Actually I’ve been remembering Greece quite often these days, when the autumn is coming into its realm of rain, wind and running nose. I’m still in search of a job, so I’m ‘baking out’ in order not to gnaw myself too much (‘How long will it continue? Where the hell are all nice jobs? Do I deserve something more …?’ etc etc). My favourite escapism trick is to bake, that’s also my favourite method of cooking food. Curiously yesterday and today the things I baked had all somehow a connection to Greece, although only one recipe was actually a Greek one.
So let’s start from the morning Marble Cake or Marmorkuchen in German, a recipe I got in a letter from my dear friend Jana whom I met in Thessaloniki last year. Another letter-inspired dish =) I followed it – as usual – not in a word-to-word style, changing a few things. The cocoa powder I used for it was Greek (finished it today), the remainder of what I managed to bring from Thessaloniki to my place after living there for a year. I’m citing you the recipe as written by Jana.
Jana’s Marmorkuchen slightly adapted from a great Jana’s letter
- 1 cup of oil (I used hardly half of it)
- 1 cup of soda water (Russia is no Germany, so I used my Father’s favourite sparkling mineral water + some baking soda, quite straightforward, but it seems to have worked;) )
- 1 packet of baking powder (I took about a Tbs)
- 1 packet of vanilla sugar (I used vanilla extract)
- 1 cup of sugar (my sweet-toothed parents would have liked more)
- 3 eggs
- 3 cups of flour
You only have to merge everything together, says Jana, (not the cocoa powder yet). Then take the half of the dough (German people say 1/3 of it minimum, but trust me they’re too accurate and stupid – that’s not me saying it, that’s Jana 🙂 ) and mix it with the cocoa powder. Put both doughs in one pan and ‘paint’ a pattern into it with a fork (not too much, because then the cake won’t be like marble and you’ll have a chocolate cake:) I don’t mind in most cases).
This is it, very laconic and simple, a truly German cake, I got even hooked to this long and soft Marmorkuchen from Lidl while I was in Europe=D My cake was in the oven for about an hour at 175 C, perhaps I should have chosen another pan, more long or wider. Anyway it was gobbled down in 2 days with the help of my grandparents who also brought today some delicious autumn harvest goods from our country house (it seems I already promised to talk about dacha concept, I will eventually do it!). There were some forest mushrooms from yesterday walk which I missed unfortunately. Those mushrooms (we’re true hobbits here!) are already turned into a delicious soup.
Next thing I baked was a Greek Alevropita (Αλευρόπιτα, literally ‘flour pie’) that actually was so quick’n’good that I did it again in the evening for my parents. It’s a foolproof appetizer that can be made with any kind of topping I suppose (it even reminded us of Flammekueche or Tarte flambée). Here’s the simple recipe found via Tastespotting from The Meaning of Pie blog
Αλευρόπιτα (Alevropita) adapted from www.themeaningofpie.com – go there for all the required safety instructions =).
- 2+2 Tbs olive oil, for batter and for the skillet
- 2 tsp vodka (I used Russian 20% brandy-like spirit called Zapekanka, bought specially for cooking)
- 1/2 cup water
- half an egg (lreserve the rest for the second Alevropita😉 )
- 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs all purpose flour, sifted
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp baking powder
- as much crumbled feta cheese as you want (I used ‘Serbian cheese’ or Srpski sir that appeared in our supermarkets – more creamy and less salty; possible extra topping ingredients : minced garlic, oregano, I can imagine bacon or something like that too)
- 1 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
Preheat the oven to 500 C with the cast iron skillet inside (the largest you have).
Meanwhile, combine the water, vodka, olive oil, and half an egg. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk them together.
Carefully remove the heavy hot pan from the oven. Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or less) in the skillet and spread it as you would do for frying. Immediately pour in the batter and spread it to the edges of the pan to the extent possible moving the skillet (the skillet is so hot that the batter will be cooking as you spread). Sprinkle the feta on top of the batter (with garlic and oregano etc, if using). Dot the batter with small pieces of butter.
Carefully, return the pan to the oven for an additional 15 to 20 min (it took only 15 min the both pies I baked, they got really browned at that point). Carefully remove the pan back to the stove-top. With a large spatula, remove the bread to a cutting board. Cut it into pieces and serve (my parents added some sour cream on top, a typical Russian-Soviet extra thing, used like a sauce for everything, you’ll see it most probably on each lunch/dinner table here).
So as I said, I baked this thin flat pie for the second time, adding garlic and oregano. The second got gobbled down with no problem so quickly that I didn’t have an opportunity to make a photo of it.
The wooden round board has a long story of at least 26 years : when my parents were getting married, my Father’s Mother brought here all the way from the Caucasus (where they lived while my grandfather was working there) ON THE PLANE prepared layers for the wedding cake. They were that huge, A LOT of them and she ‘wrapped’ them between two round boards, one of which still serves us loyally.
This time no Soviet recipes yet, sorry, I’m perhaps still too much into international cuisine. But 25 g fresh yeast in my fridge will soon make me bake something truly Soviet =)
P.S. Dear Jana, only you will understand this photo =) thank you very much for the κουτί, it’s great for keeping all those baking powders! Miss you.