This pampushky recipe is a classic Ukrainian garlic bread that is typically served with borscht but goes well with almost any soup or stew.
Lately I’ve been obsessed with baking breads from around the world. These include recipes like my Italian tomato focaccia made with a small boiled potato, traditional Bavarian pretzels dipped in lye, and Swedish cardamom buns to the less conventional mash-ups that I bake like my pretzel shakshuka. So, it’s no surprise that I have Ukraine on my mind and wanted to bake a traditional Ukrainian bread, which led me to making this pampushky recipe, a Ukrainian garlic bread.
It’s not a difficult bread to make, and its garlicky herby spice will have you reaching for another one after you finish your first one. Though it is typically served with a bowl of borscht soup, which is a beet soup, I found this bread goes well with nearly every soup and stew I make, from my easy-to-make chili, to Guinness beef stew to my Italian wedding soup.
What is Pampushky?
Pampushky, sometimes spelled pampuski, is the plural form of pampushka and is the word for a Ukrainian yeast-risen bun or donut. In fact, sweet pampushky are fried, much like American donuts or polish Packzi. But the version of the pampushky I have here are a baked savory Ukraine garlic bread that I discovered in the cookbook Mamushka, recipes from Ukraine and Beyond by Olia Hercules, a Ukrainian-British food writer (<– affiliate link).
Olia Hercules tells how the word pampushky can also be used to describe a beautiful plump woman. And that description also fits these plump gorgeous bread rolls that come out of the oven. Once the bread is done baking, a garlic and parsley infused sunflower oil is brushed over the hot bread. The smell is warm comfort for anyone in the house.
How do you make pampushky?
This pampushky bread starts with making a sponge, which is sort of like a preferment. This sound technical but it’s not. It just requires you to combine the yeast with warm water and a little bit of sugar to feed the yeast. Once the yeast starts to bubble (this is calling proofing, because you are proving that the yeast is still alive) you add in half the flour of the dough. Mix it all up to create a thick batter, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it overnight.
The sponge will rise overnight, and slowly grow. The purpose of the sponge is to increase the strength of the dough, get a more consistent hydration of the flour, and give you a more complex depth of flavor due to the fermentation and growth of the yeast. The sponge will appear “stringy” and sticky once it’s rested, indicating that the gluten in the flour has grown.
Once the sponge has rested overnight, you knead in the rest of the flour, along with some salt. Then brush some sunflower oil in an ovenproof pan and make 8 balls of dough. Arrange them in a circle, with one in the middle, cover with plastic wrap again, and then let it rise until the dough balls have doubled in size and are touching each other.
Brush with an egg wash and bake! While the bread is baking, make a garlic oil by chopping green garlic (or regular garlic) and flat-leaf parsley and mixing it with sunflower oil. When the bread is done baking, immediately brush the hot bread with the garlic oil, infusing it with the sharp earthy herby oil. Sprinkle some salt on top and serve.
Can you skip the sponge step?
Yes, you can skip the sponge step of this recipe, just keep in mind the resulting bread will not have a complex a flavor. Just proof the yeast in the warm water. Once the water has bubbly foam on top, add all the flour, knead the dough, and let it rise until double in size, about 1 hour. Then proceed with the recipe as directed.
What is green garlic?
Olia Hercules calls for wet garlic in her recipe, which is often called green garlic. It is young garlic that is picked early in the season and can you be found at farmers markets and specialty grocery stores. It looks a bit like thick green onions/scallions or thin skinny leeks. The bottom of green garlic is a little more bulbous. Later season green garlic has an even more bulbous bottom, looking more like small garlic heads. Once you’ve cut and discarded the root end, the entire green garlic, including the green top part, can be used in the recipe.
The taste is a more mild, less harsh garlic flavor, with herbal notes. If you can track it down, I highly recommend it for this recipe (and basically for anything you use garlic in, the season for it is very short). But if you can’t find it, don’t worry. Just use regular fresh garlic cloves and chop more parsley to compensate. I have notes in the recipe on how to substitute out regular garlic cloves for the green garlic.
If you wish, you can also substitute out the parsley for another green herb like dill or use spring onion or green onion/scallions for the green garlic. Obviously the flavor profile will shift and be different if you do, but it will still be delicious.
Why sunflower oil?
You can totally use butter or another neutral-flavored oil in this recipe. But sunflowers are the national Ukrainian flower and symbol of peace for them. So it’s only natural that sunflower oil would be used in this recipe for this Ukrainian garlic bread.
How do you store this bread?
This bread is best served immediately. But you can store this bread in an airtight container or ziplock bag overnight at room temperature. Refresh it in a toaster oven or regular oven at 300°F for 5 to 10 minutes until it is warm.
For longer storage, freeze the bread in a freezer Ziploc bag for up to 3 months. Just thaw by placing the frozen bread directly in a 300°F toaster oven or regular oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until warm.
If you like this pampushky recipe, check out some of these other yeasted breads:
- Garlic Knots
- Parker House Rolls
- Potato Rolls
- Easy Pizza Dough
- Herb Parmesan Wool Roll Bread
- Chocolate Hot Cross Buns
- Homemade Soft Rye Pretzels
- Soft Beer Pretzels Twists
- Cinnamon Rolls
- Fig Rosemary Focaccia with Honey Lemon
- Semla, Swedish Cardamom Almond Buns
Pampushky, Ukraine Garlic Bread
- 1 cup warm water 90 to 100°F 225 g
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast 7 g or 1 packet
- 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 385 g (plus 1 to 2 tablespoons more if necessary)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoon sunflower oil divided
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon water
Garlic Herb Oil
- 1 medium green garlic or 3 garlic cloves (see note below recipe instructions)
- 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley or 3 tablespoons if using garlic cloves (see note below recipe instructions)
- 3 tablespoons sunflower oil
- Kosher salt
- Make the sponge by stirring together the water and sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Add the yeast and stir again to dissolve. Set aside to proof for 5 minutes. There should be bubbles and foam on top after 5 minutes. If there is no bubbles, the yeast is dead and you need to start over with fresh live yeast.
- Once the yeast has proofed, add 1 1/2 cups of the flour (210 g) and stir to form a thick paste. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. The next day the sponge should have grown and will look "stringy" in texture.
- After the sponge has chilled overnight, scoop it out and place it in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and add the remaining 1 1/4 cups (175 g) of flour and the salt to the bowl. Stir the dough with the hook on low, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides with a spatula to incorporate the dry flour.Once the flour has been absorbed increase the speed to medium low and knead the dough for 3 to 4 minutes. The final dough should be smooth and slightly tacky but not sticky. If it is sticky, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour in the kneading process.
- If you don't have a mixer or want to knead the dough by hand, just add the flour and salt directly to the bowl with the sponge and mix with a wooden spoon until the flour is mostly absorbed. Then scrape the dough onto a flour dusted surface and knead the dough by hand for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and slightly tacky. If the dough is too sticky, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour during the kneading process but try not to add too much as that will dry out the bread.
- Once the dough is kneaded and smooth, grease a 9-inch cast iron skillet with 1 tablespoon of the sunflower oil. Divide the dough into 8 even pieces (about 75 grams each if you have a scale) and form round balls with each of them.
- Place 7 rounds of dough in a circle, around the perimeter of the pan, and one dough in the middle. Brush the top of the dough with the remaining sunflower oil. Brush any residue oil onto a piece of plastic wrap and cover the pan with the plastic, oil side down. The oil will prevent the dough from sticking to the plastic wrap.
- Place the pan in a warm area and let it rise until the balls have doubled in size, and are touch each other, about 45 to 75 minutes depending on how warm or cold the area is where you let the dough rise.About 15 minutes before the dough is ready, preheat the oven to a very hot 450°F. Once the dough is ready, remove the plastic wrap. Beat the egg yolk and the water together and gently brush the egg wash over the top of the balls of dough. Bake in the oven for 14 to 16 minutes or until the dough is golden brown on top. If you have an instant read thermometer, the inside should register 190 to 200°F.
- While the bread is baking make the garlic oil. Cut off the root of the green garlic and discard it. Finely chop the green garlic and the flat-leaf parsley. Place in a bowl and pour the sunflower oil over it, mixing it together. Once the bread is done, take it out of the oven and immediately brush the top of the bread with the garlic oil, making sure you get as much of the solid green garlic and parsley bits as possible onto the bread. Sprinkle with a couple pinches of kosher salt and serve immediately.