muffins · sweet

Birthday Brownie Muffins

Brownie Muffins

Made these brownie muffins for a birthday party of my very good friend: combining the taste expectations (brownie) with the easy and handy shape (muffins) + some paper cases and party decorations made this recipe a success!

Brownie Muffins

1 year ago – Concert in Rotunda and Country Applesauce Muffins

2 years ago – Darnitskiy Bread

3 years ago – Travelling Muffins and Wandering Bread

4 years ago – Crackers + Pesto

Brownie Muffins adapted from www.mrbreakfast.com will make super rich, thick and chocolaty muffins. Click on the link to get the entire recipe.

My changes to the original recipe:

Used a chocolate bar instead of chocolate chips, did not add any walnuts or pecans. I also doubled the recipe.

Brownie Muffins

Remarks: The muffins rose fine but cracked on the top. Use good quality cocoa and chocolate for these – because you do want your muffins to be as much brownie as possible 😉  Also, the very first bite of every muffin will be the chocolate bits which you are supposed to add to the top – so make sure you will enjoy it!

Result: Rich, chewy and really brownie-like muffins. Might try these again – now with nuts, as in the original recipe.

Brownie Muffins
This post goes to the Sweet and Chocolate recipe collections.

G.

cookies · sweet

Chocolate-Chocolate Cookies for the First Snow

It’s snowing today. The first snow here in St Petersburg and my second first snow this autumn after Chelyabinsk. I will soon tell you all about this city and my attempt to find out whether the legend of rough & tough Chelyabinsk was a legend or sheer truth. You will learn about my adventures in the upcoming post.

IMG_1040

Before I leave for Kaliningrad, my next destination, and before we’re all snowed under here, just a tasty comforting recipe. Turn on your favourite music, pour yourself (‘another cup of coffee…’) something hot to drink and bite into this truly chocolaty cookie! The world will appear much better as the chocolate melts in your mouth : )

IMG_1038

A year ago – Autumn Leaves and Karelian Pies

Two years ago – Khachapuri, I’m addicted!

Three years ago – Some Soviet Things for a Change and Bread is the Head for Everything

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies from neohomesteading.com will make big chewy cookies with melting chocolate inside. Oh-oh-oh! Visit the website to get the entire recipe.

My changes: Mixed butter with some sunflower oil, used plain sugar instead of brown sugar and instead of chocolate chips crushed a chocolate bar. I thought about adding some cinnamon but in the end I added just the vanilla.

I made really big cookies and it took them more than 15 minutes to bake.

Remarks: The recipe can be doubled or tripled, says the author plus suggesting other options like freezing the cookies before they’re baked (actually I freeze just about everything…) or turning them into a cookie-cake or cookie-bars.

IMG_1044

Result: See this melting chocolate in the middle? That’s the main point! These cookies are chewy and even brownie-like. Perfect for the cold autumn.

IMG_1041

More melt-in-your-mouth and addictive chocolate recipes could be found here. But beware! : )

G.

cookies · sweet · sweet bread

Three Times Chocolate: Danish Swirl Bread, Panforte and Cookies

Before this triple chocolate post gets any older, let’s bring it to back to life! Ha, no surprise it has been waiting its turn to be published form April 7th – that was 1 day before we learnt that we were all soon to be fired. But here it is, in the end. There are three recipes gathered throughout several months, a chocolate chip cookie recipe, a chocolate & nut bar recipe and a sweet chocolate buns recipe. Almost everything, except for a recipe of a good chocolate cake, which you can find here on the Chocolate page.

Panforte from www.joyofbaking.com

The first two recipes are from very much-used and much-trusted sources. We’re kicking off with chocolate bars or Italian Panforte. Probably it’s not yet the right season for them (these are very substantial and calorie-loaded things), but with the coming of the autumn which is obvious here in St Pete, the belly is asking for increasing amounts of sugar 🙂

Panforte from www.joyofbaking.com

A year ago – Sablé aux figues or Fig Jam Shortbread

Two years ago – Pommes. Pommes de Terre too

Panforte adapted from www.joyofbaking.com will make stick-jaw chocolate and nut bars. Visit the website for the original recipe and lots of other great ideas with video.

My changes:

Instead of almonds I used peanuts and also substituted candied citrus with prunes.  Instead of allspice I added cardamom, nutmeg and ginger. I baked the cake (cause it looks like one before you cut it) for a bit longer than indicated. I did not use rice paper, just plain parchment paper.

Panforte from www.joyofbaking.com

Result: A very nutritious and very sticky treat – it’s not for nothing that they call it ‘strong bread’ in Italian! Probably the best time to eat it would be in winter but I will not tell anyone if you try it already now : )

***

On to cookies now:

Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies from www.browneyedbaker.com

Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies adapted from www.browneyedbaker.com will make ship-shape cookies with crunchy nuts and chunks of chocolate.

My changes: Used hazelnuts instead of walnuts and added ginger (or rather way TOO much ginger).

Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies from www.browneyedbaker.com

Remarks: Be careful when adding your spices, I was too generous with ginger  and the cookies had this peppermint flavour : ) These cookies keep their shape well while baking and do not spread much. However, they do brown quite quickly!

Result:  Four ‘ch’: Crunchy, chunky, chewy and chocolate-y!

Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies from www.browneyedbaker.com

A recently tried recipe of very zesty whole wheat oatmeal chocolate cookies can be found here. And if you are in for more, try these large Chocolate chip, Cranberry & Walnut  Sconies or Healthier Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies from www.browneyedbaker.com

***

And for those of you who feel like baking something sweet with leavened dough:

Swirl Coffee Bread from foodismylife.wordpress.com

Danish Chocolate Swirl Coffee Bread adapted from foodismylife.wordpress.com will make tiny tight but tasty cocoa buns.

Changes to the original recipe:

I didn’t use almond flakes for decoration. And that’s pretty much all about the ingredients. As for the procedure, I guess I rolled the dough out too thin and it did not rise that much. Also I did not use a switched-off oven for the dough to rise, just left it in a warm spot of my kitchen.

Swirl Coffee Bread from foodismylife.wordpress.com

Remarks: I made my buns so tiny that they looked rather like sweets : ) Do not roll the dough out that enthusiastically!

Result: Quite chewy and on the dry side. But I’m sure these will be really soft if you do make them bigger!

Swirl Coffee Bread from foodismylife.wordpress.com

But I do like how they look on the inside:

Swirl Coffee Bread from foodismylife.wordpress.com

Apple harvesting tomorrow. Big deal!

G.

sweet · sweet bread · travel

Neverending Strasbourg and Chocolate Marble Bread

Strasbourg

Strasbourg has really got a hold on me – for five years already. Here is one of my numerous tributes to this magnificent in its own way city on the Eastern boarder of France. I talk about this city a lot whenever such occasion falls, so let’s just look at it and try to imagine Strasbourg. Or rather its multiple restaurants and cosy corners!

This is the last post in the French series. Previous posts on the same trip to France: , A Glimpse of Rhône-Alpes and Cheesy Cauliflower Soufflé and Provence and Tapenade on Crackers

Strasbourg

Petite France district, Strasbourg

Strasbourg

 Petite France district, Strasbourg

Strasbourg

Petite France district, Strasbourg

Strasbourg

Petite France district, Strasbourg

Strasbourg

Walking along the river Ill, Strasbourg

Strasbourg

In the center of the city, Strasbourg

Strasbourg

Heading towards the center from Petite France district, Strasbourg

Strasbourg

Petite France district, Strasbourg

Strasbourg

Petite France district, Strasbourg

Strasbourg

A restaurant in Petite France district, Strasbourg

Strasbourg

The tree sisters or brothers – three traditional maisons à colombages along river Ill

Strasbourg

My favourite bridge in the center of the city, Strasbourg

Strasbourg

Strasbourg is a truly bike city

Strasbourg

The Cathedral’s tower, Srasbourg (the square is called Fish Market)

Strasbourg

In the heart of the city – a street of restaurants you might call it, Srasbourg

Restaurant, Strasbourg

Winstub (=traditional restaurant, with wine of course), Srasbourg

Flower Shop, Strasbourg

Flower shop on Broglie Square, Strasbourg

A food place in Strasbourg

This is what I call food court! Strasbourg

A cafe in Strasbourg

L’Épicerie restaurant serving baked garnished tartines, Strasbourg

A restaurant in Petite France

Tanners’ house (now restaurant) in Petite France district, Strasbourg

A restaurant in Petite France

Yet another restaurant (Cordeà linge) just across the square,Petite France district, Strasbourg

A restaurant in Petite France

Petite France district (surely another restaurant), Strasbourg

Lebkuchen shop, Strasbourg

How many kilos of gingerbread (pain d’épices) would you like? Strasbourg

A restaurant in Petite France

Petite France district (Au Pont St Martin restaurant), Strasbourg

A restaurant in Petite France

Petite France district (restaurant!), Strasbourg

A restaurant in Petite France

Petite France district (restaurant :), Strasbourg

Easter baked decorations

Easter decorations in a bakery window, Strasbourg

A restaurant in Strasbourg

A restaurant in the city center, Strasbourg

A cafe in Strasbourg

Strasbourg sparrows have their own restaurant – eating out at bretzel, tarte flambée and crêpe place

A restaurant in Strasbourg

A restaurant menu board with the region’s meat favourites: Choucroute (Sauerkraut + a ton of meat), Baeckeoffe (baked meat + potatoes)

Funny advertisement

A funny advert of a comedy show parodying L’Oréal promo (playing with words – l’oignon = onion, one of the region’s favourite food)

Alsatian aprons

Traditional prints on kitchen aprons (too expensive to use in the kitchen 🙂

A restaurant in Strasbourg

A restaurant just near Petite France district, Strasbourg

***

And for a tit bit as we say in Russia (na zakusku!) a nice recipe of a marble cake – because this is what my friend Isabelle made for me us in Strasbourg. I’m sharing this cake with her this time too, even if virtually. And after all marble cakes always remind me of my year spent in Strasbourg where I gobbled down lots of marble cakes bought in Germany : )

Chocolate Marble Bread from www.joyofbaking.com

A year ago – Khachapuri and Bread with Herbs (another recipe of khachapuri is coming soon!)

Two years ago – Gros Sablé Breton or Je ne Mange pas Six Jours

Chocolate Marble Bread adapted from www.joyofbaking.com will make a sweet soft cake with a crunchy crust and rich chocolate part! The original recipe is easy and clear, so just follow the link.

Changes: I added less chocolate which still resulted in a very thick and rich chocolate part. As I had no cake flour, I used all purpose flour with some potato starch added to it. Instead of coffee or water I took some cocoa, added water and ‘cooked’ the lot together with the chocolate. Also added cardamom and mixed some oil with the butter. My ‘yogurt’ was actually sour cream plus milk.

Chocolate Marble Bread from www.joyofbaking.com

Remarks: I’ve made this cake twice already, both times using a bundt (tube) baking pan. No problem taking it out! I forgot to run a skewer or knife through the two batters to achieve a marbled effect – and you know what? It worked even without this trick : )

Result: We liked this marble cake cause the texture of the chocolate part is richer than when you add just cocoa or coffee. Of course that also adds some calories but then I rarely make anything really loaded with fat and this cake is definitely far from being too fatty. The white part of the cake is moist and tasty too – as is the entire cake! =) If you need an easy recipe which will yet result in a smart looking cake – this is your choice.

Chocolate Marble Bread from www.joyofbaking.com

Check this other version of Marble Cake, or Marmorkuchen (a less rich cake with less calories) and here you can find more chocolate treats.

More food soon – something savoury this time!

G.

sweet

Spring in Full Swing and Sinful Midnight Cake

Spring 2014, plum tree

Plum tree in full blossom. And spring is in full swing this weekend in St Petersburg! Glad I did not miss anything here and with that journey to France could grasp a bit of southern summer BEFORE experiencing the northern spring here! Been to our summer cottage (aka dacha), worked hard until my back ached, got myself entangled in something really edging on a fight (with me as a supporting actress equipped with a heavy shovel ready to defense our garden and my Mother) and then just relaxed under an apple tree in the soft rays of the setting sun… And you know, it’s second part of May already and it means we’ve almost arrived at the White Nights season here already!

Some spring shots before we move on to food : )

Spring 2014, yellow narcissus

Yellow narcissus

Spring 2014, Dwarf Russian Almond

Dwarf Russian Almond (had no idea that it has such a name in English : )

Spring 2014, narcissus

Yellow and white narcissus with scarlet tulips in the background

Spring 2014, narcissus

A family of yellow and white narcissus : )

And just a day earlier I happened to see another dacha while walking to a job interview:

Vyborgskaya Embankment, St Petersburg

The location is weird, cause in the nowadays St Pete there are all these tall glass buildings all over the Neva’s Vyborgskaya embankment and this classicism-style wooden Golovin’s Dacha built in 1824 just falls out a bit. But before, a long time ago, this was a site for the court’s dachas. Right next to this seemingly abandoned dacha with dandelions growing right through its stone basement is a – seemingly – brand new business center with this reflexion on its all-glass walls:

TV Towe reflexion, Vyborgskaya Embankment, St Petersburg

TV Tower reflexion, Vyborgskaya Embankment, St Petersburg

The St Petersburg TV Tower is just opposite this dacha, there on the other bank of the Neva river called Petrogradskaya. It was my first time walking alongside the Chernaya Rechka (Small Black River), sadly famous for being the duel place for Alexander Pushkin vs. Georges D’Anthès (the latter fatally wounding Pushkin), cause there used to be a forest there.

***

Sinful Midnight Cake from thejoyofcaking.wordpress.com

Come on now, do we ever get to the food part? Right, here it is, a chocolate cake I made for my Dad’s b-day this year (last year there was another chocolate cake… and two years ago yet another chocolate cake…). You know well that I’m a lazy perfectionist and that it’s easier for me to bake bread, cheese pies and muffins than something more sophisticated like tarts for example. But when it comes to a b-day cake, well, you know! Give this cake a try, the tips that the author gives will only make the result so much better! BTW, this post marks the creation of the CHOCOLATE dedicated page where you can find all the chocolate and coffee recipes on my blog!

Sinful Midnight Cake from thejoyofcaking.wordpress.com

A year agoLayer Cakes for Chocolate Addicts (:)

Two years agoBread, Soup and Crackers

Sinful Midnight Cake adapted from thejoyofcaking.wordpress.com will make a very very moist, really cool-looking and tasting super-chocolate cake! Great thanks to Eileen for the recipe and the tips!

Here are my remarks to the original recipe:

The ingredients: I used softened butter instead of margarine and sunflower oil instead of olive oil. For the lack of chocolate chips, I melted a bar of good Russian chocolate. I decreased the amount of salt and used less instant coffee.

Sinful Midnight Cake from thejoyofcaking.wordpress.com

The procedure:

I was lazy enough to get my hand mixer from the cupboard, so I just use my hand : ) And I must say the recipe is easy, although allow some time for the cake to cool.

The author’s tip on making this cake extra moist and flat enough for frosting and filling is just superb! I hope I will remember it next time I make a similar cake. Even though I did not have time to leave the cake to cool thoroughly, the layers were super-moist and so light in texture!

I’ve used cherry confiture (quite thick jam like marmalade – in Russia there’s simply one word for any kind, varenye!) with almost entire cherries as the first layer of filling and then added sour cream (Russian smetana) as the second layer. I decorated the top of the cake with chocolate shavings + crushed Greek chocolate – I was again too lazy to create a separate frosting.

Sinful Midnight Cake from thejoyofcaking.wordpress.com

Result: Although we did not eat this cake at midnight and did not see any sin in it either : ) this chocolate cake was a hit! My parents said it was just like eating a b-day cake from a high quality patisserie shop : ) And I said it all comes to the recipe! Leave the cake to suck into all the filling ‘juices’ and you will get this light texture that, well, I confess, make you think about it being sinful – it just cannot possibly be THAT moist and soft! This is the cake you would eat with a fork – not because it’s oh-so sophisticated, it’s just that you would want to enjoy each bite! Keep the cake in the fridge – who knows, maybe it will help the cake to last just a little bit longer .)

Sinful Midnight Cake from thejoyofcaking.wordpress.com

Thanks to my parents who did keep the last piece of the b-day cake in the fridge, I managed to snatch a tiny piece and it was delicious! This is the last photo before the cake irrevocably disappeared… Definitely to be made again!

French trip posts to come soon!

G.

muffins · sweet

Tea Muffins with Blueberry Jam

spring tulips

This overdue spring post just has to be published! I’ve already traveled to two Russian cities and have more recipes and impressions to share with you so let’s just move on : ) The only thing is that spring is still lingering here, being quite slow to come into force and say a definite goodbye to winter. So probably I’m not THAT very late with the tulips. This post will be short.

spring tulips

Here’s a version of a muffin recipe I have accidentally come up with after I bought a large jar of blueberry jam. It was so very … blueberry that jam that I thought I would love to bake something with it. You see, I usually bake with black currant jam or just black currants (usually frozen) since we have them in abundance at our dacha. But what I really love out of all the berries are the blueberries! So to make muffins which are really blueberry muffins and not a substitute was really joyful (baking people will understand : ). And yes, we’re almost finished with the last year harvest of black currents and the jam made with these!

Marmalade & Earl Grey Tea Cakes  from sugarcrafter.net

The original recipe Marmalade & Earl Grey Tea Cakes which can be found at sugarcrafter.net  got transformed into Tea Muffins with Blueberry Jam – the recipe will make smart looking muffins with soft jammy part inside.

My changes to the original recipe:

I used the blueberry jam I told you about and since it was quite runny (just sugar, water and berries) and well, very blue in color, I decided not to incorporate the jam inside the batter but rather add it as a middle layer or a filling. So I just filled the 1/3 of the muffin cup with the batter then added a bit of the jam and finally topped the jam with some more batter. I used muffin cups instead of the proposed mini loaf tins, thus getting ship-shape muffins as the result : )

I used the leftover tea from our breakfast, so it was not that famous bergamot tea but just plain black tea with fresh mint leaves.  The rest was the same.

Marmalade & Earl Grey Tea Cakes  from sugarcrafter.net

{with a mug from my favourite Aegina island}

A year ago – Travelling Muffins and Wandering Bread and Crostata and Challah, United

Two years ago – BOUGATSA!!! and Pies with Greek Flavours and Tough and Rakish 90s in USSR / Russia and Bring Some Artisan Bread to Your Life

Marmalade & Earl Grey Tea Cakes  from sugarcrafter.net

By the way yesterday (was it?) I listened to a radio program saying that Earl Grey tea is particularly beneficial to your health (although there’s caffeine of course) thanks to the bergamot oil added to the tea leaves. They say it lowers cholesterol level. So if you can get the bergamot tea for these muffins, do it : )

Marmalade & Earl Grey Tea Cakes  from sugarcrafter.net

Result: These spicy muffins keep shape, look nice and taste good! Use your favourite jam and decide for yourself whether it would taste and look better as a part of the batter or in between : ) Also the tea leaves that you’re supposed to add to the batter are not distinct very much, I even forgot that they were there when I was eating the muffins.

spring tulips

Special thanks to my sister for the flowers!

Will come back with more soon.

G.

sweet

Chocolate, Cocoa, Coffee and Cakes

Here’s my first 2014-post. Seems like I’ve still some trouble realizing we’ve already switched the year’s number! And here is my long overdue post. I’ve collected quite a number of choco-coco-coffee-cake recipes to share with you, but in the end I chose just 2 of them. One of them has been waiting from last year and the other was on our New Year’s Eve table.

Soviet cocoa packaging

How do you like these Soviet packages of cocoa? They’ve been stocked in my Granny’s cupboard for like ehm 24 years. The packs were untouched, some of them dating back to 1989. Don’t ask me why. And no, we did not dare try the cocoa! =) I just made these shots and – sadly- threw them away. I can also you that the same pack of this ‘Golden tag’ cocoa (that’s the name of the mark) with just minor variations on the theme could have been found 30, 40 or maybe even 50 years ago. I like the yellow variant better.

We went to our Granny‘s to celebrate the New Year, the traditional thing in our family. Usually the table is loaded even if we beg our Granny not to make too much effort. This year we came by just for the tea, for which purpose one of the constant things in my life were taken from the cupboard (how many more wonderful surprises does it hold?) – those plates with a blue & gold border and the teaspoons with a lantern, one of the symbols of Leningrad (St Petersburg). I remember waiting for these visits to our Granny just for that, cause you do not get to eat with these subtle things each day! Well, I have to confess that the multiple presents our Granny always prepared for us both for New Year and Christmas were in there too.)

So, the cake we’ve had on our festive table was this one:

The Omega(-3) of All Chocolate Cakes from www.kingarthurflour.com

The photos are somewhat yellowish cause you don’t get much sun here these days! We’ve had really autumn-like rain and finally some wintry weather only for two days now but the sun is missing even with the fresh snow. Well, this is just St Petersburg, that’s it.

Two years ago4 White Breads and Old New Year

A year ago – I was in Venice… : ) After which I made this post: Post in Which We Swap Sourdough Bread for Camera Lens and Finish with Apples!

The Omega(-3) of All Chocolate Cakes adapted from www.kingarthurflour.com will make very moist sponges for a multi-layered cake with your favourite filling. Go to the original website to see the recipe. I’m not sure how much of Omega-3 you get in each slice but let’s believe there is some : )

What I did differently:

I used less sugar and coffee instead of espresso powder. I don’t like coffee but when there’s just a slight hint of it in a sweet dish it’s ok. I also threw in cinnamon and chocolate shavings plus black currant jam (substituting some of the oil) to the batter. I think the jam added to the moist texture of the cake.

There’s no indication which filling and frost you should use for the recipe, so I did my usual trick – I used my Granny’s apple puree! I also cut each sponge in two (with the cool ‘cake saw’ my friend gave me). I finished the entire thing with some walnuts + chocolate shavings.

The Omega(-3) of All Chocolate Cakes from www.kingarthurflour.com

{you can spot that plate and teaspoon I was talking about, not sure how old they are…}

Result: A very-very moist cake. Not overly sweet in my version but everything depends on your frosting. The walnuts between the layers are a good extra! And I think that flax seed meal adds some healthy ehm at least idea about this cake =) Just keep telling yourself that you’re eating something tiny but healthy in it.)

Remarks: Let the cake stand so that the filling gets into the layers. The layers themselves are moist alright but in order to make it a super-moist cake just give it some time. And yes, try to eat the cake fast enough cause the extra moisture can cause this cake to keep less time than you would expect.

More multilayer cakes here: Lemon-Blueberry Layer Cake, Caramel Apple Cake, Chocolate-Coffee Cake with Fresh Figs and Perfect Chocolate Cake

Ciambellone della Nonna from silviascucina.net

A recipe which has been desperately trying to get its moment of fame here for quite a long time is this Italian ‘marbled’ cake, looking just like that cake I used to buy in Strasbourg (was so niiiice with crème fraîche!). I found the recipe on Silvia’s blog which I discovered after listening to her interview on SBS Italian.

Ciambellone della Nonna (Nonna’s Marble cake with Oil and Yogurt) adapted from silviascucina.net will make a sweet and easy marbled cake

Ciambellone della Nonna from silviascucina.net

The recipe is really easy and doesn’t need anything special to make it. It’s a shame I didn’t get any Greek yogurt for this cake (although I did buy three cans of Greek olives=) and used the Russian stuff but I guess any thick yogurt will do.

Ciambellone della Nonna from silviascucina.net

Result: So sweet and truly ‘marble’! Can be your recipe for a quick AND nice-looking cake. And not only on the outside. The slices look really marble-nice too : )

I keep trying to post some nice savory pies here, will try harder! : )

G.

bread · Italian recipe · leftovers · sweet

Italian Delicacies a la Russe

It’s the season of a Italians-invade-St-Petersburg all over again here – it’s August!

These two Italian recipes were made with a little Russian flair… Not only just using the Russian ingredients but also adding this something à la Russe to them (or rather à la mienne…).

The first recipe, a sweet treat, might also be applied to the leftovers category – we’re still using that enormous amount of apple-everything left from last year – meanwhile making new batch of jams or varenye! This time – with red currants ; )

IMG_0005

photo taken at my new job, will surely make a photo-post on this place

Cake with Quadruple Chocolate and Tangerine Apple Marmalade (Torta al quadruplo cioccolato e marmellata di mandarini) translated and adapted from www.kitchenbloodykitchen.com (Grazie, Alice!) will make a super dolce (sweet) and morbido (soft) gingerbread-like cake. My remarks are in italics.

Ingredients:

  • 230 g flour – Italian type 00
  • 60 g potato starch – I added less, I think you can use cornstarch too
  • 150 g sugar
  • 50 g unsweetened cocoa
  • 7 g baking soda – I made a mix with baking powder + added cinnamon + nutmeg + cardamom
  • 150 g natural soy yogurt – I used prostokvasha + milk
  • 70 g rice or corn oil – I used sunflower seed oil
  • 300 g tangerine or orange marmalade – or try apple jam with bits like I did
  • 50 g dark chocolate broken in pieces
  • pinch of salt (un pizzico di sale – love it! : )
  • chocolate shavings , to decorate – I skipped that

For the syrup: – I skipped that too

  • 150 g water
  • 80 g sugar
  • 5 g unsweetened cocoa

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.  Line a 24 cm baking pan with parchment paper.

In the bowl of your mixer, place flour, starch, sugar, cocoa, soda and a pinch of salt. Mix everything well.

Add yogurt, oil and marmalade. Mix until the mixture is homogeneous. With the mixer running, add 100 g of boiling water (I was making everything by hand and so it was quite a challenge to mix and add hot water at the same time…). Stop the mixer and add chocolate in pieces and mix briefly.

Pour the batter in the prepared pan, put in the oven and bake for about one hour. Test with a wooden stick inserted in the center – which I did and realized that after just 42 minutes my cake was already done, so keep an eye on it. 

For the syrup:

Five minutes before the end of baking place all the ingredients for the syrup in a saucepan, bring to boil and keep simmering for 5 minutes.

Once the cake is out of the oven, make indentations all over its surface with a wooden stick or a very Italian tool – uno spaghetto : ). Pour the boiling syrup over the cake. When the cake is cooled, take it out of the pan and decorate with chocolate shavings.

Zhostovo painting on a metal tray

This is the traditional Russian handicraft – Zhostovo_painting on metal trays – which is still perpetuated in Zhostovo village near Moscow. This one is obviously with red currants ; )

Result: My cake didn’t rise as much as the author’s torta thus becoming more dense than it should, probably. But it didn’t prevent the cake to be super soft and chewy with all the apple bits inside. It was also quite sweet and now I think it was better that I (got lazy and…) skipped the syrup part of the recipe. So yes, I cheated a bit – my cake was not a quadruple chocolate delicacy, it was just triple chocolate… haha, JUST =)

***

Italian Panini all'Olio

And now some bread. Some panini, to be precise. Some cute spiky panini all’olio which go well with summer herbs and hard or soft cheese. I made these with Spanish olive oil but I’m sure it didn’t prevent them to be as tasty as they would with true olio Italiano.

Italian Panini all'Olio

I added some wholewheat flour and bran to make them a bit tangier (and healthier). As I said, I transformed both Italian recipes into something ‘mine’ (as usual).

Italian Panini all'Olio

Italian Panini all’Olio adapted from wiseanticsoflife.blogspot.com will make cute and very soft rolls. Here are the changes I’ve made to the original recipe and the measurements in grams for those who do ignore ounces : )

you’ll need 453.6 g flour (I mixed in some wholewheat flour + rye & wheat bran), 14 g dry yeast (I threw in a mixture of instant + active yeast, less than 14 grams), 226.8 ml lukewarm water, 2 tsp salt and 4 Tbsp olive oil. For the instructions on how to proceed with the recipe, follow the link above.

I baked my rolls just about 20 minutes, although I made less than 12 rolls all in all.

Italian Panini all'Olio

Result: Easy no-worry rolls with cute spiky crust . They keep well and are soft inside (and wholewheat is good in them too!).

Soon a post on my new job which is already going to be my ex-job soon… Ahaha, I’m mad, I guess!

With the Italian Panini all’Olio recipe I’m glad to participate in the August edition of Panissimo, a monthly bread showcase created by Barbara and Sandra. Each month there’s a great collection of varied bread recipes, be it yeast or sourdough or sweet bread. Check it out!

panissimo

G.

sweet

Layer Cakes for Chocolate Addicts

Chocolate again?! There’s never enough of it, come on. Here is a post on non-yeast chocolate treats – actually about those chocolate-chocolate multilayer cakes with chocolate inside and outside and oozing from the sides… Oh!

Perfect Chocolate Cake

This first cake was a double inspiration – first I got the idea to make something special when people reminded me of my name-day (I forget about it) and second I invented some kind of filling and glaze for the cake as I had no cottage cheese or anything thicker than ryazhenka and prostokvasha in the fridge.

Perfect Chocolate Cake

A year agoBread, Soup and Crackers with some ideas on what to do with leftover bread and Koulouria of Thessaloniki

Perfect Chocolate Cake adapted from www.creativesaga.com will let you make a real festive cake out of a very easy basic cake recipe.

All you have to do is to follow the original recipe and then use your imagination as to what to add between the layers and on top of the cake. What I did was to substitute vanilla essence with ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. I would also suggest baking the cake for less than 45 minutes – or just keep an eye on it. After the cake cooled enough to handle it, I cut the cake in three layers – the ex-upper part went underneath as it got browned too much.

Perfect Chocolate Cake

The upper layer filling is with prostokvasha and melted chocolate and the lower one is with ryazhenka + chocolate. I decorated the cake with melted chocolate – the bar was with nuts which you can see in the glaze + I had some almonds and cashew (ONE cashew) to finish the decoration.

Perfect Chocolate Cake

***

And now a more sophisticated and certainly a richer cake with distinct coffee notes which I prepared for my Father’s b-day and dared transfer it to our dacha – luckily without any major damage (had no time to take a photo of the entire cake before it was halved ; )

Chocolate-Coffee Cake with Fresh Figs

Chocolate-Coffee Cake with Fresh Figs adapted from deliciousshots.blogspot.com will make a luscious although – surprisingly – not over-sweet coffee & cardamom infused cake for incurable chocolate addicts like my Dad.

The instructions given on the aforementioned blog are substantial, I will just tell you what I changed in the recipe:

For the cake: I substituted buttermilk with milk + kefir, added cardamom and ground coffee instead of instant coffee (I filtered it to remove the solid elements). I guess I added less flour, as the batter was way too thin. The cake took more time to get ready (55 minutes) and still it was oozy in the centre.

For decoration: As I had no figs (in Russian a figa or kukish with a characteristic gesture of the thumb stuck between index and middle fingers – is a symbol of ‘nothing’ or ‘giving someone the finger’ ; ) I placed a white chocolate sweet right in the middle (did not survive until the photo session – was a special extra for the birthday person).

For frosting: I used two 100 g chocolate bars, one was with nuts; I definitely used less butter and thus less confectioners’ sugar, added cardamom instead of vanilla.

Chocolate-Coffee Cake with Fresh Figs

In contrast to the first cake which was a bit over-baked (the remedy was a rather liquid filling), this got underbaked – but no one noticed, oops, let’s say it was a molten chocolate cake (you can see that in the centre the cake is less dense than further to the edge).

Chocolate-Coffee Cake with Fresh Figs

Result: If you’re not a buttercream fan like me, you would prefer another frosting. But actually the cream was not THAT buttery and went well with the fudge-like layers, especially with its mocca coffee colour. So, just add less butter. The original cake looked so cool and rich with the frosting descending in huge ruffles… But I always cook things at least halfway to my taste – no buttercream at all would have been my choice were it not for my Dad’s preferences!

Chocolate-Coffee Cake with Fresh Figs

For even more – though not chocolate – multilayer cake ideas, see these recipes: Caramel Apple Cake which will make a soft, fragrant and truly delicious 3 layer cake, or Lemon-Blueberry Layer Cake for a multi-layer super-soft and fluffy cake which has berries right inside the batter – both very nice for the early summer days!

And it is indeed rather summer-y here, definitely the time for buttercream is over otherwise it will melt!

I was actually planning to post some Italian recipes first but got delayed waiting for the bloggers – authors of the recipes – to answer. Will make a new post soon!

G.

sweet · sweet bread

Everything in Chocolate

The second part of the St Petersburg post will have to wait – it’s Easter time here and there are some recipes which go well with this season. I’ve crossed today crowds of people filing in and out of the local churches to consecrate their traditional leavened Easter cakes, called kulich, and coloured eggs. Most of the baked things are bought in stores nowadays, with colourful sprinkles and sugary toppings. Maybe that’s why you’d better consecrate them? Kidding. It’s just that I prefer to avoid crowds. What I wanted to make was something similar to what my Mom used to bake each Easter – poppy seed rolls (she actually made poppy seed PIGS, such was the size of her rolls! something like this Dan Leppard’s Poppy-seed Walnut Strudel I made last year) – with a filling made from poppy seeds, walnuts and sugar mixture processed in a meat mincing machine 😉 I haven’t ventured to make them yet – although bought some fresh yeast just in case. Instead, I will share with you two leavened sweet treats with chocolate.

melted chocolate

Warning: If you decide to make a photo session with chocolate – be prepared to have EVERYTHING in chocolate, including the camera, yourself and even the rest of the chocolate!

I have spoken little about chocolate in my blog although I love it dearly, you know, that bitter kind, not the milky or even white one. My favourite chocolate bars are of course from the famous St Petersburg chocolate factory (named after Krupskaya, Lenin’s wife) – the bars are called Osoby (Special) and contain no less than 53% cocoa. This St Petersburg delight has found its admirers (addicts?) from as far in the world as Puerto Rico 😉 (Melinaki, I wish I could send it to you but in light of all that happens to our worse than snail-mail Russian post, I would rather not!)

Cardamom Flavoured Cinnamon Rolls

{you can spot the chocolate bar in question underneath the rack}

Let’s start with something more or less Easter like – these are Cardamom Flavoured Cinnamon Rolls adapted from www.mydiversekitchen.com  (originally from thefreshloaf) – the recipe yields two dozen pretty buns with lightly sweet dough and the glaze which makes up for it completely!

As usual, I refer you to the original recipe – here I give only the changes I’ve made (that might give you some idea on how to twist the recipe your own way!).

For the dough part I added just a tiny bit of wholewheat flour to the all-purpose and less salt (which was a good idea).

For the filling I used less melted butter, less brown sugar (I KNEW there will be a rich glaze!), I opted for cashew nuts and instead of raisins I scalded some poppy seeds (to soften them) and used them as part of the filling.

And as for the glaze… How could one agree to really leave it out? =) I used a whole bar of chocolate (the cheaper one I use for baking).

Cardamom Flavoured Cinnamon Rolls

I had to leave the dough in the fridge for several hours for its first rise and also left the poppy seeds (scalded) in some water to soften them and when I came back… the seeds sprouted! well, they grew some white ‘legs’ =) Haha, SPRING time!

I baked my buns for less than 20 minutes.

Cardamom Flavoured Cinnamon Rolls

Result: The dough part is not sweet but the abundant chocolate topping adds just enough sugar. Poppy seeds and nuts are a crunchy addition to these buns. Best eaten on the day of baking as they get harder the next day. The cardamom was not that distinct in these buns, I should say.

Cardamom Flavoured Cinnamon Rolls

{unglazed – and everything was so clean too… Before THIS happened:}

Cardamom Flavoured Cinnamon Rolls

I wouldn’t go into much detail about getting all in chocolate. In Russia there’s a saying that when your life is great and you’re particularly lucky, then you have everything in chocolate 😉

Cardamom Flavoured Cinnamon Rolls

{rows of rolls}

***

And now let’s look at the second chocolate feast / festive treat: a loaf this time, just like black/ brown bread from the outside but definitely not at all that from the inside! Its name even refers to the Black Forest desserts which most of the time means there’s chocolate and cherries – but surely this treat has nothing to do with the famous all cream all chocolate torte.

Black Forest Chocolate Chunk Cherry Bread

Black Forest Chocolate Chunk Cherry Bread adapted from lisamichele.wordpress.com – will make a soft, truly chocolate bread, not oversweet. I do not give a precise link here as I failed to find a working one myself… I guess that the website is inactive. I’m giving you the recipe which I copied some, I suppose, years ago instead – to keep the recipe going on the Internet.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup dried cherries – mine were really sweet
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs rum (optional, you can soak the cherries in any fruity liquid you prefer) – I opted for the kumquat liqueur
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast – which I activated first in the warm cocoa
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt – I used less + added some cinnamon for flavour
  • 3 Tbs softened butter
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup good quality chocolate chunks or disks – I chopped up a whole bar of Osoby chocolate

Method:

1. Place dried cherries in a medium bowl with half the rum, or whatever soaking liquid you choose. Set aside until needed. They will plump and soften slightly. – I used up all the amount of liqueur here.

2. Boil water and stir in cocoa until uniform. Let cool until tepid. I used the same ‘drink’ to activate the yeast.

2. In a bowl combine 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt, then slowly pour in tepid cocoa/water mixture.  Add softened butter and mix until it’s blended in. Add the egg and keep mixing until uniform and brownie batter like.

3. Slowly add in the remaining flour (more or less depending on weather) until you have a slightly stiff dough that’s easy to work with. Knead the dough until it’s smooth and silky – slapping against the sides of the bowl cleanly, about 10 minutes, or dump it on a floured pastry board and knead by hand.

Black Forest Chocolate Chunk Cherry Bread

4. Form the kneaded dough into a smooth ball. Lightly grease a large bowl, and place the dough in it turning to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about an hour or so, until doubled in size.

5. When doubled in size, fold dough over itself to deflate it, then place back on a clean floured pastry board, flattening it. Add the cherries with the soaking liquid and the chocolate chunks, then fold the dough over itself several times to start incorporating them. The cherries and chocolate will keep popping out of the dough with some falling out. It’s OK, just keep pushing them back in and kneading. Let rise in the greased bowl, covered, for another hour.

Black Forest Chocolate Chunk Cherry Bread

6. Form the dough into a loaf shape, and place in a greased and lightly floured loaf pan. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise until more than doubled, rising above the top of the pan – about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Could be less depending on how warm the area you keep it in is.

7. When the dough looks about ready, preheat the oven to 180 ‘C for 15 minutes. Place in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes. This is a very dark chocolate bread, so you can’t tell by color. I usually check it with a toothpick. I had to cover the loaf with foil at the end of baking, it was getting far too black. And I baked it for about 60 minutes!

8. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then turn out of pan and place on wire rack to cool fully. Brush with remaining kirsch or whatever liquid you used if flavored over top of loaf. I didn’t brush anything over it.

Black Forest Chocolate Chunk Cherry Bread

{cherries create a chewy side to the bread}

The result: this sweet bread is really soft and its sweetness is… occasional, because you never know when the sweet cherries or the chocolate chunks will burst in your mouth.) Add more sugar if you want it sweet or if you use sour cherries and biter chocolate, for example. I think it also lacks some distinct flavour – mine had some from the kumquat liqueur, for sure (and none from the cinnamon I fear), but it would have gained from something special.

Black Forest Chocolate Chunk Cherry Bread

With all the May holidays here (1st May + the Victory day) there’s a very little one can do to search for a job. So… Where’s my halara mode button? Happy holidays – and a happy new warm season!

G.