How come it suddenly feels so 1st-Septemberish on the 1st of August? It was dramatically windy today but sunny too – and yet there was this autumnal light and the mountain ash trees all covered in red berries that made me shiver a bit. I just hope those were fake signs! You see, this year summer merely forgot its way to St Petersburg 🙂
I’m sharing with you the recipe of a Russian gingerbread-like (or rather pain d’épices) cake traditionally made with honey. Its Russian name is kovrizhka – and I can assure you the only sound of this word brings up so many sweet memories! It’s even more evocative than pryanik (gingerbread) – honey, raisins, nuts, spices… Kovrizhka is a diminutive of kovriga, which is a measure of bread (something like a loaf of bread but round).
Kovrizhka can be made plain and quite flat (it’s also considered a lean food as it doesn’t contain eggs, milk or butter) but it is sometimes sandwiched with varenye (jam) in between and glazed with sugar. This is exactly what I did some days ago – turning a plain kovrizhka into a layered cake for my Mother’s birthday. Well, it’s kind of obligatory to make a birthday cake, right?
A year ago – Chasing Alexander Pushkin in Tsarskoye Selo
Two years ago – Zucchini and Aubergine Whole Wheat Pizza
Three years ago – Fruit Post
Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka translated and adapted from www.pravmir.ru and turned into a 2-layer birthday cake.See my remarks in italics.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2 Tbs honey – half honey half apricot jam
- 1 tsp soda
- 0.5 tsp baking powder
- 2 Tbs cocoa or ground coffee
- 0.5 cup raisins
- 0.5 cup ground nuts – I processed some grilled peanuts in a blender
- 0.5 cup sunflower oil
- 1.5-2 cups all purpose flour
- pinch of cinnamon
- pinch of ground coriander
- jam, chocolate glaze (see further) – optional
Place sugar, oil and water in a pan, place over low heat and add honey. Mix well until the sugar and honey dissolve. In a separate bowl mix soda, cocoa or coffee and spices, then add this mixture to the liquid mixture. Mix well. Add nuts, raisins and flour sifted with baking powder. The amount of flour may vary: the mixture should look like thick sour cream.
Bake in a baking dish lined with parchment paper or greased and floured (I used a round silicon pan without paper or lining) at 200 ‘C for 30-35 minutes. You can eat kovrizhka plain or layer it with jam.
Remarks: My cake took less time – it started to burn actually, so I took it out earlier. Be careful! I used this recipe to make a layered cake, cutting it in two and spreading some chunky apricot jam in between. I normally do not like raisins but here they are just right! I also liked the zestiness of the peanuts – they worked well both inside and on top. I also glazed the cake with chocolate icing (see further).
Result: Tasty, chewy but soft, flavourful. I’m sure it will be very rich even without all the extras. Once you bite in this kovrizhka you menacingly become unstoppable… Beware!
As for the glaze, I think it’s high time I share with you this family recipe!
Chocolate Glaze, the family recipe we traditionally use for my Mother’s spécialité – the all-time birthday cake. This amount is enough for glazing one cake.
- 5 Tbs sugar
- 3 Tbs cocoa
- 2 Tbs milk
- 50 g butter
Mix all the ingredients together in a non-glazed pan and bring to boil, stirring constantly.
Remarks: You can adjust the ingredients if the glaze is too runny or thick. The glaze will set while cooling so use it while it is still warm. The best thing is to try to get the glaze leftovers from the bottom of the pan! 🙂
Result: An easy and quick recipe with basic ingredients! A perfect Soviet practicality showcase 🙂
And now a bonus recipe which has been waiting its turn in the backlog for some time already:
Chocolate Chip Muffins adapted from www.browneyedbaker.com will make cute little muffins. The only drawback is that the amount of the muffins is just not enough =) As always – visit the original website for the entire recipe.
Changes: Used more sugar and a whole chocolate bar of Osoby, the best quality chocolate from St Petersburg!
Remarks: Had to bake these muffins a bit longer. You might want to double the recipe because… well, just believe me 🙂
Result: Super-nice! Soft and not rubbery at all, with melting chocolate inside…