Dying Eggs for Easter the Natural Way

Dying eggs for Easter is a tradition that has miraculously survived through the Soviet era and has successfully anchored itself in the present Russia. During the Soviet times fresh eggs were not that easy to get, so they mostly were used to decorate the festive table – I immediately associate hard-boiled eggs with winter New Year’s table (stuffed eggs), Okroshka soup in summer and Easter in spring of course. Lots of hard-boiled eggs for lots of breakfasts and dinners to come : ) So the two most popular things to make / buy for Easter in Russia are dyed eggs (try to get white eggs before Easter – impossible!) and sweet leavened cakes called kulich. People stand in long queues to get their Easter treats consecrated at the local churches and the cathedrals. The traffic gets crazy and everybody seem to be moving to or from the church clutching plastic bags loaded with kulich. Not sure if all these people are really involved with the religion that much but one thing is certain – they do pass these traditions on to their children.

Dying eggs for Easter

In my church-going-free family the Easter tradition is, well, really family-related. We have our own traditional treats that are closely knit with this time of the year – just because my Mother kept making them throughout my childhood. I will tell you about a sweet treat my Mother used to bake which I particularly was looking forward each year in my next post. Here we’re talking about this egg tradition. Even my Granny born in the Stalinist 30s dyes eggs every year. Oh those Russians, a weird mixture they have in their heads, that of pagan beliefs, Orthodox religion, Soviet propaganda engraved in their brains and new consumer-commercial ideology embracing their lives.

Dying eggs for Easter

Each one of this eggs has been dyed using a very natural technique – no artificial dyes required, no stickers or anything of a kind. I think you’ve already guessed what these patterns are made of (with). This technique is not just characteristic of Russia, it can be found in Eastern Europe as well. There’s also this tradition of sharing eggs with your friends and family (you end up actually exchanging eggs), so in the end you get like a dozen eggs of various design and color.

Dying eggs for Easter

A year ago – a very-very spring post Black and White Sourdough Bread and Apples and Oranges

Two years agoNovgorod Borkannik or Carrot Pie plus Biscotti and On Soviet Food Stupidities

These are the tools and ingredients you will need for dying eggs with onion peels and spring plants:

  • eggs – as much as you wish to have and give out, preferably white but any kind will do. Don’t forget to wash them.
  • lots of yellow onion peels (I guess if you try red onion you will get violet eggs!) – the more you get, the more intense the color
  • various spring flowers and leaves (please, be sensible and kind, do not ruin all fresh and young plants in the neighborhood, pick up just some – or use the flowers from your vase like we did) – the more detailed the leaves the more intricate a pattern you will get. Clean thoroughly.
  • cloth from natural material (the best choice is gauze but any not very dense cotton will do just fine). Cut these into pieces larger than the eggs (just imagine you will have to wrap each egg entirely and cut the pieces accordingly)
  • a thread from natural material
  • scissors
  • a pot that can be… well, ruined a bit (the dye will get into the pot)

Dying eggs for Easter

We usually pick our plants from the nearest yard being careful not to get too close to the places where the local dogs abide (but you never know). This process is also a sign of spring and Easter – when you walk around and see people stooping over these tiny shoots which have just appeared above the ground. By the way, onions are also very popular this time of the year! And my sister even got a bag full of peels from a local fruit & vegetable shop.

Dying eggs for Easter

Looks like a workshop – we were three to dye eggs this year, although I resisted at first… You see, when you boil the eggs they get really hard. Imagine forgetting your eggs for 20 minutes? That’s what you’ll get! Lots of hard-boiled eggs with beautiful pattern.

Dying eggs for Easter

These large flowers did not adhere to the egg shell really tight so they resulted in a somewhat bluish though distinctly flower pattern. The best plants were these tiny yellow flowers seen in the background (we call them Duck’s Legs) and the sophisticated leaves.

The process – wash the eggs, leave them to half-dry and then decorate them one by one by picking your favorite flowers and leaves (also half-dried) and pressing against the egg shell. Be careful not to break the eggs but at the same time secure the plants so that they leave a more distinct pattern. Don’t overdo the decoration, leave space for just plain brownish color.

Dying eggs for Easter

Wrap each egg into pieces of cloth and then tie each ‘baby’ (don’t they look like babies? especially when your Mother tells you those cloth pieces used to be your baby clothes recently discovered at your Granny’s Ali-Baba-cave-like place) with the thread quite tightly. You don’t have to actually make a knot in the end, just interlace the end of the thread with the rest. Your aim is to make sure these plants will stay close to the egg while boiling. Keep your egg ‘parcels’ ready for the next stage:

Dying eggs for Easter

Once all the eggs are ready (although you might have to boil them in batches, depending on your ‘appetite’), start heating water in an old pot with all the onion peels inside. DON’T FORGET SALT. It will prevent the eggs from bursting out when they get into warm-to-hot water. Place the eggs in the pot and boil for 20 minutes (counting after the water starts boiling). Then leave the pot to cool down a bit, take the egg parcels out carefully and place them on a plate to cool down. When they are ok to be handled unwrap them CAREFULLY, wipe off the rests of the plants with the cloth wrapper (discard the cloth, the thread and the plants obviously) and marvel at the pattern! You can reuse the water with the onion peels for the next batch – you might get an even denser result.

Dying eggs for Easter

This is what happens to an unlucky egg when it’s unlucky owner tries to beat a luckier friend, owner of an egg with a harder egg shell =) I know that Greeks have this tradition too, they dye the eggs red and then ‘compete’ with each other to find out whose egg is the hardest.

For a glossy ‘look’ rub some sunflower oil on the egg shell:

Dying eggs for Easter

Blogging keeps me from thinking this joke of life is a bit too much, really. Somebody’s having a really bad taste in jokes, not funny : ( I’m talking about being (or rather – getting) unemployed for the …th time in my life. Also about being torn out of the already MY job and a habitual way of life… Well, let’s face this challenge!

G.

First Trip to Kazan and Last Trip with My Job

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Before this gets any older and less relevant, this is my post on Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan Republic, Russia. The city counts no less than 1000 years of history. Felt a bit like traveling to another country – local language, narguilé places, women in foulards and long skirts… A true mixture!

Baumana Street

And now this is a double memory for me – my first trip to Tatarstan and my last job trip as University coordinator. Would you believe my dear reader that I’m unintentionally but very deeply sorrowfully unemployed? Oh yes. This time I was NOT the initiator, everything just went down unexpectedly, unjustly and … well, with lots of UN. No there’s one great company less in Russia, one place less to feel at home, understood and always welcome. Well, there’s this emptiness inside me as if I’ve lost a family, I just need to come back to life.

So let’s travel back to that week when I was still ‘over twenty and employed’. My already ex-job gave me lots of opportunities to see my own country, understand it better (although I really struggle to understand it anyway, especially now), see other ways and try to adjust to them. This last trip to Kazan was one of the longest in terms of duration and also very… talkative as I had to work three days in a row at the local educational fair plus communicate with my volunteer and people that I met there, so here lay quite a challenge for me : )

Chak-Chak

The first day (evening) when I got to Kazan I – quite not surprisingly – went straight away to the food place. My hotel was just opposite a large supermarket where there was a wall literally, shelves upon shelves of all sorts of chak-chak, the traditional Tatar fried honey dough treat (see explanation here). The thing you’re bound to take home for all you friends… which I did not. I don’t like deep-fried dough, sorry, no place for it in my luggage. Instead I bought some sunflower brittle bars, baklava (see first picture) and tea.

Kazan Village bread

Enormous Village Bread at the supermarket. It looks small on the photo but boy was it huge! Also spotted: milk and kefir of mostly 4% fat (in St Pete the most popular type is 2.5%), slabs of cheese worth 500 g minimum, lots of fried things – apparently the preferred way of cooking.

All the way during my trip I was listening to Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya Von Bremzen (an audiobook read by some not very familiar with Russian language person). The book gets a bit too much at the end but it was also hilarious at times, sometimes really sad and very revealing – lots of things that I knew already got somehow linked into a picture. I know that anybody who has lived through that period has their own picture, but this one was quite close to what I imagine. I haven’t tried any of the recipes that come along with the book (mostly meat), but I would recommend you the book part if you REALLY interested in the USSR, otherwise you might get bored with the details of the Soviet byt if you don’t have a slightest idea about what that word means.

USSR museum

As if to complete the picture I also visited the Museum of the Socialist Way of Life (or as they put it the Soviet Lifestyle Museum, here), as I was strongly advised to do when I get to Kazan. Well, this is a place to go if you have time to look at every object on display and better still if you have some personal memories attached to these objects. Otherwise the museum will look like an attic of all things Soviet. Sometimes not smelling nicely : 0 I got some pictures of the Soviet kitchenware for you + just some Soviet stuff here:   

Rice Kasha

Canned baby food with rice. Developed by the Academy of Medical Science of the USSR. And yes, Soviet little girls wore dresses exactly THAT short plus those thick tights (not always very tight and not fitting you most of the times). Apparently they could buy things already at the age of consuming mostly baby food :D

famous glass bottles

The famous glass bottles for dairy products. The color of the foil cover told you what was inside – milk, kefir, ryazhenka. And that was the only part which was not recyclable! Cause the bottles, you returned them for a small fee, and that’s how they got used again.Yes, USSR lived almost without the problem of getting rid of all the waste as it was diligently recycled (reused) by the Soviet people themselves. BTW, the monkey at the bottom of the picture was a common toy, we had one too.

roly-poly toys

Talking about toys: these are the famous roly-poly toys every Soviet child had.

Matreshka

Though matreshkas were not that accessible for the children – I remember that our matreshka was to be played with only on special occasions when Grandma would take it out from the top shelf. Ours was a more … voluminous version of a matreshka.

Soviet pots

Two enameled pots from the 60s and the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow.

school bag

Anti-glamour WOODEN school bag from the 1940s. Guess that was a hard job to go to school back then…

School chairs

And as if that was not enough you had to sit on these wooden school chairs (I remember sitting on such at school). Seeing these objects from the past made me shrug because just several days prior to visiting this museum I went to one of the best public schools in the city with obviously very generous funding (Moscow schools suck compared to that school!). I guess children will just not believe these used to be school things in several years. 

basketball mini game
And this is our our favourite game with my sis! I forgot to tell you about it in my Novosibirsk post – we went to the Soviet arcade game museum in Moscow on my way back home (here’s their website – you can even play on some of the machines online!). And this is a mini (baby) version of the famous basketball arcade game. It’s a pity I was alone in the museum – cause on of its perks is that you can touch any object on display.

from school menu

Well, from this picture one would assume that the Soviet school children were supposed to eat such luxurious treats at school. From the book School Food (Nutrition). I wonder what the Soviet children now grown up and full of memories would say when seeing this mystification .)

At a local canteen

I did not have a chance to try those treats from the ideal Soviet childhood but I did go twice to a local self-service canteen decorated – as many Soviet and post-Soviet cafes are – with artificial flowers. This is Dom Chaya (Tea House), a photo of which you can see right at the beginning of this post, a very democratic place to eat if you’re a student, an employee working nearby or just not afraid of somewhat canteen look inside.

At a local canteen

Yes, those are artificial peaches : ) And yes, most likely someone tried to chew on the second to last peach. The desiiiigner of the place should have been very imaginative when it came to the floor desiiiign. Artificial flowers, photo-wall papers – this is the choice for a post Soviet canteen.

There I tried two traditional Tatar (and Bashkir) dishes – Qistibi (pictured beneath) and Gubadia (a sweat pastry treat with traditionally cooked cottage cheese called kort, raisins and rice – they say the compete version contains… meat!). Qistibi is a deep-fried flat bread with mashed potatoes.

Kystymbyj

Well, to give you a more glamorous glance of what one of the Tatar and generally eastern treats you can try in Kazan, here’s a photo of baklava (pronounced in Russian as pakhlava), a very nutritious phyllo dough treat, the tradition of making which is shared with some other Eastern countries like Greece and Turkey, for example.

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Looks gorgeous. Lots of calories per milligram. But worth every one of them.

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One year agoCrostata and Challah, United

Two years agoNovgorod Borkannik or Carrot Pie

Heading on to the sunny future, aren’t we.

Just wait for more.

G.

Tea Muffins with Blueberry Jam

spring tulips

This overdue spring post just has to be published! I’ve already traveled to two Russian cities and have more recipes and impressions to share with you so let’s just move on : ) The only thing is that spring is still lingering here, being quite slow to come into force and say a definite goodbye to winter. So probably I’m not THAT very late with the tulips. This post will be short.

spring tulips

Here’s a version of a muffin recipe I have accidentally come up with after I bought a large jar of blueberry jam. It was so very … blueberry that jam that I thought I would love to bake something with it. You see, I usually bake with black currant jam or just black currants (usually frozen) since we have them in abundance at our dacha. But what I really love out of all the berries are the blueberries! So to make muffins which are really blueberry muffins and not a substitute was really joyful (baking people will understand : ). And yes, we’re almost finished with the last year harvest of black currents and the jam made with these!

Marmalade & Earl Grey Tea Cakes  from sugarcrafter.net

The original recipe Marmalade & Earl Grey Tea Cakes which can be found at sugarcrafter.net  got transformed into Tea Muffins with Blueberry Jam - the recipe will make smart looking muffins with soft jammy part inside.

My changes to the original recipe:

I used the blueberry jam I told you about and since it was quite runny (just sugar, water and berries) and well, very blue in color, I decided not to incorporate the jam inside the batter but rather add it as a middle layer or a filling. So I just filled the 1/3 of the muffin cup with the batter then added a bit of the jam and finally topped the jam with some more batter. I used muffin cups instead of the proposed mini loaf tins, thus getting ship-shape muffins as the result : )

I used the leftover tea from our breakfast, so it was not that famous bergamot tea but just plain black tea with fresh mint leaves.  The rest was the same.

Marmalade & Earl Grey Tea Cakes  from sugarcrafter.net

{with a mug from my favourite Aegina island}

A year agoTravelling Muffins and Wandering Bread and Crostata and Challah, United

Two years agoBOUGATSA!!! and Pies with Greek Flavours and Tough and Rakish 90s in USSR / Russia and Bring Some Artisan Bread to Your Life

Marmalade & Earl Grey Tea Cakes  from sugarcrafter.net

By the way yesterday (was it?) I listened to a radio program saying that Earl Grey tea is particularly beneficial to your health (although there’s caffeine of course) thanks to the bergamot oil added to the tea leaves. They say it lowers cholesterol level. So if you can get the bergamot tea for these muffins, do it : )

Marmalade & Earl Grey Tea Cakes  from sugarcrafter.net

Result: These spicy muffins keep shape, look nice and taste good! Use your favourite jam and decide for yourself whether it would taste and look better as a part of the batter or in between : ) Also the tea leaves that you’re supposed to add to the batter are not distinct very much, I even forgot that they were there when I was eating the muffins.

spring tulips

Special thanks to my sister for the flowers!

Will come back with more soon.

G.

Darnitskiy Bread

Since the day I first created this post and the actual ‘post’ day I have used this very easy and flexible recipe for the traditional Russian Darnitskiy bread I’m sharing with you here for so many times, that there will be photos of at least three versions =) Actually I’ve already adopted this recipe as my regular one, since I prefer sourdough rye bread to any other kind and have this insatiable sourdough culture in the fridge waiting to be used. When I get home I usually bake more sophisticated bread but for my own morning sandwiches this is the recipe I use almost every week now:

Darnitskiy Bread from breadgallery.wordpress.com

{two favourites of mine: black rye bread with soft Adygea cheese!}

Here’s an earlier edition of Darnitsky with this earthen Slavic-style mug purchased in Novosibirsk at the fair where I was working. Its author, a true craftsman, has his workshop in Tomsk, a very old city yet to be visited in Siberia. The sign on the mug is an ancient Slavic symbol which was as is known, used in its inverted version by Hitler and transformed into a sign of a very different power:

Darnitskiy Bread from breadgallery.wordpress.com

Drinking from this mug is like drinking from… an earthen teapot :) I wish I could substitute all my kitchen ware with earthen and wooden stuff. Since I was a child I have this soft spot for wooden spoons and earthen jugs (even used to go to a kid’s center to make my own)… Oh, there were those jars and jugs and bowls at the fair, I wish I could have them all!

Darnitskiy Bread from breadgallery.wordpress.com

The teapot, by the way, though Chinese:

Darnitskiy Bread from breadgallery.wordpress.com

The crust is nice, chewy and keeps well even when frozen and then defrosted:

Darnitskiy Bread from breadgallery.wordpress.com

The crumb depends on the amount of rye flour: I prefer to increase it and so the crumb is dense though with small air pockets. This is yet another edition, shot with the early daylight:

Darnitskiy Bread from breadgallery.wordpress.com

 I made an ‘experiment’ by splashing some water on the top of the just-from-the-oven bread and then returning it back to oven (already switched off but still hot). And this is the golden effect it made on the top crust:

Darnitskiy Bread from breadgallery.wordpress.com

Two years ago - Some St. Petersburg Shots and Breadsticks and Oh Mon Dieu, Ces Baguettes!.. and Pane al CioccolatoSenza Cioccolato

Darnitskiy Bread adapted from breadgallery.wordpress.com will become your daily bread recipe, adjust it to your liking or bake it as it is!

Go to Abel’s blog to find this and lots of other great bread recipes! Here are my changes to the ingredients:

I usually mix rye flour with rye bran and use it both for the sourdough and the dough itself, increasing the amount of rye up to 200 g and decreasing the amount of regular flour. I use less water in the dough as I pour boiling water onto some rye malt to make this bread even more authentic.

I omit salt by the way as the cheese is already salty and I also sometimes eat this bread with homemade jam (as a true Russian).

To vary the bread each time I make it, I sometimes add cardamom, caraway seeds, ground coriander or seeds to the bread. Traditional Darnitsky bread does not contain any of these but why not.

Remarks on the procedure:

It’s also a very useful recipe for those who cannot spend lots of time on baking but still want to make sourdough bread.

I have already experimented with letting the pre-mix (sourdough) rise for more than 6 hours and even for less time. I think you should judge from your own sourdough culture, if it’s active and strong, you shouldn’t worry about the time. I normally mix the culture with flour+water in the morning then leave the rest of the procedure for the evening. The bread then is left to cool down and get even more infused with the rye aroma overnight. The following morning I freeze or use it right away=)

I’ve also tried various timing for the first and second rising, usually increasing it. Just be careful when handling the dough: if you fold it too much after the first rise (before putting it into the loaf pan – here I also use parchment paper) you might end up with a rather flat bread with dense crumb like in the photo with the mug above.

Handle the dough with wet hands – this really helps!

I tried baking the bread without loaf pan, just placing it on parchment paper and then a hot rack, but it turned out very flat.

Keep an eye on the bread while it’s baking – it sometimes gets too dark before the required minimum 45!

Result:

Do I need to tell you more? =) When you cut the bread it slices up nicely and keeps long. Makes great sandwiches and goes well with jam too! Freezes well.

G.

2,800 km of Russia Seen from Above

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This is my 2,800 km journey above Russia in brief – from Novosibirsk in Siberia over the Urals and on to Moscow. I often hear from people who has never been to Russia that they would love to take the Trans-Siberian railway (mind you, there will be more than one train for the 9,289 km and MIND YOU these trains will be sometimes really tough) and see everything from their window. Well, here’s what you will see at least during the first 2,800 km of your journey if you happen to do it in March: Moscow. Snow. Snow. Plains covered with snow. Snow, snow. Mountains. SNOW and SNOW and SNOW! =)

Some of the photos were taken within just a couple of minutes one from the other but you can hardly tell the difference, ahaha.

Novosibirsk, the ‘capital of Siberia’ turned out to be dull and dull. Really. I thought I’d be more impressed. Ah, well, what would you expect from a city where you can hardly find local kefir and tasty baked goods?! =) These are my universal criteria for any city (plus 2 more points to look for: nice postcards which are just nonexistent there and noisy markets which is actually a row of kiosks…). And the city failed the test unfortunately. I was lucky to find only one nice bun there – plain kalach… Lots of products from the Altay region (like honey, for example, which is good). The local things that I brought from the city were several packages of various bran (oat, wheat and rye with blueberries), rye malt and oat biscuits. At lest these were local and good (although I usually buy Novosibirsk bran here in St Pete anyway).

Next week is my first time in Kazan – let’s hope for the best!

A year agoWhat a Peach! Sunny Cake and a Zesty Cranberry Cake

Two years agoDouble Citrusy Heaven and Crackers + Pesto

More culinary posts to come, I promise.

G.

No-Fuss Russian Blini from Old Recipe Book

Although a bit late for Maslenitsa (Carnival period in Russia), here is a recipe of easy Russian blini we’ve been using in my family for quite a while. Russian blini are larger and thinner than American pancakes, rather like French crepes. They are baked at the end of winter to welcome spring because blin is as round and shiny as the sun. Also blini are quite a greasy job, so this is what we gorge on all through the last week before the Lent (haha, and way beyond that for those who prefer to follow their own ‘diet’). People bake blini and invite each other to drink tea and eat blini with lots of various condiments. Blini vary from house to house, some of us prefer them thick and fluffy, some thin and sour, some medium. A lot relies on the ingredients: the type of grain and flour quality, the use of milk or buttermilk, the amount of eggs and sugar which make the batter richer, as well as on the procedure, cause some of the traditional Russian recipes require yeast with a poolish or sourdough (like these sourdough blini), mind you!

I know that pancakes can be found anywhere on Earth and are claimed by lots of nations to be their invention, so I’m sure you’ll enjoy these Blini na skoruyu ruku (Quick Blini, literary Blini with a Quick Hand), from a book most of women used to have and probably still have at home in Russia – Vegeterianskaya Kuhnya (Vegetarian Cuisine, 1993). This post-Soviet book is actually a compilation of early 20th century recipes (!) collected by Zelenkova, also known as Vegeterianka, populist of vegetarian cuisine in tsarist Russia, which were published in 1906 under the ‘Ya Nikogo ne Yem‘ title (‘I Don’t Eat Anyone‘). So this blini recipe might as well be titled Easy Russian Old-Recipe Blini!

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These no-fuss blini are just what I think proper blini should be – not over thick, not over sweet, perfect for smetana (sour cream), honey or berry jams:

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…but just plain butter as well:

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Also my Mom (who actually uses her own recipe for thin sour blini) used the leftover blini the next day to make blini s tvorogomblini with cottage cheese. The ‘recipe’ is simple – take a blin and  add some cottage cheese in the middle (you can mix in some sugar if you want), than fold the blin as you would a letter (creating an envelope around the filling) and then reheat the ‘parcels’ on a pan. This creates a sort of a caramelized crust as the cottage cheese tends to ooze a bit (be careful not to urn your blini!) and the fillings stays soft as long as the blin is warm. Nice way to reuse the leftovers!

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Did you know that leftover blini can also be used in a more elaborate dishes, like a blinnij tort -  a sort of multi-layer cake from blini with really just about any filling between them (savoury as well)? Blini can be rolled into a tube with the filling or just plunged into smetana, they can be folded in a triangle…

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Two years ago – a more sophisticated way to bale your blini: Sourdough Pancakes, as Promised

One year ago – experimenting with sprouted grains in bread: Sprouted Grains and Welcome Spring! and baking some Sourdough Bread for Maslenitsa

But before you get to know if there is ANYTHING left for tomorrow, let’s bake the batch and mount up a hole stack of warm shiny blini buttering each one:

No-Fuss Quick Russian Blini from Vegeterianskaya Kuhnya (but most likely from a 1906 Ya Nikogo ne Yem vegeterian recipe book by O. Zelenkova) – will make a large stash of multi-purpose blini that you can eat with your favourite jam / honey / sour cream / or just plain butter (caviar is too trivial, haha). ATTENTION: The recipe uses the most common measure in Russia – a stakan (glass) which contains 200 ml of water or 250 g of flour.

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 glasses of warm milk
  • 2 glasses of warm water
  • 2 glasses of all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs of oil
  • some sugar and salt, to taste
  • butter, to brush blini

 Procedure:

Beat 2 eggs, add warm milk and warm water, oil, salt and sugar. Gradually mix in the flour. Mix well. Pour a thin layer on a hot greased pan and bake on each side. Brush with butter.

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Remarks: I usually pre-mix hot water with milk cause I’m lazy enough to heat the milk separately. I also adjust the amount of flour so that the mixture is more like thin sour cream (I’m lazy to use the stakan measure and use the cups instead). As the batter already contains oil my teflon pancake pan works just fine without any additional greasing. Just wait till the unbaked layer on top gets bubbly, flip the blin over and wait some more. Lift the blin, brush with butter and place each blin you bake on top. Thus they will keep the heat and also will easily separate from each other because of the butter.

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Result: Crispy on the edges, moderately thick and almost neutral in taste, these traditional Russian blini are easy and fast! Best eaten while hot / warm but can be easily re-heated or reused later. The recipe is very simple to remember as everything here is 2-2-2-2! I’m quite reluctant to fry things and prefer to bake things (oven seems to me much much easier than using the stove!) but blini is at least something I can ‘fry’ thanks to this recipe.

Enjoy your sunny blini!

P.S. Will see Siberia already this week!

G.

Sunflower Seed Rye Sourdough or We Need Sun Here

Sunflower seed rye sourdough from www.savesourdough.com

Once it starts getting so really windy but not piercingly cold windy – it’s the surest sign spring is coming to St Pete. As trivial as it might sound – you can feel spring in the air! And that’s exciting and a bit deranging at the same time.

It’s amazing how you re-live each year with renewed interest the coming of spring, all these changes it brings in the length of day, in the light, the colours, the way you feel. I don’t like the fading and the decadence in the weather (although I do like all these old towns and decrepit houses with long history and narrow winding streets) but I do like this drastic and at the same time progressive change that the spring induces in the world outside and inside me.

Sunflower seed rye sourdough from www.savesourdough.com

Sun! We desperately need sun here in St Petersburg. And something green and nice, no more of these ergostasia mprosta kai ta skoupidia plai! (slightly changed lyrics of a Greek song – factories in front and garbage on the side). This first stage of spring when all the brrr things come out of the melting dirty snow is kind of demoralizing a bit, making you to crave for this stage to be over the faster the better. So, sunflower seed bread for the early torturous spring. Let’s hope it won’t reverse to winter again just like this unstable period is known to do so often.

Sunflower seed rye sourdough from www.savesourdough.com

2 years ago - Mangoes and Rye to Welcome Spring

1 year ago - a post on  Thessaloniki with some typical Greek food

Sunflower Seed Rye Sourdough Bread adapted from www.savesourdough.com will make a giant! chewy! nutty! nutritious! bread. ATTENTION: requires quite a bit of time to prepare the sourdough and some time for the soaker.

Go to the  website to see the original recipe, here are just my changes and remarks:

As for the soaker ingredients I did not have the required amount of rye flakes but a mixture of four cereals – rye, wheat, oats and barley – that we use to make the famous Russian kasha in the morning. These are hard stuff flakes so I poured boiling water over them as the author suggests and left them for a couple of hours. The water was not enough for this amount of flakes so they soaked it in really fast.

For the dough I used honey instead of molasses, fine salt instead of coarse sea salt and certainly less toasted sunflower seeds, although I can assure you that using even a third of the indicated 150 g will be already a considerable chewy enhancement! I also added less water. 

As for the procedure, I left the dough to ferment for 3 hours with 3 stretch & folds, then proofing of about 5 hours in the fridge. When I took the bread out of the fridge, I almost did not give it any time to warm up before baking. I baked the bread with steam about minutes.

The crust is great in this bread, adding to the overall chewiness:

Sunflower seed rye sourdough from www.savesourdough.com

Well, the crumb is super too!

Sunflower seed rye sourdough from www.savesourdough.com

All these nuts and flakes make this bread so much … a substantial meal rather than what you would expect from a baked product! Very truly chewy.

Sunflower seed rye sourdough from www.savesourdough.com

Result: This bread is gigantic and really tasty, moist, chewy, with all these seeds & flakes which make it so much bread-ier =) And although it is really big, you shouldn’t worry, 45 minutes in the oven and it’s done!

Greece suddenly (or much-expected-ly…) changed to France! See you in May, Strasbourg!

G.

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