (proofing yeast the day of dough preparation – This step not needed if using bread machine):
1/3 cups warm water
2 1/2 tsp. dry granular yeast (optional: add 1 tbsp. dried sourdough starter)
1 tsp. sugar

Filling (good idea to prepare it the day before so it is fully cooled)
100 gr. bacon (not smoked) cut into small pieces
100 gr. ham cut into small cubes
1 medium onion cut into small cubes
salt and pepper to taste (remember the bacon and ham are already salted)

To prepare filling: Fry the bacon in frying pan until the fat separates, drain. Turn into a bowl. Saute’ the onion until transparent. Mix into bacon together with the cubed ham. Keep in fridge until next day.

The next day to prepare dough:
prepared yeast mixture (above)
3 tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup melted butter (part rendered chicken or duck fat good)
1-1/2 cups tepid milk
2 beaten room temperature eggs
1/4 cup sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
1-1/2 tsp salt
4 – 4 1/2 cups (450 gr.) good all purpose unbleached flour
1 beaten egg for glazing


1. If using a bread machine place the ingredients into the machine according to directions. Stop the machine after the first or second rising and proceed following the shaping instructions (otherwise place dough in fridge until the next day).
2. With the traditional method mix the prepared yeast mixture (as of above) with all the other ingredients. Mix well; then knead until dough comes off the side of the bowl. Form into a smooth ball and place into a large greased bowl. It can be placed in the refrigerator until the next morning.  On baking day place dough on a floured board and let it warm up for 1 or 2 hours.

3. For shaping the dough cut the dough into 4 even parts. Roll each part into a roll about 12 cm. long.
4. Then cut each into 5 or 6 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball that you line up in front of you on the board.
5. Starting with the first ones, flatten each ball, place a tsp. of filling in the middle, press seams together and place rolls seam side down on a greased cookie sheet spacing them evenly.

Filling the piragi dough

Shaped piragi ready for the oven

5. Let the piragi rest for about 30 minutes to rise (cover with a sheet of parchment paper).
6. When risen brush rolls with a beaten egg. Bake in a 375deg F (190deg C) preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Makes about 20 piragi.

Depiction of “Jani” an ancient midsummer festival celebrating the summer solstice (June 23-24) The oak tree plays a major role in this festival because its leaves are twined together into a crown that is placed on the heads of whose name is John (Janis)