muffins · sweet

Vintage Soviet Cookware and Date and Hazelnut Muffins

Mom says it’s not that vintage claiming they bought this glazed iron dish in the 80s, but to me this looks like 60s, doesn’t it? I rediscovered it at my grandparents’ place, and since it’s been out of use for quite a long time, I’ve decided to bring it back to life. Cooking in vintage (and pseudo-vintage) dishes and pans certainly adds up to the whole process, making it more enjoyable in a way.

Vintage Cookware

I’ve already tried baking bread in this vintage Soviet cookware twice and I must say it takes a bit longer than in my previous (and unfortunately now broken) glass baking dish.

Vintage Cookware

The bread turns out quite moist with thick crust, reminding me of that bread you would buy some years ago (good ol’ times, ya know).

Vintage Cookware

I baked the loaves about 25-30 minutes with the lid on and then about 25-30 minutes more without, including some minutes out of the dish as well.

Vintage Cookware

The first time I baked in this dish, the lid left an indent in the top of the loaf, the other time it didn’t. Both times I used baking parchment although I should probably try greasing the dish for a change to see how it goes.

Vintage Cookware

And here’s the sourdough rye bread baked with that very flexible recipe I’ve been using for quite a while – makes you pretty lazy though cause it’s so fool-proof and easy:

Bread in Vintage Cookware

And now on to another lazy recipe. There’ve been quite a few dried fruit recipes in the kitchen (and in my blog) recently. Well, you see, with this very capricious autumn-like summer in St Petersburg one has to find some solutions to substitute the energy you would otherwise get from the sun (and good mood). And even though we can buy nectarines from Tanzania (!), they all taste a bit bland (and sometimes are hard as wood), so you naturally turn to using dried fruits and nuts instead.

Date and Hazelnut Muffins

A pretty nice combination from my recent experiments – dried cranberries, walnuts and dark chocolate in a sort of spice cake, with brown sugar creating a crunchy crust, and these date and hazelnut muffins:

Date and Hazelnut Muffins

1 year ago – Spinach Pie with Phyllo Pastry for Midsummer

2 years ago – Rolling Pin Recipes: Flatbread, Pie and Sweet Buns

3 years ago – Two Ways To Make Russian Carrot Patties

4 years ago – Soviet Kitchen Heirloom

5 years ago – Sourdough Bread with Dates and Flaxseeds

Date and Hazelnut Muffins recipe will make 12 coffee-flavoured muffins. The amounts of the ingredients are quite approximate!

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 150 g sugar
  • vanilla extract
  • 50 ml sunflower oil
  • ginger
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • 300 g flour mixed with ground flaxmeal and flaxmeal flour (super fine ground flaxmeal, aka flax porridge), approximately
  • 1/2 tsp ground coffee
  • orange juice
  • chopped dates
  • roughly chopped hazelnuts, toasted / microwaved

Procedure

Beat eggs with sugar, add vanilla extract and sunflower oil. Mix flours with baking powder, soda, coffee and spices, and add the flour mixture to the eggs alternating it with orange juice (I usually do it in 2 doses, starting and ending with flour. And if I add too much of either dry ingredients or liquids, I just add more of the other). Do not overmix. Add chopped dates and nuts. Divide the batter among 12 muffin cups (I was using paper cases too) and bake in the preheated to 210 ‘C oven for about 20 minutes.

Date and Hazelnut Muffins

Remarks: I added two kinds of flaxseed meal / flax flour to these muffins, a rougher and a finer grind. I think adding bran or some other kind of flour would work as well.  

Result: These are sweet muffins, with a crunchy sugary crust and a delicate coffee flavour – just a hint! They puffed up nicely too. And who doesn’t like those tasty-tasty hazelnuts?

This recipe goes to my Sweet collection where you will find more muffins and dried fruit recipes.

G.

sweet

Whole Wheat Biscotti with Chocolate and Pistachios

Whole Wheat Biscotti with Chocolate and Pistachios

Inspired by a colleague who brought us some Iranian pistachios to the office (those were good!) and another colleague who baked her own sukhariki (Russian for rusks) recently, I just had to make some biscotti too. With pistachios.

Whole Wheat Biscotti with Chocolate and Pistachios

I ended up following an American take on an Italian recipe and using Greek pistachios, Russian chocolate and dried fruits from Finnish muesli which do not necessarily come from Finland as you can imagine 🙂 And that having in mind to ‘finally follow a recipe to the letter’. No way!

Whole Wheat Biscotti with Chocolate and Pistachios

A year ago – Architectural Walks in Kolpino Part 5 – Around Railway Station

Two years ago – Old-Fashioned Apple Slab and Greek Crumble

Three years ago – Vermont Sourdough and Yellow Roses

Four years ago – All the Soviet Children…

Five years ago – Flammekueche

Whole Wheat Biscotti with Chocolate and Pistachios adapted from Chocolate, Raspberry, and Walnut Whole Wheat Biscotti on www.kingarthurflour.com will make crunchy sweet rusks, almost 100% whole wheat if you follow the recipe 100%. The recipe is on the website; here are my changes and remarks:

Ingredients: had to use a mixture of wholewheat flour + a bit of all-purpose flour as the batter seemed too sticky to handle; added less salt; instead of freeze-dried raspberries (what are they anyway?) used raisins and other dried fruits from muesli; used whole pistachios instead of chopped walnuts.

Procedure: did not flatten the logs that much for the first bake and thus the biscotti turned out smaller (shorter) in size; the procedure might take some time but there’s something so enjoyable in it that you’ll want to do it again.

Whole Wheat Biscotti with Chocolate and Pistachios

Remarks: Already after the first bake the biscotti (or rather logs of biscotti) looked pretty attractive with a crack along the top. Be careful with the timing: during the second bake you’ll have to flip the biscotti over halftime through and they might seem not that crunchy enough. However, 10 minutes after they will be more than crunchy, believe me! By the way, these biscotti do not contain any butter or oil. I would add less sugar next time, as chocolate and dried fruits already contain sugar.

Whole Wheat Biscotti with Chocolate and Pistachios

Result: Chewy, crunchy, sweet. The pistachios (from Aegina) I used were slightly salty which added that little something in contrast to the sweetness of the chocolate. The (original) raspberries should have contributed to the appearance too, however even with the modest raisins these biscotti have a very rustic look.

Want more biscotti? Try these Almond Biscotti or the Greek Ouzo and Pistachio Paximadia or simply Biscotti.

Thanks God we’re past the shortest days of the year, the light will gradually come back, drop by drop. We’re having no snow and consequently no sun here in St Petersburg. Wearing sneakers at the end of December reminds of my other December, 6 years ago in Thessaloniki, almost entirely spent in a T-shirt 🙂

This post goes to my Chocolate and Sweet collections.

P.S. Domes of the St Sophia Cathedral in Veliky Novgorod on some of the photos on a Catholic Christmas Eve unintended.

G.

cookies · sweet

Whole Wheat Fig Bars

Whole Wheat Fig Bars

It’s been a while since my last post here and this post won’t be long either. Just wanted to share with you this winter-time recipe of Whole Wheat Fig Bars. The figs are used dry but then you book them creating a sort of fig jam filling. And the flavour is very summer-like! When we were in Greece we would go around the island with my Mom and pick up the over ripe figs which have already fallen – gosh, why waste all this goodness and buy them in a supermarket instead? So don’t waste your time, go make some some Whole Wheat Fig Bars and enjoy your piece of summer in the middle of winter!

Whole Wheat Fig Bars

1 year ago How to Make Silky Cream Cheese at Home

2 years ago – Apricot Oatmeal Bar With Pistachios

3 years ago – After Apples Come the Berries

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

Whole Wheat Fig Bars adapted from www.food.com will make bars with jammy fig filling and crunchy seeds, with that very Greek summer flavour! Visit the original website for the recipe. Here are my changes and suggestions:

I used a mixture of regular white ans brow sugar, butter instead of shortening or margarine and also opted for the orange juice. The procedure is quite easy – although you will have to cook the figs first. Also I left my dough in the fridge overnight but still it was kind of sandy and wouldn’t roll out easily (well, what would you expect from just whole wheat flour!). I made bigger bars (i.e. less in number) and baked them longer including several minutes with the oven switched to the ‘only top’ mode.

Whole Wheat Fig Bars

Remarks: As the author suggests, these bars can also be made with dates and I think that’s a good idea too! I wonder if you can actually substitute it with some jam filling, instead of boiling the dry fruit.

Result: Those fig seeds and the orange zest make the bars pretty unusual in terms of flavour. The fact that these bars are 100% whole wheat is an obvious plus too, making them a little bit healthier, you know. I also liked this other ‘fashion’ of shaping the bars (i.e. precutting them), they look like those jam or nut filled treats you can still find in Russian confectionery stores.

This post goes to Sweet recipe collection.

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.

pies · sweet · sweet bread

Apples. Soon? Already!

apples

We were at the dacha yesterday, summoned up in emergency by my Granny – trying to clear up the mess a fallen apple tree did to our garden and thanks God, ONLY to the garden, no one was hurt! The poor tree got sooooo heavy with the apples that it just fell and all the apples got scattered around… Add here all the leaves and branches when we tried to ‘dismember’ the tree – we’ve started working on the tree immediately, I didn’t even take a photo of this dacha event. Oh, that’s sad, I love apple trees and, well, apples, however tart and sour they might be! The apple tree has served us right up until that day – and we left a branch of it still there, hoping the apples will ripen (some of the roots are still in the soil). It waited and struggled with the weight of the apples and then it just couldn’t stand it no more. We’re glad the final decision was taken somewhere in the night or in the early morning when no one was around! So, we worked our muscles up and collected 4 cases of unripe fruit, so do expect a lot of cooking with apples here in autumn.

apples

They say that apple trees can be harvested every other year and yes, that’s true! Remember that Magic Apple Orchard photos back in May? Well, the ‘prophecy’ proved right – we’re having a very similar situation to what turned into an all-apple-diet back in 2012! A recap of several recipes I made with apples that year can be found in this post from September 2012 – Apples and Chocolate. I guess what awaits us this year is the same destiny: trying to use up the abundant apple harvest from the day the start falling from the trees (or WITH the threes…) all through November!

apples

Oh, the fragrance of the simplest freshly baked apple cake! Here is a digest of some successful apple recipes I’ve tried so far using these tart little apples from our dacha:

  • Paper Bag Apple Pie from www.kingarthurflour.com – a huge pie with very sweet and super-soft apple filling (lots of brown sugar to which I added some wheat bran =) in a tasty pastry – as usual with King Arthur Flour recipes! (I made it without shortening). I didn’t bake the pie in a paper bag though, just used the parchment paper wrapped around the pan (didn’t even have to staple it!).
  • Apple-and-Fig Cake (Maltese) from www.sbs.com.au – a recipe of a nice Maltese apple pie that you can even listen to (SBS is an Australian radio!). I used apple juice instead of lemon and added sugar, because, well, our dacha fruits are usually not that much dotted with natural sweetness but sourness instead…
  • Apple Pie Bread from www.bhg.com – a good cake with apples (no need to peel them!) and nuts. I didn’t add raisins and I used hazelnuts instead of walnuts plus for the Streusel topping I used half of the recipe from this cake:
  • Apple Crumb Coffee Cake from www.cakeduchess.com – I got this recipe wrong and mixed the apples (they were supposed to be sautéd but I just microwaved them using the tip from King Arthur) with the batter, so the cake was a bit too wet. I had to increase the baking time of course. But at the same time the cake was … something different for a change : ) Again I didn’t peel the apples, used honey instead of lemon juice (too much acid already in those apples!), buttermilk instead of apple cider vinegar.
  • MOELLEUX aux POMMES et SUCRE de CANNE COMPLET  from fleur2t.canalblog.com really soft and really moist – just as the name suggests! (moelleux in French is soft, tender, moist and in culinary world is usually used for the molten chocolate cakes). I used plain flour + some flaxmeal, added a bit of ginger and… my cake was made without brown sugar but with regular sugar and still it was really nice!
  • Torta di mele from danilapode.wordpress.com – a very easy recipe resulting in a fragrant cake. I used buttermilk instead of milk and oil instead of butter.

I’m currently collecting more apple recipes as we’re having a surplus of the dacha apples already now. All the apple recipes on this blog can be found here.

apples

An apple tree dweller:

apples

By the way, yesterday was also the first day to really break the heat wave we were having here – clouds, a bit of rain and lower temperatures in general. Today it’s been raining all morning. Seems like August is taking its place!

G.

sweet · sweet bread

Makowiec or Poppy Seed Roll for Easter

I’ve just come back from a trip to several regions of France, which was a real escape from the thoughts and facts that I am to face right now. Will make a separate post for sure, got lots of photos and interesting details. And brought some food along too =) Oh, this gourmet country! Will miss the numerous boulangeries, patisseries and restaurants!

This post is from the end of April actually. Since I’ve got the permission of the recipe’s author to publish the English translation on my blog, here it is – a bit late, but better late than never, you know! After all, it’s been SNOWING here in St Petersburg while I was burning in the unexpectedly hot sun f the French Riviera (or Provence – Cote d’Azur). As I was leaving for my trip to France, I wanted this post to appear before the May holidays. I just guessed that when I come back I will already witness the nature in its luscious green blooming state (which I experienced 100% in Provence) and thus miss some stages of the spring process… But I was wrong, as today the trees here in St Pete are just starting to get dressed in light green colours. So let’s get back to Easter and start the spring thing all over again =)

Easter for most of us in Russia is the celebration of spring. In one of my previous posts you could get to know how we usually dye eggs for Easter in my family and in this post I will share with you another of our Easter favourites – poppy seed roll.

Makowiec from beufalamode.blogspot.it

This is not the recipe my mother would use though, as I’ve used another one found on the net. There’s no evident tradition in Russia to eat poppy seed rolls for Easter but in my family that was the most delicious treat you would expect to see at the Easter table. Also I remember that poppy seeds would miraculously disappear from the food shops around Easter times, so there were always some stored in the pantry.

Makowiec from beufalamode.blogspot.it

So, for those of you fans of poppy seeds and – consequently – who are eager to spend some time on this roll, here is the recipe translated from Italian. Originally this recipe was adapted from a Hungarian recipe of a Polish dish =) Well, a truly international cuisine is going on here.

Makowiec from beufalamode.blogspot.it

A year agoExperimenting with Sourdough Bread

Two years ago Sour Rye Bread to Make Your Life Sweeter followed by Peach Cheese Cake for Victory Day

Makowiec translated and adapted from beufalamode.blogspot.it will make a crunchy poppy seed roll with lots to chew on. ATTENTION: Requires time, you will have to make some preparations in advance (at least 8 hours). My remarks are in italics. Grazie, Cristina!

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 80 ml lukewarm milk
  • 1 g instant yeast
  • 35 g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • vanilla
  • lemon zest
  • pinch of salt
  • 210 g flour (the Italian source says it should be the ‘oo’ type)
  • 60 g of butter (I used sunflower oil instead)

For the filling:

  • 125 g poppy seeds (I added more)
  • 125 ml water (I added more accordingly)
  • 125 ml milk
  • 15 g sugar
  • 50 g almonds
  • 50 g raisins
  • orange zest
  • 1 egg white (I used a whole egg)
  • 35 g honey
  • 2 Tbs breadcrumbs (I did not use these)

For the sugar glaze: (I did not make it, just sprinkled some sugar…)

  • 60 g powdered sugar
  • 7 g of egg whites
  • 7 ml lemon juice

Procedure:

Place poppy seeds in a pan and cover with water. Bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave for about 8 hours (I increased the time).

Next, add milk and cook on low heat till the liquid is completely absorbed (this took some time indeed! At first I thought this milk will never disappear but in the end it was fully absorbed). Let cool a bit.

Meanwhile make the dough. Dissolve yeast and a pinch of sugar in lukewarm milk.

Beat the egg with sugar till foamy. Add dissolved yeast, salt, vanilla, lemon zest and mix well. Gradually add the flour. Knead until the dough is no longer sticky, then add the butter cut into pieces (I substituted with oil) and knead some more. Leave to rise in a greased bowl, covered, in the fridge overnight (I increased the time).

Makowiec from beufalamode.blogspot.it

Prepare the filling: Add almonds (apparently crushed), sugar, raisins, orange zest and honey to the poppy seeds. The author says that she has placed the mixture in the freezer for about half an hour and then processed finely at turbo speed. I did the same but my blender just would not process such a mixture finely, so the seeds remained almost intact. Add breadcrumbs (which I did not) to get a dense and spreadable mixture. Leave in the fridge until needed.

Once the dough has rested, roll it out on a floured board, spread the poppy seed mixture on top and roll it into a cylinder. Place it on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Leave covered for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180 °C.

Brush the roll with beaten egg (I used whole egg + some coarse sugar) and bake for 30-35 minutes. Let cool.

The author suggests that the roll is best the day after baking – especially if you glaze it with egg white beaten with powdered sugar and lemon juice – but I skipped the glaze.

Makowiec from beufalamode.blogspot.it

Remarks: This recipe needs time and so I had to adjust the procedure to my possibilities. As both the seeds and the dough require an approximately overnight rest, I prepared them both at the same time.

With the egg wash (glaze) the top of the roll quickly becomes really brown so be careful and watch it ; ) Just not to ruin the entire poppy seed experiment!

Makowiec from beufalamode.blogspot.it

Result: Though quite elaborate and time consuming, this is a very tasty recipe, perfect to enrich your repertoire : ) I would not claim that this is a convenient recipe – with all the required preparation and resting time and overnight rest, etc etc – but once a year, well, why not? I usually prefer non-leavened sweet treats for our family but this roll does not really taste like a leavened thing, it is quite balanced in terms of dough / filling, rather on the dry side I would say. The filling is rich and nutritious – although it’s all mixed together and blended, I gather this poppy seed thing is quite a challenge for your belly .)

Makowiec from beufalamode.blogspot.it

It’s Victory Day here in Russia today, will watch the traditional throwing-loads-of-money-into-the-air fireworks later tonight : )

G.

pies · sweet

Apricot Oatmeal Bar With Pistachios

Apricot Oatmeal Bar With Pistachios from kokken69.blogspot.com

I’m procrastinating with the promised spinach pies from the Balkans… Meanwhile, the days growing longer cannot make me happier! This weekend I even made some blini (Russian pancakes), a very easy recipe without yeast or sourdough, even such an I’d-rather-bake-it-than-fry-it person like me can manage nice sunny blini. You know, we bake blini here to welcome spring and say goodbye to winter. And it’s exactly what I did.

A weekend earlier I made this delicate dessert for the winter tea time. By delicate I mean it needs to be handled with care once it’s baked as all the topping crumbles will make everything to fall off the bars 😉

Apricot Oatmeal Bar With Pistachios from kokken69.blogspot.com

Although these bars will require some time (because of the filling that you have to cook and process first), I really enjoyed the process  (and eating the pistachios), and the colours of the ingredients are somewhat really stylish =) So here’s a shot of the bars yet unbaked and not covered with that naughty crumbled topping:

Apricot Oatmeal Bar With Pistachios from kokken69.blogspot.com

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

1 year ago – After Apples Come the Berries

Apricot Oatmeal Bar With Pistachios adapted from atkokken.com will make a very Mediterranean sweet treat. Follow the link to see the original recipe! (while this recipe was waiting for its turn in my ‘Bars’ recipe collection, the author has changed the website address : )

Changes in the ingredients:

No lemon juice.  Added cardamom & nutmeg (good!) and omitted freshly ground pepper. That’s it!

About the procedure: be ready to have extra things to wash after making this dish – your blender…

Apricot Oatmeal Bar With Pistachios from kokken69.blogspot.com

Result: Revived dried apricots conserving all the sun’s energy plus the crunchy slightly salted pistachios = a great combination! The oats are not that … oaty in these bars, they do somehow get amalgamated with the flour, butter and sugar. Eat the ever-falling crumble replacing (trying to!) it back on top of the bars or… reuse it in some fruit crumble =)

Apricot Oatmeal Bar With Pistachios from kokken69.blogspot.com

Love this close-up : ) Ah, those pistachios from Aegina island, Greece!

Apricot Oatmeal Bar With Pistachios from kokken69.blogspot.com

Just found out that I’m not going to Bulgaria in April. Well, this just leaves more days for a certain country starting with…

G. ! =)

Happy B-day to my Grandpa!

Greek recipe · sweet

Coffee Cheesecake and Cinnamon Cake from Asia Minor

Nistisimi mikroasiatiki kanelopita

It’s really hot here in St Petersburg and you realize it only when you leave office and face the unexpectedly stifling thick hot air outside. The thing is we have rather high level of humidity here and every extreme of the weather is a true challenge for us. Actually I thought these extremes of bitter biting cold followed by stuffy sticky hot weather are an example of our quite extreme lifestyle here in St Pete (and Russia), there’s hardly ever any ‘golden middle’. For the latter Russians escape / move / travel abroad. To experience the former foreigners come to Russia. Interesting, eh?

Ah yes, here is the first poll on this blog, scroll down to submit your answer to my question (not connected to food: ).

Meanwhile, here are some sugary treats I’ve tried recently. As my copywriting job already comes to its end, there’s a chance my ‘queue’ of perspective posts are going to be finally published. Let’s begin with something sweet then, not much interconnected if not by the chocolate as one of the ingredients. For more chocolate recipes, see this or this post, or better both and the chocolate category of the Sweet Recipes page.

Nistisimi mikroasiatiki kanelopita

Cannot let Greek recipes pass by unnoticed, so here is one. Moreover, I like those Greek cakes that are moist without any syrup and they usually contain orange juice and zest for extra flavour. AND this cake – not like other super-Greek cake like this one for example – doesn’t contain even a single egg, surprise-surprise! Maybe because it’s originally from Asia Minor, the part of the continent where the Greeks traditionally settled and lived… until they got expulsed and moved (fled) massively to Thessaloniki and other Greek cities (have you seen Rembetika movie?). I’ve talked about Thessaloniki and its characteristic mix of nations here.

Nistisimi mikroasiatiki kanelopita

A year ago – various pies like Patatopita, Hortopita and… Kolokithotiropita! and several Sour Cream Bread(s)

Lenten Cinnamon Cake from Asia Minor (Νηστίσιμη Μικρασιάτικη Κανελόπιτα, Nistisimi Mikroasiatiki Kanelopita) translated and adapted from eri-captaincook.blogspot.com with the permision of Eri – will make a moist (most) flavourful cake. My remarks are in italics.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oil, either light olive oil or seed oil – I used sunflower oil + that very apple puree which we still cannot finish
  • 1 cup of sugar – I used less
  • 1 1/2 cups orange juicemine was store-bought, left from my sis’s wedding : )
  • zest from 1 orange – I roughly zested 1 small orange
  • 2 cups all purpose flour or half plain flour half whole wheat flour – I chose the latter option + added wheat bran
  • 2 tsp baking powder, leveled
  • 1 tsp baking soda, leveled
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg, leveled
  • 1/2 cup raisins – I left them out (I should probably make a poll – who likes raisins and baba au rum?!)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped – I used hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips – I used a bar of milk chocolate with marzipan filling
  • powdered sugar and ground cinnamon to decorate the cake

Directions:

In a bowl place flour, soda, powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mix well.

Preheat the oven to 180 ‘C.

In another bowl place raisins, nuts, chocolate bits and 1 Tbs of flour. Mix.

In the mixer bowl pour oil and sugar, and beat well at medium speed. Add zest and juice. Bit-by-bit add the flour mixture and finally the choco-nut-etc mixture.

Grease and flour a 24 cm cake pan and pour the mixture inside, leveling the top with a spoon. Bake for 45-50 minutes (I had to bake it longer) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (I think I know this phrase about toothpick by heart!). Leave the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the tin and then invert it to cool down 100%. Decorate the cake with powdered sugar and ground cinnamon.

Nistisimi mikroasiatiki kanelopita

The sweet cherries have nothing to do with the cake, they just looked kinda cute : )

The author of the recipe, Eri, made a beautiful heart right in the middle of the top of the cake by first sifting sugar over the cake then placing a paper heart in the middle and sifting cinnamon over the rest of the surface. She also suggests placing a pan filled with water into the oven next to the cake or on the rack underneath it, in order to make the cake’s crust thinner and … crustier 🙂 I didn’t do that but tell me if you tried!

IMG_0757

Funny, those cherries look like aliens ; )

Result: A really moist cake with a distinct orange flavour and crunchy hazelnuts. If you fancy a honey (rustic) cake-like treat, that’s it. The procedure although requiring several stages is actually easy.

***

Brownie Latte Cheesecake

Brownie Latte Cheesecake adapted from marzipanmom.blogspot.com – will make a mixed cheesecake with a fudgy sugary base and a soft cheese layer. Go to the original blog for the recipe, here are just my remarks:

For the Brownie Base I used some plain chocolate + a bar of chocolate with nuts, about 110 g in total, and less salt. Instead of instant espresso powder I added some ground coffee.
For the Latte Cheesecake Filling I used 5% tvorog (cottage cheese) and less in amount; less sugar; ground coffee instead of instant espresso powder, which I passed through a sieve to eliminate large granules. As our cottage cheese usually blends into almost a liquid state (especially with FOUR eggs), I omitted Kahlua which anyway I have not + for the same reason I added some semolina along with potato starch (instead of cornstarch) – and that’s why the top of the cake got quite … cake-like rather than cheesecake-like. I did not decorate the cheesecake with any of the suggested add-ups, I just left it as is. That’s it!

I don’t have much photos of the cheesecake and those which I managed to do aren’t that nice but at least you can see the distinct coffee and cheese layers:

Brownie Latte Cheesecake

The procedure is not that easy-peasy I should warn you as first you should make the brownie base and there’s a water bath involved two times! in the recipe… But it’s worth it. Sometimes when I have additional free time I just cannot keep myself from doing something time-consuming and more complicated than a simple cake or muffins. And here’s a good… exercise! ; )

Brownie Latte Cheesecake

On this photo the top layer really looks more like a cake rather than a cheesecake.

Result: I did not get a giant cheesecake as was pictured on the original blog, but I’m sure it was quite a hit here in my family. The base is really sweet and coffee-flavoured, rather a fudge than a brownie I would say. Also, as our local cottage cheese (tvorog) has rather distinct curd granules, all the cheesecakes I make with it get this particular texture (and flavour) of a ‘tvorozhnaya zapekanka‘ (a cottage cheese bake). If you choose a finer cottage cheese, you’ll definitely get a true cheesecake layer.

***

And as promised, my first poll, with a quite existential(ist) question… It came to me εξ ουρανού this morning on the way to work.

The question is (to be or not to be…):

Wooo, I’ll vote first. Khm, I think I’m going through a 100th minor (micro) personal crisis and still cannot figure out… the way out of it. Well, I can advice myself not to think too much and too seriously, χα-λα-ρά!

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.

bread · sourdough · traditional Russian recipe

Rye Malt Bread, Two Versions

Black Bread with White Seeds

After my French and Italian posts I figure out it’s high time I posted something on Russia. And particularly Russian bread, after all I have this kilo of fragrant rye malt which I brought from Kirov! I’ve searched for the black bread recipes using rye malt in Russian language this time and selected some of them. I even found a recipe of the Italian sourdough bread with rye malt, I wonder if they really use it there. I will share with you two recipes, one is leavened bread and the other requires sourdough culture (I now have separate pages for the yeast and sourdough bread recipes). But before that, here’s a photo (followed by inevitable reflexions…) from our Grandpa’s birthday, the table is usually so… usual with slight variations, that I felt as if I travelled back in time.

birthday table

{on the plate with store-bought gateaux there’s a piece of Cinnamon-Streusel Coffeecake from the ever-trusty www.kingarthurflour.com}

With all the respect to my grandparents, they do live in the Soviet past and always seem to be failing in adjusting their ways to what they see on the TV and around them (ahhr, this mighty TV!). As long as I remember myself, there were these talks initiated by my Grandpa over destroying the entire country (USSR) and leading it to a complete mess. There’s always this looking back, the regret (or better offense, almost a personal offense if we talk about my Grandpa) of the whole thing coming to the end. My grandparents live in this sort of a secluded world, they have their TV to tell them about some stupid news they believe and they have their short walks to get their bread (they have only recently discovered that in a huge supermarket you can get so many kinds of cheese and they all have names for them…) and this is it. Their perception of what’s going on comes from TV mostly and they do believe it, honestly (why do you say this or that, we sometimes ask them, and they answer, well, that’s what they say on TV!). And they have their old ways which sometimes drive me crazy, not because they’re so old-fashioned because in many ways I’m old-fashioned too, but because they’re so groundlessly… self-deprecating and even miserable.

This photo has triggered some reflexions in my mind. I am not sure whether this is a true tradition, these caviar-on-bread and champagne and cheese+sausage… or just doing the same thing almost without any changes. But then what IS a tradition? It just seems to me that the contemporary Russia has not yet developed any traditions, everything we’ve got either comes directly from the past or is a derivation of the past habit. Well, there are surely new trends etc etc but then they are mostly taken from other countries and we’re so proud we’re marching alongside the rest of the oh-so-developed world. This why it’s so hard to find a very good traditional restaurant in St Petersburg (I cannot account for Moscow), they’re mostly a disappointing tourist trap, but some of the better places have appeared which is a good sign.

When we were travelling in our car round the ‘nearest’ history-loaded Russian towns, I frequently had this feeling, yes-yes, here were are in Russia at last, there’s something here that speaks to my soul, to my roots. But I could not seize this something, it was the atmosphere, the nature, the details. And all those children we were interviewing in St Pete and in other cities, they all throw in this ‘I will tell the Americans about our traditions’ phrase. We sometimes asked them to be more precise and they gave us all those cliché. But, really, in my ordinary life I can hardly tell you what Russian traditions there are still, cause so many of them disappeared due to all sorts of reasons (USSR being one of them), plus what was left after destroying so much of the Russian traditions in order to build a better country got all so much mingled with the new Soviet quasi-traditions (I mean, they are a bit too young to call them traditions perhaps?) that now there’s not just a mess, there’s… a gap and we’re busy filling it up with some unified-standardized-globalized ways. We were so eager to renounce our old ways, embracing everything which was coming from the outside and would help us be cool and modern and new. And here I should better stop and turn to one of the culinary traditions which is perpetuated from the indeed old days, that is eating (if not baking yourself) black (rye) bread, something like Borodinsky or Darnitsky.

Black Bread with White Seeds

No sourdough needed for the first bread! And all those raisins and pie nuts are my addition, so you can obviously leave them out (and also be more careful when baking than I was, which resulted in this OVER browned crust : ). The recipe is from a site dedicated to everything about the bread machines and as I have none but liked the recipe… I just adapted it to my needs.

Black Bread with White Seeds

Here’s the recipe of Black Bread with White Seeds (Cherny khleb s belimy semechkami), translated and adapted from www.vse-hlebopechki.ru which will make a soft chewy brown bread

Ingredients:

  • 2 glasses of wheat flour (Russian glasses are bigger than cups, about 130g of flour each)
  • 1 glass of rye flour
  • 1/2 glass of white seeds – and here I opted for pine nuts + raisins (they’re not seeds, I know : )
  • 2 tsp dried yeast – I used instant
  • 1 glass water (that is 200g)
  • 4 Tbs of bran – I used dark rye bran
  • 3 Tbs of rye malt
  • 70g of boiling water
  • 2 Tbs of vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbs of sugar
  • 1 tsp of salt

Method:

First, make a zavarka – pour boiling water over the rye malt (ohhh, the aroma is so… ryeish!) and leave it aside, so that it cools down a bit. Mix the wheat and rye flours with the yeast, bran, sugar and salt. Add water, oil and the malt mixture. Knead the dough and leave it for two hours in a warm place (I left it for a longer time).

Knead the dough once more, roll it out and scatter the seeds over it (here I added the raisins, just because rye bread and raisins are inseparable it seems):

dough, pinenuts and raisins

Knead the dough again. Shape it into a loaf (I made a sort of boule; there’s no mentioning of the second rise once the bread is shaped but while the oven was preheating, my bread got its second rise; I also slashed the top). The recipe says to bake it in the bread machine but here’s what I did – I preheated the oven to 200-220 ‘C and baked the loaf without any tin/pan for about 40 minutes, and I suggest covering it with foil after 20 minutes of baking (in Russian such bread is called podovy cause it’s baked right on the bottom of the Russian pechka, furnace, and the opposite is formovoy khleb, the one baked in a pan / tin etc.).

Black Bread with White Seeds

Result: The bread keeps well and stays soft long but be careful – if you add raisins like I did, the combination with yeast might be dangerous as the bread will become too soft and rubbery (where the crumb surrounds the raisins) if you keep it TOO long.

Black Bread with White Seeds

And talking about the crumb – it was wonderful. The pine nuts give a particular flavour to the bread, the raisins add sweetness (although I do not like them, to my taste they’re better than caraway seeds which are also associated with black bread here in Russia). And if there’s this crazy winter sun finally, you seem to make more photos than usual (there’s none now that I’m typing this, just this blueish white snow day).

Black Bread with White Seeds

And here is the second recipe, with rye sourdough culture this time. Compare the crumb and the crust of these two breads, this other one is more… Russian, I suppose:

Sourdough Rye Bread with Malt

Sourdough Whole Rye Bread with Malt (Rzhanoy khleb na rzhanoy zakvaske i obdirnoy rzhanoy muke) translated and adapted from forum.say7.info will make a loaf of dense fragrant bread

Ingredients:

For the opara (sponge)

  • 2 glasses of obdirnaya rye flour – which means the flour should contain bran. I used 300g rye flour + dark rye bran
  • 300g of rye sourdough
  • 300ml warm water – the amount depends on flour

For the dough

  • all of the 0para
  • 2 Tbs rye malt
  • 1 tsp ground coriander  – another typical spice for the rye bread in Russia, mostly associated with the Borodinsky bread
  • 1 tsp ground caraway seeds
  • 1 Tbs liquid honey
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs olive or sunflower oil – I usually use both
  • 1 to 1,5 glasses of wheat flour – according to the dough consistency

Method:

The fermentation of the opara – an essential element of the traditional bread baking process – will take 3 to 4 hours, so you’ll have enough time to go shopping or do whatever you need. Meanwhile you should also make the zavarka – pour 50ml boiling water over the rye malt and leave it to cool down.

Mix the ingredients for the dough, knead, shape your loaf – I chose a more common brick shape using a glass loaf pan:

Sourdough Rye Bread with Malt

…and leave it for rasstoyka (rising) for 1 to 1,5 hours. Bake in a preheated to 180 ‘C oven for about 1 hour 10 minutes (I had cover the bread with foil for the last 20 minutes of baking). Leave the loaf to cool completely before slicing.

While baking, the loaf cracked on the side creating this sort of an eave. The crust is superb, it makes a crunchy noise when cut.

Sourdough Rye Bread with Malt

There was no winter sun the day I baked it, but still I made quite a lot of photos, maybe because this loaf turned out a very close imitation of my favourite Russian black bread, this regular dark brown brick with a hard crust and soft dense moist crumb. So, such was the result!

Sourdough Rye Bread with Malt

There’s still a whole line of recipes waiting their turn to be published (there’ll be more of the Italian and French stuff for sure). I also decided to digitalize my recipes from 2009 which I used to print back then (surely I deleted the documents from my old laptop and emptied the bin! ; ) Now that I’m searching on the web for those which were successful, I cannot find almost half of them, ’cause either the sites / blogs do not exist anymore or the recipes are already altered, – and merely several years have passed!

Sourdough Rye Bread with Malt

Now that I’m finishing this post, the snow is melting frantically, making walking almost impossible without getting all soaking wet. I’ve noticed that the street running along the river has been painted (colourful feathers, a salamander, a bottle?) and with the puddles and the melting snow dripping from the trees, there’s an interesting effect being created. Listening to Greek radio and waiting for the spring to come and bring change.

G.