Family recipe · sourdough

Spelt Sourdough Baguettes

Spelt Sourdough Baguettes

Last weekend I experimented with spelt flour which I had never used before in baking. I drew upon my basic sourdough recipe which I use most of the weekends when baking black bread for my family. I also use it for baking so-called white bread as well. So you can almost call it a family recipe now.

Spelt Sourdough Baguettes

I cannot say that the whole-grain spelt flour added in rather small amounts in relation to the bulk of all purpose flour brought in some specific flavour. Also, there was my sourdough culture which is rye.

Spelt Sourdough Baguettes

So in the end,  the baguettes had quite a dense crumb with a general whole-grainy look and flavour. But that flavour they had for sure!

Spelt Sourdough Baguettes

1 year ago – Spring in St Petersburg. The Beginning
2 years ago – Stirato or Italian Baguettes
3 years ago – 2,800 km of Russia Seen from Above
4 years ago – What a Peach! Sunny Cake and a Zesty Cranberry Cake
5 years ago – Pane al Cioccolato… Senza Cioccolato

Spelt Sourdough Baguettes adapted from basic sourdough bread recipe originally adapted from Darnitsky bread recipe

Ingredients:

For the starter:

  • 1 Tb rye sourdough starter from the fridge
  • 100 g water
  • 100 g rye flour

For the bread:

  • 200-220 g of water
  • 150 g spelt flour
  • 200 g all purpose flour, more if needed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pumpkin seeds

Procedure:

Take a tablespoon of sourdough starter from the fridge and mix it with 100 g of water and 100 of rye flour, then leave it overnight.

In the morning when your starter has puffed up, add 200-220 g of water, 150 g spelt flour and 200 g all purpose flour, salt and pumpkin seeds. You should get quite thick though sticky dough so keep adding all purpose flour as needed. You should be able to fold the dough. Leave it covered for more than one hour, making at least one fold in between (if it’s too sticky, use either more flour or water your hands). Now you can either flour a glass bowl or a proofing basket, shape the bread into a round loaf, flour it and place it in the bowl, cover and leave to rise for an hour. Alternatively, you can make baguettes by dividing the dough in two and then folding and rolling each part to create 2 baguettes, place them on paper / baking mat, then cover and leave the shaped dough to rise for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 225 ‘C with a pan / tray on the bottom to create steam and a reversed tray in the middle (as a sort of baking stone). Reverse the loaf onto a baking mat / paper, make several slashes and slide it onto the hot tray / slash the baguettes diagonally and slide them onto the reversed tray together with the paper. Pour some water into the pan on the bottom to create steam. I usually do not change the temperature but if I see that the loaf is browning too much, I might decrease the temperature or move it to a lower rack. The baking takes from 30-35 minutes for the baguettes to 45-50 for a loaf.

Remarks: I tried hard to shape these baguettes, working the dough quite a lot by folding and rolling and re-rolling, and they puffed up nicely in the oven, also growing quite chewy crust.

Result: Flavourful and chewy. You might not tell at once that they are made with spelt flour but these baguettes are perfect for breakfast. Pumpkin seeds are good too!

Spelt Sourdough Baguettes

Here pictured with the precious Piave cheese from Italy’s Veneto region:

Spelt Sourdough Baguettes

It was a pretty Sunday morning and I took a lot of photos of the baguettes. I also spotted this thingy here which is a projector for silent cinema reels we have of me and my sister. My Mother is being busy converting the films into megabytes of me and my sister doing the pretty mundane things – without a sound 🙂 Yes, sometimes I do feel I was born way earlier than what my passport claims!

Spelt Sourdough Baguettes

Adding this post to my Sourdough Bread collection.

G.

St Petersburg · sweet · traditional Russian recipe

Bird Cherry Birthday Cake

Bird Cherry Cake

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

Bird Cherry Cake

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

Bird Cherry Cake

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

Bird Cherry Cake

1 year ago – Peanut Butter Post

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

3 years ago – Two Spinach Pies and Spinach…Rice

4 years ago – Polenta, Sempre Polenta and Broccoli

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

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

Ingredients:

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

Procedure:

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

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

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

Bird Cherry Cake

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

Bird Cherry Cake

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

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

Snowy Saturday

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

Snowy Saturday

We are quite far away from May now…

Snowy Saturday

Woke up today to seeing this outside our windows:

Snowy Saturday

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

Snowy Saturday

This post goes to the Russian and Sweet recipe collections.

G.

bread · sourdough

Improvising with Sourdough Bread or Being Lazy?

Improvising with Sourdough Bread

I’ve grown lazy enough these days to start baking without a recipe. This concerns both bread and sweet things. Not all of my free-baking experiments are successful but I guess I get some extra pleasure from those which do happen to be successful. And there’s always this risky feeling of experimenting which I do enjoy!

Improvising with Sourdough Bread

So what I do is feed my rye sourdough culture with rye flour + water and then after an overnight rest I divide it and use the larger amount for the rye bread and a smaller for white bread. Sometimes if I just need some white bread, I feed the culture with white flour.

Improvising with Sourdough Bread

Thanks to the now mature sourdough culture (been using it since 2011) I usually do no add any yeast, but this time I wanted a more ‘fluffy’ result with my white bread, so I added a bit of instant yeast to the dough. I also tend to overload my bread with seeds and bran, so sometimes it all results in quite a dense and moist crumb, just like this time when I also added rye malt:

Improvising with Sourdough Bread

Oh, breaking this just-out-of-the-oven bread is so very tantalizing!

Improvising with Sourdough Bread

Of course the rye version which I make with rye flour + all-purpose / whole-wheat flour does not rise as much in the oven – although it does rise a lot before baking, as this rye flour is so very reactive!

Improvising with Sourdough Bread

If you’re looking for a perfect sourdough bread recipe, it doesn’t exist. I mean, you should probably just figure it our for yourself. I ‘created’ mine out of Darnitsky bread recipe which I’ve been using for quite a long time already.

Improvising with Sourdough Bread

For me, the best formula is to take several tablespoons of sourdough culture from the fridge, feed it with about 200 g of water and 200 of rye flour, then leave it overnight. At this point you can either split it for two breads or make one large loaf. Then I add about 200 g of water, 200 g or more of rye flour, more or less the same amount of white flour, salt, various extras like wheat, oat or rye bran, coriander, sunflower, pumpkin or flax seeds, oatmeal, rye malt, sometimes honey etc. I try to achieve a sort of thickish dough so that it will keep the shape, if it’s going to be rye bread it will be sticky but you should be able to fold it and almost knead it. I then leave it covered for more than an hour, sometimes I make several folds and leave it for some more time to rest (rise). I then flour a glass bowl, shape the bread into a round loaf, flour it and place it in the bowl. Alternatively, I make rolls if I see that the dough (usually with more white flour than rye) is quite easy to shape. I leave it to rise for yet another hour covered and preheat the oven to 225 ‘C with a pan on the bottom (for steam) and a reversed tray in the middle (it acts as a baking stone for me). I then reverse the loaf onto a baking mat / paper, make several slashes and slide it onto the hot tray. I pour some water into the pan on the bottom to create steam (not much so that it evaporates and I don’t need to take the pan out during the baking). I usually do not change the temperature but if I see that the loaf is browning too much, I might decrease the temperature or move it to a lower rack. The baking takes from 25-30 minutes (for the rolls) to 45-50 for the loaf.

Improvising with Sourdough Bread

This might not sound as a very precise formula but then this is what I call experimenting with the sourdough! You never know even with a perfect recipe whether your bread will come out right or not, because this living thing called sourdough culture can have its moods 🙂

Improvising with Sourdough Bread

What’s your personal sourdough bread formula?

Adding this post to Sourdough bread collection.

G.

St Petersburg · sweet

Chestnut Coffee Cake and St Petersburg in February

St Petersburg in February

It’s March already and yet St Petersburg is treating us with a harsh winter comeback. As if the nature has just realized that it slept over all those days in December when it was warm and decided to have its revenge. We all hope for the best though!

St Petersburg in February

I took these photos while walking along the super windy Neva embankment back in the beginning of February. I don’t normally walk much around the city during the day so I grabbed at the chance to see the frozen river…

St Petersburg in February

…and the canals on the way there and back.

St Petersburg in February

The Hermitage and the space around it is usually so crowded with people that you just don’t get a single moment when there’s nobody there. However on that day there was just one group of tourists and I could take these rare-moments photos.

St Petersburg in February

I won’t tell you about the bureaucracy of the Hermitage and how very Soviet it looks from behind, when you have to deal with the back-office and not the touristy parts. It’s pretty much the same in all the state institutions which the contemporary Russia inherited from the USSR. People’s names and generations may as well change but the ways do not, they seem to be perpetrated with an impressive stubbornness.

St Petersburg in February

When walking back I passed this favourite spot of mine – the Prachechny bridge and the Summer Garden. Just a week ago it was closed because of all the water that flooded the park but now it’s more like Winter garden all over again!

St Petersburg in February

On the other day I was making my usual speedwalking to the place where I work and took these snowy pictures of the Inzhenerny (aka Mikhailovsky) Castle built for the emperor Pavel. By the way, I finally went there and saw it from the inside…

St Petersburg in February

…and it was boring! It’s a pity that with all those renovated halls and decorated ceilings they couldn’t make something authentic out of it – and I guess people just forget that they are in a castle (although a fake one) and treat it as an exhibition. It’s now a part of the Russian Museum and hosts a collection of portraits (which I find very boring) and a several temporary expos.

St Petersburg in February

However, the second part of my visit was way more interesting – a lecture about pop-art and popular culture at the Lectorium of the museum. The speaker was a very knowledgeable and truly hilarious man who actually translated both Lennon’s books into Russian back in the 1990s. And if you’re familiar with the texts and the playing around with words that Lennon was so fond of, you will understand what a challenge that translation (or rather re-construction?) that was! So now I got my copy of Lennon’s book signed: “In the absence of the author – signed by the translator” 🙂

St Petersburg in February

And now some food – which this time was quite experimental as first I had to roast the chestnuts and some of them burst in the oven 🙂 and then they wouldn’t cook through and wouldn’t peel either… I have tried chestnuts in jams but not baked so this time it was also a tasting experiment. And yes, for some reason I found chestnuts sold at one of the cheapest supermarkets in February and not in autumn when they are in season in our part of the world…

Chestnut Coffee Cake

1 year ago – Italian Sourdough Bread with Potatoes and Herbs

2 years ago – Sunflower Seed Rye Sourdough or We Need Sun Here

3 years ago – Thessaloniki

4 years ago – Mangoes and Rye to Welcome Spring

Chestnut Coffee Cake adapted from bonappetit.com will make a rather curious cake with a chewy chestnut and chocolate filling and a sugary topping. Visit the original website to get the entire recipe.

What I’ve changed: As I had no almond flour or meal I actually used some weird Korean tea made from almond + pumpkin seed + walnut meal. And for the chestnut filling, o-ho-ho, I had to roast the chestnuts I bought and then clean the oven because even though we cut a cross into their surface they just decided to burst out 🙂 As for the cake itself, I used strawberry yogurt instead of sour cream. I didn’t lined my pan with paper and yet the cake – which by the way rose nicely but then fell down – was easy to take out.

Chestnut Coffee Cake

Remarks: I would suggest using already roasted chestnuts – unless you’re a super chestnut-roasting professional, of course 🙂 Otherwise, the chestnuts might not cook through properly and your cake – just as mine was – will be a bit weird with quite chewy chestnut bits which added something, well, weird to the taste and the texture. I would also suggest covering the top with aluminum foil while baking as it got burnt in places and didn’t look as pretty as I would like it to.

Chestnut Coffee Cake

Result: Weird 🙂 But that was an experiment! The cocoa in the filling made it taste almost chocolately although there was no chocolate added. The sugary crust (topping) is very sweet but the filling is somehow not. Overall this cake is quite crumbly and nonuniform in the taste and texture. 

Chestnut Coffee Cake

This post goes to St Petersburg series and Sweet recipe collection.

G.

sweet

Peanut Butter Post

Reese's Dark Chocolate Cake

I wanted to make a birthday cake for my Grandpa and one of the recipes recently added to my collection required peanut butter. This thing is somehow not popular in Russia (I’m no fan either), costs a lot and can be found only in a limited number of stores. So I naturally thought, why not make my own? (experiments, here we go!)

Homemade Peanut Butter

What you see here is not exactly peanut butter but something reminding me of something we call shcherbet in Russia (contrary to the classic sharbat this one is not liquid but rather thick like halva, being a mixture of cream (milk), fruits and nuts, one of those Turkish delights we love here in Russia). You see, my blender is a pretty sissy one and just wouldn’t surmount so many peanuts, poor thing! So I ended up with lots of distinctive bits of nuts instead of a proper paste. When I mixed the nuts with the rest of the ingredients and I popped it into the fridge it became even less spreadable. But it worked just fine when it was processed for the cake frosting (see further)!

Homemade Peanut Butter

1 year agoHow to Make Silky Cream Cheese at Home

2 years agoTwo Spinach Pies and Spinach…Rice

3 years agoRye Malt Bread, Two Versions

4 years ago2 Energy-Boosting Sweets to Keep Your Mind and Spirit Up

Homemade Peanut Butter adapted from www.thekitchn.com will make more than a cup of thick chunky nutty treat – with all-natural ingredients! Visit the link to get the entire recipes. My changes and remarks:

I used less salt and more nuts, almost burning them while roasting as I forgot them in the oven (hence the deep brown colour). I added sunflower oil and honey as a sweetener but did not add any extras.

When I realized my butter was a tad too thick for butter I tried adding some more oil and honey but that wouldn’t help much. You just need a sturdy blender!

Remarks: You might want to keep your friends away while you’re making this or you might run out of roasted peanuts before they make it to the blender! 🙂 The author of the recipe suggests using various kinds of nuts and considering different extras like cinnamon, for example. You can also skip the roasting part or leave some nuts only just roughly ground for a chunkier peanut butter.

Result: Super chunky and super peanutty 🙂 Of course everything will depend on the blender – you might end up with a much finer paste than what I had. After some time in the fridge my ‘butter’ was so thick I could break it into bits so I also used it for the decoration:

Reese's Dark Chocolate Cake

Ah yes, let’s turn to the cake recipe now:

Reese’s Dark Chocolate Cake adapted from www.thenovicechefblog.com will make a very soft & rich deep-dark cake with unusual peanut frosting. I doubled the recipe to have a two-layer cake. Visit the original website for the entire recipe. My changes and remarks:

I used less butter although I doubled the recipe and still got quite a lot of frosting. However, I increased the amount of peanut butter and decreased the powdered sugar. I skipped the chocolate glaze part decorating the top with bits of peanut butter instead. 

Reese's Dark Chocolate Cake

Remarks: The chocolate cake is actually so super soft that it almost fell apart when I was transferring both layers from the pan. So if you choose to make a double recipe and bake the whole bunk in one pan to later cut it in two, i wouldn’t suggest this. Also, while making the batter I was careless enough to add the egg while the mixture was quite hot which almost resulted in a poached egg 🙂 Be careful! And yes, keep the cake in the fridge!

Reese's Dark Chocolate Cake

Result: At the first bite the cake appears quite light and fluffy but then the peanut frosting sinks in and you realize that this is quite a substantial cake after all! I think that this cake was pretty uncommon in its taste thanks to the peanut flavour. And although I’m no fan of peanut butter or buttercream, I think this cake was quite a success!

Reese's Dark Chocolate Cake

These photos feature the celebrated tea set of my Granny with my favourite teaspoons made in Leningrad. The teaspoons might as well been produced in the 1980s as the design rarely changed once it was approved in the USSR, but they do look very 1960s with their black and white pattern!

Reese's Dark Chocolate Cake

The peanut frosting leftovers were used in this improvised peanut cake. Since the frosting was essentially a mixture of butter, sugar and nuts, I added some flour, baking powder, 2 eggs and milk. I had a limited amount of time, so had to use the fan option of my oven hence the weird shape of the cake:

Reese's Dark Chocolate Cake
This post goes to the Chocolate and the Sweet recipe collection.

G.

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

Taste from Childhood: Nutshells with Condensed Milk

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

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

nut molds

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

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

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

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

1 year ago – Winter Fairy Tale and Semolina Bread

2 years ago – Chocolate, Cocoa, Coffee and Cakes

3 years ago – Join the Soviet New Year Table

4 years ago – Sourdough Breads

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

Ingredients

for the dough:

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

for the filling:

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

Procedure

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

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

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

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

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

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

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

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

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

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

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

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

G.

cookies · sweet

Soft Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate

Chez moi interior design school, by Sergey Kozienko

Back in April I started baking for my sister’s friend’s interior design workshops. Natasha opened Chez moi interior design school for non-professionals following her own passion towards home design. Hers is the first school of the kind in St Petersburg. So here’s my first ‘commercial’ double batch of muffins and cookies pictured by Sergey Kozienko.

Chez moi interior design school, by Sergey Kozienko

That day the participants learnt how to lay out and decorate the table with the delicate white flowers and rough tree bark. The overall feeling is that of spring 100%! I did not attend the seminar but I was told the guests thoroughly enjoyed the dessert too! 🙂 Such a partnership makes me look at my baking from a completely different point of view! I’ve been giving baked goods as gifts, even swapping bread for other things, feeding guests at friends’ birthday parties… But not completely unknown people with the tastes and preferences I totally ignore.

Chez moi interior design school, by Sergey Kozienko

Since that very first collaboration with Natasha back in April I’ve been asked to bake again the oatmeal cookies that proved to be particularly popular. I’ve also baked them for our family. I’m sharing the recipe with you!

Soft Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate from gastronom.ru

A year ago – Petits pains sans pétrissage and Stand-By Bread

Two years ago – Greek Briam with Dannish Rye Rolls

Three years ago – Midsummer’s Black Currant Rhubarb Cake

Soft Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate (Myagkoye ovsyanoye pechenye s shokoladom) translated and adapted from gastronom.ru will make chewy not over sweet cookies. Best eaten chilled with hot tea! ATTENTION: the cookie dough requires a 4-6 hour rest in the fridge! See my remarks in italics.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour – I also tried adding some oat flour once (tolokno)
  • 1.5 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 cups brown sugar – I normally use a mixture of regular + brown sugar and add less
  • 50 g butter, soft
  • 180 g dark 60-70% chocolate – I used less
  • half of vanilla bean – I used artificial vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon and / or grated orange zest – I used both
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Procedure:

First cream butter with sugar, then add eggs and beat well with a mixer. Cut a vanilla bean and add the seeds to the mixture, beat well again. Coarsely grate the chocolate. Sift the flour with the baking powder and cinnamon (if using grated zest, add it first to the butter + sugar mixture) and then add it to the butter + sugar mixture. Mix well. Gradually add the oats, mixing well. Add the chocolate last (carefully – it melts!), mix the dough but do not knead. The dough should be thick but crumbly, easily forming into balls. If it’s too sticky, add some more flour.

Cover the dough with a cling film and chill in the fridge for 4-6 hours (I gave the dough an overnight rest in the fridge before baking them in the morning). Grease a large baking sheet or line it with parchment paper (I prefer the second). Make balls of about 2–3 cm across, place them apart on the baking sheet and flatten a bit. Bake in the pre-heated 180 °С oven on the middle rack until the cookies just about begin to brown on the edges and you can smell vanilla and chocolate, for about 10–12 minutes. Don’t be misled by the cookies looking rather soft – they will harden once they are out of the oven. Cool thoroughly before removing from the baking sheet.

Soft Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate from gastronom.ru

Remarks: You can experiment with various sizes – for the workshops I preferred to make them large (and also double the recipe) but smaller cookies will bake even faster. The smaller the oats you use, the more delicate these cookies get. Thanks to the long chilling of the dough these cookies do not spread out much. If you prefer to have larger chunks of chocolate in your cookies, you can grate half of it and roughly chop the rest. And try not to omit the orange zest – it adds extra flavour!

Result: I think what makes these cookies taste different is that they are made with pretty small-scale ingredients. I mean, oats are tiny, chocolate (and zest) is grated. The result is a delicate combination of the flavours. And what’s more, these chewy cookies require just 50 g butter, so it’s worth the effort 🙂

Country Applesauce Muffins from www.williams-sonoma.com
Country Applesauce Muffins

You can also check out these muffins from applesauce that were already featured on my blog. I used leftover apple puree for these muffins – no need to add lots of sugar! And they were also enjoyed by the guests 🙂

Adding this post to my Sweet, Chocolate and Russian recipe collections.

First three photos by Sergey Kozienko for Chez moi interior design school for non-professionals.

G.