This sweet post I’m dedicating to my sole mate Nina, a.k.a. PLD, I guess that her friendship’s one of the reasons why I look back on my undergraduate years at St Petersburg University with positive warmness rather than disappointment. I have long wanted to dedicate a post to you, Nina, but just recently recalled I have your recipe of vatrushka, a traditional Russian sweet round bun with cottage cheese on top. The dough can be either with or without yeast, some recipes I’ve come across requested several egg yolks, but this one is really simple and the result is more than satisfactory!
First, a nostalgic photo from my undergraduate years
Sometimes I just hated that lecture hall (above) especially when we had evening classes which meant being later squashed in an elektrichka going back home. But the view has always been nice, Neva river with St Isaac Cathedral and the monument to Peter the Great on the other side. We had our classes in a historic building and haha the classrooms were accordingly ANCIENT sometimes with koe-kak (meaning carelessly, slop-built) renovation, which of course added some mmm flavour to it but took away all the comfort. Strangely enough I cannot remember those years as that much student years, those of my postgraduate studies seem to me more student, indeed.
Ok, now let’s move closer to Nina’s vatrushka recipe. Get your samovar hot and boiling, take your babushka‘s homemade jam and enjoy!
Nina’s vatrushka (slightly adapted)
- 100 ml milk
- 100 ml vegetable oil (flavourless type recommended)
- 120 g white sugar
- 1 egg
- 250 g all purpose flour (I have my flaxseed flour coming close to its best before date, so I’ve mixed 50 g of it in, that’s why the colour is not white, and I used more flour)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- baking soda on a tip of a Tbs
- vinegar or citric acid diluted in a tsp of water if you’re not a fan of vinegar
Topping for 4-5 vatrushkas that you’ll make from the above ingredients you’ll need
- about 150 g cottage cheese (make your own!)
- sugar to taste
- 1 egg
- a splash of sour cream (optional)
- vanilla (optional)
- as well as add-ins such as raisins (very traditional) or dried fruits (optional as well)
Blend milk, oil, sugar, egg together then add flour and salt, mix slightly and then make a trick – ‘burn’ your soda with vinegar (or diluted citric acid) by pouring just a tiny bit of it on soda placed on a Tbs. When it makes ‘pshhhhhh‘ pour it in the batter you’re making. Good. If you think that the batter is not pliable, add some more flour but not too much. You just need to divide it in 4-5 parts (or more if you want small vatrushkas), shape them adding some flour into circles and place on a greased cookie sheet. Make a kind of well in the centre, so that the filling goes inside and stays there. Yes, the filling/topping: blend cottage cheese with an egg and some Tbs of sugar (adding vanilla, sour cream, etc at this point too, if using), if it’s not enough for your vatrushkas, just make some more =) (or finally use some add-ins, they’ll enlarge the volume). Scoop the filling into the wells in the centre of each vatrushka, leaving the borders empty, don’t be meticulous, everything will turn out right! Even a huge vatrushka with too little a filling will be gobbled down, I swear.
Place the cookie sheet with your vatrushkas in preheated to 175 C oven, leaving them to bake for about 25 minutes. You’ll understand they’re done when the cottage cheese topping gets a little bit browned and with a common test (a toothpick inserted in the dough should come out clean).
Remove the buns from the cookies sheet, cool and then perhaps sprinkle with some hmmm sprinkles =) Or leave intact and enjoy! Don’t forget to heat the samovar and do invite your babushka to tea!
Keep – if any are left – the vatrushkas in the fridge, cause anyway they’re made from cottage cheese and it has a tendency to go sour… So my advice is to eat them quickly =)
The next day I made some chococookies in the morning – to complement the vatrushkas =) As I’m having this quite an obsession to use all the purchased different kinds of flour/bran etc etc, I’ve adapted the recipe I found on one of the blogs, www.melskitchencafe.com, that I’m following, to my demands.
Healthier Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from www.melskitchencafe.com) makes about 18-24 cookies but I didn’t count
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup white whole wheat flour – I made a miture of oat, flaxseed flours and oat bran
- 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (in Russia this type’s called… Hercules =)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 6 Tbs butter
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar – I made a mixture of brown and white sugars
- 1 cup dried cranberries or cherries – I used some cranberries+chopped some dried apricots and prunes
- 1 tsp vanilla extract – I used cinnamon instead
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips – I chopped half a bar of that bitter chocolate Osobiy, a favourite among my friends and me=)
Preheat the oven to 180 C.
(I’m copying the recipe): In a large bowl, combine the flours, oats, baking soda and salt. Melt the butter in the microwave or in a small saucepan on the stove. Remove from the heat and stir in the brown sugar. Add the butter/sugar mixture to the flour mixture, beating with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add the dried cranberries or cherries, vanilla and egg. Beat until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Spoon rounded tablespoonfuls of dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment, silpat liners or coated with cooking spray. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned on the edges. Remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. (I had to bake them for 20 minutes, perhaps because of the changes I’ve made to the original recipe).
The cookies are very nice and let’s believe that there ARE healthy cookies =) Well, at least those are definitely healthiER than normal chococookies.
I’m currently reading this blog I’ve heard about on l’Altra Europa programme – a German and an Italian journalists travelling all way from Moscow to Lisbon through Europe on various trains. Got some funny moments and lots of train-related experience those two, for sure.
Yes, I’m still in a search. Still.
P.S. To you, my friend, I do remember that day!