Although brunch – short for breakfast and lunch – is not quite a common tradition around the world, but it has become more and more popular these days. Coined in England in 1895, the term was made to describe the late Sunday morning meal for people who spent their Saturday night drinking and partying that they started the next day quite late. Brunch started to become popular in the United States in 1930’s.
The menu served for brunch is not much different from breakfast, but may vary depends on the country where it is carried out. Chinese restaurants around the world usually serve dim sum for brunch menu, and during special days like Christmas, New Year’s, Thanksgiving – to mention a few, hotels and restaurants would have special brunch menu, too. In Russia, people usually have flour-based delicacies for brunch like vatrushka or piroshok. But, which one is the best? It all depends on the eater’s favor, really. There is no competition. However, let us take a better look at these Russian delicacies to know the difference.
Traditionally, vatrushka is a Russian cheese pie. It is made from yeast dough, shaped into a ring or a shallow bowl, and then filled with quark or cottage cheese in the middle. The common size of a vatrushka is about five inches, but there are larger versions too. This cheese open pie can use sweetened quark with raisins and bits of fruits to add to the flavor. The dough can be made sweet or savory depends on the company – sweet for tea and coffee, savory for soup.
The modern type of vatrushkas use various fillings like ground beef, mixed vegetables, mushrooms, even caviar! But, of course, they are not really vatrushkas anymore – just pastry with filling. There is nothing wrong with that, obviously. People love choices, and if they go to the bakery looking for a vatrushka, they would love to see surprising options.
Vatrushka always uses yeast dough, although the type of the flour could vary. During the Soviet Union governance, white flour was a luxury to the people – so to make vatrushka they had to use wheat or buckwheat flour. Today, baking soda can be used to replace yeast and all-purpose flour can easily be found to make this Russian cheese open pie. The key to a delicious vatrushka lies in the dough. Once it is mastered, one should only make sure the fillings are good and premium.
Bakeries in Russia commonly offer sweet vatrushka for brunch, because it is the only right way to make one and can be considered as an appetizer before moving on to the heavier lunch. Getting the nice personal size with airy dough will make it perfect for brunch as it is not going to make you feel too full. Have it with a cup of good black coffee, and the rest of the day will fly.
Different from vatrushka, piroshki are more versatile in many ways. Oh, before we go on, you should know that piroshki is the plural form of piroshok. So these two words mean the same. Ok, let us continue. These Russian folded hand pies can be made from yeast dough, puff pastry, or pie crust. The fillings are as various as one’s imagination can take; from fresh fruits to smoked salmon, and the size is ranged from a hamburger size to chocolate bar size. Interestingly, piroshki are not exclusive only for brunch but also breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack time. A full three-meal course can use all piroshki, too.
For brunch, Russians usually choose the baked pastry type piroshki with light fillings like mashed potatoes or mushroom. But, some choose the fried smaller piroshki made with yeast dough and traditional filling; offal meat. Well that one may not be for everyone, but go ahead and ask Russians, they will tell you the offal piroshki are delicious if prepared the right way. Ground beef and smoked salmon are also common fillings for brunch piroshki. People tend to save the sweet piroshki for desserts, but there is no clear rule when it comes to eating piroshki. Mixed vegetables and cherry piroshki are also popular for Russian brunch.
Some people choose to have piroshki for brunch by sitting down in a diner. Savoring every bite while enjoying the weather outside or reading a book. But piroshki can easily be grabbed on the way to the subway or work from stalls, delis, or bakeries too – making them practical brunch if time is essential. Another point of piroshki being flexible delicacies.
So, which one is the best for brunch; vatrushka or piroshok? Taste wise, there is no competition between the two because when it comes to food everything is subjective – basen on personal preferences. Both vatrushka and piroshok are delicious for brunch. But, piroshki offer more flexibility for people who feel like they need the brunch but have no time to sit down for it. The shape of piroshki that look like stuffed buns or folded hand pie make it possible for them to be eaten while walking without getting all messy, while the vatrushka that is an open pie requires it to be served on a plate and for a dine-in – a proper brunch, if you like.
Vatrushka only uses yeast dough, while piroshki can be served as buns, puff pastries, or pie. Some people choose puff pastry piroshki over vatrushka because they feel easier on the tummy and leave more space for lunch, consequently. The authentic vatrushka is filled only with quark or cottage cheese, making it perfect for quick brunch. Piroshki, on the other hand, can be filled with a lot of variations that can be quite confusing and make one end up with more than one on the plate which cause them to feel like skipping lunch at the end of the brunch. So, saying all that, both are great for brunch, really. It’s all only about personal preferences. Have a good brunch!