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!


  • 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


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.



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 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.


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 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.


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

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

A year ago – Sablé aux figues or Fig Jam Shortbread

Two years ago – Pommes. Pommes de Terre too

Panforte adapted from 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

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

Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies adapted from 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

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

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


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

Swirl Coffee Bread from

Danish Chocolate Swirl Coffee Bread adapted from 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

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

But I do like how they look on the inside:

Swirl Coffee Bread from

Apple harvesting tomorrow. Big deal!


pies · sweet · sweet bread

Apples. Soon? Already!


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.


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!


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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 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 – 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.


An apple tree dweller:


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!


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

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

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

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 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!


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


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

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

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

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

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


pies · sweet

Apricot Oatmeal Bar With Pistachios

Apricot Oatmeal Bar With Pistachios from

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

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

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 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

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

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

Apricot Oatmeal Bar With Pistachios from

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!