Savoury Pagatche Cakes

Another recipe from Vierka’s rural kitchen is for traditional savoury cakes called Škvarkové pagáče, which would loosely translate as ‘Pork Cracklings Cakes’.

The vital ingredient for Škvarkové pagáče is škvarky or ‘shkvarki’. They are similar to pork cracklings except that shkvarki are made by melting and roasting fatty bacon WITHOUT its rind/skin on. It does change the taste and texture of the final product, so depending on the cut and quality of the bacon, our shkvarki might look like this:

Shkvarki – or Slovak version of pork cracklings

We have different kinds of pagáče or pagatche (possibly the closest transcription of the word into English), but what they all have in common is folded yeast-leavened dough. Sounds too complicated? I hope the photo guide below will prove the opposite, and help those who want to give it a try.

Savoury Pagatche Cakes

500 g flour
120 g butter
1 egg
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon white vinegar
200 ml cooking cream (12% fat content in Slovakia) or milk
21 g fresh yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
250 g ground shkvarki (pork cracklings)
2 tablespoons pork lard
1 egg to glaze
caraway or sesame seeds to sprinkle

Method:

Take the butter out of the fridge at least 30 minutes prior to dough making and let it soften.

In a heatproof mug, warm the cooking cream or milk over a low heat until lukewarm. Break the yeast into it, add the sugar, a pinch of flour and stir well. Cover and let stand in a warm place. Depending on the room temperature, the yeast will take 2 – 7 minutes to rise.

Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl, add the soft butter, egg, vinegar and salt, but be careful to spread it well into the flour, as salt would kill the yeast if in direct contact.

Transfer the fermented yeast onto the flour and knead by hand to combine all the ingredients well. You may need to add some milk to achieve a smooth, medium-thick consistency, as seen in the photo on the right.

Cover with a dish-towel and let stand in a cool place for about 30 minutes to let the dough rise.

Do the 1st dough folding as shown below:

Cover the dough and let rest for 15 minutes.

After the dough has rested, do the 2nd folding in the same manner as the first one:

Now that the dough is more meaty and flavoursome, it needs to be put to rest again. Cover and let stand for another 15 minutes.

After the second resting time, repeat the same procedure again and do the 3rd folding with the remaining third of the shkvarki mixture. Then roll out the folded dough until it is 1½ cm thick, and cut out the cakes. Arrange in rows on a baking tray lined with a sheet of baking parchment.

Glaze with the beaten egg and sprinkle with caraway and/or sesame seeds. Put in the oven and bake at 180°C for 15 minutes.

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The recipe yielded two baking trays of scrumptuous Pagatche cakes that are best eaten warm, but they can also be served as a cold snack with a cup of tea or milk.

Traditional Slovak Pagatche
Traditional Slovak Pagatche

In between baking, my friend Vierka was also cooking a Saturday lunch of light Rabbit Soup with a Garlic Roux and Beef Stew with Garden Peas. Have a look if you’re seeking still more inspiration.

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