Wiborg, Viipuri, Vyborg

Vyborg, Russia

The most European-like Medieval town of Russia, Vyborg aka Viipuri or Wiborg, is 130 km to the northwest of St Petersburg, close to the border with Finland. Unlike the royal residences Tsarskoye Selo or Pavlovsk, this is not a part of the city – Vyborg belongs to the Leningrad region (which still retains the Soviet name to it). If you are lucky, a 2 hour elektrichka train will make a minimum of stops and get you to this just a little bit haunted city in the wee morning hours.

Vyborg, Russia

We arrived in this stonework town before the shops and museums were open, so we had some time to enjoy the old part which is so close to the railway station you don’t even have a chance to get lost. It was not my first time in Vyborg but I never got a chance to wander in the narrow streets of the decadent old town before.

Vyborg, Russia

Your walk to the castle or to the old city starts with these two viking boats built (and later reconstructed again) for the 1985 Soviet-Norwegian movie Dragens Fange about – obviously – vikings and the brave slaves. I’ve started watching it but failed to finish it.

Vyborg, Russia

Before 11 o’clock Vyborg is almost deadly silent. The life starts about 10-11 when the cafes and museums open their doors to the visitors. They say it’s one of the most visited cities in Russia… and yet it’s one of the most neglected ones too!

Vyborg, Russia

Sitting there on the remains of a wooden well (?) and watching the birds, the only living creatures, it seemed, in this Medieval town, made me feel a little bit weird. Vyborg is definitely haunted, I thought (and still do). With all its history and all the silent stone guards of the millions of stories left by the continuous flow of habitants. This white wall house is here from the 16th century – and since then it has been a Knight’s house, a Catholic church of St Hyacinth (in 19th century) and a children arts school (guess the period!). It’s supposed to be an arts gallery now but it looked more like a house for pigeons and tits.

Vyborg, Russia

The old part of the town is a maze of bits and odds, rising up the hill and suddenly going down, interspersed with truly old buildings and occasional specimens of Finnish modernism in their – unfortunately – very gloomy ruinous state. Like this one:

Vyborg, Russia

The Medieval walls (and angles) seem to be in a better state:

Vyborg, Russia

another angle with some rusty Soviet traces:

Vyborg, Russia

And now as for a collection of doors, this one is the doubtless winner:

Vyborg, Russia

Green is the colour:

Vyborg, Russia

or better a greenish green:

Vyborg, Russia

and this door is inside the Vyborg Castle:

Vyborg, Russia

When in Vyborg, do look up into the air, because the roofs are adorned with cute weather wanes:

Vyborg, Russia

A tiny weather wane on top of the 16th century Round Tower, one of the surviving fortifications guarding the gates to the Stone city, the oldest part of Vyborg. They say the restaurant inside is quite a nice and inexpensive place, will try it next time:

Vyborg, Russia

Houses climbing up, the ground being quite expensive and limited in the Middle ages… This is Burger’s House constructed with the 16th century boulders:

Vyborg, Russia

Your neck is tired? Let’s window-shop!

Vyborg, Russia

Hungry? A much advertised Vyborg pretzel (Vyborgsky krendel) is more like a huge shortbread cookie with cinnamon. Too large for one person and a bit overrated. This Medieval-styled shop is called Lavka vkusnostey (Delicatessen) and sells all sort of local or pseudo-local dainties. They also give out free maps, so it’s worth visiting:

Vyborg, Russia

You can also try local gingerbread (pryanik) and spicy honey drink sbiten or dried meat if you feel especially carnivorous!

Vyborg, Russia

With the opening of the tourist traps shops, the Vyborg Castle also starts filling up with the visitors. It was built by Swedish in late 13th century, originally including the town itself in its walls. It occupies a whole island:

Vyborg, Russia

The Vyborg Castle is a curious place though I guess that it doesn’t impress from the inside you as it should, actually. Probably due to a couple of tourist traps, like a Knights’ hall which in reality is a room filled with various paraphernalia intended to take photos with or in :) The lot being guarded by a very jealous woman, especially attentive to which bench you sit upon (some of them are particularly precious and thus prohibited to sit on, it appears : ).

Vyborg, Russia

The Castle and the city have changed hands quite a lot since their foundation. And you know what? It doesn’t feel you’re in Russia but it doesn’t feel you’re in Finland or Europe either. If compared to similarly contested cities like Petrozavodsk or Kaliningrad, I think Vyborg has preserved more of its authenticity. It’s also smaller…

Vyborg, Russia

However when you mount the rusty steps to the top of the St Olav Tower, with the wind virtually blowing your shoes away, you do realize the ‘weight’ and the strategic importance of the place. And yes, I DID bump my head on the beam on the right, thanks God it’s lovingly wrapped in some soft material :) When I first climbed this Tower about 15 years ago, I was too short to even care about reaching it with my head :)

Vyborg, Russia

The old town as seen from the Tower, with the red and yellow ex-City Hall and the krendel place in the adjacent King’s House. It’s a pity a photo cannot render the wind speed :) My hands were literally flying hence a somewhat unsteady picture: the camera just wouldn’t stand still! You can notice that luckily the Soviet (hard, not soft) touch has not really influenced (read: destroyed) the old part. To the right is the port and to the left is the railway station, both not fitting in this picture:

Vyborg, Russia

inside the Castle’s museum, devoted to the rich history of the place:

Vyborg, Russia

To sum up, my usual travel checklist as applied to Vyborg:

  • postcards – nope, no visit to the post office either
  • market – there’s the indoor market on the Market square, will definitely visit it next time
  • local food – a beer restaurant was a flop but the cafe opposite the Castle was quite a cozy place (where we tried krendel)
  • bookstore – nope
  • local history museum – done
  • old town – still have some of its corners left for the next time. Plus the ‘new’ city seems quite interesting too. Next time!

Overall impression? That of a city with a mystery. Something is lingering in those places… The old city is being gradually coming back to life and restored thanks to some money inflow but yet it mostly feels abandoned and spooky (an ideal place to shoot movies!). I hope that along with the reconstruction festivals they already organize each summer, there will be more initiatives as how to emphasize the charisma of Vyborg’s old city and, well, sell it to the tourists. The city desperately needs more money…

Due to its proximity to the border, lots of people stop over at the local gas stations on their way to Helsinki without even a slightest idea what this city represents! On the other hand, Finnish people come here to see the city they lost (or just to drink vodka…). Vyborg was considered a criminal capital of the region in the 90s, by the way, with all the illegal or semi-legal (?!) trade and prostitution. I think some of this, other, aura still lingers in the city too.

We didn’t manage to walk in the beautiful Nordic park called Monrepos, nor did we see the remains of the later fortifications. I guess I will be much tempted to see the city in autumn. That will add to the mystic aura it already has – with all its decadence some fallen leaves and a decent mist would be just perfect :)

Adding this to my Travel collection.

G.

Petrogradka: Along the Embankment and into the Yards

Petrogradskaya Embankment, St Petersburg

Guiding a friend through the city has made me even more certain that I can not get enough of St Petersburg: the more I know about it, the less I actually know… and the more difficult it gets to transmit this love to all the tiny details to others. And this applies to other cities I love. This post – in which I share with you my own St Pete – follows in the footsteps of the recent one on Modernism and Constructivism in the Petrogradsky District of St Petersburg, aka Petrogradka. We’ll travel along the adjacent Petrogradskaya and Petrovskaya Embankments into the yards full of hidden marvels.

Petrogradskaya Embankment, St Petersburg

Let’s start with the water tower of the first Russian Tulle Factory built in the mid 19th century. Russian poet Alexander Blok even dedicated a poem to it in 1903. Albeit all the perturbations our city has gone through – this factory still manufactures tulle, lace and curtains. Moving on towards the curve of the Petrogradskaya embankment, where the Petrovskaya embankment begins…

Petrogradskaya Embankment, St Petersburg

This house-ship was built in 1910-1912 in pseudo baroque style to house various schools – hence its windows-windows-windows to bring light into the classrooms. It’s now the home for Nakhimov Naval School. Opposite it is the ‘eternal’ harbour for Aurora, the cherished ship that fired the signal for the Revolution. It’s now being repaired. Never been inside, by the way. Not much interested in anything Revolution-related. Although I did love the eponymous children’s song, it’s (even now) so tear-drawing with its acute tune that I actually never realised what the lyrics mean!

Let’s follow the curve of the Neva, stepping on the Petrovskaya Embankment now (which is actually the same embankment) and look up feeling suddenly so small and insignificant – this is how you should feel when faced with the Stalin’s neoclassicism!

Petrogradskaya Embankment, St Petersburg

Built in the 1930s this another ship-like house was planned to be the Inturist hotel for the foreign guests of the city. Later however it was rebuilt to house the navy people (with a shop, kindergarten, etc etc) and later the Soviet elite. Looking at its constructivist original project by Levinson and Fomin, and then back to what it was transformed into just several years later, makes you understand how crucial it was to follow Stalin’s official style in those days. Otherwise… the late 1930s was the era of Stalin’s repressions, you know. More photos of this enormous house here.

Petrogradskaya Embankment, St Petersburg

What do these Chinese guardian Shi-Tza lions actually have to do with St Petersburg? Well, they just add up to the already rich pandemonium of various chimeras, lions, birds and sphinx that inhabit our city. And they have been the adornment of the Petrovskaya Embankment on the Petrogradskaya Side of St Petersburg since 1907, being a rather heavy (2.5 tons each) present from China. Imaging transporting them all the way from Manchuria…

Petrogradskaya Embankment, St Petersburg

Right opposite them is one of those heritage items left from Peter the Great, scattered all over the city and not always so easy to … even notice. This is the grate leading to the first house built in St Petersburg in May 1703, the tiny wooden home of Peter I (it was later enclosed in a case to preserve it), one of the musts if you want to get the gist of what both Peter and the early life in the new capital was like. Modest? Nope, ascetic. A lot. Behind it is a 1964 home built for the Communist party and the arts people of Leningrad. There lived theatre director Tovstonogov and quite a number of theatre and music stars. The folk name for this house – Dvoryanskoye Gnezdo, Nest of the Gentlefolk. Although built during the ‘less is more’ era of the infamous khruschevka, this house was created to bring COMFORT to its habitants.

Petrogradskaya Embankment, St Petersburg

This neoclassical facade belongs to the last home built for the royal family in Russia in 1910-1913. Since then it has changed lots of roles, becoming finally the residence of the representative of our president. Meanwhile we’re moving forward to a fine – and indeed visible – specimen of constructivism with a very bitter history:

Petrogradskaya Embankment, St Petersburg

One of the first ‘house-communes’ in Leningrad it was built in 1929 to house the families of the political prisoners of the tsarist times (all those people who fought against the existing monarchy). Right in the historical center of the city, on the other side of Neva, not far from the ex-royal Winter palace-residence, it was definitely a manifesto in itself. But… Stalin was truly iron-hearted: he put through repressions the entire house! He just did not need all those people who either knew too much or fell out of favor… There was always a reason – or no reason. Double prisoners of two regimes. There’s a saying in Russia, za chto borolis, na to i naporolis – meaning ‘they tripped over what they were fighting for’.

Petrogradskaya Embankment, St Petersburg

Due to its certain resemblance to a prison there were all those ‘jokes’ created back then (something like since all those political prisoners got so used to living in prison that their new house was built prison-like).

Petrogradskaya Embankment, St Petersburg

There are lots of parts and windows and rounds and lines and shapes, especially in its yard. And all the communications hanging above the doors with surviving Soviet period signs:

Petrogradskaya Embankment, St Petersburg

The feeling one gets when entering the yard with this thick shade and rows of balconies is definitely not pleasant. By the way, the original project did not foresee any kitchen space in the flats as the habitants were to be serviced automatically by food lifts! Those were the new life ideas characteristic of that period and of the constructivism too. Later it was redesigned, though the – children’s! – library still exists.

Petrogradskaya Embankment, St Petersburg

a local bird

Petrovskaya Embankment, St Petersburg

A general view from the Troitsky bridge. The ship is a reconstruction serving as a restaurant and the neoclassical 1950s building to the left is in a super-posh contrast to the constructivism in the center. Remember how small you should feel in front of Stalin’s neoclassicism?

Petrogradka, St Petersburg

Moving away from the embankment and into the Petrogradsky Island, you will find even more politics. Though wrapped in very beautiful modernist clothes:

Petrogradka, St Petersburg

This is a very unusual 1909-10 Brant mansion which now houses the Museum of Political History. Never been there but surely it’s worth a visit just for the sake of the buildings and the interiors!

Petrogradka, St Petersburg

Modernism is all about details…

Petrogradka, St Petersburg

And this is another modernist treasure, the Winter Garden of the Kschessinskaya mansion, also a part of the museum:

Petrogradka, St Petersburg

Apart from being a very good-looking prima ballerina, Mathilde Kschessinskaya was said to be the mistress of Nicholas II and wife of his cousin Andrei Romanov. But if we’re talking about the destiny of her modernist mansion which she abandoned in 1917, it became the headquarters of Lenin’s people (including himself and Stalin). It was from its balcony that Lenin addressed the crowd with his revolutionary speeches. Then it was turned into the Museum of Revolution, later Museum of the Political History.

The nearby neoclassical building had a somewhat prison-like feeling about it too…

Petrogradka, St Petersburg

The yard of this ex-super-secret Naval Institute is full with dilapidated sculptures, fountains, sleeping lions and even mines…

Petrogradka, St Petersburg

And just to complicate the architectural things of the district, here’s the Samarkand-like blue beauty of the St Petersburg Mosque. It’s a pity they do not let non-Muslims (or women) inside, I guess it should be amazing (judging from this video)! By the way, a). this is also considered to be a modernist building, b). it was open already during the Soviet era, c). it was used as a warehouse for medical goods in mid 20th century. Waiting for the reconstruction to end so that I could take a general photo and tell you the Mosque’s story.

Petrogradka, St Petersburg

Adding this to my ever-growing St Petersburg series.

G.

Almond Biscotti and Sour Cream Snickerdoodles

Almond Biscotti from smittenkitchen.com

After a tasty Greek cheese pie all one needs is… a combined Italian and German / American (the origin is contested here but who cares!) dessert! The trick of these two recipes is that they are complementary – you won’t need to think where to use leftover egg white (after baking cookies) or egg yolk either (from the biscotti).

Almond Biscotti from smittenkitchen.com

Making biscotti is somewhat a longish procedure but a very joyful one, really. Especially when the recipe is very good, you’re in a similarly good mood and there’s sun in the kitchen!

Almond Biscotti from smittenkitchen.com

And you will be in an even more cheerful mood when you complement biscotti (and yourself) with a batch of big chewy cookies! Made with the leftover tvorog (Russian cottage cheese) and the egg yolk left over from the biscotti.

Sour Cream Snickerdoodles from www.evilshenanigans.com

Let’s start with the biscotti:

A year ago – Makowiec or Poppy Seed Roll for Easter

Two years ago – St Petersburg the Great Part 2

Three years ago – Sour Rye Bread to Make Your Life Sweeter

Almond Biscotti adapted from smittenkitchen.com will make sweet and truly addictive crunchy-crumbly biscotti which are surprisingly soft inside (or should I say – they just melt in your mouth!). Follow the link for the entire recipe.

My changes: Added less butter and less sugar and still got very sweet biscotti. Instead of orange liqueur I used some brandy. Also I was quite lazy to grate the zest, so I just chopped it up. As for the procedure, I baked my cookies in between the first and the second bake that is required for the biscotti, so they were cooling down longer than 25 minutes waiting for the cookies to bake.

Almond Biscotti from smittenkitchen.com

Remarks: You will need an extra egg white – but will not use all of it. Use the left over egg yolk in the second recipe of this post. I would reduce the oven temperature or the time of the second bake as I think these biscotti would be even better if they retain more of their softness which was so obviously great after the first bake.

Almond Biscotti from smittenkitchen.com

Result: Crumbly and sugary, a bit over-baked but still melt-in-your-mouth kind of biscotti. The bits of almonds contribute to the crunchiness and chewiness .) Don’t hesitate, these are worth the two bakes they require!

Almond Biscotti from smittenkitchen.com

So now that you are left with an egg yolk (and some egg white too, cause you won’t need all for brushing), you can try this cookie recipe where you will use up the leftovers:

Sour Cream Snickerdoodles adapted from www.evilshenanigans.com will make big and soft cookies – just what you were craving for! Visit the link for the original recipe.

My changes: As I said, I had some 5% tvorog (cottage cheese) which I used instead of sour cream. I added some cinnamon to the cookie dough too. As I made these while waiting for the biscotti’s first bake, I placed the cookie dough into the fridge for some time. I think this only helped them get this perfect shape!

Sour Cream Snickerdoodles from www.evilshenanigans.com

Remarks: I used a less liquid and more grainy cottage cheese instead of sour cream so my cookies certainly differ from the original. Also, the second batch puffed up more than the first, but all in all these are very ship-shape cookies and do not spread much.

Sour Cream Snickerdoodles from www.evilshenanigans.com

Result: Big and chewy!

Adding these to my Country recipe collection and to Sweet and Leftovers collections.

G.

Yet Another Tasty Cheese Pie from Greece

Almiri Kolokithopita  from www.sintagespareas.gr

Sometimes it seems this blog of mine is either about travelling or Greek recipes… And just to prove the latter here’s yet another post on a tasty cheese pie from Greece! And a very successful recipe indeed. For which I luckily bought some very close-to-the-original version of Suluguni, the famous Georgian cheese. Here’s how its texture should be – you should be able to shred it into strands like this:

Suluguni

I can really sing hymns to Suluguni – and all great cheese in general… Talking about this particular one (which was made in Belarus actually, our stable provider of cheese here) I didn’t even grate it, I just separated the ‘strands’ and added them to the filling. Which also contained some grated zucchini / courgettes and spring onions. A spring-time recipe!

Almiri Kolokithopita  from www.sintagespareas.gr

A year ago – Makowiec or Poppy Seed Roll for Easter

Two years ago – St Petersburg the Great Part 2

Three years ago – Sour Rye Bread to Make Your Life Sweeter

Almiri Kolokithopita or Savory Zucchini Cheese Pie (Αλμυρή κολοκυθόπιτα) translated and adapted from www.sintagespareas.gr will make a really tasty layered pie which holds its shape. I’m giving you the original recipe for a large Greek family :) although I halved it when I baked my pie. See my remarks in italics.

Ingredients:

For the pastry

  • 500 g all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup oil – I guess here you’re just obliged to use Greek olive oil, which I did
  • 1 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt – I used less to make the pastry more neutral

For the filling

  • 1 kg zucchini / courgettes
  • 2 spring onions or 1 onion
  • 1 Tbs bread crumbs – I used semolina instead
  • 250 g Feta – I used Suluguni which is completely NOT like Feta but…
  • some anthotiroused about same amount of Adygea cheese (soft white cheese, you can use cottage cheese or fresh cheese)
  • 2 eggs – I used 1 egg + 1 egg white
  • fresh fennel and dill – herbs are always good in a cheese pie but I added instead salt and mixed ground peppers

Procedure:

Rub the flour with the oil so that you get crumbs. Dissolve the salt in the water and add to the flour + oil mixture. (Before rolling out I put my pastry in the fridge for some time). Roll out 5 sheets of pastry (use some flour to roll out very thin sheets which you can also extend by holding each one and stretching gently. I rolled sheet by sheet, not all at once).

Grate / chop the onions and grate the zucchini / courgettes, then finely chop dill and fennel. Mix everything together and squeeze to drain the extra juices (I drained the grated zucchini before adding to the rest of the filling ingredients).

Beat the eggs and bread crumbs (I used semolina), and add to the mixture above.

Grease the baking sheet (I halved the recipe and used a sheet which is 1/2 of my oven rack + lined it with parchment paper). First place two sheets of the pastry onto the bottom (they do not have to be perfectly equal, you can always stretch the top one to the size of the bottom one) and spread half of the filling on top. Place one sheet over the filling and spread the rest of the filling on top. Finish by the last two pastry sheets. Brush with some oil and water (I rubbed the top with oil and then with some water – using my fingers. Then I also cut – but not through – the pie into slices which simplified the slicing later on. I also pinched the edges and lifted them a bit to create a ‘closed’ pie).
Bake at 180 ‘C (which in my case was about 40 minutes with temperature over 180 ‘C to quicken up the process + for some minutes I switched on the fan option and lowered the temp).

Almiri Kolokithopita  from www.sintagespareas.gr

Remarks: I halved the recipe and still got a laaaarge pie. But don’t be mislead by the appearance – the pie is doomed to disappear very fast! I think adding grated zucchini (courgettes) is the best choice for a zucchini pie as they merge with the cheese perfectly! I would add more salt next time, I guess the zucchini just absorbed all the salt. But be careful with real Feta, it’s salty enough. Some remarks on the pastry – it’s easy to make, rather neutral in taste and if you roll it out accordingly, will contribute to the overall pastry-filling balance. It was a bit thick at the edges but it’s always is!

Almiri Kolokithopita  from www.sintagespareas.gr

I liked how the Suluguni cheese popped up through the pre-cut pastry and melted:

Almiri Kolokithopita  from www.sintagespareas.gr

Result: My father who’s completely not vegetarian was slicing away this pie in a very carnivorous manner :) I mean, he liked it! I think that this extra dough layer in the middle + the amalgamated cheese and zucchinis make this pie a very tasty dish for your lunch or dinner! I can only imagine how much saltier and also flavourful it would be with the authentic Greek Feta…

The photos were made the next morning so what you see is tsssss a cold pie from the fridge :) I bet there was none in the evening after I left home!

More – tasty – cheese pie recipes here. Adding this recipe to my Greek collection too.

Or is this blog all about travelling and pies? :) Not exactly true, cause a sweet recipe is coming soon!

G.

Good Morning with Hearth Sourdough Bread

Hearth Sourdough from www.karenskitchenstories.com

It was so sunny and so warm today that I’m ready to forgive St Petersburg for that nasty snow in late April we were having… And here’s a great sourdough bread to celebrate it! Yes, I finally made an almost all-white sourdough bread with almost no changes to the recipe!..

Hearth Sourdough from www.karenskitchenstories.com

When I baked it in the evening, I was quite impressed (taking into consideration the fact that I used my pretty unreliable oven) and wanted to grasp this moment. So here it is, the fragrant loaf still puffing with warmth of the oven right under the lamp in lieu of a flash :)

Hearth Sourdough from www.karenskitchenstories.com

The parchment paper was all burnt through. The recipe requires a Dutch oven which I do not have, so I improvised it with this old pan and the biggest enameled bowl turned upside down on top of it. A burnt finger ensued… inevitably! But those air pockets, they are worth it. It’s what happens when you’re trying to bake a “Hearth Bread” in a conventional oven :)

Hearth Sourdough from www.karenskitchenstories.com

A year ago – Spring in Pavlovsk Park and Blueberry Muffins

Two years ago – Apples and Oranges

Three years ago – Biscotti and On Soviet Food Stupidities and More on Smart Use of Leftovers

Hearth Sourdough adapted from the very helpful www.karenskitchenstories.com will make soft flavourful bread with chewy crust and all those artsy air pockets in the crumb! Follow the link for the entire recipe.

Although I said that I made almost no changes to the original recipe, there were some alterations along the way. Like using rye sourdough starter as it’s the only one I have or adding less water to the final dough as I was fearing the bread to be flat and shapeless (which it certainly was not!). And well, apart from dusting my loaf somewhat too heavily with wheat bran and flour, that’s all I changed.

Hearth Sourdough from www.karenskitchenstories.com

Remarks: Be careful when operating your Dutch or fake Dutch oven… Although I made this recipe without any major changes, my bread has this extra flavour and bran thanks to the presence of rye sourdough culture. I think it just added to its quality!

Hearth Sourdough from www.karenskitchenstories.com

Result: Loved it! The crust is wonderful (though I did dust it with too much flour) and the slices are ship-shape but soft. Will definitely try to make more white sourdough bread now. In the morning I took most of the pictures while there was still sun (it was already some days ago) and then… took a bite off this loaf too :) And that’s exactly what you should do with it!

Adding this to my Sourdough bread recipe collection.

And yes, white nights are getting closer. I feel it!

G.

Deli Bread with My Un-Favourite Ingredient

Deli Bread from www.guardian.co.uk

There’s this ingredient that can spoil even the most adorable food on Earth – bread. And that is… caraway seeds! Traditional rye bread in Russia is often spiced up with it (sometimes with coriander) which makes me always on guard when I’m discovering new bread while traveling. And here’s just one of those things – you bake wonderfully moist bread and… and then you realize you won’t enjoy it cause you followed the recipe and added caraway seeds :)

Deli Bread from www.guardian.co.uk

My Mom says, however, that she loved this bread. In my family I’m the only one with this caraway seed-intolerance. Mom says the bread disappeared quickly and she especially noted the caraway seeds (of course) that she thought were a very good addition. She also said the bread was really soft but had very light potato flavour (I was actually using her leftover mashed potatoes). Here they are, those bread-killer seeds :)

Deli Bread from www.guardian.co.uk

So if you are not like me and have nothing special against caraway seeds, here’s a truly successful bread recipe! Although I have to admit that I did not taste it and have to rely on my Mom’s impressions, I can assure you that from the outside this is a very smart-looking loaf:

Deli Bread from www.guardian.co.uk

A year ago – Dying Eggs for Easter the Natural Way

Two years ago – Black and White Sourdough Bread

Three years ago – Novgorod Borkannik or Carrot Pie

Deli Bread adapted from Dan Lepard’s at www.guardian.co.uk will make soft, very moist and ship-shape bread which would be perfect for me too – but for the caraway seeds…! To get the entire recipe please visit the link above. ATTENTION: requires a 12 hour rest in the fridge.

My changes:

I used active dry yeast. Didn’t add cooked onion. Had to add more water. Used less caraway seeds.

Deli Bread from www.guardian.co.uk

Remarks: Although this is a rather easy recipe, you will have to chill the dough for 12 hours in the fridge. So start making dough in the evening and you will have fresh bread next day. If you want extra flavourful bread, do not skip the onions – I was too lazy to do cook them :)

Deli Bread from www.guardian.co.uk

The bread includes some rye flour which I tried not to increase and… succeeded!, but that did not change the color much. It just added to the flavour for sure. I would suggest baking this bread for your deli breakfast – or serving it with soup.

Deli Bread from www.guardian.co.uk

Result: Deli bread is deli bread. Soft, moist and salty enough (according to my parents). Enjoy it with or without caraways seeds! :)

Adding this to my Yeast Bread collection, British recipes and to Leftovers too!

G.

Peach Tart and Red Currant Flan

Peach Pastry Pie from eda.ru

Just to remind myself that this blog used to be a food blog once actually – here are two bright sweet pie recipes to combat the snow and the unnecessary winter feeling it brings in the middle of April. At least we can put some sun on our plates…

Peach Pastry Pie from eda.ru

A year ago – Dying Eggs for Easter the Natural Way

Two years ago – Black and White Sourdough Bread

Three years ago – Novgorod Borkannik or Carrot Pie

Peach Pastry Pie (Peach Tart) or Persikovy Pirog iz Pesochnogo Testa translated and adapted from eda.ru will make a flat pie with chewy sweet peaches and a bit gummy soft base. Nevertheless it will disappear in just no time at all… See my remarks in italics.

Ingredients:

  • 120 g of butter – I used less
  • 200 g flour
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 400 g peaches – I used up almost an entire tin of Greek peaches
  • 3 Tbs cold water

Procedure:

Preheat the oven to 200 ‘C.

Take the butter out of the fridge to soften a bit. Meanwhile prepare the peaches (if you don’t use the tinned peaches, of course) – remove the stone and slice the fruit.

Prepare the pastry: Mix the softened butter with flour, sugar and salt. Work the pastry ingredients with a fork or with your fingers, so that you get a crumbly mixture. Add 3 Tbs cold water and quickly mix everything up. The pastry will not be thick but not liquid either (to my mind though it was rather thick – but then I added less butter).

Line your cake tin with parchment paper. Place the pastry into the tin and level it up to an about 5 mm thickness. Starting from the center, arrange the peach slices. Sprinkle with sugar (and cardamom if you like) and bake at 200 ‘C for 20 minutes (more for sure).

Remarks: Although the author claims that at such a high temperature the thin pastry will bake fast, it did not work out for my pie. The juices from the peaches made this process longer, about 30 minutes. However, I think that I’ve achieved a similar result – the peaches remained somewhat chewy but got a caramelized ‘crust’. In order to spice it all up a bit I added some cardamom right on top of the peach layer – and I think you really need something extra for the flavour.

Result: I would call this a Peach Tart because it is a rather flattish pied. Regardless of the bland and a bit soggy crust, the pie was a very quick success… I had the chance just to take photos of the last piece the next morning :)

And here’s another sunny recipe with the last red currants from the freezer:

Red Currant Flan from www.thethreecheeses.com

Blueberry Red Currant Flan adapted from www.thethreecheeses.com will make a very sweet (to my standards) pudding-like cheesecake with cinnamon “topping”. To get the entire recipe, visit the link.

My changes:

Used butter for the crust and the last of our frozen red currants from the 2014 harvest + some Greek peaches drained from syrup, chopped. As I had to finish off with a carton of cream which had been sadly reminding us of itself each time we opened the fridge for about 4 months, I decided to use it instead of  yogurt + added sour cream. The mixture turned out a bit too runny so naturally I was thinking about adding some thickener, so I mixed in some semolina along with about a tablespoon of flour. I opted for the orange zest.

Red Currant Flan from www.thethreecheeses.com

Remarks: Thanks to my addition of the semolina the flan became almost pudding-like. And of course it turned out to be much richer with all the cream instead of yogurt! I guess that if you follow the recipe to the point you will get a different result. And choose a larger cake tin to evenly distribute the pastry cause the base can get rather thick for a cheesecake / flan. You can see in this photo that the base is indeed a bit too thick at the borders. But that might just be my laziness à moi :)

Red Currant Flan from www.thethreecheeses.com

Result: Sweet and chewy fruit cheesecake. The crust is not soggy but there’s just a bit too much of it. This cake holds itself well, I mean, with all the liquid inside, and will cut easily – but be careful, it also JUMPS easily :) Oh yes. No major damage caused – it merely flopped on the floor as is, losing in this salto only berries from the top :) This photo was taken before the jump:

Red Currant Flan from www.thethreecheeses.com

I’ve already gathered a collection of recipes using Greek tinned peaches which you can find under the Sweet category. I’m eagerly supporting Greece with this tiny contribution each time I feel like baking some sunny pie! Some examples are also here, here and here.

Adding this to my Berry collection too.

G.

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