Ari's Picks

Hungarian Dill Pogácsa from the Bakehouse

A classic Hungarian “biscuit” for breakfast, lunch, or dinner

overhead view of 6 dill pogacsa on a baking sheetDoes anyone need a pogácsa? If you’re Hungarian, the answer is likely, “Yes!” While they’re little known here in the U.S., pogácsa are probably one of the most commonly served foods in Magyar culture. And if you’re not Hungarian? You still might want to have one—Mimi Sheraton lists them in her book 1000 Foods to Eat Before You Die: A Food Lover’s Life! Thanks to the Bakehouse, you can knock the list down to 999—all you have to do is swing by the Bakeshop, Deli, or Roadhouse on weekends during February to pick a few up. Eat them immediately, or take them home.

Once you try pogácsa, I have a feeling you’ll be clamoring for them with great regularity. (Jake Emberling, the manager in the Bakeshop, shared that, “Some of the pastry bakers cherish the ‘pogácsa scraps’ and scurry away with them to share amongst themselves right when they come out of the oven. It’s one of the sweet parts of making such delicious food, to see the joy and satisfaction of eating it.”)

Pogácsa (pronounced “poh-gotcha”) are basically perfect little bites of buttery, biscuit-like, Hungarian baked goodness. Sara Hudson, who manages the ZCoB’s marketing, says they’re a kind of a cross between a savory scone and a biscuit. Pogácsa are likely linked historically to Italian focaccia, to German pogatschen, and French fougasse. Because of the careful layering of dough, pogácsa are terrifically light and tender.

In the marvelous, nationally-recognized cookbook, Zingerman’s Bakehouse, co-author and Bakehouse managing partner Amy Emberling explains, they’re “rich and delicious rolls made in Hungary … eaten at breakfast, for a snack, for appetizers, and to accompany dinner. If you want to make a true Hungarian meal, pogácsa are an essential component.” One could make pogácsa in pretty much any flavor imaginable, but at the Bakehouse right now we’re making them with fresh dill and sour cream. The lovely green herbiness of the dill brightens up the buttery base of the pogácsa beautifully—it’s a touch of much needed greenery in a rather drab bit of Michigan winter.

You can do anything with pogácsa you would with biscuits.

They’re great as they are—I can pretty happily eat a couple of them right in my car! I also like to split them and toast them in a pan with a bit of butter (yes, they’re already buttery to begin with, but more butter is better!) until the cut surface turns a lovely golden brown. You can serve them on the side with almost any meal morning, noon, or night.

Use them to make pogácsa sandwiches—a little bit of bacon or sliced ham would be great. So would a small slice of that Bergkäse I wrote about last week. They’re excellent as well to put a fried egg on, then sprinkled with a bit of hot Hungarian paprika. Pogácsa are particularly scrumptious with the Liptauer cheese at the Creamery. I love ’em with Leslie Kish’s Sardine Spread (read on)! They’re also good with sweets—I’m really happy eating pogácsa with honey, or the Creamery’s great artisan Cream Cheese and honey.

Stop by the Bakeshop each Saturday and/or Sunday during February and put a pogácsa in your pocket! If you’re thinking of serving them for a big gathering, I’d suggest ordering ahead so we can make sure to have enough ready for you!

Want to bake your own pogácsa at home? Pick up a copy of Zingerman’s Bakehouse!

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