German recipe · sweet

Lebkuchen, German Gingerbread

Lebkuchen

I know it’s springtime but I was craving for something hearty, flavourful and full of spices, honey and zest… A Russian pryanik or kovrizhka might be a very good option but my choice fell on this German gingerbread recipe instead:

Lebkuchen

It reminded me of the Alsatian pain d’épices (or spice bread) which is usually sold in those huge bricks and is actually called Lebkuchen too.  It’s particularly popular during the Christmas season but as it is also a characteristic local treat, it’s sold all year round.

Lebkuchen

I’m dedicating this post to my – now – overseas friend Jana who I guess will appreciate this recipe! Janaki, you can try making this Lebkuchen to your new friends, I’m sure they’ll love it!

Lebkuchen

1 year ago – Discovering Cityscape with Cheese and Yogurt Biscuits

2 years ago – Darnitskiy Bread

3 years ago – Travelling Muffins and Wandering Bread

4 years ago – Pane al Cioccolato… Senza Cioccolato

Lebkuchen or German Gingerbread adapted from www.kingarthurflour.com will make dense, brandy-flavoured gingerbread with cracking icing and bits of orange peel! Go to the original website (which I love dearly) for the entire recipe.

My changes and remarks:

Did not use lemon oil and orange oil but lemon and orange zest instead; forgot about almonds completely (but the batter was super thick without them already); used cardamom instead of cloves; omitted crystallized ginger. I also made less glaze for which I used brandy.

Lebkuchen

Remarks: The brandy glaze adds even more flavour to this gingerbread although it makes them less children-friendly. I didn’t make my glaze super thick, I think there was already enough sugar in this recipe. Love the bits of the orange zest – would really suggest to use (larger) peel instead of finely grated zest. I forgot about the nuts but if you manage to incorporate them in this super thick batter, go for it!

Lebkuchen

Result: These fragrant and spicy squares are such a délice! The cracking sugar icing, the chewy and dense ‘body’, the flavours! No need to wait for the festive season 🙂

Lebkuchen

Adding this post to Country-specific and Sweet recipe collections.

G.

sweet · traditional Russian recipe

Medovik or Russian Layered Honey Cake

late August sky

This Saturday was a great day at our dacha with food, family, food, friends and more food. There was a sudden cats-and-dogs rain which made everyone run into the safety and warmth of the house. And as a true St Petersburg day, it ended with a gorgeous sunset colors and, well, sun – a cerise on the cake! Reminded me of the sunset we saw in Sestroretsk, on the Gulf of Finland.

Medovik or Russian Layered Honey Cake

This is how my sister just celebrated her birthday and this is what I baked for her:

Medovik or Russian Layered Honey Cake

This birthday cake started its journey in Kolpino a day before and then in the morning off it went (along with some baked aubergines) to our dacha place. It didn’t see the light of the following day… 🙂 The cerise on this cake is actually cherevishnya, a weird cross between sweet cherry and sour cherry – unfortunately with the weather and the soil we have here it tastes more like sour cherry.

Medovik or Russian Layered Honey Cake

If you’re in for this soft layered cake already you should know that it takes some time and effort. But it’s worth it, you know, as is always with those layered cakes 🙂 And oh do we all merely adore medovik, a traditional Russian honey cake! Made with lots of honey and layered with tons of smetana (sour cream), mmm…. There are hundreds of recipes for it but this time I made it this way:

Medovik or Russian Layered Honey Cake

And to avoid eating the entire cake all at once (and by one person) – just invite more friends and relatives! I had to take the cake out for a photoshoot after the first helping so that there was something to shoot 🙂

Medovik or Russian Layered Honey Cake

A year ago – Italian Apple and Cinnamon Cake

Two years ago – Franconian Wood Oven Bread in Regular Oven

Three years ago – Pita, Sourdough Pizza and Stewed Aubergines

Медовик Medovik or Russian Layered Honey Cake translated and adapted from eda.ru will make a super-soft and can-I-have-another-piece-please cake. See my remarks in italics.

Ingredients:

  • 280 g honey
  • 64 g butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 60 g sugar – I added more
  • 268 g all-purpose flour
  • 8 g baking soda
  • 300 g 20% fat smetana (sour cream) – I used more and 15% fat
  • 75 g powdered sugar
  • optional – nuts, more powdered sugar and honey, berries for decoration

Procedure:

Prepare a bain-marie (hot water bath): heat water in a larger pan and place on top a smaller pan with honey. Wait till it melts and then add butter cut in pieces. Whisk the mixture until the butter melts and leave on low for some time.

Meanwhile start mixing sugar and eggs at high speed. This will take about 8 minutes: you need to get a thick white cream (mine was beige and God those eight minutes!!! 🙂

Sieve (!) flour with soda so that the layers are puffy and soft. By this time the honey mixture should acquire brownish color. Take it off the heat, gradually add the egg mixture in and whisk it moving from the top downwards. Add the flour mixture and whisk moving from the bottom upwards (to my mind whatever direction you take, the movement is almost the same:).

You will need 6 * 20 cm layers, 2 mm thick. At home it’s hard to reproduce all the professional tricks (and you do not have all the equipment either), so instead of using special metal rings, you can level the layers with a knife and bake them on a buttered (better lined with parchment paper!) pan. I baked two at a time and then one at a time as they threatened to burn quickly.

Ideally you should have some batter left which you will use for crumbles (I did not, I got only 5 layers and I didn’t even level the layers, so some of them were more puffy and some less).

Preheat your oven to the maximum temperature (somewhere around 250 ‘C for me) and bake the layers for 3-4 minutes. Watch them closely as they will brown (aaand burn!) fast but should stay soft all the same. Leave them in the fridge to cool down (I didn’t).

Make the smetana cream: whisk powdered sugar with smetana. Then take one layer and place it ‘burnt’ side up (the top side) – this will be the bottom layer (I suggest using one of the ugliest but yet whole). Spread some cream on it and place next layer on top, this time ‘burnt’ side down. Repeat with the remaining layers, spreading cream on top of the last layer (use the best layer here) too. Finely blender the 6th layer and use these crumbs to scatter on top and sides of the cake (I didn’t, I actually used some ground peanuts on top and these weird berries). You can decorate the cake with powdered sugar and honey, then place the cake in the fridge overnight or better for 24 hours. This time is needed for the cake to soak in all the cream. It will also diminish in height.

Medovik or Russian Layered Honey Cake

Remarks: This cake should (and will definitely) be eaten on the day after the stay in the fridge as sour cream looses its whiteness and, well, in theory might ruin the cake. In practice though it will not survive longer than a day! Be careful with the layers – I tried various pans including silicone and metal, buttering them each time. And be careful also with the pans – not all of them are prepared for such high temperatures! I needed more smetana to cover the sides of the cake but didn’t have another container…

Result: A pillow-like cake which has nothing to do with all those heavy cream cakes. Not overly sweet and surely not dry. A perfect summer birthday cake!

Medovik or Russian Layered Honey Cake

Adding this to Russian and Sweet collections where you can find more traditional Russian dishes with honey and layered cake recipes.

G.

muffins · sweet · traditional Russian recipe

Birthday Kovrizhka and Chocolate Chip Muffins

Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka from www.pravmir.ru

How come it suddenly feels so 1st-Septemberish on the 1st of August? It was dramatically windy today but sunny too – and yet there was this autumnal light and the mountain ash trees all covered in red berries that made me shiver a bit. I just hope those were fake signs! You see, this year summer merely forgot its way to St Petersburg 🙂

Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka from www.pravmir.ru

I’m sharing with you the recipe of a Russian gingerbread-like (or rather pain d’épices) cake traditionally made with honey. Its Russian name is kovrizhka – and I can assure you the only sound of this word brings up so many sweet memories! It’s even more evocative than pryanik (gingerbread) – honey, raisins, nuts, spices… Kovrizhka is a diminutive of kovriga, which is a measure of bread (something like a loaf of bread but round).

Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka from www.pravmir.ru

Kovrizhka can be made plain and quite flat (it’s also considered a lean food as it doesn’t contain eggs, milk or butter) but it is sometimes sandwiched with varenye (jam) in between and glazed with sugar. This is exactly what I did some days ago – turning a plain kovrizhka into a layered cake for my Mother’s birthday. Well, it’s kind of obligatory to make a birthday cake, right?

Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka from www.pravmir.ru

A year ago – Chasing Alexander Pushkin in Tsarskoye Selo

Two years ago – Zucchini and Aubergine Whole Wheat Pizza

Three years ago – Fruit Post

Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka translated and adapted from www.pravmir.ru and turned into a 2-layer birthday cake.See my remarks in italics.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbs honey – half honey half apricot jam
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbs cocoa or ground coffee
  • 0.5 cup raisins
  • 0.5 cup ground nuts – I processed some grilled peanuts in a blender
  • 0.5 cup sunflower oil
  • 1.5-2 cups all purpose flour
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of ground coriander
  • jam, chocolate glaze (see further) – optional

Procedure:

Place sugar, oil and water in a pan, place over low heat and add honey. Mix well until the sugar and honey dissolve. In a separate bowl mix soda, cocoa or coffee and spices, then add this mixture to the liquid mixture. Mix well. Add nuts, raisins and flour sifted with baking powder. The amount of flour may vary: the mixture should look like thick sour cream.

Bake in a baking dish lined with parchment paper or greased and floured (I used a round silicon pan without paper or lining) at 200 ‘C for 30-35 minutes. You can eat kovrizhka plain or layer it with jam.

Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka from www.pravmir.ru

Remarks: My cake took less time – it started to burn actually, so I took it out earlier. Be careful! I used this recipe to make a layered cake, cutting it in two and spreading some chunky apricot jam in between. I normally do not like raisins but here they are just right! I also liked the zestiness of the peanuts – they worked well both inside and on top. I also glazed the cake with chocolate icing (see further).

Result: Tasty, chewy but soft, flavourful. I’m sure it will be very rich even without all the extras. Once you bite in this kovrizhka you menacingly become unstoppable… Beware!

Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka from www.pravmir.ru

As for the glaze, I think it’s high time I share with you this family recipe!

Chocolate Glaze, the family recipe we traditionally use for my Mother’s spécialité – the all-time birthday cake. This amount is enough for glazing one cake.

Ingredients:

  • 5 Tbs sugar
  • 3 Tbs cocoa
  • 2 Tbs milk
  • 50 g butter

Procedure:

Mix all the ingredients together in a non-glazed pan and bring to boil, stirring constantly.

Remarks: You can adjust the ingredients if the glaze is too runny or thick. The glaze will set while cooling so use it while it is still warm. The best thing is to try to get the glaze leftovers from the bottom of the pan! 🙂

Result: An easy and quick recipe with basic ingredients! A perfect Soviet practicality showcase 🙂

***

And now a bonus recipe which has been waiting its turn in the backlog for some time already:

Chocolate Chip Muffins from www.browneyedbaker.com

Chocolate Chip Muffins adapted from www.browneyedbaker.com will make cute little muffins. The only drawback is that the amount of the muffins is just not enough =) As always – visit the original website for the entire recipe.

Chocolate Chip Muffins from www.browneyedbaker.com

Changes: Used more sugar and a whole chocolate bar of Osoby, the best quality chocolate from St Petersburg!

Remarks: Had to bake these muffins a bit longer. You might want to double the recipe because… well, just believe me 🙂

Result: Super-nice! Soft and not rubbery at all, with melting chocolate inside…

Adding these recipes to Russian / Soviet, Chocolate and Sweet collections.

G.