I grew up in Los Angeles, where there is a large Russian and Ukrainian population. In my youth, of course, they were all part of the greater Soviet Union. My best friend, my sister's best friend, and many friends beyond that, were Russian. By the time I was in 4th grade I knew the cyrillic alphabet and was eating borscht and fluffy soft Ukrainian garlic bread rolls, called Pampushki, on the regular.
What is Ukrainian Pampushki?
In a Ukrainian household, it is almost unheard of to serve borscht (an earthy root vegetable and cabbage soup) without pampushki. Pampushki (or pampushka, singular) are an incredibly soft pull apart bun scented with fresh dill and finished with garlic butter poured over the top. In fact, TasteAtlas lists Pampushki as one of the 10 most popular Ukrainian dishes.
My Tricks for the Best Ukrainian Garlic Bread Rolls
- Start with the best flour, milk, and butter. This recipe is so simple, that the ingredients are what make it
- Use a cast iron skillet or dutch oven for even cooking
- As with any bread, take your time with the dough. Preheat your oven so that the top of your range is warm for rising. The dough will double in size on its first rise, and then you will shape and let it rise one more time in the pan.
- The more garlic butter the better!! This bread gets finished with a drizzle of warm garlic butter poured over the top after cooking. The more the better for me!
Fresh Out of the Oven: Ukrainian Garlic Bread (pampushki)
- 3 teaspoon cane sugar
- 2-¼ teaspoon dry active yeast
- ¾ cup oat milk, unsweetened (or other plant based milk)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour plus a little more for rolling
- 2 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- 3 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
- ½ cup vegan butter
- large flake sea salt for finishing (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375f. Lightly grease a cast iron skillet or dutch oven and set aside for later.
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer*, place 2 tablespoon of the flour, the yeast, and the sugar.
- Place the oat milk and 2 tablespoon of the butter into a small pot and heat until it is warm to the touch, but not hot. If the milk is too hot it will kill the yeast. (on a thermometer, this will be 110f)
- Slowly whisk in the warm milk into the yeast mixture.
- Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes until it is frothy and bubbly
- Place the bowl on the mixer with the dough hook attachment and start on slow speed.
- Slowly add in the flour, letting it mix in with the dough a little at a time. It will be moist enough to pull away from the sides of the bowl, but not be wet. (if the mixture is too dry, you can add 1-2 tablespoon of water to help it come together)
- Add in the salt and the dill and continue to mix on medium-low speed for 5-8 minutes. In the end, the dough will be smooth and elastic.
- Remove from the mixer and place the dough in a greased bowl covered with a piece of plastic wrap. Let rest in a warm place until doubled in size (about 30-45 minutes).
- Lightly dust your work surface with flour. Remove the dough from the bowl and lay on the table. It will be one flat circle of dough. Divide the dough evenly into 12 pieces by cutting it like a pie into 6 pieces, and then cutting those 6 pieces in half again.
- With the palm of your hand, gently roll each piece of dough into a small ball.
- Lay the dough balls evenly in your skillet or dutch oven (no lid). Leave a little space between them so that as they rise they have space to grow. Cover and let rest another 20 minutes or so to let them rise again (they will almost double in size and their sides will touch).
- While the dough is on it's second rise, place the butter and the garlic in a small pan and cook over low heat until the butter is melted and slightly frothy. The garlic aromas will be strong.
- When your pampushki are ready to go in the oven, gently brush the tops with a little of the butter.
- Place in the center of the middle rack in your oven and cook until golden brown (about 18-20 minutes).
- Remove from the oven and immediately pour the remaining garlic over the top of the buns, making sure that each one gets drizzled with a generous amount. Sprinkle with large flake sea salt to finish.
- These are hard to resist eating immediately- they are best when warm out of the oven. But if serving later on, keep in the pan on a rack or lifted, at room temperature. cover with a loose towel.