Speķa pīrāgi or bacon pies/pasties have become the most popular and most recognised of Latvian treats. Traditionally they would be eaten at any major celebration, be it birthday, Chistmas or Jāņi; hand-made from yeasty dough and streaky smoked bacon.
The recipe comes from our aunt Brigita, who is the hostess (saimniece) at Sydney Latvian Church.
Pīrāgi (Bacon buns)
- 500ml milk
- 125ml cream
- 100g sugar
- 4 teaspoons dry yeast
- 125g butter, cubed
- 125g sour cream
- 1 egg, lightly whisked
- 1kg plain flour
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 500g middle bacon or side bacon
- 1 small onion
- salt and pepper
- Extra flour for rolling
- 1 egg for egg wash
For the dough
For the filling
- Pour milk and cream in a saucepan and add the sugar. Heat the mixture until it becomes blood warm. (Test by placing couple drops on your wrist, if the milk feels very hot, let it cool down a bit. Do not get the milk to the boiling point as it will kill the yeast.)
- In a large bowl, pour the milk mixture and add cubed butter, sour cream and the whisked egg, combine well.
- Add yeast, sifted flour, salt and mix until all is combined well to create the dough. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and does not stick to the hands or the bowl (add a bit more flour if necessary).
- Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and place in a warm spot for an hour or until the dough has doubled in size (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours). To speed up the process, place the bowl in a sink filled with hot water.
- Meanwhile, make the filling: finely cut the bacon and the onion, add a teaspoon of finely ground pepper and combine well.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Whisk the egg in a small bowl and set aside.
- Sprinkle some flour on the rolling surface and place the dough on it. Cut it in quarters and work on each quarter at a time by rolling it until the dough is 5 mm thick.
- Cut out circles about 6 cm in diameter (I usually use a mug for cutting) from the rolled dough. Place one heaped teaspoon of filling on one side of the circle and fold over. Tightly press the dough together using your fingers, place pīrāgs seam side down and bend in a shape of a half moon (the last bit is optional).
- Transfer pies on to the baking tray, spaced about 2 cm apart. Using a pastry brush, brush each pie with the egg wash.
- Place the tray in the oven and bake for 15-17 minutes until golden brown.
This amount of dough will make around 45 pies. Pīrāgi can also be filled with sauerkraut, mushrooms or minced meat. When used in other recipes, the amount of dough is considered to be one quantity.
May 14, 2015
[…] Author: Adapted from Latvian Eats Cuisine: Latvian Prep time: 100 mins Cook time: 25 mins Total time: […]
December 28, 2020
Do you have to activate yeast? I just made the dough and worried it won’t rise properly. Other recipes I’ve tried have you activate yeast.
December 28, 2020
I am using dry yeast and you do not need to activate it. Jut two things to keep in mind: make sure the yeast you use is fresh, I found small sachets work best, and the temperature of milk is not too hot. Good luck!
October 11, 2015
[…] I looked long and hard for the softest and airiest dough recipe, as making them from the regular yeast dough just did not cut it for me. However, I do usually make them from leftover pīrāgi dough, then I […]
December 20, 2015
Oh my, my all-time favorite Latvian munchie that my Latvian Mother-in-Law made was Piragi. I would have eaten dozens of these without blinking an eye.
I Americanized it by using packaged croissant as the dough. While a not too bad substitute, the homemade dough is soooo devine.
December 31, 2015
Oh, sugar in piragu dough!!! You’ve got to be kidding me……… YUK!
December 15, 2016
You obviously never had good piragi, very dry and tasteless without sugar
September 28, 2020
yeah but 100G seems an awful lot
April 19, 2022
I agree 3 tbsp to 1kg of flour is what I use
September 23, 2018
Even pizza made in town, has sugar in its sauce!
April 19, 2022
It’s a sweet dough so that’s how it’s made.. it isn’t bread dough
January 14, 2016
My boyfriend and his family are from Latvia, currently living in Northern Ireland, and when his granny comes to visit she always brings a big bag of these from Latvia, they are absolutely delicious :)
December 12, 2016
My mom brushed black coffee on the Piragi after they came out of the oven. I have no clue why? Has anyone heard of this?
December 21, 2016
My grandmother and mother mixed ground coffee in with the egg wash. I’m not completely sure why, but I always thought it was to make them a bit darker. These piragus are much lighter than anything I’ve ever had.
December 6, 2019
My grandma’s looked light like the ones in the picture. She was raised by a baker in Cesis so I’m assuming she had a pretty legit recipe (not to brag). I’m guessing the coffee is individual taste though.
November 22, 2019
My dad’s mother, my grandma did that, the reason being that she liked the piragi to be baked very, very light, and brushed with coffee to make them appear a darker golden brown.
December 12, 2016
[…] around in the wallet to attract money), white bread and salt (for blessing), beer, bacon buns (pīrāgi) and gingerbread. Table would not be cleared for the whole night so that prosperity continues in […]
December 13, 2016
My grandmother used to make them all the time. I grew up on them and now im gonna make them for my kids…had many when i was in riga …went well with zelta gold..
March 4, 2019
[…] for the recipe, I followed the lovely Liva on Latvian Eats, who explained the procedure in detail. As for the pies, they were amazing and I even drank some of […]
February 26, 2022
How is the best way to store the dough until the next bake, can you?
I made the dough today but would prefer to bake them tomorrow.
Tanks in advance!
March 11, 2022
The best way is to keep the dough in the fridge covered with cling film. I do not recommend it though, in my experience dough tends to overproof and piragi are not as soft as they could be.
October 31, 2019
I ( and my Grandmother, mother) use a simple pizza dough with a bit of extra sugar but I’ll try this. Thanks.
December 18, 2020
Pīrāgi are all about the dough. No way that made with Pizza dough or crescent rolls can they be called pīrāgi . Add cardamon to the dough for an extra taste and smell sensation.
January 4, 2021
How much cardamom do you add to the dough?
January 4, 2021
I don’t use cardamom in my dough, but I’ve seen recipes that state 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom for every 3 cups of flour.
December 5, 2019
For years we used the UK packaged pizza dough mix for the bread, which were fine, thin shell and like people say, managed to eat dozens at a time. For a while is then used Jamie Oliver’s pizza dough mix which gave a more breast and larger rising dough, but after trying these last night, doubling the recipie, this gives such a rich and soft dough. This really does hit the nail on the head in terms of matching that subtle sweetness of the ones you get in Riga from the markets. Don’t be alarmed of the sugar and creams in the ingredients, it provides a very balanced flavour, almost brioche texture to the finished Piragi which tastes just brilliant. Will be using this recipie from now on. Very very good.
March 10, 2020
The taste of Latvia every bite.
April 11, 2020
What type of cream is used? Thickened cream?
April 13, 2020
Any cream will do, you just need to add more fat to the dough. Some recipes use milk and oil, but I prefer adding cream so to imitate full fat milk I can’t really get these days anymore.
April 18, 2020
Relative used to make them and so happy I have the recipe will try asap Thank you
Also have been looking for a cake recipe she also used to make.
It was sponge like and had cream or something all over it and roasted almonds everywhere it was best cake I have ever eaten. She made it for every party. And Latvians know it as I would love the recipe please
March 14, 2021
[…] pīrāgi filling is a bit more time-consuming to make compared to chopping bacon and onion, but it is a good […]
December 13, 2021
Do you cook the bacon before putting it in the dough?
December 24, 2021
Hi, I never cook bacon or onion before filling the buns – it will have a very different flavour, if bacon and onion is cooked first
March 9, 2022
Just wondering if they can be prepared and then frozen ready to be baked at another time? I’ve made big batches in the past, baked them and frozen them once cooled. I then reheated them when needed. My grandmother always made these for Easter and Christmas and I’d like to have some freshly baked and warm for Easter Sunday. Thanks in advance and love your site.
March 11, 2022
I believe they are better when baked, frozen and reheated when required. I have had a bad experience with getting frozen yeast pastry to cook properly – it just turns hard and dry.
March 13, 2022
Thank you. I think I’ll stick to baking them first, then freezing and reheating.
November 2, 2022
[…] are so easy to serve as well – just place in a pretty bowl or place on a platter. Try this Latvian Piragi recipe – Your guests will love these unique eastern European […]
November 7, 2022
I just made these, and wow! Delicious!!!
November 17, 2022
Whenever I try to make piragi my dough comes out of oven crispy kinda hard not the softer version I usually have from others . What is a great method ? Secret? Any tip for the piragi dough?
November 17, 2022
The trick is to add lots of fat – butter, cream, or even oil. It makes the dough rich and soft
January 27, 2023
My Latvian step-grandmother used to make pīrāgi on special occasions. It was my job, if I’d been good, to use her special teacup to cut the rounds out, such happy memories. I will have to try this recipe for sure.
February 19, 2023
[…] are the real shit in Latvia together with those pierogi style buns and that soup that comes in a bread loaf. I will never remember the names as they are in Latvian […]