on USSR / Russia · pies · traditional Russian recipe · vegetarian

Koloby, Karelian Pies with Cheese and Potatoes

Koloby, Karelian Pies with Cheese and Potatoes

Today I’m sharing with you a recipe from Karelian cuisine which is quite close to the Finnish cuisine combined with traditional recipes of the Russian North. You’ve probably already guessed that I just love baking pies of all sorts, so out of the leaflet I got at the local history museum during my trip to Petrozavodsk, the capital of Karelia, I chose the pies. Pies are those things that keep you comfortably warm and snug 🙂

Koloby, Karelian Pies with Cheese and Potatoes

A year agoCookie Time: Cheese Biscuits and Pistachio Biscotti

Two years agoThose Were the Days or 90s in Russia Continued

Three years ago Puerto Rican Flan (oooh, I should make it again!)

Koloby, Karelian Pies with Cheese and Potatoes – recipe adapted and translated from a leaflet by Local History Museum in Petrozavodsk. Will make soft individual pies, rather bland in flavour. This is my remake of the traditional recipe (see remarks in italics).



  • 20-30 g of fresh yeast – I used 20 g
  • 400 ml milk (2 Soviet glasses) – I made a mixture of hot water + milk
  • 1 glass of water (200 ml) – I skipped this
  • 1 Tbs sugar – I used honey
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • about 850 g – 1 kg wheat flour – I added some whole wheat flour to imitate the authentic rye dough
  • smetana (sour cream) – I used kefir which has less fat but creates a less golden crust...

Filling (my take on traditional filling)

  • 3 boiled potatoes
  • tvorog (cottage cheese)
  • salty cream cheese from Serbia (a cross between brynza and cream cheese)
  • Adygea white cheese
  • mix of herbes de Provence
  • kefir to make this into a spreadable mixture


First make the dough: Dissolve yeast in a glass of lukewarm water (I skipped adding more liquid other than those 400 ml required, as that would also increase the amount of flour, so I used a mixture of hot water + milk here). Add milk, sugar, salt and eggs. Pour in the sifted flour. Add melted butter (it should not be too liquid, more like of a sour cream consistency). Mix and then knead the dough, dust it with flour and leave in a warm place for 2-3 hours, covered with a linen kitchen towel.

Meanwhile prepare the filling: I chose to make a mixture of the two traditional fillings, combining both cheese and potatoes. First I grated boiled potatoes (no need to boil them too much), then added various sorts of soft white cheese that I had, seasoned the lot with herbs and added kefir as a liaison.

When the dough has risen, form flat rounds (lepeshka in Russian) the size of your palm and spread the filling in the center of each round. Leave the edge without the filling. In these pies (as opposed to kalitka) the edges are not made into borders and the pies are left flat as they are. Brush the pies with sour cream and bake in the preheated to 180-200 ‘C oven till they achieve a light brownish, almost golden colour (my koloby took about 32 minutes at 200 ‘C on the top rack and then some extra minutes with fan on). Serve the pies brushing them with melted butter first (forgot to do that!).

Koloby, Karelian Pies with Cheese and Potatoes

Remarks: I would keep them in the oven a tad longer so that this golden crust creates on the top of the pie (see below). I reheated the pies in the oven the next day and they got more colour that way. If you want to have this golden colour 100%, use full fat sour cream. And by the way, you can easily use your leftover mashed potatoes for the recipe for an even smoother filling!

Koloby, Karelian Pies with Cheese and Potatoes

Result: I liked these – especially the dough which was even a bit crunchy with the addition of the whole wheat. My Dad said there was something missing in these pies. I guess they just need some extra flavour! Spice them up with your favourite seasoning and they will be alright.

Koloby, Karelian Pies with Cheese and Potatoes

If these were made in a Russian stove in a village, than the dough would be sour rye. Traditional varieties of Koloby filling include tvorog (cottage cheese) with egg and smetana (sour cream) or butter; tolokno (oat flour); grated boiled potatoes.

Koloby, Karelian Pies with Cheese and Potatoes

A similar recipe (and actually some believe these are the same) – traditional pies from North of Russia and the Urals called Shangi. Mother says her Granny from the Vologda region called such pies ‘rogushki‘. I would also call these pies “savoury vatrushka” =) Good luck with your Russian baking!

Koloby, Karelian Pies with Cheese and Potatoes

More Karelian pie recipes here and here.

Karelian Embroidery

Some of the Karelian embroidery: a ‘dorozhka’ (path) to decorate the table (above) and kitchen towel (below). All made from linen with basic chain stitch (called tambur in Russian). The combination of white and red and sometimes black reminded me of Alsace a bit… But they say in this master-class that white linen + red stitches was a very wide-spread choice in Karelia (white as snow or purity + red as a very vibrant and distinctive colour).

Karelian Embroidery

A woman would make lots of towels as her dowry and in general a towel was an indispensable thing in any home and for any occasion – starting from birth and ending with death. And this applies to entire Russia, not just Karelia. I love the texture of linen by the wat, it’s very tactile.

Karelian Embroidery

Check out other workshops on the same website – they have an English version of it and this is actually the same museum where I got the recipe and the same craftsmen unit that made these towels and the samovar-shaped magnet (Karjala means Karelia)! Look how they make cute valenki (no English version though) or lapti! This made me want to start pottery classes all over again!

Off to Arkhangelsk to sample more sochni!


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