These quicker Turkish cheese filled rolls - Poğaça being their Turkish name, are my version of this popular bake, still yeast-based, but using a slightly different technique to speed up the process. Classic versions are filled with Turkish white cheese (peynir) and flat leaf parsley (maydanoz), but I also make my Scottish version, filled with Scottish extra mature cheddar cheese and onion.
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**Original recipe published 28/10/2019, new structure & photos April 2023.
What Are Poğaça?
Poğaça (pronounced ‘paw-acha’), are cheese filled rolls from Turkey. These yeast rolls, are filled with Turkish soft white cheese, (Peynir – pronounced ‘pay-near’), similar to a soft Feta, and typically mixed with flat leaf parsley (maydanoz – ‘may-da-nos’), before being closed and topped with sesame seeds and a few Nigella seeds (Çörek Otu) and baked.
Poğaça are found everywhere in Turkey, in every bakery and many people buy fresh from these bakeries, very early in the morning, to enjoy with their breakfast. Bread and pastries are a staple in Turkey and eaten with practically every meal. But these cheese filled rolls, can be a snack, or a meal in their own right. Often accompanying a traditional Turkish breakfast of cheese, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, sometimes boiled eggs, these Poğaça can keep you going for the day.
Poğaça come in different shapes from region to region, as well as the fillings, but this is my easiest take on the Turkish classic for beginner bakers. I also have a yeast-free version (and a sweet version in the works), in more of an oval shape, that I will share with you soon.
(In the photo is Gevrek/Simit, a Turkish version of bagels. The recipe for this is not online yet, but you can try my 2 Hour Bagel recipe, and stretch the dough wider.)
Why Make This Poğaça Rolls recipe?
This recipe is a quicker yeast method, no special equipment/knowledge required, & you can use different fillings/toppings and even split the batch for everyone’s tastes.
Another good reason to use my recipe is my husband is Turkish, and having been married for nearly 24 years, I have been to Turkey and had Poğaça, countless times. So as near to an authentic & comprehensive recipe, in English, that you will find.
The Quicker Yeast Technique
I have adapted many of my go-to yeast-based recipes, after using Jessica Gavin’s method in her book ‘Easy Culinary Science For Better Cooking’ (2018). She uses a revolutionary method for preparing yeast dough, that reduces the total time by 1/3 to 1/2 that of conventional yeast recipes.
There is no compromise in size, rise, texture or taste from using this quicker technique. The activation of the yeast is simply speeded up. You spend a little more time at the beginning preparing the dough, compared to conventional methods. However, the rising time is significantly reduced with the first rise only being for 15 – 20 minutes. You are simply providing ideal conditions or environment if you like, for the yeast to do its job effectively.
The flour is also divided up into 3 different amounts, and I refer to them in all my quicker bread recipes as [F1], [F2] & [F3]. Tepid/lukewarm water is added to the first large batch of flour, and in the instructions I go over it in more detail with temperature, but basically you are providing the optimal environment for the yeast to activate and thrive. The flour is added in 3 batches with timed mixing in-between before kneading. The dough is then only left for a 15 -20 minute prove before dividing up the dough, shaping, proving a second time and then baking.
Ingredients For Turkish Poğaça Rolls
For The Yeast Dough
FLOUR – most of the time I use Plain/A.P. flour for bread recipes. I only use strong/bread flour if I happen to have some. Bread flour has a higher protein content, which is beneficial for structure, so if I have it, I try to keep for the likes of sandwich loaves with more height.
Some of my quicker yeast recipes I have made using 50% wholemeal/wholewheat flour. I am still developing with 100% wholemeal flour. I recommend, when using wholemeal/wheat flour, that you increase the liquid content by about 11%, as it absorbs more liquid than white flour. Also, when adding the liquid, add gradually and give the flour 2 minutes to absorb the liquid, before adding more.
See my Quicker Yeast Bread & Roll Recipes (including Pizza) Or check out my 90 Minute Bigger Burger Buns recipe. Or another Turkish recipe – Ramazan Pidesi
YEAST – this recipe was developed using both Active, Fast Acting & Instant dried yeast. If you want to use fresh yeast, see my Yeast Conversion tables.
Different Packet Names For Dry Yeast
You will see different companies name dry yeast slightly differently. Examples being in the US – Active Dry, Fast Rise and Rapid Rise. Commonly available in supermarkets although not exactly the same, for most intents and purposes, you can use either. Especially so for smaller bakes. UK names are Fast Acting, Rapid Rise, Active Dry & Instant Dried.
Fundamentally the differences are that Instant, Fast & Rapid are slighter more potent than Active Dry. The difference between 1/4 tsp per sachet. My table in the Yeast conversions shows in grams and if using a lot of yeast in bulk, this difference will obviously increase. The other difference is that the quicker activating yeast has ascorbic acid added to it.
All my quicker yeast recipes have been made successfully with both types of dry yeast, with no ‘blooming’ (adding sugar & water to the yeast & leaving to froth) required to activate the yeast. It is unlikely to result in bread not rising. Other factors can cause this. See my Quick Guide For Beginners Working With Yeast Dough article.
EGGS – egg whites are used in the bread dough, making it an enriched dough. The yolks are saved for the egg-wash to give the rolls a lovely colour and help position the seeds. I use UK medium to large eggs, which is roughly equivalent to US large to extra large.
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL – this oil further enriches the dough and provides some elasticity. You can use any neutral oil you have.
TEPID WATER – the tepid, or about lukewarm water is key to this quicker bread making recipe. More on the specifics in the instructions, but it is essentially providing the best environment for the yeast to activate and work quicker. Use my method to get that sweet spot without making too hot and killing the yeast.
SUGAR, SALT & SEASONING – sugar and salt are both important for yeast-based recipes and you can use any salt or sugar. I always add either a little garlic or onion powder/granules to savoury breads.
For The Filling & Topping
Turkish White Cheese (Peynir – more specifically), softer, creamier white cheese. Some tins of the cheese will also have names such as – Çökelek Peynir, Lor Peyniri, and some will say ‘Böreklik’ or ‘Kahvaltilik’ on it, (the one used here and in the photo is a less expensive cheese and softer, with a milder taste). You could use Feta, or a ‘Feta type’ substitute.
Flat Leaf Parsley – you could use curly parsley, spinach or another favourite greens.
Substitutes – Spinach, Mature Cheddar & onion, spring onion/scallions etc.
For The Topping – egg wash (the left-over egg yolk, mixed with a little milk), and typically sesame seeds & a few Çörek Otu (Nigella seeds, not black sesame seeds). I have also used some mixed seeds (sesame, pumpkin, sunflower etc) on the cheddar filled rolls, to help distinguish which roll has which filling. So ideal if not everyone in the house likes the same fillings.
Where To Buy Turkish Ingredients
You don’t have to buy Turkish ingredients to make these. Most supermarkets sell some sort of ‘Feta’ cheese. You want a softer cheese that crumbles (see the ingredient pic and in the instructions for a closer look). Ideally not too soft that it runs out of the roll when baking, so be sure to really well drain the cheese.
But if you would like to buy Turkish foods, some supermarkets sell them in the World Food isles. UK Asda sometimes sells Turkish cheese in tins just like above (but different brand), that is perfect for Poğaça, Börek or Gözleme. Supermarkets will also sell Nigella seeds which is what Çörek Otu is. A lot of large Asian Supermarkets will also sell Turkish products, and you are more likely to find there cheaper, than the likes of Amazon. But there are several online shops selling Turkish products now too.
Tip For The White Cheese
Rinse the soft white cheese and drain really well. Leave to drain further while you are making the dough, as any excess moisture will make the filling seep out of the cooking rolls much more.
The Recipe Process At A Glance
The recipe process is as follows:
Prepare your yeast dough for the Poğaça rolls. This is best done with a powerful stand mixer for the kneading purposes, unless you have great upper arm strength. Be sure to split the flour into the 3 amounts stated.
Prove for a short time, before dividing up the dough, filling and closing the rolls, proving for a second time for 30-40 minutes and then baking.
Making Mixed Batches
After the Recipe card below, in the notes, is a table with the amount of fillings needed if you wanted to make a mixed batch with different fillings for everyone’s tastes.
Bake In The Air Fryer
I have tested this recipe for Poğaça in my air fryer. My air fryer is small so I only tested one roll at a time, but they did bake off fine. The only thing I would recommend but, is to place on the rack in your air fryer with a small piece of paper under the roll. Otherwise, it will bake around the rack and stick. So best to add to the rack after shaping, place on the rack for the second prove and then bake. This will avoid having to handle the roll after proving. For the rest of your batch, prove on the same size of paper to help with transferring to the air fryer.
My air fryer Poğaça baked at 200°c/400°f for 14 minutes, with an additional 2 minutes for the underside @180°c/350°f.
On to the recipe – print, save or share via the Recipe card below. You can also print with or without the process photos or notes. Toggle the ‘Cook Mode’ option on, for the screen not to go black if using when baking along.
DIFFICULTY LEVEL: easy, with guidance
Quicker Turkish Cheese Filled Rolls (Poğaça)
- Stand Mixer with dough hook (optional)
- Scales of measuring cups
- Small measuring jug
- Pastry Brush (or unused small artist/paint brush)
- Small bowl for egg wash
- 2 Baking trays/sheets
- Baking/parchment paper
- Timer or Phone Timer
- Cooling rack
For The Dough
- 283 grams Plain or Strong Bread Flour – [F1] (10 oz, 2¼ cups All Purpose or Bread Flour – see notes on [F1]*
- 16 grams Dried Yeast – Instant/Active etc. (½ oz, 5 ⅛ tsp Instant/Fast Acting/Rapid or 5¾ tsp Active Dry Yeast, see notes)
- 2½ tsps Salt
- 2 tbsp Sugar
- 2 tsp Garlic or onion powder or granules (optional)
- 415 ml Tepid Water (14 fl oz, 1¾ cups, see recipe instructions on temperature*)
- 2 Egg White, medium – Large (Large – XLarge US eggs)
- 4 tsp Olive Oil or E.V.O. Oil
- 142 grams Plain or Strong bread Flour– [F2] (5 oz, 1 cup + 2 tbsp All Purpose or Bread Flour – see notes on [F2])*
- 215-283 grams Plain or Strong bread Flour – [F3] (7½ oz, 1¾ cup up to 10 oz, 2¼ cups All Purpose or Bread Flour) – see notes on [F3])*
For The Filling
- 246 grams Turkish Peynir (Çökelek Peynir, Lor Peyniri, ‘Böreklik’ or ‘Kahvaltilik’ etc or Feta cheese) (8½ oz,1⅔ cup for a batch of 12, for less see notes)
- 18 grams Flat Leaf Parsley (⅔ oz for a batch of 12, for less see notes)
- OR Spinach (54g, 2 oz for a batch of 12, for less see notes)
- OR Extra/Mature Cheddar Cheese, grated (360g/12⅔ oz/3 cups shredded for a batch of 12, for less see notes. Add chopped onion to taste if you like)
For The Topping
- 1 Egg yolk & splash of milk for egg wash (save other egg yolk for something else, or freeze for another time)
- Sesame seeds &/or Nigella Seeds – çörek otu (optional) – or any seeds you like.
Prepare The Dough
- Start by measuring/weighing all the ingredients. Very important to have the 3 flour amounts in separate bowls. (Referred to in the recipe as F1, F2 & F3). You can have [F1] flour in your stand mixer bowl.
- Microwave the water in a microwave-safe jug for about 30-45 seconds, until only slightly warm, and tepid. If you want to measure first time with a thermometer, you are looking for a range between 120-130°f or 49-54°c. Alternatively (and even in subsequent recipes), test with a clean finger for slightly above tepid. You could also use some boiled water in your jug, and top off with cold water to the right amount and then test with your finger or thermometer. Once at the right temperature, add the egg white & oil & mix together.
- Add the yeast to the [F1] flour in the main mixing bowl, & mix, before adding in the salt. Mix again, add the sugar and garlic or onion powder/granules if using and mix together. (See Photo 1 collage below).
- Add the tepid liquid mixture to the dry ingredients in your mixing bowl, and briefly mix by hand before using the 'k' paddle/mixer paddle attachment on your stand-mixer (not the kneading hook yet). On low to medium speed, mix for exactly 2 minutes (be sure to time this).
- Now add your smaller bowl of flour [F2], and mix again for exactly 2 minutes. Then add half of your last flour [F3], and let the mixer work the flour in for a few seconds, before gradually adding in more flour, a little at a time. Be sure to scrape down any flour that may be sticking to the sides of the bowl. You want the dough to start to come together in a rough 'ball', and be slightly sticky to touch. You might not need all the flour, or need a bit more. (See Photo 1 collage above).
- Next put the dough hook on the stand mixer & use a scraper to get the dough off the paddle. Knead on medium speed for exactly 4 minutes. Then scrape the dough off the hook, and use the scraper and tilting the bowl, to help you turn the dough over. This ensures the dough gets an even knead, as dough does tend to like to stick to the bottom when kneading. Knead again for another 4 minutes. Alternatively, you can knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes till smoother & less sticky. (You can see the quicker dough technique in the video below of Turkish Pide).
- Feel the dough to know how well-kneaded dough feels like in case you have to do by hand another time. You will also see how stretchy it is, when you lift the dough hook up. (See Photo 1 above). Now place a clean tea-towel on top of the mixing bowl & leave somewhere warm & draft free for 15 minutes. See Photo 2 below.
Prepare Baking Trays/sheets
- Take this time to prepare baking trays with baking/parchment paper. Do not bake these without paper as they will stick. I have tested in air fryer, and you need to place on a little paper there too. Just have higher up, so that the paper is not on the base of the air fryer, allowing air/heat to get to the bottom of the bake.
Preparing The Filling(s)
- While the dough is proving, have your filling(s) ready to go. Be sure to have washed, pat dried and lightly chopped the flat leaf parsley, or spinach if using. I often use scissors for this as it is quicker and remove any long hard stems. Make sure your Turkish cheese or Feta is well drained as any excess moisture and the rolls will leak out the filling more. Use a fork to mash/break up the cheese, & then add the parsley or spinach and mix together. How much you use is up to you. Turkish recipes will generally use a high proportion of parsley to cheese. You can also add some onion to your mature cheddar cheese if you like. (See Photo 3 below). Have your egg whites, a brush and any seeds you want to use, ready too.
Shaping The Poğaça Rolls
- Prepare an area to work on. I use paper to turn the dough out onto, and to divide the dough up. A second piece of paper I dust with flour and use to place the divided dough while I work on one at a time. Even in a short time, the dough will have increased in size – see comparison Photo 4 below.
- Your next step is to 'knock the dough back'. See Photo 5 below, where I have used my knuckles to punch the dough, all over the surface, making it deflate. This helps the yeast to activate again on the second prove and on baking. Not doing this, can be a possible reason for rolls/breads that don't rise enough once baked.
- Release the dough onto the floured paper, using your hands or a scraper to help you. Sprinkle some flour on top of the dough and on your hands, before forming into a ball or rectangular shape, so you can cut in half as evenly as possible. Place one half of the dough back in the bowl, and form the second half of dough into a ball then flatten by hand into a circle. Use a floured knife and divide the dough into 6 pieces like a pizza. (See Photo 6 below). Place these on the second piece of floured paper, and repeat with the rest of the dough till you have 12 pieces. If you want to weigh 12 pieces of dough instead, you are looking for a weight of about 102g/3½ oz each).
- Take one ball of dough and place on the floured paper, and open out the dough simply by patting it flat with your hand, until about hand width (in my case about 5”/13cm- see Photo 7 below). Then, thin the edges of the dough with your fingertip. (We will join these edges so want thinner than the dough in the centre. See Photo 7).
- Add a heaped tbsp worth of white cheese mixture to the centre of the dough. For cheddar cheese I found squeezing the grated/shredded cheese & onion together by hand, and forming into an oval shape keeps it in the centre better (photo in the notes section). Next take 2 opposite ends of the dough and fold together, pinching them closed. Repeat until all 'ends' have been pulled and closed together. (See Photos 8 & 9 below). The dough will be soft making squeezing/pinching it together easier.
- Next, turn the roll over, place on one palm and use the opposite hand to 'cup' the ball of dough. Then move this cupped hand in circular motions, rolling the ball of dough. This will help flatten the bottom together a bit more, as well as rounding the roll, making it less flat looking. You can also try doing this on a very lightly floured surface. See Photo 9 below.
- Place the rolled pogaca on the prepared baking pan/tray before brushing with the egg-wash (the left-over egg yolks and milk). Be sure to brush all the way down the sides of the roll, before adding any seeds on top. Repeat with the rest of your 11 balls of dough, placing on the prepared baking sheets/trays, leaving at least 1"/2.5cm gap in-between each roll. See Photo 10 with different ways to top.
- Leave the prepared rolls in the same warm, draught-free place, for 30- 45 minutes, to prove for a second time, and puff up & expand a little. See Photo 11 below.
- Heat up the oven to – 220°c/200°c Fan Oven/425°f/Gas Mark 7, to coincide with when the proving time is up. If doing a smaller batch and using the air fryer, I set to 200°c/400°f for most of the bake.
Bake The Poğaça Rolls
- Pop in the oven to bake, no more than 2 baking trays/sheets at a time, for about 14 – 16 minutes, until well rise and a deep golden colour. I like to check, rotate and swap the 2 baking trays/sheets about 2 or 3 times during baking, (with 2 trays, after 6 minutes. This will ensure an even bake. Continue baking until fully cooked on top, and then turn the rolls over and let the bottom bake for 2 or 3 minutes to get some colour. For the air fryer, I baked at 200°c/400°f for 14 minutes, and then turned over to finish baking the underside for 2 more minutes, @180°c/350°f.
- Leave to cool on the trays on top of a cooling rack for 5 minutes, before transferring just the rolls and paper onto the cooling rack. You can place more unbaked rolls into the oven at this point too. Leave the rolls to cool enough to be able to handle.
Serving & Storage
- Eat warm or at room temperature. Store any leftovers in sealed food bags, or even brown paper bags. I prefer not to store homemade bread in the fridge, as it can make it go off quicker. You can reheat just a little in an oven or air fryer @160°c/140°c Fan Oven/325°f/Gas Mark 3 for just a few minutes, but not too long to dry them out.
INGREDIENT SUBSTITUTESTurkish White Cheese (Peynir) can be substituted with Feta, or Feta-style cheese, or even Cheddar (Scottish extra mature cheddar being my favourite). Spinach can also be used instead of flat leaf parsley. See information before Recipe Card for more on types of Turkish cheese and where to buy.
TIPSRinse the soft white cheese and drain really well. Leave to drain further while preparing the dough. Excess moisture will cause the filling to seep out when baking. If using 50% wholemeal/wholewheat flour, I recommend you increase the liquid content by about 11%. See information before the Recipe Card, for how to pronounce these Turkish names/words, where to buy ingredients and more. If you want to use fresh yeast, see my Yeast Conversion tables. Air Fryer Poğaça The Poğaça rolls should be baked on small pieces of baking/parchment paper or the rolls will get stuck on the rack. Allow the air to circulate properly for an even bake. Prove on the paper to avoid having to handle and deflating the roll. Go to my Bread & Roll recipes See my Quick Guide For Beginners Working With Yeast Dough article if new to using yeast.
**Original recipe published 28/10/2019, new structure & photos April 2023.
***I am not a qualified nutritionist, and all nutritional values are based on 1 roll, from a 12 batch above, with Feta or Feta-style cheese. Values from Whisk.com and Aldi’s Greek Feta & Feta Salad nutritional information.https://easyonlinebakinglessons.com
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