For the next year or two, I’m planning to explore breads, cakes, pastries and other baked goods from many different countries, including places we don’t normally hear about as well as the obvious ones. Being a rank amateur, will I get to 80 before I give up? I don’t know, but watch this space…
A Plăcintă (the plural is Plăcinte) is a flat pastry or filled bread from Moldova or Romania. It’s a pretty broad term: look up recipes online and you’ll find dozens of different variants: the filling can be sweet or savoury, the dough can be yeasted or not and can be made and rolled in various ways.
For this one, working from a Youtube video from someone called Katy’s Food, I’ve chosen a cheese filling and a yeasted, layered dough, which results in a kind of cheese bread. Each ball of dough is rolled out thinly and wrapped around its filling into a sausage-shape, which is then formed into a spiral before being baked.
The result is a layered, flaky bread that’s very delicious.
Vera, the only Moldovan I know and the person who suggested I try making plăcinte, gave them her seal of approval, although she recommended adding chopped spring onions to the cheese filling and she would have used a medium-soft curd cheese: the nearest you get in London is “twaróg”, which you can find in Polish food shops or larger supermarkets. As far as I can see from the web, quark is similar (though I’ve never tried using it).
I’ve reduced the recipe to make 6 plăcinte, which is what fits into my oven. There’s 100g of flour and 80g of cheese in each one, so they make for a very large snack or a substantial component of a lunch.
- 600g strong white bread flour
- 300 ml of warm water (around 40℃)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 8g dried yeast
- 500g cheese (I used 300g feta and 200g grated cheddar, but see above)
- 2 large eggs
- sunflower oil
I won’t give instructions for bread-making basics like mixing, kneading, proving, testing for doneness: if you’re already a bread-maker, you’ll have your favourite methods for these; if you’re not, this probably isn’t the right recipe to start on. The best book I’ve found so far is Andrew Whitley’s Bread Matters.
- Weigh out and mix flour and salt
- Mix warm water, sugar and yeast, leave 10 minutes or so until foamy
- Combine wet and dry mixes and knead until you have an elastic dough. then leave to rise
- While the dough is rising, make your filling. If using a hard cheese, start by grating it, then beat the eggs and combine them with the cheese(s) to form a paste.
- Cut the dough into six pieces (it’s probably a good idea to weigh these out to ensure they’re all the same)
- On a floured surface, roll a piece out into as thin a circle or rectangle as you can manage. Transfer the circle of dough onto a large plate or other surface, and brush with a thin later of oil until the surface is covered. Repeat for the other pieces, stacking the circles on top of each other.
- And now the tricky part of the recipe: take your first circle of dough and transfer it to your original surface, stretching it with your fingers as far as you dare without tearing it. Take a sixth of your filling, spread it into a sausage the length of one end of a circle of dough, then roll it up into a cylinder. Now form the cylinder into a spiral and transfer to a baking tray lined with baking paper or parchment.
- When you formed all six plăcinte, leave them to prove
- Brush with beaten egg
- Bake at 180℃ fan (mine took around 20 minutes, but your oven may differ: I get the distinct impression that mine runs hotter than most.
Finally, here are some photos at various stages of the process: