It’s really hot here in St Petersburg and you realize it only when you leave office and face the unexpectedly stifling thick hot air outside. The thing is we have rather high level of humidity here and every extreme of the weather is a true challenge for us. Actually I thought these extremes of bitter biting cold followed by stuffy sticky hot weather are an example of our quite extreme lifestyle here in St Pete (and Russia), there’s hardly ever any ‘golden middle’. For the latter Russians escape / move / travel abroad. To experience the former foreigners come to Russia. Interesting, eh?
Ah yes, here is the first poll on this blog, scroll down to submit your answer to my question (not connected to food: ).
Meanwhile, here are some sugary treats I’ve tried recently. As my copywriting job already comes to its end, there’s a chance my ‘queue’ of perspective posts are going to be finally published. Let’s begin with something sweet then, not much interconnected if not by the chocolate as one of the ingredients. For more chocolate recipes, see this or this post, or better both and the chocolate category of the Sweet Recipes page.
Cannot let Greek recipes pass by unnoticed, so here is one. Moreover, I like those Greek cakes that are moist without any syrup and they usually contain orange juice and zest for extra flavour. AND this cake – not like other super-Greek cake like this one for example – doesn’t contain even a single egg, surprise-surprise! Maybe because it’s originally from Asia Minor, the part of the continent where the Greeks traditionally settled and lived… until they got expulsed and moved (fled) massively to Thessaloniki and other Greek cities (have you seen Rembetika movie?). I’ve talked about Thessaloniki and its characteristic mix of nations here.
Lenten Cinnamon Cake from Asia Minor (Νηστίσιμη Μικρασιάτικη Κανελόπιτα, Nistisimi Mikroasiatiki Kanelopita) translated and adapted from eri-captaincook.blogspot.com with the permision of Eri – will make a moist (most) flavourful cake. My remarks are in italics.
- 1 cup oil, either light olive oil or seed oil – I used sunflower oil + that very apple puree which we still cannot finish
- 1 cup of sugar – I used less
- 1 1/2 cups orange juice – mine was store-bought, left from my sis’s wedding : )
- zest from 1 orange – I roughly zested 1 small orange
- 2 cups all purpose flour or half plain flour half whole wheat flour – I chose the latter option + added wheat bran
- 2 tsp baking powder, leveled
- 1 tsp baking soda, leveled
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- a pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg, leveled
- 1/2 cup raisins – I left them out (I should probably make a poll – who likes raisins and baba au rum?!)
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped – I used hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips – I used a bar of milk chocolate with marzipan filling
- powdered sugar and ground cinnamon to decorate the cake
In a bowl place flour, soda, powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mix well.
Preheat the oven to 180 ‘C.
In another bowl place raisins, nuts, chocolate bits and 1 Tbs of flour. Mix.
In the mixer bowl pour oil and sugar, and beat well at medium speed. Add zest and juice. Bit-by-bit add the flour mixture and finally the choco-nut-etc mixture.
Grease and flour a 24 cm cake pan and pour the mixture inside, leveling the top with a spoon. Bake for 45-50 minutes (I had to bake it longer) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (I think I know this phrase about toothpick by heart!). Leave the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the tin and then invert it to cool down 100%. Decorate the cake with powdered sugar and ground cinnamon.
The sweet cherries have nothing to do with the cake, they just looked kinda cute : )
The author of the recipe, Eri, made a beautiful heart right in the middle of the top of the cake by first sifting sugar over the cake then placing a paper heart in the middle and sifting cinnamon over the rest of the surface. She also suggests placing a pan filled with water into the oven next to the cake or on the rack underneath it, in order to make the cake’s crust thinner and … crustier 🙂 I didn’t do that but tell me if you tried!
Funny, those cherries look like aliens ; )
Result: A really moist cake with a distinct orange flavour and crunchy hazelnuts. If you fancy a honey (rustic) cake-like treat, that’s it. The procedure although requiring several stages is actually easy.
Brownie Latte Cheesecake adapted from marzipanmom.blogspot.com – will make a mixed cheesecake with a fudgy sugary base and a soft cheese layer. Go to the original blog for the recipe, here are just my remarks:
For the Brownie Base I used some plain chocolate + a bar of chocolate with nuts, about 110 g in total, and less salt. Instead of instant espresso powder I added some ground coffee.
For the Latte Cheesecake Filling I used 5% tvorog (cottage cheese) and less in amount; less sugar; ground coffee instead of instant espresso powder, which I passed through a sieve to eliminate large granules. As our cottage cheese usually blends into almost a liquid state (especially with FOUR eggs), I omitted Kahlua which anyway I have not + for the same reason I added some semolina along with potato starch (instead of cornstarch) – and that’s why the top of the cake got quite … cake-like rather than cheesecake-like. I did not decorate the cheesecake with any of the suggested add-ups, I just left it as is. That’s it!
I don’t have much photos of the cheesecake and those which I managed to do aren’t that nice but at least you can see the distinct coffee and cheese layers:
The procedure is not that easy-peasy I should warn you as first you should make the brownie base and there’s a water bath involved
two times! in the recipe… But it’s worth it. Sometimes when I have additional free time I just cannot keep myself from doing something time-consuming and more complicated than a simple cake or muffins. And here’s a good… exercise! ; )
On this photo the top layer really looks more like a cake rather than a cheesecake.
Result: I did not get a giant cheesecake as was pictured on the original blog, but I’m sure it was quite a hit here in my family. The base is really sweet and coffee-flavoured, rather a fudge than a brownie I would say. Also, as our local cottage cheese (tvorog) has rather distinct curd granules, all the cheesecakes I make with it get this particular texture (and flavour) of a ‘tvorozhnaya zapekanka‘ (a cottage cheese bake). If you choose a finer cottage cheese, you’ll definitely get a true cheesecake layer.
And as promised, my first poll, with a quite existential(ist) question… It came to me εξ ουρανού this morning on the way to work.
The question is (to be or not to be…):
Wooo, I’ll vote first. Khm, I think I’m going through a
100th minor (micro) personal crisis and still cannot figure out… the way out of it. Well, I can advice myself not to think too much and too seriously, χα-λα-ρά!