Сочени | Socheni — Pastries Stuffed with Fresh Cheese
May 29, 2018
10 Kopeks for Happiness
If you recognize the pastry in the picture, you and I probably belong to the same culture and generation. Most likely you are smiling and wishing you could get one of those right now. I bet you are thinking about your school years and other favorite cookies and pastries from a long time ago, aren’t you?
Socheni, aka Sochniki, don’t need any introduction to those who know what they are. The rest of people would probably pass them by as they look pretty rustic and not as attractive as modern pastries. This phenomenon is an illustration how much we treasure our childhood food memories. They stay with us forever.
Sochen(singular) or socheni(plural) are rolled flat portions of dough stuffed, folded, and baked without sealing the stuffing. They can be stuffed with sweet and savory ingredients, but the ones with fresh Farmer’s cheese aka tvorog are the most widely known and loved.
Where Do You Get Your Inspiration To Cook?
In many cases, I get mine from my guests. I’ve been dreaming of making Socheni for the last 20 years, but the stars have never aligned until yesterday. My guests and I have been talking about Socheni, how we love them, how they were one of those foods to consume in large amounts uncontrollably, and I thought — now or never! We found a GOST recipe and made fresh cheese with whatever I could find in my fridge — half bottle of fermented baked milk aka Ryazhenka (available at BEM), a package of Lemon Noosa yogurt, and a quarter of a cup of half-n-half. It took some time to make cheese keeping the mixture of dairy products in a bowl floating over the bain-marie and then straining it properly. But the result was rewarding — a beautiful creamy cheese with a flavor of baked milk (similar to this cheese).
When baked, Socheni had some cracks on top, and we’ve been wondering what went wrong. They smelled and tasted great though. Since we baked them in the evening, I was pessimistic they would keep their awesomeness until the morning. My concern was the stuffing will make the crust moister, and its quality will suffer. In the morning, I discovered the cracks almost disappeared, because the cheese filling cooled and deflated a little. I will probably try small modifications in the future, but this version is already pretty good.
It’s already scorching hot in Central Texas. But early in the morning, the light is golden and gentle, and the air is still fresh. Socheni and some tea in a shadow of live oaks filled my morning with dear flavors, nostalgic images from the past, and piece. And it was good.
for 200g/7oz homemade baked milk tvorog using bain-marie
8ozyogurtNoosa (Lemon, Honey, or Plain)
4ozhalf-n-half12% fat cream
Preheat oven 400F. Prepare a 1/2 size baking sheet lined with a silicone mat.
In a small bowl, combine room temperature butter, salt, sugar and whip the butter until fluffy. Add an egg and continue whisking until thoroughly incorporated. For small amounts a handheld mixer with a whisk attachment is recommended, otherwise, use a stand mixer.
In a larger bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Add the whipped mixture and make a soft dough. It should not be sticky. Shape it into a ball, cover with a plastic wrap. The dough can be made in advance and stored refrigerated.
For homemade tvorog, combine fermented baked milk, Noosa yogurt, and half-n-half in a bowl and keep it floating in barely simmering water until whey begins to separate and soft cheese curds form on the surface. Gently stir to let the heat to distribute evenly in the bowl. If you have a thermometer, measure the temperature in the center of the bowl. The tvorog is ready to strain when the temperature reaches 50-55C/122-131F. Strain the whey using a strainer lined with cheesecloth. When most of the whey is gone, place a light weight on top of the cheese to remove more moisture. Keep it until the desired moisture level is reached, for about 30-45 minutes. Store tvorog in a closed container, refrigerated.
Combine all ingredients for stuffing in a bowl and mix whell. If using homemade soft and creamy tvorog, skip the sour cream. After you divide the egg yolk, make the egg wash immidiately to avoid overdrying the egg yolk. Combine it with milk and salt and mix well.
for shaping and baking
Divide the dough into 6 equal portions and roll each one into an oval 1/4" thick. Each oval is a sochen. Arrange them on the baking sheet lined with a silicon mat. Divide the stuffing into 6 equal portions and cover half of each sochen, them fold the other half on top of the stuffing. Keep the cirved edge open. Socheni are supposed to be shaped without a seam. Brush shaped socheni with an eggwash.
Bake for 15 minutes or until light golden. Transfer them to a cooling rack to rest until they reach room temperature. They are stored and served room temperature.