Bierocks (Meat and Vegetable Stuffed Breads)

March 27, 2014

in Breads and Pastries, Little Bites

BierocksMy first bierock was in a college bar.  You know, the dimly lit beer hangout joint that specializes in pepperoni pizzas, red checkered cafe curtains and picnic benches type of college bar.  We must have lost count of the pitchers – hey, these calzones look different! “They’re bierocks,” as College Bar Owner identified the stuffed bread for us.  “They’ll go good with your beer, just like pizza and calzone.”   The steamy buns were peppery and savory, yum!  Bring us more beer!

Bierocks are in the same genre as baos and piroshkis.  The yeasted bread dough is stuffed with ground meat, cabbage and onions, and sometimes sauerkraut, seasoned with lots of black pepper.  These hand-held baked buns migrated to America’s upper Midwest and neighboring Canadian provinces with Volga Germans who left Russia and eastern Europe in the 1880s.

The yeasted dough is also one of the easiest to handle (non-sticky and doesn’t easily rip) requiring only two short risings.  Shape the bierocks anyway you like.  Some like to fold the flattened dough rounds so that opposite ends meet and then turn the bun’s smooth bottom side up.  I grab the dough corners, pinch close the edges and twist a little topknot, finishing with egg wash for a warm sheen.

Like other filled buns, bierocks are easy to eat – just grab and go.  They’re not saucy so you won’t have food drips on your clothes before you get to where you’re going. They warm up toasty on the barbie at tailgate parties. The buns can also be frozen after baking and later conveniently reheated.

Careful!  After the kids come home for weekend visit home from college, your bag if bierocks may be missing from the deep freeze.

BierockRecipe: Bierocks

This recipe makes 8 hamburger bun size bierocks.  For appetizer size, divide dough in half again for 16 pieces.



  • 1 small head green cabbage
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 pound ground beef (80/20)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, finely ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Bread Dough

  • 3/4 cup milk, whole or low-fat
  • 1/4 cup water (110-115)
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 package or 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose or bread flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, room temperature
  • vegetable oil for proofing bowl
  • 1 egg mixed with 2 teaspoons water, for egg wash (optional)


  1. Cook filling:  thinly slice cabbage and yellow onion; set aside.  In a large, deep skillet, break up ground beef and brown over medium heat. Drain browned ground beef in a colander, capturing 2 tablespoons fat to return to the skillet.  Add sliced cabbage and onion to the skillet and cook over medium-high heat until cabbage wilts. Add ground beef to the vegetable mixture and season with salt and pepper.  Cook until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes   There should be very little moisture on the bottom of the skillet.  Cool filling before using.  Filling can also be made 1-2 days ahead; keep refrigerated.
  2. Make bread dough:  scald milk and let cool to room temperature.  In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together milk, warm water and sugar.  Sprinkle in yeast and gently stir in; let mixture stand 5 minutes until yeast foams.  To the mixture, add cooled milk, flour, salt and butter; mix well.  Turn dough out on a floured surface and knead dough, or knead dough using a dough hook, a few minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.  If the dough is sticky, add flour 1 tablespoon at a time.
  3. Lightly grease a large bowl with oil, place dough into bowl turning to coat all sides.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise until it’s about 1 1/2 times the original size, about 30 minutes in a warm location.
  4. Assemble bierocks:  after dough has risen, cut dough with a bench scraper or knife into 8 pieces and roll into 6-inch discs.  If dough is sticky, lightly flour working surface; dough circles don’t have to be perfectly round.  Add about 1/2 cup meat filling to the center of the round and bring the dough edges to the center pinching close dough edges.
  5. Proof and then bake in 375º F oven:  place buns 3 inches apart on a rimmed baking sheet, cover with a dry clean dish towel and let rise about 1 1/2 times its original size, about 20 minutes in a warm location.  Brush tops with egg wash if desired.  Bake in a preheated 375º F oven until tops and bottoms are golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Serve hot or warm.

Makes 8 large bierocks.  After bierocks cool, place buns into a freezer plastic bag, seal close and freeze.  Reheat in microwave or oven.


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