Raspberry Mascarpone Vatrushka

Thumbing through my cookbook, Crumb by Ruby Tandoh, I noticed this interesting recipe for a Russian sweet bread named Vatrushka. Anything with raspberries and/or mascarpone piques my interest so I bookmarked it for a later date.

I have a couple of Russian friends who I see occasionally and one day in May I had a coincidently were meeting up with both of them, in separate outings (one a dog walk, another was for coffee). What better time to whip up this Russian recipe to test and see if it was any good!

Vatrushka is a sweet bread, filled with a mascarpone custard. Traditionally, it doesn’t come with raspberries – Vatrushka is normally just plain mascarpone – but Ruby’s version has them topped with sharp, juicy raspberries to counteract the richness from the mascarpone custard.

Once I had one, I thought they were absolutely bloody delicious, but I knew the true verdict came from my two Russian friends. I surprised them with this treat, both of which were amazed, and they both said that these Vartushka were absolutely delicious, the best they had tried. They may have just being nice, but they are so good, so I am inclined to agree.

This recipe is from the book Crumb by Ruby Tandoh, a cookbook I would highly recommend. It looks lengthy and in truth, it does take a whole morning to make (as do most sweet bread), but it is worthwhile for this wonderful and unusual bake. You first make the dough and as per any yeasted dough, you leave to prove. After that comes the shaping, which looks complicated but isn’t – just read the instructions carefully and take your time. Another prove is needed. Then, a quick tasty filling is whisked up which fills these delicious little bus and you only have to wait 20 minutes for them to cook. Simple! 

Ingredients for the dough

  • 125g strong white flour
  • 125g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp instant dried yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 100g mascarpone
  • 120ml milk

Ingredients for the filling 

  • 150g mascarpone
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 100g raspberries
  • 1 large egg, beaten – to glaze

Method

  1. Combine the flours, yeast, salt and sugar into a large bowl
  2. Gently warm up the milk in a pan until it is lukewarm and then mix into the mascarpone until it is combined and lump free. Using your hands, add the milk mixture to the flour, bringing the mixture together to form a sticky dough
  3. Dust the worktop with a little flour (only a little!) and knead the dough for 10 minutes until it forms a soft, uniformed ball. Place somewhere warm, in a clean bowl covered with a damp tea towel and leave to prove for one hour
  4. After an hour, knock the dough back, turn onto the worktop and divide into six. Roll each portion into a ball and then flatten slightly into a disc using a rolling pin. You want it to be about 1cm thick. Now, carefully, using your thumbs around the edge of the disk, start to stretch the dough creating a rim around the edge. You want the disk to be about 6-8cm wide.
  5. Place the disks onto a couple of large baking trays lined with greaseproof paper and leave to rise for another hour
  6. During that time, in a bowl combine the mascarpone, egg yolk, caster sugar, vanilla and cornflour and whisk until smooth. Set aside
  7. Once the disks are puffed up, preheat the oven to 180oc. Using your fingers, carefully flatten the middle of the disk if they have puffed up, so the filling can sit neatly inside. Spoon the mascarpone mixture into the centre of each disk and top with a few raspberries. Glaze the rims of the disks with a little beaten egg and then bake in the oven for 20 minutes
  8. Leave to cool completely before tucking in!
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