bread · sourdough · St Petersburg

Running for Vivaldi and Pistachio Sourdough Bread


Yesterday we almost missed a Vivaldi concert in the Smolny Cathedral. We ran about 3 km in 30 minutes as we were being late and there was no other means of transport on a Friday night… except for ‘our twos’ as we say in Russia! The concert was well worth running for anyway. It’s been a long time since I last had such a mixture of emotions all at once – and such acute emotions. The music was so powerful that I was smiling and crying at the same time – something that happens to me only with very beautiful music or with some very dear memories.

Vivaldi concert in Smolny Cathedral, St Petersburg

There’s nothing like listening to great music being played live. The kids from the St Petersburg Conservatory School performed Four Seasons inside this huge baroque cathedral with neo-classical interiors (think white columns and a huge golden chandelier). The acoustics is great there and I’m afraid I have no remorses from enjoying this cathedral as a concert hall rather than as a church. In a way turning it into a concert hall in 1980s helped save the degrading 18th century building from being – who knows – demolished. And after all a concert hall where people enjoy such unearthly music as Four Seasons might be one of the best transformations that ever happened to a church over the Soviet period!

Vivaldi concert in Smolny Cathedral, St Petersburg

The building itself is a very beautiful sight – it’s super-tall and yet so delicate and light! I love the combination of blue and white against the St Petersburg sky. And although the entire district surrounding it has long been associated with the government and consulates, still Smolny Cathedral is something cloud-like and … a bit cake-like 🙂 It reminds you immediately of another Rastrelli’s famous creation, the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo. And since we’re talking food now…


Here’s a quick note on Pistachio-Walnut Sourdough Bread that I’ve turned into just Pistachio Sourdough Bread. I managed to taste it (notice those three tiny slices in the picture below) and it was rather dense and chewy. We still have some pistachios left from my last year trip to Aegina. The nuts do not give a very distinct flavour but I always enjoy them in the crumb, a small gift from the sunny Greece 🙂 Ah yes, it’s again cold and super-windy here in St Pete, as if those amazingly warm days we suddenly had so early just were not there.


A year ago – 2,800 km of Russia Seen from Above

Two years ago – What a Peach! Sunny Cake and a Zesty Cranberry Cake

Three years ago – Double Citrusy Heaven

Pistachio-Walnut Sourdough Bread adapted from will result in a smallish loaf with dense crumb and some nuts to chew on. Follow the link to see the entire recipe.

My changes: I added all the levain which I made with rye flour and my rye sourdough starter. As usual I increased the percentage of rye flour in the dough too, as well as added more whole wheat flour along with some wheat and rye bran. I skipped the walnuts and added the pistachios crushed, not whole. I forgot to slash the top but it cracked anyway.


Remarks: I don’t like the way walnuts look and taste like in bread (they add this purplish color and turn into something rubbery) so I usually avoid them in sourdough bread recipes with long fermentation time. The pistachios do not result in something crunchy either after all the hours but I prefer them to walnuts in bread.


Result: Very dense and chewy, the crust is not that thick though. The loaf is small so be quick to snatch a bite! Enjoy your bread and the music 🙂

Adding this to my Sourdough Bread recipe collection.



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