bread · German recipe · muffins · sourdough · sweet

Travelling Muffins and Wandering Bread

April 1st already? Kidding? We’re a bit late this year with the warm times, so only now do the snow heaps melt away. It’s the happy time of the year when not only all of those Soviet champagne bottles are gradually emerging from the melting snow… yuk! But even with, that the overcast skies and the occasional snow whirling down from the sky – I spotted it from the 23rd floor, it might have not reached the ground but I doubt that – we still hope for the spring, the real no-kidding spring!

I dedicate this post to Jana, love your letters, recipes and your support! This post contains a recipe sent by my friend as well as some other things which I baked in the oven on the 23rd floor. (Jana, dear, I remember that I promised to show you this apartment on the 23rd floor but there’s still much to do…) Here is the view over the south of the city one gets from that high in good weather:

view over St Pete from the 23rd floor

This is not the centre of the city, it’s just its southern outskirts, a 30 min metro ride from the historical centre of St Petersburg. Those who come to visit me to this 23rd floor studio usually admire the view, especially with the street lights running far ahead, but what I would like to observe from my window would be small houses, a park, a river… and of course a market place and a post office 😉 Well, you do not always get what you want, of course, but you should be happy with what you want and aspire for more. It’s just that this 23rd floor sometimes makes me dizzy without even looking out of the window, I need a more ehhh down-to-earth living quarters =)

I’m moving there and back to my parents’ home throughout the week (especially now that I’m struggling with this job search / idle time) and as I bake almost every day (I wish I could do that not just when we’ve run out of bread / sweet things / pies etc., just let me bake and bake and bake… I should work in a test kitchen perhaps!), I take whatever I bake there, on the 23rd floor to my parents’. Sometimes more risky things are travelling in my bag, taking a 30-40 min bus ride: I’m sure no one will be against smelling fragrant freshly baked bread (still warm!) when on the bus, but I also take sourdough starter / pizza dough with me… =) And they do survive! I pretend they are in the fridge, because the weather is still wintry and nothing dangerous can happen, right?

Well, these did not survive UNTIL the bus ride back home. They were EATEN on the spot:

Chocolate Glazed Donut Muffins

{I was trying to make a contrast black-and-white photo but my leg spoiled the result}

And they were originally Chocolate Glazed Donut Muffins from ellysaysopa.com – I didn’t have time to change much, just added wheat bran and omitted syrup in the glaze. Easy-peasy! And the glaze is simple and effective.

Another thing which was eaten on the spot was the already well-known Khachapuri:

khachapuri

These Khachapuri I now make on a regular basis – I usually vary the cheese filling and the flour I use (sometimes I add rye flour, this time I added extra whole-wheat flour), and the recipe yields so much dough that this time, for example, one piece of dough accompanied me to the 23rd floor (to be later baked and EATEN with my friend) while the other was partially frozen (ready-to-bake pies for my parents) and partially left for tomorrow in the fridge (don’t forget to oil your dough and leave it covered). Also when I run out of cheese (this time I used the combination of cottage cheese-like Adygea cheese + rubbery suluguni + herbs, eggs, seasoning), I just throw in whatever I can find, even… buckwheat porridge! Well, why not, since the authentic filling for the Russian pies were all those sorts of porridge.

Should I open home cafe for my friends? – this is also one of the reasons why I cannot live alone for a long time – I just cannot eat everything I want to cook ‘v odnu kharyu‘ – which can be translated from harsh Russian into polite English as ‘by one face’. I need to share food. You can cook alone, that’s fine, but eating alone is sad.

Let me share with you this very German for me…

Kontinentbrot

Kontinentbrot (or Continent Bread) adapted from www.karenskitchenstories.com – it will make a very dense, moist and chewy bread. It travelled already baked but still very warm on the bus, entertaining me and some babushkas with a distinct fragrance of rye bread (for more sourdough bread refer to this list).

A year ago – the wonderful Lenten Bougatsa and, to continue in the sweeeeet Greek mood – some Pies with Greek Flavours such as Peach and Blueberry Pie and Greek Yogurt Cheesecake.

Kontinentbrot

The reason why I think this bread is truly German is because when I was living in Strasbourg, within a 15 min bike ride to Germany… I was buying my bread in Germany (as I just couldn’t live on baguettes, I longed for the black bread!) And there I used to buy this kind of seed-loaded dark moist bread which lasts long and also makes your energy last long! See?:

Kontinentbrot

So, my changes were partially predetermined by the lack / presence of certain ingredients on the 23rd floor (not that it’s so difficult to get all the ingredients that high, of course). Thus, in order to fake whole rye flour, I added rye bran to the regular rye flour; I toasted pumpkin seeds and did not toast sunflower seeds; in the final dough I also added oats + wheat bran for even more more more more stuff in the bread. As for the yeast, I used instant yeast, and just as the author suggests, I would also add more salt next time. Ah, yes, I also used oats + wheat bran to ‘roll’ my bread in while it was rising.

Kontinentbrot

The result: moist, LOADED and chewy… you can hardly call it bread with such characteristics 😉 . This recipe is very easy compared to the elaborate 100% sourdough bread as it has yeast and the rising times are really short – here I followed the process explained in the original recipe. By the ‘elaborate 100% sourdough bread’ I mean, for example, the 100% RYE sourdough bread which I tried recently. This is the levain for my 100% rye experiment – Anni’s Finnish Rye Bread from tofufortwo.net :

levain for Anni’s Finnish Rye Bread

I did not follow the original measurements for the levain and the dough, using those from seitanismymotor.com. This bread is, yes, 100% rye and it has no yeast, apart from the wild yeast culture from your sourdough starter, but it rose wonderfully. The only problem was that I had to go out and… the dough was left for too much time for the second rise and it didn’t rise in the oven, so the result was a flattish kind of bread BUT it was delicious and reminded me of the rye rusks from the true Darnitsky bread (well, the bread too!) – it had this tangy rye flavour… mmmmm!

But now you certainly deserve a dessert! And here it is, also German, and although if this desert was baked and sent along with the recipe it would have arrived completely stale with the speed our Russian post exhibits… It was baked on the 23rd floor following the recipe from the ‘freshly’ received letter and promptly delivered on a bus, – I do not entrust the delivery to anyone else 😉

Gingerbread Cupcakes

Another Jana’s recipe from her letter to me has already made its appearance here in my blog, back then when I just started blogging – that was the traditional Marmorkuchen. My version of her Gingerbread Cupcakes is rather a muffin than a cupcake, but who cares, really. I’m still using the snowflake paper cases from the USA, haha. Also there is no icing as these were predestined to travel – some of them even travelled twice, going to my grandparents’ place.

Gingerbread Cupcakes

Jana says the recipe comes from a tiny book with Christmas treats – one sweet recipe for each day before the feast, just like an Advent calendar. Well, it’s three months away from Christmas now but who wouldn’t like some gingerbread, eh? ANY time! And after all my muffins turned out to be not that 100% gingerbread… Well, no doubt I couldn’t keep myself (my hands) from throwing in something different… something which was present in the 23rd floor pantry and fridge (the fridge is enormous, just for a one-room apartment, hehe!). But first – the original recipe. Jana has just allowed me to post her hand-written recipe, here it is (she translated it for me from German):

Gingerbread Cupcakes recipe

Now on to my changes:

I have had an open jar of homemade red currant sort-of-jam in the fridge, right next to honey (in very limited amount;), so… instead of honey I took out that jam, a very sourish thing although you do feel there’s enough sugar in it. This gave the muffins an extra tangy flavour which I actually like, the honey would have been less hmm special I guess. As for the spices, I added cinnamon, ginger, coriander, nutmeg, no cloves, freshly ground allspice, anise and cardamom. I used regular sugar instead of brown and heated the liquid ingredients in the microwave for 30 seconds than gave the mixture a stir and repeated the heating several times.

Gingerbread Cupcakes

The result – flavourful (especially anise!), tangy, sweet & sour, not your regular muffin kind! No icing required to my mind, not even the icing sugar (in Russia we call it ‘sugar powder’). Thank you, Jana!

The windowsill (yes, of that famous and only window with an astonishing for many view over the city) has proved to be very … white, perfect for lazy photographers like me (this wooden circle is a traditional thing you can buy in Russia, I like the woody fragrance it gives out when used as a mat for hot pots) + here are the new IKEA silicon muffin cups, quite irregular in their form but resulting in cute muffins:

Gingerbread Cupcakes

After Knut Hamsun’s veeeery topical Ringen Sluttet I’m reading a book I found at my grandparents’ – it’s about St Pete’s life 100 years ago written by contemporaries. Lots of details – will post some food-related remarks later!

Dear Jana, I would love to go geocaching with you on the top of the Thessaloniki hill again, make enraged pasta in Venice 😉 or walk all along the Nevsky Prospekt and back again in the rainy St Pete! See you somewhere soon?

As I’m finishing this post it’s still snowing, the snow seems to be dancing in tune to the classical music from my parents’ room, definitely a veeeery fuuuunny April Fool’s Day’s joke?! BUT, there’s this crazy stubborn bird chirping somewhere close. I like her, she’s my kind.

G.

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6 thoughts on “Travelling Muffins and Wandering Bread

  1. ciao Giorgia, sono Tamara, e ti restituisco molto volentieri la visita che mi hai fatto, interessante il tuo blog, soprattutto il pane, io ho anche un’altro blog di solo pane, copierò qualche tua ricetta e la posterò, ovviamente con il link, un caro saluto

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