Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pagash Pizza - We Knead to Bake 21

Last month members of the We Knead to Bake group posted many interesting filled and decorated savoury breads. We were given a free hand to choose and work around the chosen recipe. This month again, Aparna was not able to work on a recipe, she chose that we bake Pizza. This is what she said:
"So here's what we are going to do for September. Let's bake some PIZZA!
I'm sure a lot of us bake them at home regularly, so let's do something different. Find a recipe (and adapt or create one) and bake a pizza (sweet or savoury is your choice) that's out of your comfort zone, or different from what you usually make.
Get creative with the base, or/ and the toppings."
Well, there was a time I did not know what pizza was nor did I realise that so many variety of cheese can be. But then, pizzerias were not around anywhere in India back then.The closest to cheese we had ever has was hung curd and curdled milk that was home made. Later also, it took me a long while to get myself to try a cheese laden pizza. I would load my salad plate and excuse myself from sharing the portions of pizza. There was again a time, when we walked into Pizza Hut, Bur Said, many evenings for their garden fresh pizza. Now, when holidaying in India we are comfortable ordering them with the variety of Indian flavour toppings. That is so much for the relationship I have with pizza. Thus, I was stumped, that I have to bake my own. I could not put up the Calzone again. I had made them earlier for the same group bread baking.
I read recipes and more through the first week and still had not zeroed in on a recipe to try. Meanwhile, that members were already showcasing their efforts on the group's page, added to my misgivings. Then out of the blue I searched 'Polish Pizza'!
I joked with my husband that I thought of  Polish pizza because one of his business associates who lives there reads my blog. He had been generous to buy and carry me stuff across the seas during his visits to here. Whatever my reasoning, I was happy that I found Pagach/ Pagash ( pronounced: pah- gosh).
Pagach originated in Eastern Europe, though it is not clear whether it was Poland, Slovakia or anywhere else. Pagach is a delicious dish that originated with the simple ingredients that were available. Most pointers go towards Slovakia and Poland. Think of it as peirogi in pizza dough. It is a lenten recipe, thus meatless with a potato or cabbage filling.The layers of potato and simple cheese filling make this simple dish very delicious.
Pagach is also made as a covered pizza, more like a pie. 
In this recipe I have chosen not to make it covered. That would have been too much for just two of us. I read some suggestions that along with potatoes in the filling, onions and tomatoes could be added. An open pizza would be a good way to show those off. I kept my filling simple and less than what I had seen on many sites. I liked it that it could use any kind of cheese; I used hung curd cheese and just for the topping cream cheese spread, which were both good on this pizza. I put my potatoes in the oven to roast a bit and caramelised the onions, added some rosemary, thyme and paprika for the herbs.

Pagash or Pagach Pizza:
Adapted partially from Lenten Pagach - Mince +Dice and
Polish Vegetarian pizza Recipe @ About Food

Recipe for pizza crust from my notes hurriedly scribbled from some book or television show.

This recipe makes TWO  9" thick crust pizza
For Pizza crust:
200 grams/ 360 ml/ 1 and1/2 cups bread flour or all purpose flour
11/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Active dry yeast
1 and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2  cup + 2 tablespoons warm water
2 teaspoons sugar
Corn meal or semolina for dusting
Extra olive oil for applying on the bowl and the baking dish

For the topping:
2 numbers medium size bake variety potatoes

2 large tomatoes
1 large red onion
2/3 cup curd cheese ( by hanging 1 and 1/2 cup home set curd to remove the water)
Seasonings as per choice (I have used paprika, rosemary, thyme, and oregano)
1/3 cup cream cheese
Few basil leaves and pitted olives

Wash and scrub the potatoes clean. Make small, deep cuts and fill in some salt and seasoning into them.
Whisk a little curd and apply a marinade.
Keep for about half an hour. Place them in an aluminium foil wrap bake them in a pre heated 180 degrees C oven for about 20 minutes. place a bowl half filled with warm water under the tray to allow some steam to cook.

Remove and keep ready by slicing the potatoes in  thin, semi circular discs.
Slice the onions in big chunks and place them in a pan with little oil and some salt. Allow them to sauté and caramelize.

Slice the tomatoes in circles and keep aside.
Now make the crust for the pizza.
Add 2 teaspoons sugar to the yeast in a bowl and add warm water. cover and proof the yeast.
In the bowl of you mixer/ or any bowl if you choose to knead by hand, mix the flour and salt.
Add the yeast mixture and knead until a soft, elastic but sticky dough has been achieved. Add the oil and knead further until well incorporated. The dough will still be slightly sticky.
Roll it in a ball and place it in an oil coated bowl, turning the dough all over in the oil to coat it. Cover and allow the dough to double in volume, for about an hour to an hour and a half.
Once the dough has risen, punch it down gently. Divide in two equal portions.
Work with one portion while the other is kept well covered. 

Keep the pan ready by applying some oil on its surface and sprinkling with cornmeal or semolina all over it. There shall be enough of the dusting that the pizza will slide out of the pan and not stick to it.
Dust the working surface with flour. Press your palms on the flour to coat them just a bit.
Work the dough with your hands and fist turning it around all the while stretching it outwards.
If the dough gets sticky, place it on the dusted surface, dust your fist and palms and work again.
If this would be too much, you may roll the dough in a circle of  9 inches in diameter.
Place the rolled out dough on the prepared pan.
Whisk the curd cheese to make it spreadable. Spread it lightly over the base.
Place the bakes potato uniformly over it. Top it with the caramelized onions. Place the tomato slices over these.

Sprinkle seasoning as required and spread the cream cheese on top.
Pre heat the oven to a high 250 degrees C.
Bake the pizza for about 7- 9 minutes until the cheese on top browns ever so lightly.
Remove from the oven and serve hot.

I chose to bake an open pizza and thus there were two pizzas for me. If you bake a covered pagash, the second half will make the covering. This quantity of dough and all of the filling within makes a heavily laden pizza. We wanted to have a lighter one and opted to bake two. I reserved one portion of the dough for later use. I have made a ball of it, doused it in oil generously and put in in a zipper locked plastic bag in the freezer. This will stay well in the freezer for upto three months. 
The extra on the potatoes and the onions were used in other dishes.
This is a thick crust pizza that is soft and will suffice for a meal with all the toppings. Pair it with some nice salad to serve for a hearty meal.

Please check out what pizzas have been brought to you by going through the members' pages.

Pagach is a delicious Slovak dish that originated with the simple ingredients that were available to the Slovak people who made the best with what they had. Pagach is a great dish to serve at a buffet as it can be sliced like a pizza. Pagach makes a very satisfying meal and the filling can be customized to suit your tastes.

Read more :
Pagach is a delicious Slovak dish that originated with the simple ingredients that were available to the Slovak people who made the best with what they had.

Read more :


  1. That pizza looks sooo delicious, Drool!

  2. The pizza looks really interesting... love the pictures...

  3. Oh yes, I am a big potato lover...and this Pizza is a perfect bake for me. BTW never tried adding potato as Pizza topping...looks lovely!

  4. What a scrumptious looking pizza that is... that too with the tangy curd cheese, caramelized onions and potatoes - yummy!

  5. I am a big potato lover so is everyone at home .. Potato on pizza.. Wow!
    Aunty..ur pics have gone up in standard soo much ! So well done!

  6. Potato and that cheese is what makes me want to make this pizza Lataji that plate looks awesome

  7. love the way the base has turned out. Pizza looks so tempting and love the different toppings.
    Please participate in the diwali event I am hosting. Thanks.


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Lata Raja.