Its been a while since I posted one of my recipes, but this one is good enough to make up for the wait!
Plachinda (or plachinta, blachinda, blachinta, depends who says it!) are essentially pumpkin turnovers. Pumpkin hand-pies, if you will. Theyre another treat from my Germans-from-Russia heritage and I have very fond memories of my mom and grandma making these.
Plachinda can be sweet or savory, depending on your personal preference. Me, I prefer sweet, and only know how to make them the sweet way, as thats how my family made them. A funny story in my family is that of one of the first times my aunt went to her in-laws house for a meal. Her mother-in-law had made plachinda, and my aunt was super excited, because it was one of her favorite treats. She took a bite and was horrified to get a mouthful of onion and black pepper in with the pumpkin!
This is my Grandma Schaeffers recipe, cut down to a smaller batch (she had a hard-working farmer husband and five kids to feed, so she made lots!).
First, make your dough.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup shortening or cold butter (both work equally well)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt (if using shortening or unsalted butter)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup cold water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar
Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt (if used), in a large bowl. Cut in the butter/shortening until it looks mealy and is well incorporated (like when making pie dough). Add the egg, water, vanilla, and lemon juice/vinegar and stir to form a dough. Its going to be all crumbly and messy at this point, thats OK! Using your hands, pack the dough together into a ball, cover it, and put it in the refrigerator to chill for about an hour.
Now, make your filling.
2 cups pumpkin (either from a pumpkin youve roasted, or canned just make sure you get plain pumpkin puree, not the pumpkin pie mix)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil or butter
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
(or, you can use 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice in place of all the spices its the same thing!)
Put everything in a saucepan and bring to a bubble slowly over low to medium heat. If you cook it too fast, the egg will curdle same thing will happen if you forget the egg and add it in later to the already hot pumpkin, and then you have to pick out little pieces of cooked egg white (not fun, trust me but if it does happen itll still be fine, it just wont look as nice). Let it bubble a couple minutes, stirring constantly, then take off the heat and let cool until its not steaming anymore.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets or jelly roll pans with parchment paper (or lightly grease them).
Sprinkle your table or countertop with flour and roll out your dough. You want to get it about the same thickness youd use for pie crust, but try to roll it into a square-ish shape instead of a circle. Cut the dough as if you were making a tic-tac-toe board to get nine squares of dough. Drop a spoonful of filling into the center of each square (a little more on the bigger squares, a little less on the smaller ones), then fold the dough over the filling and pinch all the edges shut. If the dough sticks to the counter, slide under it with a metal turner/spatula thingie to loosen it up. Dont fret if your plachinda dont look perfect as you can see, mine sure dont! The world wont end if a little filling spills out.
Transfer the plachinda to the cookie sheets and cut a little slit in the top of each one to let out steam. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown (if you want to be extra sure theyre done, and especially that the eggy filling is cooked through, stick an instant-read meat thermometer in the steam vent theyre done at 160 degrees F). Transfer to a cooling rack or spread-out newspapers to cool. Resist the urge to eat one immediately, as you will burn your little tongue and the roof of your mouth on the hot filling!