Artisan dairy producer Andre Kogut, for the past 12 years, has been making premium organic cheeses at his Blue Bay dairy in Mornington, south of Melbourne. Products include the delicious and versatile European cottage style cheese Quark. Vareniki are classic Slavic dumplings, usually filled with quark or fresh curd cheese, berries, mashed potatoes or other meatless ingredients. They are half moon in shape and are typically made using a yeast-free dough. The following recipe is designed to work well with Andre’s wonderfully textured Quark.
Classic Vareniki Dough
Makes approximately 30-40 individual vareniki.
This recipe is for a fluffy yet slightly dense vareniki texture. To the bite they are slightly al dente, unless over boiled. For lighter, fluffier results you can add a little buttermilk or kefir (50ml); or baking soda (1 tsp).
200ml lukewarm water
4 cups plain flour, plus additional flour for kneading and rolling
1. In a large mixing bowl add all ingredients and combine with a wooden spoon until a basic dough begins to form.
2. Turn out the dough mixture onto a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand, adding only as much additional flour as needed to keep dough from sticking. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Continue to knead for a further 12 minutes (20 in total), working the dough to stretch glutens well.
3. On your work surface cover the dough with the upturned bowl and allow the dough to rest at room temperature for approximately 30 minutes. While the dough is resting prepare the quark filling for the centre of your vareniki.
500g Blue Bay Quark
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar
In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients well.
Vareniki Folding and Cooking Method
1. Divide the dough into four portions and roll each portion into 3cm-thick logs.
2. Next cut the logs into small 2cm pieces.
3. On a floured work surface press each dough piece by hand (or using a rolling pin) into small flat circles, approximately 8cm in diameter and 2-3mm in thickness – fine enough to be delicate when eaten, but strong enough for folding in the quark filling.
4. Place 1 teaspoon of quark filling in the centre of each circle of dough. Fold dough over into a half-moon shape and seal edges a little section at a time, twisting each join at 45 degrees with fingertips to make a floral pattern.
Continue until all of your dough and filling is used up, setting aside the completed vareniki on a wooden board. Note: Vareniki can be frozen at this stage for cooking later if desired.
5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a gentle boil. Add the vareniki in batches and cook until they float to the surface, approximately 3 minutes, slightly longer if from frozen. Continue cooking for a further 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the vareniki with a slotted spoon and place in a colander to drain well.
Blue Bay European-style light sour cream
50g melted butter
Serve vareniki topped with melted butter and Blue Bay European-style light sour cream. Fresh berries and/or homemade jam can be added as an optional extra.