cookies · Family recipe · on USSR / Russia · sweet · traditional Russian recipe

Rozochki or Cream Cheese Meringue Roses

Rozochki

Unintentionally – but quite justified – I’ve taken a sort of a sabbatical from my writing here. With all the editing of the translations of Turkish (!) soap operas and various documentaries and TV programs, I just seem to be not very fond of computer in the evenings. But let’s do it, let’s open this new year with a revival of an old recipe that our family friend once shared with my mother.

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Who knows how old this recipe actually is but my guess is that it came into our family no later than 1988 – judging from one of the ‘nearby’ recipes in My Mom’s cookbook that has this date next to it. And as you can imagine the recipe is pretty laconic (see the first one at the top of the picture above). Though I would rather call it – lacuna-ic. Just as I did with my Granny’s recipe for Jam-filled Cigars, this Soviet recipe was non the easier in terms of deciphering (or rather guessing) the instructions.

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Before getting our teeth into the soft pastries / cookies, could we pause for a moment to marvel at this powder box from the early 1970s that belonged to my Granny. For no particular reason, just wanted to share with you my fascination for the Soviet ingenuity. Let’s unzip the box…

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…And ho-o-op we find the mirror and the (metal!) protective screen with a tiny lock at its right. The engraved emblem says Leningrad and bears the most recognizable symbol of the city, the Peter and Paul Fortress. And then we turn the screen over…

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…To find yet another protective screen – a gauze one this time that covers powder puff and the powder itself. I remember that I used to play with this box when we were coming or even staying over at our Granny’s – I used to be a fan of all things ‘lady’, imagining myself in the times of Frances Hodgson Burnett‘s stories. The other paraphernalia that played the part in my imaginary life were my Granny’s super-fine gloves, a silk scarf and a straw hat. Oh yes 🙂

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And now on to the food part – to the rozochki or small roses cookies (sic). The main trick with this recipe was that my mother couldn’t really recall the procedure. The instructions in her cookbook were apparently taken down at the time when they were pretty obvious and the only thing she might need were the exact figures for the ingredients. But since then (God knows when, late 1990s, I guess?) she has not baked these quasi-cookies at all and naturally the recipe has now presented itself as quite a riddle both to her and to me. But we did it, somehow.

Rozochki

1 year ago – Bird Cherry Birthday Cake

2 years ago – Peanut Butter Post

3 years ago – How to Make Silky Cream Cheese at Home (that’s what you do when you work from home)

4 years ago – Two Spinach Pies and Spinach…Rice

5 years ago – Rye Malt Bread, Two Versions

6 years ago – 2 Energy-Boosting Sweets to Keep Your Mind and Spirit Up

Rozochki or Cream Cheese Meringue Roses adapted from our family friend’s recipe.

Ingredients

For the pastry:

  • 1-1.5 cups cottage cheese – see remarks below
  • 100-120 g butte, softened
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1-1.5 cups flour

For the filling:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • pinch of baking soda
  • pinch of salt

Procedure

First, make the pastry. Mix the cottage cheese with the butter and the two egg yolks, add in the flour. Adjust the amount of flour / cottage cheese in your pastry. It’s ok if the grains of cottage cheese are still visible. The consistency should not be very tough, just enough to be rolled out in some flour. Shape the pastry into a ball, cover and set aside (somewhere cool / cold).

Make the filling by beating the egg whites with the sugar, salt and soda with a hand-held mixer. The desired consistency here is what you would get with the meringue – a sort of a thick spreadable cream. Preheat the oven to 200-210 ‘C.

Now you can either roll out the entire piece of pastry or in parts. Use flour generously to avoid a sticky mess and rerolling. Roll it out into a rather thin rectangle and spread the filling quite generously onto the surface, leaving a margin on the long side (though the filling will start escaping anyway). Start rolling from the long end – gently and not tight – into a log. Cut the log across into as many pieces as you want (roughly two fingers wide) and carefully transfer onto baking paper / mat cut side up. Put your fingers round the bottom part and gently press them so that the upper part opens up into a ‘rose’. Repeat with the rest of the pieces and with the remaining pastry. Space the roses apart as they will puff up and also spread out even more in the oven (so you might want to bake these in two batches). Bake for 12 minutes on the middle rack and then 2 more on the top shelf (for the golden effect). Do not overbake these as they will hard up as they cool down and you don’t want to lose their softness!

Rozochki

Remarks

A few words about the pastry: tvorog or cottage cheese should be quite dry, here the drier the better, so the grainy type will do as well. Mine was 5% fat. The less liquid you have in the pastry, the easier it will be to roll it out (and the less flour you will use).

The original recipe called for 200 g of margarine but it worked out fine with just half of it – and with softened butter, not margarine.

And yes, there’s absolutely no sugar in the pastry! But the super sweet filling plus the juices it creates while baking does the trick. The entire pastry is thus soaked in this juice and becomes sweet too.

The bigger piece of pastry you take for rolling out, the more ‘petals’ (spirals) your roses will have. My first batch resulted in rather small roses (I rolled out smaller pieces) but the second one (featuring in the pictures here) was from a bigger piece of pastry, resulting in something that was more close to the original (as we remember it).

As we couldn’t really recall the procedure, the instructions above might not be the authentic ones but they were clearly the most optimal ones for these roses. The original recipe suggested eating these warm but when they cool down they are perfectly fine.

Rozochki

Result

Very sweet and soft, these cottage cheese and meringue pastries will disappear before the second batch is ready. The combination of the chewy cheese pastry and the super-sweet meringue is addictive. Can constitute a sort of a warm meal for the sweet-toothed as these rozochki are pretty nourishing.

More Soviet recipes are here. And more Soviet paraphernalia in case you are interested is here.

G.

Family recipe · on USSR / Russia · sweet · traditional Russian recipe

Jam Cigars from my Granny’s Recipe Book

Cigars from my Granny's Recipe Book

It’s been a week since my Granny died. A few hours before she actually died while turning my thoughts back to my Babushka I for some reason had a ‘vision’ of those sweet rolled things filled with jelly she used to bake – called sigary, i.e. cigars. I told myself that I would make them too.

Cigars from my Granny's Recipe Book

Although in my mind I confused them with somewhat similar dessert – not with jelly but with nuts, I found a copy of the original recipe in my Mother’s recipe book and – a bit taken aback by the sheer… brevity of its instructions – I however ventured on this experiment.

Cigars from my Granny's Recipe Book

Can we call it a traditional Russian recipe? Probably not. But this is definitely a Soviet recipe. Soviet recipes has at least three features in common. Firstly, they can have very vague ingredient measurements. Like this phrase ‘put as much flour as the dough will take’ which can mean anything from several glasses (Soviet cooks do not use cups) to a kilo or more.

Cigars from my Granny's Recipe Book

Secondly, the procedure itself might be quite elliptical in its explanation. Like… no procedure at all, just the ingredients  or something like ‘bake until done’ without any indication of temperature, time or even any instructions on what to do before baking (how come you don’t know what to do if the recipe’s title is ‘cake’?!).

Cigars from my Granny's Recipe Book

Thirdly, the ingenuity with which a Soviet cook would use the ingredients (the choice of which can be quiet scarce and / or striking to begin with) tells you a lot about the Soviet way of life in general.

Cigars from my Granny's Recipe Book

The recipe in question is at the very bottom of the page, written by my Granny’s hand. Some of the instructions must have been added later, probably when my Granny’s memory started to fade a bit and she had to resort to more detailed recipes. I will share with you my Mother’s take on this recipe combined with my changes, so this is a true family recipe.

Cigars from my Granny's Recipe Book

A year ago – Whole Wheat Biscotti with Chocolate and Pistachios

2 years ago – Finnish Sourdough Flatbread and Cookies with History

3 years ago – German, French and Polish Sourdough Bread

4 years ago – Winter Light and Lemon Cake

5 years ago – Winter’s Here. Time for Spicy Rye Bread

6 years ago – Flammekueche

Sigary or Cigars from my Granny’s recipe book

Ingredients

  • 200 g smetana or 15% fat sour cream
  • 180 g butter, melted*
  • 2-2.5 glasses or about 320-350 g flour
  • jelly / jam / confiture of your choice (tangy ones are best)
  • powdered sugar

Procedure

Melt the butter and add in the smetana. Start adding the flour gradually until you get smooth malleable dough. Optional – place your  dough covered into the fridge for about half an hour. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 190 ‘C**.

Take a piece roughly the size of a big walnut and start rolling it mostly in one direction so that you get a long strip resembling an oval. The thinner you roll your dough the more layers of it you will get in your cigar. Spread your jam over the dough in a thin layer leaving narrow margin on the edges. If your jam has bits of fruit in it, place a small bit in the middle of the strip. Start rolling the strip starting from the top edge (it’s somewhat easier this way) so that you get … well, a cigar. These cigars won’t spread so you can place them pretty closely on the baking mat but mind that the jam will most certainly leek out (I would suggest using silicon rather than paper – to collect all the jam drippings :).

Bake for about 20 minutes or until your cigars are nicely browned. They become crispy and pretty fragile when they cool down. While they are still warm, roll them in powdered sugar. The best here is home-made grounded sugar that will contain some larger bits as well – for a more Soviet-gourmet experience.

Cigars from my Granny's Recipe Book

Remarks

As I was making this recipe I had to stop as I realized I didn’t really know what to do once I mixed all the ingredients. So I put the dough into the fridge, a step which was not in the recipe, until my Mother came back home and explained me the procedure. I guess you can omit it or give your dough a short chill anyway. For this recipe I used two types of homemade (Mother-made) jam – plum jam and apple jam – both with large bits of fruit in them. I had to pick out one piece of fruit per a cigar. You see, the dough itself is quite fragile so you probably won’t be able to put in a chunkier jam. My Granny’s side note says that you can add some sugar to the dough but I wouldn’t do that as the jam provides all the sweetness you need.

* I reduced the amount of butter in this recipe – the original recipe actually called for margarine as it was and still is much cheaper than butter.

** We had to experiment with the oven temperature with the first batch. For some reason my Mother thought that these should be baked at a pretty low temperature, so we started somewhere at 120’C and them moved up to almost 200 as the cigars just wouldn’t brown. We baked our second batch at about 190’C for exactly 21 minutes.

Result

Sweet and tangy, crispy but moist too. Such a treat! One of those things I haven’t tasted for years.

Cigars from my Granny's Recipe Book

I intend to make more recipes from my Granny’s recipe book. There are those that with just their taste can bring back so many childhood memories.

And no, I do not smoke and in no way do I promote it!

Adding this post to the Sweet recipe collection.

G.

St Petersburg · sweet · traditional Russian recipe

Bird Cherry Birthday Cake

Bird Cherry Cake

This is my second attempt at making a Cheryomukhovy Tort or Bird Cherry Cake. You might have never heard of this bird cherry tree at all. You might have never even thought you could eat anything made from it. And yet it is one of the traditional ingredients in the Northern and Siberian cuisine.

Bird Cherry Cake

Last summer for instance we tried some bulochka with bird cherry filling in the Urals.  And my first attempt at making a bird cherry cake was back in 2014, after I bought a small package of bird cherry flour in Novosibirsk. This time I managed to get the flour in St Petersburg – it can be found in eco / bio / health stores and even in bigger supermarkets in the baking department. Funny enough, the flour I bought during my roaming on Vasilyevsky island last year is produced in Ulan-Ude, where we suffered from extreme heat just a couple of month earlier, in the summer 2016.

Bird Cherry Cake

I have doubts that the bird cherry flour can be found that easy outside Russia, so if you go on the Trans-Siberian one day, do try this thing. Such a distinct flavour – of almonds and some booze at the same time! This is why I decided to make a bird cherry cake for my Grandpa’s 85th birthday – something different for a change. And here is the recipe. And although you might never actually use it you will at least know how this exotic thing is made.

Bird Cherry Cake

1 year ago – Peanut Butter Post

2 years ago – How to Make Silky Cream Cheese at Home

3 years ago – Two Spinach Pies and Spinach…Rice

4 years ago – Polenta, Sempre Polenta and Broccoli

5 years ago – Two Rrrrrye Breads (Raisin and Riga)

Bird Cherry Cake or Cheryomukhovy Tort adapted from the recipe on the bird cherry flour package by aiuduhlesa.ru. Will make a huge multi-layer cake with distinct – or should I say never heard of? – flavour and dense crumb.

Ingredients:

  • 6 (!) eggs
  • 100 g sugar
  • 300 g all-purpose flour
  • 300 g bird cherry flour
  • 180-200 ml sparkling water – mine has lost its bubbles, see remarks
  • 1 heaped tsp baking soda
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 3 cups of high fat sour cream (smetana), for the icing – used less, see remarks
  • 5 Tbs sugar, for the icing – used a mixture of powdered and regular sugar

Procedure:

Beat the eggs with sugar until foamy. Add half of the sparkling water (100 ml) but do not stir. Add the flours and start mixing the batter with a spatula or a spoon (do not beat). Pour lemon juice onto the soda (it will bubble like hell) and add it to the batter. Gradually add the remaining sparkling water: your batter should resemble thick sour cream (I had to add more water). Leave the batter for about 10 minutes. It should get all bubbling and airy (mine was not…).

Divide the batter between two greased round pans (26-28 cm in diameter) and bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes at 180’C. Leave the layers to cool completely.

Meanwhile, get your icing / filling ready: beat the sour cream with sugar pretty well until the sugar dissolves. Cut each cake layer in half (I did it with the help of a special string but you can do it with a thread or a knife) and start building the cake. Take a half and place it on a plate cut side up, spread the sour cream filling and cover with the next layer,again cut side up. Proceed till you have your last layer, this time placing it cut side down on top. Ice the top layer with the remaining sour cream and decorate it with grated chocolate or some bird cherry flour (see remarks).

Bird Cherry Cake

Remarks: 300 g of bird cherry flour seemed like a lot after I added all the all-purpose flour to the batter. I wonder if you should actually use less of whether it’s just that I used less soda and still water instead of sparkling? Yes, I thought we had some sparkling water in the fridge and it turned out to have lost its ‘bubbling power’ by that time. Three cups of sour cream might also seem a bit too much but in the end you do get a lot of layers! I would add more sugar to the batter and use all the three cups of sour cream next time. And yes, although there’s no butter or oil in this recipe, there are SIX eggs 🙂

Bird Cherry Cake

As for the decoration, I sprinkled the top with finely ground flaxmeal – it’s rather neutral in flavour and taste, which doesn’t interfere with the bird cherry flavour. I did it not only for the sake of the desired ’85’ pattern but also because the top layer sour cream mixed with sugar and left overnight (although in the fridge) tend to acquire a brownish colour (no fear, it’s only natural!). So you would actually need something to decorate the top with (leave it to the last moment before serving) in case you’re not planning to serve the cake straight away. Leaving the cake in the fridge overnight is preferable so that the layers soak in the sour cream. 

Result: A big cake with the unusual flavour and the traditional sour cream filling which looks like a chocolate cake and yet is not. With minor changes to the recipe this can make a pretty good (birthday) cake. 

Snowy Saturday

Bird cherry tree is closely associated with the coming of spring: it blossoms lavishly in May, emitting its perfume all over the place. And since the weather changes back to cold for several days at exactly the same moment, there’s this persistent belief that it’s not a mere coincidence. In brief, when you see a bird cherry tree ready to show off its white flowers, there will be some cold days ahead. It works every year.

Snowy Saturday

We are quite far away from May now…

Snowy Saturday

Woke up today to seeing this outside our windows:

Snowy Saturday

And yet the days are growing longer and there’s even more light with all the snow. And you start hearing birds. Winter is beautiful but it’s just so long.

Snowy Saturday

This post goes to the Russian and Sweet recipe collections.

G.

cookies · on USSR / Russia · sweet · traditional Russian recipe

Taste from Childhood: Nutshells with Condensed Milk

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

From all the recipes I’ve tried over this long winter break that we officially have in Russia (the cold has made me stay at home most of the time) I’ve picked this Soviet recipe as the first post in the newly arrived 2016, another childhood sweet treat like Zemelakh cookies. Back in 2013 I made a post featuring a selection of Soviet kitchen utensils that are mostly out of circulation now. Among these were the aluminum molds to make walnut-like cookies filled with condensed milk. They look like this:

nut molds

My friend came along with her batch of walnut molds and two cans of sweetened condensed milk. Though three years older than our set of molds, her recipe is exactly the same (in the best Soviet traditions) and it comes on a gloriously Soviet-design packaging. If you take a look at the back of this recipe made by a Voronezh industrial machine plant (!), you will find out that it was printed on a recycled leftover packaging from a canning plant in Orel! 🙂

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

To make the walnut-like cookies even taste like walnuts, you can fill them according to the recipe (3 egg whites beaten with a cup of sugar until thick and then mixed with 1.5 cups of ground walnuts). Our choice that evening was caramelised sweetened condensed milk. And yes, you will need an entire evening to make all the cookies from the required 3 cups of flour with the limited amount of molds! 🙂

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

1 year ago – Winter Fairy Tale and Semolina Bread

2 years ago – Chocolate, Cocoa, Coffee and Cakes

3 years ago – Join the Soviet New Year Table

4 years ago – Sourdough Breads

Nutshells Filled with Caramelised Sweetened Condensed Milk or Орешки со сгущенкой (Oreshki so sgushchenkoj) translated and adapted from a 1982 packaging of the nut molds will make a mountain of small nut-like cookies willed with the sweety-sweet condensed milk (teeth, beware!). If you don’t have the molds, try using madelaine cookie molds instead.

Ingredients

for the dough:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 200 g margarine – we used about 150 g butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar – you really don’t need even that much as the filling is super sweet
  • 3 egg yolks – save the whites for some souffle, I made banana souffle
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt – we added just a pinch + some vanilla extract

for the filling:

  • about 3 cans of caramelised condensed milk or any other thick substance you prefer
  • or the original suggestion: 3 egg whites beaten with a cup of sugar until thick and mixed with 1.5 cups of ground walnuts

Procedure

We reversed the original procedure a bit, first beating the egg yolks with sugar until pale, then adding the softened butter and a pinch of salt and vanilla. Then we mixed in a third of the flour, then added a tiny bit of vinegar to the soda and poured the bubbly soda into the mixture. The 3 cups of flour were quite a lot for the decreased amount of butter that we used, so the dough ended up quite hard and not very easy to roll out. But if you dare using the whole 200 g of butter you will probably avoid this dryness.

Leave the dough covered in the fridge (original suggestion – somewhere cold) for 15-20 minutes and then roll it out into a thin sheet (we did it in portions). Cut the dough with the same molds and press the dough into the molds (we didn’t grease them as the butter in the dough will mdo the job). Here you will understand if you rolled the dough too thick or too thin – you should be able to cover the entire mold from the inside with the dough. The recipe suggests cutting the overhanging dough with ‘a sharp knife’ but you can also do it with your fingers (the overhanging dough will only appear if you cut the dough using a round cutter).

Place the molds on a baking sheet ‘like saucers’ (the dough side up) and bake (we guessed 175’C would be fine) for about 15-20 minutes until the dough starts browning. Be careful not to overbake! Leave the molds to cool a bit and then take the shells out. Fill both shells and bring them together. Enjoy!

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

Remarks: The caramelised condensed milk filling is super sweet as you can imagine. So if you want a lighter version I would suggest using some  nut butter or super-thick jam – or the original walnut filling. And if you do run out of filling (like we did with the whole two cans of condensed milk) and you realise it soon enough before you make another batch of nut shells, try using the dough for some individual tartlets filled with whatever you like (I had some thick cranberry jam). Well, at least even a small tartlet will use up more dough than a nutshell will!

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

Result: ‘A taste from childhood‘ was the verdict of my friend’s parents (the recipe makes such a mass of these nuts that you can feed three families with no problems :). These nuts are super-sweet and addictive. Best consumed with lots of tea to wash down all the thick condensed milk filling. There are various ways to enjoy these cookies – some people (kids) like licking out all the filling first and then eating the chewy shells, some prefer biting and some will just swallow the entire piece 🙂

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

The caramelised and regular condensed milk is definitely a taste from childhood. The caramelised version is particularly often used in many industrially made foods like syrok (a fatty cream cheese treat in chocolate glaze), layer cakes, cookies and biscuit rolls. A housewife in USSR would boil a whole can of sweetened condensed milk and produce the caramelised version at home, as only the un-boiled version existed (with such editions as sweetened condensed milk with chicory or sweetened condensed milk with cocoa / coffee). Some of these home experiences ended up on the kitchen door, floor and all over the place too 🙂

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

As yo can see in this photo we had quite a lot of shells left unfilled – I didn’t witness what happened to them later but I guess they just served as a ‘base’ for the jam or something. I was actually glad we ran out of filling cause the procedure is quite tiresome with such a mass of dough! A recipe for a tireless Soviet housewife who knows how to make a treat out of the scarce ingredients 🙂

This recipe goes to my Soviet/Russian and Sweet recipe collections.

G.

sweet · traditional Russian recipe

Zemelakh Cookies, Straight from Childhood

Zemelakh - forum.say7.info

I would like to share with you some of my – food – memories from childhood. You know, there are these tastes and flavours and smells that immediately take you several years back. Here is a recipe which at least makes an attempt at recreating that taste of (or from) childhood – Zemelakh cookies. It turns out that this is a Jewish recipe (couldn’t find the translation of this word though) but these cookies were and still are largely referred to as ‘vostochnye sladosti‘, oriental delight, and sold in an eponymous shop on Nevsky. But as we’re talking Soviet cuisine here, let’s assume that this recipe has already mutated into the Soviet / Russian food heritage.

Zemelakh - forum.say7.info

A year ago – Architectural Walks in Kolpino Part 3 – Early 20th Century Red Bricks

Two years ago – Cookie Time: Cheese Biscuits and Pistachio Biscotti

Three years ago – Those Were the Days or 90s in Russia Continued

Four years ago – Puerto Rican Flan

Zemelakh or Sugar and Cinnamon Coated Shortbread Cookies translated and adapted from forum.say7.info will make sweet cookies, soft inside and crunchy from the outside. This recipe has been travelling all over the Runet (Russian web), so cannot say where the original comes from exactly. See my remarks in italics.

Ingredients

  • 125 g butter, chilled
  • 125 g sugar + some for the coating (larger grain sugar will be perfect for coating)
  • 250 g flour, sifted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs milk
  • pinch of salt
  • cinnamon

Procedure

Beat chilled but not frozen butter with the egg, add a pinch of salt. Add sugar and beat well until the grains are no longer visible. It should get fluffy and homogeneous. Pour in the milk and beat well again. Beat in the flour in several parts. The cookie dough should be pretty thick (mine for some reason wasn’t…). Make a ball and place it covered in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200 ‘C. Cover your cutting board with baking paper and roll the dough out on it to a rectangle no thinner than 1 cm (I guess I should have rolled it out thicker than 1 cm – for better, softer results). Cut the dough in diamonds (that was tricky!), sprinkle them – first with sugar, then generously with cinnamon and then a bit with sugar again. Transfer the cookies along with the paper to a baking sheet. Bake at 200 ‘C for 10-15 minutes, not longer or they will be too dry! The cookies will be very soft when just taken out of the oven but you can check with a toothpick. If some of them got stuck to each other in the process, run the knife in between. Leave the cookies to cool before transferring to a serving dish.

Zemelakh - forum.say7.info

Remarks: Feel free to double the recipe! And try not to roll the dough out too thin – the fatter these cookies are (within certain limits of course), the more authentic the cookies will taste. Also be careful not to overbake them!

Result: The recipe is pretty easy though I cannot say that what you get as a result is the authentic Zemelakh. I remember that they were more …sandy. But as long as your cookies are sugar-cinnamon coated-crusted and buttery inside, you’re on the right path 🙂

Zemelakh - forum.say7.info

Adding this recipe to Sweet, by Country and Russian/Soviet collections.

G.

sweet · traditional Russian recipe

Medovik or Russian Layered Honey Cake

late August sky

This Saturday was a great day at our dacha with food, family, food, friends and more food. There was a sudden cats-and-dogs rain which made everyone run into the safety and warmth of the house. And as a true St Petersburg day, it ended with a gorgeous sunset colors and, well, sun – a cerise on the cake! Reminded me of the sunset we saw in Sestroretsk, on the Gulf of Finland.

Medovik or Russian Layered Honey Cake

This is how my sister just celebrated her birthday and this is what I baked for her:

Medovik or Russian Layered Honey Cake

This birthday cake started its journey in Kolpino a day before and then in the morning off it went (along with some baked aubergines) to our dacha place. It didn’t see the light of the following day… 🙂 The cerise on this cake is actually cherevishnya, a weird cross between sweet cherry and sour cherry – unfortunately with the weather and the soil we have here it tastes more like sour cherry.

Medovik or Russian Layered Honey Cake

If you’re in for this soft layered cake already you should know that it takes some time and effort. But it’s worth it, you know, as is always with those layered cakes 🙂 And oh do we all merely adore medovik, a traditional Russian honey cake! Made with lots of honey and layered with tons of smetana (sour cream), mmm…. There are hundreds of recipes for it but this time I made it this way:

Medovik or Russian Layered Honey Cake

And to avoid eating the entire cake all at once (and by one person) – just invite more friends and relatives! I had to take the cake out for a photoshoot after the first helping so that there was something to shoot 🙂

Medovik or Russian Layered Honey Cake

A year ago – Italian Apple and Cinnamon Cake

Two years ago – Franconian Wood Oven Bread in Regular Oven

Three years ago – Pita, Sourdough Pizza and Stewed Aubergines

Медовик Medovik or Russian Layered Honey Cake translated and adapted from eda.ru will make a super-soft and can-I-have-another-piece-please cake. See my remarks in italics.

Ingredients:

  • 280 g honey
  • 64 g butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 60 g sugar – I added more
  • 268 g all-purpose flour
  • 8 g baking soda
  • 300 g 20% fat smetana (sour cream) – I used more and 15% fat
  • 75 g powdered sugar
  • optional – nuts, more powdered sugar and honey, berries for decoration

Procedure:

Prepare a bain-marie (hot water bath): heat water in a larger pan and place on top a smaller pan with honey. Wait till it melts and then add butter cut in pieces. Whisk the mixture until the butter melts and leave on low for some time.

Meanwhile start mixing sugar and eggs at high speed. This will take about 8 minutes: you need to get a thick white cream (mine was beige and God those eight minutes!!! 🙂

Sieve (!) flour with soda so that the layers are puffy and soft. By this time the honey mixture should acquire brownish color. Take it off the heat, gradually add the egg mixture in and whisk it moving from the top downwards. Add the flour mixture and whisk moving from the bottom upwards (to my mind whatever direction you take, the movement is almost the same:).

You will need 6 * 20 cm layers, 2 mm thick. At home it’s hard to reproduce all the professional tricks (and you do not have all the equipment either), so instead of using special metal rings, you can level the layers with a knife and bake them on a buttered (better lined with parchment paper!) pan. I baked two at a time and then one at a time as they threatened to burn quickly.

Ideally you should have some batter left which you will use for crumbles (I did not, I got only 5 layers and I didn’t even level the layers, so some of them were more puffy and some less).

Preheat your oven to the maximum temperature (somewhere around 250 ‘C for me) and bake the layers for 3-4 minutes. Watch them closely as they will brown (aaand burn!) fast but should stay soft all the same. Leave them in the fridge to cool down (I didn’t).

Make the smetana cream: whisk powdered sugar with smetana. Then take one layer and place it ‘burnt’ side up (the top side) – this will be the bottom layer (I suggest using one of the ugliest but yet whole). Spread some cream on it and place next layer on top, this time ‘burnt’ side down. Repeat with the remaining layers, spreading cream on top of the last layer (use the best layer here) too. Finely blender the 6th layer and use these crumbs to scatter on top and sides of the cake (I didn’t, I actually used some ground peanuts on top and these weird berries). You can decorate the cake with powdered sugar and honey, then place the cake in the fridge overnight or better for 24 hours. This time is needed for the cake to soak in all the cream. It will also diminish in height.

Medovik or Russian Layered Honey Cake

Remarks: This cake should (and will definitely) be eaten on the day after the stay in the fridge as sour cream looses its whiteness and, well, in theory might ruin the cake. In practice though it will not survive longer than a day! Be careful with the layers – I tried various pans including silicone and metal, buttering them each time. And be careful also with the pans – not all of them are prepared for such high temperatures! I needed more smetana to cover the sides of the cake but didn’t have another container…

Result: A pillow-like cake which has nothing to do with all those heavy cream cakes. Not overly sweet and surely not dry. A perfect summer birthday cake!

Medovik or Russian Layered Honey Cake

Adding this to Russian and Sweet collections where you can find more traditional Russian dishes with honey and layered cake recipes.

G.

muffins · sweet · traditional Russian recipe

Birthday Kovrizhka and Chocolate Chip Muffins

Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka from www.pravmir.ru

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 🙂

Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka from www.pravmir.ru

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).

Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka from www.pravmir.ru

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?

Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka from www.pravmir.ru

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.

Ingredients:

  • 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

Procedure:

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.

Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka from www.pravmir.ru

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!

Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka from www.pravmir.ru

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.

Ingredients:

  • 5 Tbs sugar
  • 3 Tbs cocoa
  • 2 Tbs milk
  • 50 g butter

Procedure:

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 from www.browneyedbaker.com

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.

Chocolate Chip Muffins from www.browneyedbaker.com

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…

Adding these recipes to Russian / Soviet, Chocolate and Sweet collections.

G.