Shangi are the ultimate comfort food from the Urals. They are basically medium-sized open pies made with the mashed potatoes. They go back in history to the pre-Soviet times but were also extremely popular in the Soviet Union. There were even special cafes called shanezhnye where you could come and have these hot pies with a cup of tea. A kind of a working class crêperie.
They are the type of the Russian food which is the equivalent of the Italian cucina povera, i.e. it uses simple wholesome ingredients which don't cost a fortune.
I haven't done any shangi in ages, but after talking to my Mum on the phone, I decided to recreate one of the favourite dishes of my childhood and Uni days. My friend's granma baked the best shangi, they were always fluffy, soft and melted in the mouth. Fab after a walk in the cold weather. And the aroma of the pies baking in the oven once you entered their flat was very tempting. We could hardly wait for a new batch to be taken out of the oven, but the strict grandma would tell us off, they had to be brushed with the hot melted butter and put under a clean towel for 15 minutes or more before she would offer us any.
So, for me this dish is a blast from the past.
You need to start with making the dough.
Warm up about 200ml of milk in the pan, add 15g of granulated sugar and 2 tsp of dry yeast. Let the sugar and yeast dissolve in the warm milk (it shouldn't be hot). Then add 200g of the strong white flour (or 50/50% of the strong white and wholemeal flour), knead well for about 5 minutes. Let it in the warm place, covered with the clean towel for about an hour. The dough will double in size.
Beat 1 tsp of sugar with 2 egg yolks until pale. Add to the dough and mix well.
Add another 250g of the strong white flour and about 120g of melted butter, plus 1/2 tsp of the Cornish sea salt. Let in the warm place for another hour. Knead at least once during that time.
In the meantime prepare the mashed potatoes from 2 medium potatoes (about 500g), 50g of melted butter, sea salt and hot milk (about 50-70ml, don't add all milk at once, check the consistency, it should not be too runny).
Once the dough is ready, divide it into 8-12 rolls. If you go for 8, they will be quite big. Place the flattened rolls of dough on the trays covered with the foil and oiled. Spread 2 tbsp of the mashed potatoes on top of each bun. Leave them in the warm place for another 15 minutes.
The shangi will get even bigger in size. Now take about 150g of the soured cream or plain Greek yogurt and spread at least a tablespoon on top of each potato pie. Put the trays into the oven preheated to 180C. Bake for 20 minutes.
Once shangi are taken out of the oven, pour a teaspoon of the melted butter on top of each of them. let them rest for 10-15 minutes. Lovely eaten with any pickles. And a cup of hot sweet tea served in a glass.
And that's it. Your culinary trip takes you to the Urals in Russia.
For this recipe I have used Good Natured Splendid Spuds but you can use any good quality potatoes.
Good Natured produces a range of fruit and vegetables including the wholesome Splendid Spuds.
For more information visit their website.
I am offering my recipe to Good Natured's Winter-Warmer recipe challenge, and hope you will be inspired to try it.