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.

cookies · sweet

Oatmeal Cookies with Sesame and Prunes

Oatmeal Cookies with Sesame and Prunes

Before I start a whole series of posts with my recent Crimea trip, here’s a quick recipe of crunchy oatmeal cookies with sesame seeds and prunes. Less words, more oats! 🙂

Oatmeal Cookies with Sesame and Prunes

1 year ago – Working Class Hero: Down-to-Earth Vyborgskaya Side

2 years ago – Addictive Grissini and Sourdough Bread Twists

3 years ago – Pear Clafoutis, Jelly Muffins and Scandinavian Twists

4 years ago – Colours of Summer

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

Oatmeal Cookies with Sesame and Prunes will make crunchy sesame-flavoured cookies perfect for the capricious St Petersburg summer. ATTENTION: the measurements are given in a very approximate manner…

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 200 g sugar
  • 50 g butter, softened
  • 50 g sunflower oil
  • 250 ml of oatmeal mixed with some oat bran (I used medium-sized oatmeal, not the instant type nor the old-fashioned)
  • 150 g oat flour (I used tolokno, a rough grind of oats) mixed with some all purpose flour
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • prunes, chopped (to taste)
  • sesame seeds, plus extra for coating

Procedure:

Beat eggs with sugar, add softened butter and oil, continue beating well. Beat in the oatmeal and oat bran (you can omit the former if you want), baking powder, soda, salt and nutmeg and then add oat flour mixed with some all purpose flour, enough to achieve a rather thick mixture. Mix in chopped prunes (I scolded them with boiling water beforehand) and sesame seeds. Ideally, you should get a pretty thick mixture that will allow you to skip the chill-in-the-fridge step (to save time). But you can of course place the cookie dough in the fridge (no need to cover) for some time (20-30 minutes) first. I baked the first batch right away while the rest of the dough was waiting in the fridge (can’t say there was much difference in the end).

Oatmeal Cookies with Sesame and Prunes

Preheat the oven to 175 ‘C. Take a small ball of cookie dough (moistening your hands with some water might help), roll it in sesame seeds and place it on the baking mat / parchment paper, then slightly flatten it with your hand. Continue with the remaining dough (the cookies will spread while baking so consider making two batches). Bake for about 20 minutes but be careful – do not overbake otherwise the cookies will be a bit too crunchy!

Oatmeal Cookies with Sesame and Prunes

Remarks: Prunes are really quite distinct in these cookies, so if you prefer a more neutral dried fruit or something more traditional, try making these with raisins. You can also experiment with flour, adding some whole wheat flour for a change.

Result: Crunchy, pretty sweet cookies, with an accentuated sesame flavour … and sesame crunch 🙂

Oatmeal Cookies with Sesame and Prunes

As I was taking pictures on the balcony, one of the cookies did fall from the fifth floor. It survived the fall almost intact apart from being attacked by an ant when I went out to find the errant cookie. Then we used the good Soviet anti-microbes solution which worked well with the unpacked bread they used to sell in the USSR and in the 90s: scorch the thing holding it close to the gas burner and turning it from all sides – and you are safe!

This post goes to the Sweet recipe collection where you will find more cookie recipes.

G.

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.

no-dough · vegetarian

Carrot Soup Puree

Carrot Soup Puree

I recently had a sudden inspiration which resulted in a big pot of Carrot Soup Puree. A bright and spicy comfort food soup for these frosty March days.

Carrot Soup Puree

Year ago – Chestnut Coffee Cake and St Petersburg in February
2 years ago – Italian Sourdough Bread with Potatoes and Herbs
3 years ago – No-Fuss Russian Blini from Old Recipe Book
4 years ago – Sprouted Grains and Welcome Spring!
5 years ago – Sourdough Pancakes, as Promised

Carrot Soup Puree – spicy and creamy soup from carrots and the secret ingredients – cauliflower and potatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 5 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 400 g frozen / fresh cauliflower
  • 2 onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 boiled potatoes
  • stalks from fresh parsley, dill and coriander
  • chopped dried celery and parsley roots (traditionally used in soups in Russia)
  • soy sauce
  • olive and sunflower oil
  • pepper, salt, turmeric, paprika, dried basil and other herbs and spices
  • 4 l water
  • fresh herbs and smetana (sour cream), optional

Procedure:

With my mother we usually first make the (vegetarian) broth by heating plain water in the pot together with stalks leftover from the fresh parsley, dill and coriander we use for salads (we keep those in the fridge for the ‘soup day’). We discard them once they loose colour. Then we also add chopped dried celery and parsley roots (traditionally used in soups in Russia) and we do not discard these. My mother also adds whole black pepper but I don’t – since I was a child I just hate the moment when you get it in between your teeth, brrrr.

Meanwhile, heat a large cast-iron pan on medium to low heat and add your roughly chopped carrots. I usually first ‘roast’ the carrots without oil and then when they start getting a bit too brown, I add a mixture of olive and sunflower oil. Add chopped onions (again, the chinks can be pretty big and rough, you will puree them anyway), herbs and spices and keep cooking the veggies stirring from time to time. At some point I also add soy sauce and then I throw in the garlic, chopped.

When your broth is ready, discard the stalks and add the cooked veggies. Don’t forget to pour some water from the pot into the pan, stir a bit and pour the water back into the pot so that you get all the juices and flavours from the veggies. Add you frozen / fresh cauliflower into the pot (you can leave large florets whole), adjust salt and pepper, lower the heat and keep cooking until the carrots and the cauliflower are verging on becoming soft. Puree two boiled potatoes in your blender and add them to the pot – stir well cause the starch can create lumps. Then fish out carrots, onion chunks and cauliflower and puree those too, adding them back to the pot and stirring well. You can leave your pot at low heat while doing this. At this point you can adjust the amount of water and the salt / spices. No need to keep cooking the soup, it should be ready.

Carrot Soup Puree

Remarks: I guess you can use any ‘secret ingredient’ such as pumpkin, zucchini or other member of the cabbage family. And of course you don’t have to have pre-boiled potatoes, you can cook them with the rest of the ingredients. As I was quite generous with the black and red pepper, my soup was pretty hot. Adjust the amount of spices and herbs to your taste buds. Also, add as much water as you wish (to create a thicker / thinner soup) and feel free to leave some veggie chunks too.

Result: Colourful comfort food for early days of spring. Serve it with sour cream and fresh herbs and a slice of good rye bread.

Carrot Soup Puree

Adding this recipe to the Lunch/ Dinner 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.

no recipe

And September is Gone

and September is gone

…and where did September go?

and September is gone

And we are still collecting apples at our dacha and having a cozy moment of being inside –  our verandah is definitely the place to be…

and September is gone

… while outside there’s a sudden rain with the sun shining brightly. Well, if you can call sudden a rain that is most ostentatiously preceded by very dark clouds.

and September is gone

There was warm sun, there were sunbeams breaking free through the clouds, there was wind, there were apples falling on our heads. Such a privilege to have a place to escape to and not from! Dacha, I love you, you know!

and September is gone

On the days like this, you learn how to carpe diem at least sometimes. And as usual – some physical work in the fresh autumn air is always good for you.

and September is gone

A sheer pleasure to go around with your camera and try to seize the moment, the colors and the senses:

and September is gone
I know this place by heart. And it is in my heart. I remember daydreaming about going to our dacha sitting in the classroom in those short winter days, making the whole journey there in my mind, following every turn of the road.

and September is gone

Years go by, the world around you changes but there is this place that will always stay yours, keeping your memories for you, looking so comfortably reassuringly familiar just when you need it.

and September is gone
Hello October! What do you have on your mind, I wonder?

and September is gone

Back home, listening to Enya’s ‘A Day Without Rain’ in an old-fashioned way (i.e. with a CD player). I would listen to this album every autumn, it used to be my soundtrack of the season. It might sound a bit too sentimental / banal, but indeed, where have those years gone?

A whole new month ahead of us. Lots of apples to eat too 🙂

G.

French recipe · sweet

Moelleux aux Groseilles for My Mother

Moelleux aux Groseilles (Redcurrant Cake)

In between the series of the Trans-Siberian journey posts, here’s a simple and yet very delicate red currant cake that I’ve made for my Mother’s birthday. With all the berries we are having now at our dacha, this was just ‘what the doctor prescribed’. Enjoying the sourness of our northern berries with the sweetness of the summer days.

Moelleux aux Groseilles (Redcurrant Cake)

1 year ago – Petrogradsky and Aptekarsky Islands in Details – no recipe in this post

2 years ago – Chasing Alexander Pushkin in Tsarskoye Selo – no recipe in this post

3 years ago – Zucchini and Aubergine Whole Wheat Pizza

4 years ago – Moscow and Courgette Pies

Moelleux aux Groseilles or Redcurrant Cake adapted from the lovely lavenderandlovage.com will make a French-style dacha-inspired upside-down cake with that sweet & sour combination in one bite. For the entire recipe, follow the link above. Here are my changes and remarks:

As far as the ingredients go, I used 2 small eggs instead of one large egg and also regular (though quite fine-grain) sugar instead of caster sugar. I substituted all-purpose flour + baking soda for the self-rising flour as well. I also thought that adding at least some vanilla extract would help veil the egg flavour, so I added some to the batter.

Moelleux aux Groseilles (Redcurrant Cake)

As for the procedure, I suppose 200 ‘C was a little it too much. I and could see through the oven window that the top was browning too fast, so I decreased the temperature to about 180 ‘C for the last 10 minutes or so (the total time being 30 minutes). I used a bundt tin and didn’t line it with paper, just greased it generously.

Moelleux aux Groseilles (Redcurrant Cake)

Remarks: The northern berries are normally quite watery and sour (or with the best-case scenario – just not sweet enough) so the top of my cake was a little bit too moist in some parts. Although the soft and yet ship-shape cake counterbalanced this moisture (and I turned it out of the form almost in its entirety), I wouldn’t add any more berries for fear of creating too much liquid on top.

Moelleux aux Groseilles (Redcurrant Cake)

Result: This French-style upside-down cake is easy to make but interesting enough thanks to this combination of the tangy berry topping and the airy ‘base’ part (after all, it’s a moelleux which means soft & delicate in French). My Mother particularly praised it for this sweet & sour combination.

Moelleux aux Groseilles (Redcurrant Cake)

… And if you find the tangy berries a bit too much, you can always add a bit more icing sugar on top (anyway, it will disappear entirely after some time, being absorbed by the berries)! Or even eat it with some whipped cream as the author suggests. If you are interested in other ways to use red currants in baking, try this red currant meringue cake, red currant coffeecake, red currant flan or any of these options.

Mama's birthday

Just some photos to save the moment. Dried mulberries (from a local tea & natural stuff shop) in a clay cup (from my Trans-Siberian trip), such a treat for sweet-toothed!

Mama's birthday

And some freshly baked sourdough rye bread.

Mama's birthday

Will come back soon with the continuation of my travel posts, I’ve got aaaall the Siberia to tell you about.

This post goes to Berries, Sweet and Country-specific recipe collections.

G.