Tuesday, August 9, 2011

From the Kitchen: Helga Bread (or, Knockoff Olga Bread)

In high school, I had a lengthy walk to the bus stop after class until my older sister got her driver’s license. We’d walk together through downtown Ann Arbor, occasionally browsing the cheap college town thrift stores (one of my lifelong passions, apparently). And, when the day was just right, we might stop in at Olga’s Kitchen and get an order of Olga Bread to share. Mmmmm… Olga Bread.


From the Olga’s website:

It all started back in 1970 when Olga Loizon opened her first restaurant in Birmingham, Michigan. It was there that she began selling the Original Olga® sandwich – a mouth-watering combination of beef and lamb topped with onions, tomatoes, and tangy Olgasauce all wrapped in her secret recipe Olga Bread.

Olga Bread… mildly sweet, soft, chewy and substantial. Not like pita bread. Not at all airy or dry, impossible very difficult to fold, and uncrackable when you do finally manage to roll it up. And delicious. Did I mention that it’s delicious?

I introduced my husband to Olga’s recently, and we agreed that it’s proximity to the kids’ play area in the mall is dangerous on days that are unpleasant to be outside. Like hot, humid, buggy days. Days when your air conditioner isn’t working very well. Days you don’t want to cook in your own house. Well, needless to say, it’s a tempting habit. But then it occurred to me to look for a knockoff recipe. Lo and behold, food.com had the answer. After reconsidering the directions to accommodate my schedule and lazy cooking habits, I can share a mouthwatering recipe with you. I am naming it Helga Bread, since it’s the less popular younger sister of Olga Bread… you know, the one that might not be as pretty but is just as sweet inside and is probably much more available to watch the kids if you need a babysitter in a pinch. And she goes well with grilled chicken, colby jack cheese, tomatoes, onions and Greek yogurt too. And probably won’t give you heartburn later.


Helga Bread


1 1/4 cup scalded milk

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup butter

1 egg

1 tsp salt

2 tsp active dry yeast

4 cups bread flour


If you have a bread machine, use the dough cycle following its instructions for order of adding wet and dry ingredients.

Otherwise, in a large mixer bowl, combine milk, honey, butter and egg until butter is melted and egg is thoroughly mixed. Make sure it is not too hot (should feel like bathwater to the touch). Mix salt and yeast with flour and then add it, 1 cup at a time, to the wet mixture and knead until it cleans the sides of the bowl. Oil top of dough and flip to oil bottom as well. Cover oiled bowl and allow to double in bulk.

Divide dough into 16 pieces (or just pinch off plum-sized bits), and roll each piece out into a rough circle with a diameter of about 8-10 inches. Heat a dry skillet to medium high. Place one piece onto hot skillet and cook for 15-30 seconds. Flip and cook an additional 10-20 seconds. Remove from skillet and repeat with other rounds. Enjoy warm or cooled! They will also freeze well in an airtight bag or container.



Emily said...

for the, um, less experienced cooks out there... what is scalded milk?? because there are certainly no olga's out here in dc, and i would love a quick fix now and then ;)

Karen said...

Scalding is somewhat obsolete these days since its main functions were to kill harmful bacteria and destroy enzymes that can prevent milk from thickening in the recipe (and pasteurization takes care of that nowadays). To scald milk, you just need to heat it in a heat-proof glass container in a microwave until nearly boiling (to about 185 degrees F). I never actually test the temp, I just wait for it to look steamy and then pour it on the butter to melt it. You run the risk of it being too hot and killing the yeast, so sometimes I omit some of the milk from the heating and add cold milk before adding yeast to bring it down to a more body-like temp (which is also yeast's favorite temperature, as you doctors well know). Good question!

Emily said...

so basically, scalded milk = microwaved milk :) that is totally within my cooking skill set ;) thanks karen!

Jodi said...


I have to just say the reason that you can't fold your pita is because the stuff you buy in the store just isn't fresh enough. I've started cooking my own (With the Bread in 5 dough) and it is much easy to fold. [end service announcement]

Karen said...

Oooh, I'll have to give that a try, because I love good pita too :)

Betsy said...

Why oh why did I JUST see this post?! I kid you not, I'm making Greek gyro-style sandwiches for Lydia's birthday celebration this evening and am forced to use tortillas as I hate pita bread (well, that's a bit strong, but I'm not a fan of the stuff). I do however looooove Olga bread and am betting that Helga bread is just as good (or better!) Unfortunately, I'm short on time/energy as it is, so tortillas it must be.

Carolyn said...

Oh I'm so excited to make this! We would frequent Olga's Kitchen at the mall where I grew up about 30 years ago. I've been craving it ever since! Your post makes me think maybe I can do this. On the mixer do you use a dough hook? And, do you have the recipe for the yogurt sauce? I want to make their three cheese wrp with sauce. Thanks!

Dawn said...

Thank you for this recipe, I love Olga bread, whenever I get a chance to venture across the border to Michigan for a day of shopping, Olga's is where I love to eat, and have hallways wanted this recipe.

Nancy said...

I printed your recipe hope you don't mind, for my personal recipe folder...Made this last night for my husband and he said....
"You need to make this all the time!" He loved it! I made flat iron steak with peppers & onions! Only thing missing was a tadziki sauce...well, next time!