pies · sweet · travel

Opening White Nights Season with Cranberry Cheese Kuchen

Almost summer, eh? And I’m unemployed again. Ok-ok, no more of this stuff, let’s talk about White Nights season in St. Petersburg! The famous period (late May – June) when the nights are as if they are days… The effect is of course not THAT dramatic as it is above the Arctic Circle somewhere in Norway, but it always brings a special atmosphere to the city in the beginning of summer. It seems that the city doesn’t sleep either, cause some of its citizens just go mad, moreover there are so many tourists and also school-leaving party people. Funnily enough, I have stayed in the city centre the whole ‘white’ night through only once – exactly for the school-leaving party, organised by out city authorities, with concerts, lots of drunken people of apparently NO school-leaving age (usually much older) and a ship with scarlet sails being the symbol and the central part of the fest. There are also some classical music & opera festivals during this period, my last job being a part of one of these events.

This is the recognizable St Pete’s symbol viewed from the river – St. Peter and Paul’s Fortress and Cathedral, the first to be built by Peter the Great in his newly founded city. Thanks to my friend Katya and Jean-Christophe who were celebrating the first anniversary of their wedding on a river boat, I had the chance to see the city from the not very usual point of view + for the second time in my life I observed the opening bridges on the river Neva (in order to let the cargo ships pass through). The party was also a special one, as so many guests were foreign and when you’re in your native city with foreigners, it always changes your own perception of the reality, doesn’t it? And as if for Katya’s party, but actually because it was the city’s birthday, there was …

this boat flash-mob on the river Neva to see the spectacular and toooo long lasting fireworks – this photo was taken at 10 p.m.! With such bright sky there was no chance for very distinct fireworks but nonetheless that was an amazing moment! Merci, Katya & Jean-Christophe, pour la soirée et je vous souhaite une vie merveilleuse!

Here are some apple tree blossoms, the photo taken at my dacha. The orchard full of blossoming trees is just great. And the thing I like most is how it all looks even more great against the blue sky! One really wants to do something inspirational…

And for those who – craving for a cheesecake – want to make something different this time (OR you just happen to have cranberries in your freezer and cottage cheese in the fridge=) – here is a recipe I found while searching for a peach cake (YES, here is yet another recipe to use your canned Greek peaches – Golden Peach Cake from TheBakingPan.com – just skip the soaking in lemon juice, substitute some all purpose flour with whole wheat for extra healthy tinge and add some cardamom and brown sugar to the topping!)

Cranberry Cheese Kuchen adapted from TheBakingPan.com (follow the link for the full recipe) will bring a twist to your regular cheesecake, and a very sweet&sour one!

The several changes I made were:

boiling the cranberries – mine were frozen – down for more than 10 minutes and also with some cinnamon sticks that I later removed

{turn these lovely berries}

NOT adding lemon juice to the filling, as I was using very actively bubbling kefir instead of sour cream

substituting Russian brandy-like drink for the required Orange Liqueur, also using XXL-size orange zest (not finely grated, which gave an extra citrusy boost to the filling)

{into this soft zesty oozy yumness!}

using almost a whole 250 g pack of 5% fat cottage cheese (tvorog) for the filling and adding some flour to thicken it

By the way, here is a photo of the traditional Russian tvorog – I thought it was time I put a picture of it after talking about tvorog that much:

The rest of the recipe was the same, I followed the detailed instructions almost to the point. My pie took about 70 min to be ready and as I had to leave my flat for some time while it was still in the oven, I covered the top with aluminium foil during the last 30 min or so.

The result? Sweet & sour because of the berries and the lemon & orange zest, soft and fairly pastry/filling balanced!

Enjoy the early days of summer, wherever you are! aaaaand keep baking!


P.S. cannot believe I will soon add ‘summer’ tag to my posts! =O


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