30 large
Vanessa Levis

This recipe for soft buns filled with onion and smoked bacon or speck came into my life in the 1970s via a reader of Woman’s Day when we were running a national bake-off. In those days the recipe seemed so exotic and different. I thought I’d never tasted anything so good and have been making them ever since. We, the judges, were so impressed they won a major prize. I have since learned that there are many variations to these Russian meat pies; many contain mince or cabbage, and often they are fried instead of baked. But this is still the recipe I like best.


Quantity Ingredient
1 1/4 cups milk
125g butter
2 tablespoons sugar
450g plain flour
2 teaspoons salt
7g dry yeast
1 egg yolk
beaten egg, to glaze


Quantity Ingredient
3 large onions, finely chopped
60g butter
250g speck, or smoked streaky bacon, finely and neatly diced
freshly ground pepper


  1. Heat the milk, butter and sugar in a saucepan on low until lukewarm and the butter has melted, stirring occasionally.
  2. Sift the flour with the salt into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the yeast. Make a well in centre and pour in the milk mixture and egg yolk. Stir with a wooden spoon, gradually incorporating flour. Beat dough for 3 minutes, until smooth and elastic. You can use your hand or the dough hook of an electric mixer to make the dough. Sprinkle a little flour on top, cover with plastic wrap then a folded tea towel, and leave in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  3. Meanwhile, make the filling. Fry the onion in the butter on low heat, stirring, until golden, cool. Add the speck or bacon with a good grinding of pepper.
  4. Preheat the oven to 230°C. Turn the dough out on to a floured board, knead lightly, and take a tablespoon-sized piece of dough. Top with a teaspoon of filling and fold edges of dough over to enclose filling. Mould into a ball. Place on lightly greased baking trays. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling, cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 15 minutes.
  5. Brush with beaten egg and bake for 10–15 minutes or until golden and cooked.


  • To freeze, pack in oven bags in serving-sized batches. It is a simple matter to lift them out of the freezer and pop them straight into a 180°C oven for about 10 minutes to reheat.
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