Backyards of St Petersburg

Goncharnaya Street, St Petersburg

Just as any other big city St Petersburg has its front-door face and its other side. And it has always been so. There is the ‘parade’ Petersburg as we call it (paradny), the official one, with the perfectly symmetric buildings and proper streets, and there’s the – actually – real life of the backyards. Both have been extensively described by poets, journalists and artists: everyone to their taste.

Goncharnaya Street, St Petersburg

When one talks about backyards, there are certain issues that are inevitable to discuss. With St Petersburg of the past you can be almost 100% sure to find a completely un-parade face (khm, face, is it?:) once you leave the flamboyant facades and choose the backdoor instead. The stark contrast can be quite shocking – both with its visual and the olfactory aspects. There are of course streets that are more consistent in their appearance – either nice and proper or dirty and stinky. There’s for instance Goncharnaya Street, just off Nevsky Avenue – very dirty inside and outside, especially in the summer, oh-oh.

Aptekarsky Island, St Petersburg

So let’s take a quick look at what you might come across when turning your back to the front and entering in through the out doors of St Petersburg. These photos apart from the first two were taken on the Aptekarsky Island of the Petrogradskaya Side.

Aptekarsky Island, St Petersburg

St Petersburg backyards are most famous for their blind walls built in a circle so that the actual backyard is limited to a ‘well’, hence the special term – kolodets – designating these well-like backyards in my city. A source of gloomy inspiration for many artists, these ‘wells’ actually get affectionately stuck in the hearts of those St Petersburg kids, who spent all their childhood and later years living in a very limited space. And that was the point – occupy as much of the territory with the living quarters cause it was (and still is) so expensive here. By the way, in order to get inside a building like this, unless you’re heading for a store or an office, you have to go into the backyard. Since these buildings are so very jostling each other, it’s not rare that the back walls have weird windows, just like these:

Aptekarsky Island, St Petersburg

Or these:

Aptekarsky Island, St Petersburg

Parts of the house on legs, windows built up with bricks…

Aptekarsky Island, St Petersburg

…and unexpected decoration:

Aptekarsky Island, St Petersburg

A labyrinth of electric wires:

Aptekarsky Island, St Petersburg

And an even starker contrast:

Aptekarsky Island, St Petersburg

A window a bit out-of-place:

Aptekarsky Island, St Petersburg

A birch-tree growing a bit out-of-place too:

Aptekarsky Island, St Petersburg

Century-old bricks and a car-shed:

Aptekarsky Island, St Petersburg

Love the architectonics of multifaceted St Petersburg – both its front-doors and backyards :)

Adding this to my St Petersburg series.

G.

Moskovsky District: Little Moscow in St Petersburg

Moskovsky District, St Petersburg

Continuing my investigations into the Moskovsky District of St Petersurg, I travelled farther this time, stopping at the brightest specimens of the official Soviet architectural style during the ‘reign’ of Stalin – neo-classicism (aka Stalin’s classicism). I don’t really like it the way I love modern or am attracted to constructivism but without it Moskovsky district of St Petersburg would just not be what it is.

Moskovsky District, St Petersburg

Let’s begin our walk (or bicycle trip) from the building and the square intended to become the city’s new focal point back in Stalin’s times. Dom Sovetov, or the House of Soviets, built in 1936-1941 on Moskovsky Avenue, just before the war broke out, was initially projected in a very imperialistic style (see here and here). Interestingly enough, if you google “Dom Sovetov“, the first in line would be the monster building in Kaliningrad :)

Moskovsky District, St Petersburg

This huge House of Soviets in St Petersburg is also quite monstrous-looking especially now with its darkened facades and apparently degrading decorations. It’s now used as an office building. Never been inside but can imagine the grandeur of the interiors.

Moskovsky District, St Petersburg

It’s hard to imagine now, but back at the time when Dom Sovetov was being built, the surroundings were just void fields, its being located far to the south of the city center, along the historic road leading to Moscow and Tsarskoye Selo.

Moskovsky District, St Petersburg

Now this industrial district is one of the most prestigious in St Petersburg, with construction sites springing all over the place – and there’s even the highest building in the city, the one on the left among the towers in between the Stalinist houses:

Moskovsky District, St Petersburg

Lenin’s statue is right there in the center of the square which was supposed to become the new center of the city. Lenin, as it’s always is with the statues of our ex-leaders, is eagerly pointing somewhere over there, possibly in the direction of the highest tower in St Pete, who knows. Well, a city (re)named Leningrad (city of Lenin) just has to have Lenins all over the place. In various shapes and sizes, usually as an approximately 3-meter statue or a head (bust) with the umptieth time reproduced features, to accommodate a less spacious places.

Moskovsky District, St Petersburg

There are usually several legends as to where each and every Lenin in the USSR is pointing, like to the nearest ryumochnaya or booze place (from ryumka – shot glass), cemetery (Vse tam budem, or We’ll all eventually end up there) or the river… They also claim that from a certain angle this particular Lenin’s hat that he’s holding (not very easily identifiable in the first place) transforms into, well, not exactly what it is supposed to represent :) And they also call this statue ‘dancing Lenin’, just look at his left leg!

Moskovsky District, St Petersburg

Enough for Lenin, let’s take a breath of beauty and nature just behind the House of Soviets and the Moskovskaya Square. This is Chesmenskaya Church (or Chesme Church) built in the 18th century. And that’s the hidden gem of the entire district to my mind! Although not at all free from a bloody relation to Stalin – it used to be right in the middle of a labour concentration camp… And now back to our Moscow-style architecture that is so very prolific in the district:

Moskovsky District, St Petersburg

Built in 1954-57 as a obschezhitiye – a hall of residence

Imagine getting a flat in such a decorated house in the time when the city was recovering from the tragedy of the war, the destruction of the Siege of Leningrad. That was the time when decoration and hyper-decoration was not just à la mode, it was dictated by the state. So even a very dull-looking block of flats was duly transformed into a palace with all the pseudo-classic columns, arches and styled Soviet symbols. And how would you imagine a place a Soviet mother would leave her kid in while at work?

Moskovsky District, St Petersburg

This is not a typical kindergarten though, it’s oval in shape (built around 1954 after an individual project, that is, not a typical project used all over the USSR) and has this relief depicting happy and (super)plump Soviet childhood:

Moskovsky District, St Petersburg

Moving even further into the Moskovsky District up along the Moskovsky Avenue near the Park Pobedy (Victory Park), one comes face to face with this monster of a house unofficially dubbed Washington (or rather Vashington, according to the Russian pronunciation). I wonder what can be more official than a name given by the people themselves? By the way, they say that the House of Soviets was aka White House, so here we are in a Little America :)

Moskovsky District, St Petersburg

Trying to get this building fit in one shot is impossible. See the massive red door in a brown portal? A very typical detail for a very imposing Stalinist architecture, especially in a governmental or around-communist-party construction. Built in 1957 this grand thing was the first 12-floor building in Leningrad. It goes without saying that ‘Vashington‘ was not supposed to house an ordinary Soviet worker.

Moskovsky District, St Petersburg

Yet another not-your-proletariat-building close to Park Pobedy. It’s on Moskovsky Avenue, the wanna-be main artery of the city. It is a very important street of St Petersburg – but definitely not just because Stalin wanted it so. This 1940-53 building is however one of the most distinctive features of Moskovsky Avenue, its tower being a landmark of the entire district. People still call it Dom so shpilem (House with a spire) and they say Russian rock legend Viktor Tsoy lived here when he was a boy.

Moskovsky District, St Petersburg

Superhuman arches and Pompeii-like decorations:

Moskovsky District, St Petersburg

This is also the home for one of the most cherished and true-to-the-origins Pirozhkovaya – a cafe with Russian pirozhki (small pies with various fillings) invariably serving everyone from a biker to a busy office employee since 1956. It’s thus one of the oldest inexpensive authentic eating places still functioning in the city. No, I didn’t go inside (to add my bike to the motorbike’s company) but they say that the cafe is the paradise for those prone to the Soviet food nostalgia.

Moskovsky District, St Petersburg

That day I also spent some time in the Park Pobedy itself but now that I know the history of the place (it being the city’s incinerator during the Siege of Leningrad), I somehow felt very hushed and little among the statues of athletic Soviet youth and alleys of war heroes. The landscape is nonetheless beautiful and the park is frequented by moms with prams. They say Moskovsky District is one of the greenest in St Petersburg.

Moskovsky District, St Petersburg

What is sure though is that the district built to become the new center of the second city in USSR, has been gradually and inevitably turned into… a place where people live.

Moskovsky District, St Petersburg

The grand plans of the Soviet leaders might as well never become reality, but they have surely given a certain grand feeling to the life of this district. And not only the architectural freaks notice it :)

I finally did get to another house where Viktor Tsoy lived (not far from the one with the tower), a 1970s wardrobe / bath ‘on legs’ built after a Swedish project – but to tell you the truth, it didn’t in any way impress me much. There are much more interesting places around yet to discover, that I will one day share with you.

Adding this to my St Petersburg series.

G.

Double-Decker Gooseberry Scones and Muesli Rolls

Double-Decker Filled Scones from www.kingarthurflour.com

Here’s another attempt at sharing with you some of the recipes I’ve recently made and liked – they’ve been impatiently waiting to get posted all this time! Both recipes in today’s post are made with whole wheat flour: scones filled with jam and rolls full of seeds. Let’s start with the dessert :)

Double-Decker Filled Scones from www.kingarthurflour.com

A year ago – Easy Cheesy Biscuits for Summer Picnic in St Petersburg

Two years ago – Khachapuri for the Bride’s Party

Three years ago – Some Desserts from Leftovers

Double-Decker Filled Scones adapted from www.kingarthurflour.com will make shortbread-like scones with sweet filling and moderately sweet dough. Follow the link to get the entire recipe.

My changes: Opted to mix in whole wheat flour as the original recipe suggests, added less salt but still the 50g sugar seemed not enough even with the sweetness of jam filling. I didn’t sprinkle the top of the scones with sugar but instead brushed them with jam. The procedure is somewhat more time-consuming than for scones without filling but there was nothing super-difficult.

Double-Decker Filled Scones from www.kingarthurflour.com

Remarks: The filling part is very flexible – I chose homemade gooseberry jam which I thought would match these scones. I would flatten the dough more and probably add more filling cause these scones are baked in uncut rounds, which will rise in the oven. Thus I got lots of dough and not enough jam. Although I added whole wheat flour, I cannot say that it was very distinct, although the addition definitely changed the texture (see the close-up in the second picture from above).

Double-Decker Filled Scones from www.kingarthurflour.com

Result: Real double-decker scones with a bit too much dough and runny filling (which you will also collect from the parchment paper as caramel). More like a huge shortbread cookie with filling, cut into wedges. By the way, can become your leftovers recipe for using up jam or some other filling! You will entertain yourself much more while making these then your usual scones :) I thoroughly enjoyed the process on the balcony!

Muesli Rolls from www.karenskitchenstories.com

But what I obviously enjoyed even more was eating these extremely (!) tasty Muesli Rolls which were especially good when toasted, mmmmm! I just gobbled down several slices with nothing on them, just because they were sooooo good… They might not look very impressive with all the barley flakes fallen off but once you taste them, you will not pay much attention to the looks :)

Muesli Rolls from www.karenskitchenstories.com

Muesli Rolls adapted from www.karenskitchenstories.com will make cute and really addictive buns with lots of seeds and other tasty stuff inside :) As always – follow the link to read the original recipe.

My changes: Used barley flakes instead of oats, active dry instead of instant yeas, did not add molasses and so had to add more water. As for the ‘muesli’ part, I omitted walnuts, apricots and chocolate. I used barley flakes to decorate the tops but they almost all fell off. The procedure is easy (typical for leavened buns), though I decided to make less but bigger buns. I forgot to flatten the buns before their last rise and did not mist the tops with water before baking. As my buns were larger, I had to increase baking time a bit.

Muesli Rolls from www.karenskitchenstories.com

Remarks: With all their seeds and stuff, these buns are not very crumbly, so will make for a very good breakfast option. Don’t know what they will turn into with chocolate (!), although you can see them looking pretty with apricots here, but sure enough they will still be great! So if you are in for sweeter buns, go ahead and try adding more of the ‘muesli’ ingredients.

Muesli Rolls from www.karenskitchenstories.com

Result: Try these muesli rolls toasted… although they are super-addictive even just plain, beware! And enjoy the chewiness at its most with every bite!

Muesli Rolls from www.karenskitchenstories.com

Adding these recipes to Yeast Bread and Sweet collections.

G.

Indulging in Art Nouveau at Vitebsky Railway Station

Vitebsk Railway Station, St Petersburg

Love the decadence of the early modernist buildings in St Petersburg. “Modern” is our Russian version of the French art nouveau or the German Jugendstil or the Austrian Sezession. It was created for the minority, for the rich and smart. In its sophistication, elaborate details and lavish (and expensive!) decoration it reminds me of the baroque buildings.

Vitebsk Railway Station, St Petersburg

But the modernism was much darker in its decadence than that of the baroque era. Already in the early 20th century the modernism preceded avant-garde with its functionalist ideas and futuristic glass, metal and cement structures appearing for the first time.

Vitebsk Railway Station, St Petersburg

But it was also the architectural style of the dying epoch, of the society and entire country soon to disappear from the maps. Reading about the turn of the century and the decadent lifestyle of a minority of the people and a hard life for the rest, “explains” in a way why the modern era was just doomed to be swept away by the new one. The days of modern were limited and its time was up.

Vitebsk Railway Station, St Petersburg

I can talk about modern on and on and on, indulging myself in every little detail. Let’s embark on a train journey which will take us to the Vitebsky Railway Station in St Petersburg. You might be arriving from Vitebsk in Belarus or from the royal residence Tsarskoye Selo. No matter where you’re coming from, you will be certainly amazed by the flavour of the days gone by long long ago still lingering there, in those surprisingly light-looking metal constructions.

Vitebsk Railway Station, St Petersburg

Vitebsk Railway Station or Vitebsky Vokzal, is one of the four major railway stations of St Petersburg. It was built in 1902-1904 by Brzozowski (this guy’s surname is no easier for Russians to pronounce either!) to replace a former – and the first in St Petersburg in general – station connecting the capital with the royal Tsarskoye Selo.

Vitebsk Railway Station, St Petersburg

I won’t go in much detail about the station, although it really is worth it, being something like a “book on modern”. You can read it just as people would read the cathedrals in the Middle Ages. I recently read a book on the public buildings built during the modernist era and there were many pages devoted to the Vitebsky Vokzal. It even made me just GO there again and look our for all the details, it’s literally opened my eyes! It’s just one of those places which you should experience at least twice – as a “user” and as an observer.

Vitebsk Railway Station, St Petersburg

And you know what? With this railway station, you don’t even have to distance yourself from the purely utilitarian side of the object, because the fact that this is not a museum or a secret palace but rather a place open to any class of the passengers, makes it even more attractive. They say that the modernist period was the first one when the architects finally started designing buildings from the inside – outside, meaning that they were focusing on the functional side of the building first and foremost and planning everything from that.

Vitebsk Railway Station, St Petersburg

The deliberately asymmetric building draws attention to it also by various details of all shapes and styles. Look at these almost some fairy-tale fish(?)-like (or Gaudi-like?) balconies and flower flagpoles, lion heads and city coat of arms, rectangular windows and a pioneer-large window which brings light to the main staircase:

Vitebsk Railway Station, St Petersburg

Here is the same window from the inside, with the stained-glass floral decoration characteristic of the modernist architecture:

Vitebsk Railway Station, St Petersburg

And here’s what you discover inside the hall with the main staircase:

Vitebsk Railway Station, St Petersburg

This hall is somewhat lonely, being to the right of the main entrance and thus and abandoned by the passengers now. But look up to the paintings representing the city view:

Vitebsk Railway Station, St Petersburg

and even the ceiling is worth looking at:

Vitebsk Railway Station, St Petersburg

You see, these days you do not enter through this East wing (I even prepared myself to find it closed to public), probably in order to preserve the newly reconstructed main staircase, the passengers have been redirected to the less posh but not less elaborate staircase in the West wing, under the clocktower:

Vitebsk Railway Station, St Petersburg

Oh those decadent modernists! It seems they had time and desire to pay attention to virtually every detail. And also that meant that the things they produced were there to last… The interiors of the Vitebsky station were co-designed by Sima Minash and they just blow your mind in terms of the multitude of details and the variety of styles, materials and at the same time the overall correspondence of one to another. Most of these interiors were lost, of course, but what remains and what was restored tells you a lot about the epoch when there was money even for the beautifully decorated halls for the third class passengers…, now a ticket and passenger hall:

Vitebsk Railway Station, St Petersburg

There’s also another entrance in the middle of the main facade – intended for the luggage departments and the ticket offices, with the straight metal marquee. Love the idea of incorporating the rain pipes into the structure’s carriers! These doors are also closed now:

Vitebsk Railway Station, St Petersburg

The ticket offices behind them have been moved up so the hall is mainly used as a waiting room with the wooden ticket booths occupied by the commerce. Here you can see it from the main staircase hall:

Vitebsk Railway Station, St Petersburg

When you get to the tracks on the second floor, you can spot this metal case which used to be ‘luggage lifting machine’, bringing the suitcases up from the ground floor to the trains.

Vitebsk Railway Station, St Petersburg

And yes, the tracks! A true metalwork masterpiece, immediately taking you back to the World Expo in Paris with its Tour Eiffel or the metal bridges that were being built during that period:

Vitebsk Railway Station, St Petersburg

No wonder that this station is featured in several Soviet movies about the 19th-early 20th centuries, like my favourite Sherlock Holmes series. The authenticity of the place was especially eminent during the Soviet period when there was little or no advertisement and commerce. However there was the not always true-to-the-source Soviet restoration the traces of which were removed over the latest 2003 restoration.

Vitebsk Railway Station, St Petersburg

In between the tracks and the passenger halls there is this corridor with the windows of the administration offices looking inside it, as if this was not a covered hall but a courtyard. That’s how the architect gained some more light for the offices (plus the glass ceiling) and also made this corridor look so interesting. The corridor is connected with the rest of the building by ‘bridges’ under which you see the luggage rooms on the ground floor. Here’s how it all looks from down there, unfortunately the spiral stairs are now used only by the personnel and the oooops toilet ehhm aromas make you rush through the queues to the lockers back to the open space:

Vitebsk Railway Station, St Petersburg

Although I made several rounds and up-and-downs across and along the building, I didn’t get the chance to see the restaurant apparently still being renovated and the already renovated Picture Hall or the Hall for first-class passengers, with pictures of the railways stations in the then Russian empire. Here’s a peak at it:

Vitebsk Railway Station, St Petersburg

There’s also a separate (ex-) lavishly decorated Emperor’s pavilion, built for Nicolas II and his court. And yes, they had their own separate track leading to Tsarskoye Selo which was also connected to the rest of the city’s rail system. I got lost in the beauty of the main railway station and did not walk further to the pavilion… There’s still a lot to this railway station that you won’t have time for before your elektrichka to Pavlovsk or train to Minsk. Take a walk there JUST for the sake of the building and its beauty.

Vitebsk Railway Station, St Petersburg

And who would believe that a railway station could be that beautiful and intricate?

Adding this to my St Petersburg series.

G.

Zucchini, Tomato and Egg Tart Plus a Bonus Recipe

Pasta with Zucchini

The zucchini / courgette season is here! And with it – a small vegetarian party with each new recipe. I’ve recently baked a very unusual pie that I would like to share with you. And there will be a bonus recipe at the end too!

Zucchini, Tomato and Egg Tart from www.tasteandtellblog.com

I have been postponing this recipe for quite a lot of time, thinking that it should definitely take up some time and effort. You see, I’m usually avoiding the pastry pies as they seem trickier to me than the yeast dough pies. However this tart – with all the pastry making, chilling, grating and even egg-breaking – is surprisingly easy and fun to make!

Zucchini, Tomato and Egg Tart from www.tasteandtellblog.com

A year ago – Khachapuri and Borano, Georgian Cheese Pies

Two years ago – Khachapuri for the Bride’s Party

Three years ago – Herbed Lemon Cheese and Two Breads to Go with

Zucchini, Tomato and Egg Tart adapted from www.tasteandtellblog.com will make two portions of an unusual pie with a khachapuri-like looks but a completely different taste! Go to the link to get the entire recipe.

My changes: I guess I accidentally added more salt to the dough and definitely used more water. Instead of mincing the garlic, I grated it finely plus used Suluguni instead of Parmesan. My filling was rather abundant so I skipped the egg-wash (the edges of the crust were anyway too narrow) and as a result used just 2 eggs. I chilled the dough for more than an hour, while straining the grated zucchini. I also switched on the fan option during the last minutes of baking.

Zucchini, Tomato and Egg Tart from www.tasteandtellblog.com

Remarks: I rolled the pastry out quite thin as there was a lot of filling but it turned out to be quite resistant to the zucchini juices. The pie reminded us of khachapuri because of the egg on top of it (as in the famous boat-like Adjari version of khachapuri) and also because I used the traditional Georgian cheese Suluguni :)

Result: Salty, garlicky, cheesy. Neutral pastry. A curious recipe! My expert samplers (family) were a bit perplexed at first too but then seemed to dig in and declared they liked it. The egg and the grated zucchini-cheese filling in combination with the pastry and the tomatoes do make this pie recipe stand out of the crowd!

And here’s a forkful of the bonus:

Pasta with Zucchini

Improvised Pasta with Zucchiniyet another vegetarian dish I made using leftover crushed tomatoes and fresh veggies. There are hardly any precise indications as how many of what to use, but I’m sure you will figure it all out!

Ingredients:

  • pasta
  • carrots
  • zucchini / courgette
  • onion
  • several Tbs of crushed tomatoes
  • soy sauce
  • salt, pepper, your favourite seasoning
  • dry oregano
  • turmeric
  • fresh herbs

Procedure:

First I sauteed chopped up onions and carrots in some (Greek) olive oil and then threw in thinly sliced zucchini. Then I added the crushed tomatoes and the soy sauce and later pasta and enough water to cover it- you will cook it all at one go, so use a large deep pan. I cooked the lot covered, occasionally stirring it and eventually seasoning with Adygea salt (a mix of salt, pepper, Caucasian herbs and dried garlic) and turmeric. Just before switching the heat off, I sprinkled some oregano on top. You can serve the dish with fresh herbs and also farmer’s cheese, if you like.

Pasta with Zucchini

Remarks: I rarely use tomatoes in my cooking as I don’t really like them. But after making – finally – some pretty basic pizza (by this I mean not overloading it with topping, just crushed tomatoes, cheese and herbs) I had leftover crushed tomatoes which I though will add some juiciness to the pasta. Just try not to overcook it and add enough water to keep more of this tomato + soy sauce. And also the fresh zucchini would only benefit from lesser cooking time – this will add crunchiness to the dish.

Pasta with Zucchini

Result: Liked it, especially the sauce created with all the vegetable juices. Add enough seasoning to balance the water needed for cooking pasta and you will be fine!

Adding these recipes to my Lunch / Dinner collection where you will find even more recipes with zucchini / courgettes.

G.

Italian, American, Scottish: Bread Recipes with Oatmeal

 PANE DI AVENA A LIEVITAZIONE NATURALE from lepadellefanfracasso.blogspot.com

Browsing through the to-be-posted-one-day backlog I found out I’ve somehow collected three bread recipes which require oatmeal. Here’s an Italian, a Scottish and an American recipe, all three very different (sourdough bread, yeast bread and quick rolls) but reunited here to celebrate the oatmeal :)

PANE DI AVENA A LIEVITAZIONE NATURALE from lepadellefanfracasso.blogspot.com

As a sourdough bread recipe will inevitably require more time, let’s start with the Italian one. Although time-demanding this recipe is rather easy to make. And definitely very oaty, I would say, surprisingly so for an Italian bread recipe and also for a recipe using just oat flour and not the oatmeal!

PANE DI AVENA A LIEVITAZIONE NATURALE from lepadellefanfracasso.blogspot.com

A year ago – Neverending Strasbourg and Chocolate Marble Bread

Two years ago – Khachapuri and Bread with Herbs

Three years ago – Fragrant Apple and Pear Tart

Pane di avena a lievitazione naturale or Sourdough Oat Bread translated and adapted from lepadellefanfracasso.blogspot.com will make a small, crumbly loaf with chewy crust and oats oats oats :) See my remarks in italics. ATTENTION: requires an overnight rest.

Ingredients:

  • 100 g of active sourdough culture – I used my rye sourdough culture
  • 260 g of flour (originally Italian O type)
  • 240 g oat flour – I grounded oats plus 4-grain cereal (rye, oats, wheat and barley flakes)
  • 350 g water at room t’
  • pinch of salt

Procedure:

The evening before the bake day dissolve your sourdough culture in water, add the flours and salt, mix with a fork to get a ‘grainy’ dough. Cover with plastic and leave to rise until morning.

The next day proceed with the dough: invert the dough on a floured surface and form a rectangle, folding it from sides to the center so that each fold overlaps the other. Repeat the folds, shape into a boule and then place it in a floured basket (I use a floured glass bowl, also flouring the dough well) seam side down, cover and leave to rise for 2 hours.

Invert the dough into a pan lined with parchment paper and make two slashes across the top. Bake in the oven preheated to 200°C for at least 30 minutes until the bread is ready.

PANE DI AVENA A LIEVITAZIONE NATURALE from lepadellefanfracasso.blogspot.com

Remarks: I think this bread needs more salt, cause a pinch just doesn’t make a difference. Probably it would be better to add about a teaspoon of salt after the overnight rise.

Result: Very crumbly and very oaty! Something to chew on for the breakfast – will substitute a bowlful of hot oatmeal! This bread has the most of the oatmeal flavour and texture out of the three recipes I’m sharing with you.

Crunchy Seed Braid from www.ashaggydoughstory.com

Our next recipe (in the chronological order as I baked it) for oat-lovers is although an yeast one will actually require more effort from your side cause it has all the braiding and the ‘seeding’ to it. So here’s an American oatmeal bread recipe:

Crunchy Seed Braid from www.ashaggydoughstory.com

Crunchy Seed Braid adapted from www.ashaggydoughstory.com (originally adapted from King Arthur Flour) will make a super seed-loaded braid. Go to the link to see the entire recipes and all the helpful remarks (or go straight to the source recipe).

My changes: No surprise that I decided to load this bread up even more with the grains and bran, adding more wholewheat flour and using 4-grain cereal (rye, oats, wheat and barley flakes) instead of grains blend. And the dry milk one buys here in Russia is definitely far from being nonfat… I left my dough rising for more than the indicated 90 minutes.

Crunchy Seed Braid from www.ashaggydoughstory.com

Remarks: I made a looooong braid but as the author suggests you can make a shorter and probably softer version. I did not use the damp towel method, but instead immersed the dough ropes in the water (as I saw done at the Greek bakery) and then sprinkled seeds on top.  Whatever method you use, this bread will in any case have lots of seeds inside!

Crunchy Seed Braid from www.ashaggydoughstory.com

Result: Seed-overload :) A bit too dry – which is a natural consequence of so many seeds, of course. The oats do not have a very particular effect on this bread but add to the overall crunchiness. Very good breakfast option!

Crunchy Seed Braid from www.ashaggydoughstory.com

And finally the Scottish oatmeal bread recipe. There’s Irish Soda bread and there’s at least two Scottish recipes that I know which ask for oatmeal – those thin oatmeal cookies and these super-quick bread rolls:

Baps – Scottish Morning Rolls from www.lavenderandlovage.com

Baps, Scottish Morning Rolls adapted from www.lavenderandlovage.com will make the most flavourful buns you ever take out of your oven! Although I tweaked them up a bit, this is yet another recipe for the oatmeal fans. Visit the original website to see the entire recipe.

My changes: As I was lazy enough to ground more oatmeal, I used the already grounded barley flakes + oat bran. I did not use milk, instead recycled water from cooking millet.

Baps – Scottish Morning Rolls from www.lavenderandlovage.com

Remarks: You will get a whole tray of buns but as they are pretty small and what’s more important pretty tasty, you might consider doubling the recipe. I’m also quite sure this dough will work well as a more healthy pizza dough or pie dough. When the dough rises it might look a bit too ‘grainy’ but once baked and sliced, the rolls are super-soft, so I guess the same will apply if you use the dough for pizza or pies.

Baps – Scottish Morning Rolls from www.lavenderandlovage.com

Result: These baps are super flavourful when they are just out of the oven, filling your kitchen with a bakery-like atmosphere. And with all that they are also super easy and fast! It’s thus quite fair to call them morning rolls as you might make them before breakfast (well, in theory :) The oat texture is not very distinct but these rolls are no doubt more ‘interesting’ texture-wise than their all-purpose flour counterparts.

Baps – Scottish Morning Rolls from www.lavenderandlovage.com

Adding this post to my Sourdough, Yeast bread and Country-specific recipe collections.

G.

The Strangest Place in St Petersburg

Prachechny Bridge, St Petersburg

There are lots of places in St Petersburg where you feel somewhat… weird. I will share with you one of these “unreal places” in St Petersburg which can be found very close to the famous Letny Sad or Summer Garden.

Summer Garden, St Petersburg

The Summer Garden has been recently revamped – actually, reconstructed in its earlier, original, state with several new-old fountains and vases and the overall scheme very different from what we were used to.

Summer Garden, St Petersburg

But it seems its glamorized appearance doesn’t appeal that much to those of us who loved it in its previous state, however overgrown and dark it was in some places. Anyway, most of the freshly arriving tourists are ignorant of the changes and so have nothing else to do but to enjoy the walk in the park, thankfully free of charge (they wanted to make everybody pay to enter).

Summer Garden, St Petersburg

The railing of Summer Garden was especially … special to poet Anna Akhmatova who considered it the best in the world. Behind it is the Neva river, the Birthplace (housing St Peter and Paul’s Fortress), the Nurse (frozen Neva served as a Way of Life during the Siege) and at the same time the Death Menace of the city, with its horrible floods which haunted St Petersburg before the dam was built. And it still can ruin the city – it’s not just for fun that St Petersburg is nicknamed Northern Venice!

Prachechny Bridge, St Petersburg

And right there, behind the railing on the Neva embankment is this place which makes you wonder whether you’re still in the 21st century or… rather in the 18th! You just have to get there, there’s no way this post can render the sensation one gets when stopping for a moment and suddenly feeling the authenticity and even the out-of-this-world-ness of the place:

Prachechny Bridge, St Petersburg

This is Prachechny Bridge, the Laundry Bridge :), called so because there was a court’s laundry nearby. It’s one of the city’s first stone bridges, constructed in the 1760s, with the characteristic ‘hump’.

Prachechny Bridge, St Petersburg

With the passing of the years, the bridge got somehow deformed and had to be reinforced from underneath. But all in all it remains as it was back in the 18th century. And if you’re lucky to drive across the bridge when it’s traffic-free, you can feel that ‘jump’ your car makes on its hump. Walking across the bridge is even better – with this original stone pavement and the curve it makes, this is the place to actually feel the city with your feet! :)

Prachechny Bridge, St Petersburg

By the way, Peter the Great wouldn’t let people enter his newborn capital city (be it by road or by sea) without them bringing a certain amount of stones. And this is how the city got paved all over! :)

Adding this to my loooong St Petersburg series.

G.

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