It’s sometimes almost winter here. And in Kirov where I am now for the second time this autumn (actually on the floor trying to catch this ephemeral wi-fi). Winter ‘comes unexpectedly’ each year in Russia, leaving the public utilities services completely perplexed (Winter? Oh my! What are we to do?!) and definitely taken aback. In order to warm yourself while waiting for that central heating to be turned on, you find yourself baking some comfort sweet treats. Let’s indulge in some such? Like Bredele aux noix, Alsatian cookies baked for the Christmas season. They come in all possible sizes, flavours and shapes. Each family cherishes their own recipe so imagine how many versions of bredele exist. Just visit one of those Christmas markets in Strasbourg or in Alsace and try these cookies for free =) That’s what I did, actually. Ever heard about khalyava principle? That’s it.
Bredele aux noix adapted and translated from www.alsannuaire.fr will make a batch of sweet-sweet-sweet glazed cookies, not just for X-mas, of course. This version requires adding some ground nuts (hence the name ‘aux noix‘).
- 250 g flour
- 125 g sugar
- 65 g butter
- 50 g ground nuts (most probably walnuts) – the recipe instructions did not mention this, so I naturally forgot to add any nuts…
- 1/2 package of vanilla sugar – I threw in a pinch of vanilla
- 1/2 package of baking powder – I figured out the amount somehow…
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk for the glaze (you will need just a tiny bit, so you can just reserve a bit from the egg that goes in the dough)
Beat the butter, sugar, egg, vanilla sugar and baking powder then add the flour. Leave in the cold for 3 hours (poor dough! I even went as far as leaving it overnight in the fridge!).
Roll the dough out and cut cookies using various shapes (I think I used almost all my cookie cutters!). Glaze the cookies with egg yolk and place them in the oven preheated to 150-180°C (I opted for 180) for 10 minutes or so.
The result: Even without nuts mentioned in their name, these are sweet and soft cookies (just be sure not to overbake) that you can turn into beautiful festive treats, no doubt.
How about the – oh so natural! – desire to drink tea with hot buns? Sure! I’m actually a true bulochka (=bun, roll) girl myself. When I ravel, I just can’t keep myself from feeding upon bulochka + kefir (and then I get all inflated from inside when the bulochka soaks in all the kefir, kidding!). My favourite bun is almost every bun, as long as it doesn’t have too much raisins in it (this weird preference stays with me from childhood). The one I’m going to present you certainly doesn’t. Here’s what I did with the recipe I first heard of and then tried myself:
Cinnamon Buns adapted from the BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour program (check www.bbc.co.uk for the original recipe) will make a bunch (actually something like a rose) of soft and lovvvvely buns.
The buns are great, whether you use spelt flour or not (read the introduction about the benefits of this grain), they – I repeat- are grrrrreat!
Here are my changes to the recipe:
instead of spelt I used plain flour as suggested and instead of wholemeal spelt flour I mixed some spelt bran+wheat germ+flour. I didn’t use sea salt – just regular fine salt. I did use fresh yeast, though. I also topped my nuns with vanilla sugar+sesame+cinnamon.
The result… I leave it to you to imagine =)
And now on to an even more delicious – and also subtle – desert:
Mmmm! Lemon-Blueberry Layer Cake adapted from sweetapolita.com will create a multi-layer super-soft and fluffy cake!
Although I chose NOT to make butter cream frosting using apple puree instead, I guess the cake just gained from this – gained in less calories and in extra softness! The trick of the cake is that it contains berries IN the batter, so that the cake layers are thus much more flavourful.
So my changes were:
instead of fresh blueberries I used our never-ending frozen black currants; I FORGOT about salt and instead of lemon extract I added ginger; I used less butter but added some sunflower oil instead… and here is the layer with berries (I left one layer plain):
As I was using frozen berries, I left them to thaw a bit, for the fear of them spoiling the cake while thawing in the oven. And also as I did not have any intention to make butter cream, I agreed with my Mom’s opinion that her recently made apple puree (from baked apples that are then mixed with sugar and boiled) will be a perfect match. We’re having a bit too much apples this year so apple-something is always on the menu,)
For the joy of my Mom I used several smallish jars of her puree and placed the cake in the fridge to soak in some apple flavours. I also decorated the top with some candied mango shavings.
Result? Nyam-nyam-nyam (the Russian word for yummy=).
My next stop is in Syktyvkar – again. See you there for a plate of shangi?