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.

bread · cookies · sourdough · sweet

Finnish Sourdough Flatbread and Cookies with History

Finnish Sourdough Flatbread

In this anti-winter days – at some point the temperature reached +11 here! – I would like to share with you two recipes: a recipe of Finnish rye flatbread known in Russia as Krayushki and oatmeal cookies with chocolate and nuts… and history. Will start with the bread. You might already know that I love rye bread, especially the sourdough. I can eat it plain, with cheese or even with honey or jam. Like this:

Finnish Sourdough Flatbread

This particular bread is notoriously chewy and super rye-ish and I love it even more as the best part of the bread loaf is exactly these hard-to-chew “edges” that we call krayushki in Russia. The authentic version is made with sourdough culture but don’t worry –  you can make the flatbreads with yeast, too.

Finnish Sourdough Flatbread

I’ve tried the recipe several times, experimenting with the procedure and the ingredients, and failed only once when I forgot them in the oven which resulted in ehhm rusks rather than flatbreads 🙂 The photos in this post show two versions. Here’s a different one from the bread pictured above, shaped as a circle with a whole in the middle. It was very handy when in the Finnish village they would string multiple breads on a stick and hang them to the ceiling:

Finnish Sourdough Flatbread

A year ago – Best Soviet Winter Movies. About Food Too!

Two years ago – Vermont Sourdough and Yellow Roses

Three years ago – Winter’s Here. Time for Spicy Rye Bread

Four years ago – Flammekueche – how time to make some!

Ruispalat or Finnish Sourdough Flatbread translated and adapted from www.povarenok.ru will make very flavorful and quite authentic in their taste flatbreads. Numbers in brackets indicate the amount of the ingredient needed if you do not use the sourdough culture. See my remarks in italics.

Ingredients

  • 375 g (500) rye flour – I mixed in some all-purpose and once – some wholewheat flour
  • 325 ml (450) water – I use about 25 ml less because there’s this extra water needed for the rye malt
  • 2 Tbs rye malt, mixed with hot water 1 hour before, or extract
  • 2 Tbs molasses or honey or sugar dissolved in water – I omitted this as it was not mentioned in the procedure
  • 10 g salt
  • 2-3 Tbs bran for sprinkling the top – I used oat bran
  • 1 Tbs ground coriander – do use this much, it’s so tasty!
  • 5 g (13) fresh yeast – I didn’t use yeast at all
  • 250 g (none) sourdough culture, 100% hydration – I refreshed my rye sourdough

Procedure

Dissolve your sourdough culture in lukewarm water (30 ‘С), add yeast (the author remarks that this will help soften the crumb but I didn’t use it). Sift in the flour, add rye malt and begin mixing the dough with a spoon or in a breadbaking machine. Add the coriander and the salt and mix a bit. This is (unless you use a mixture of flours which I did) a 100% rye bread so the dough won’t benefit from a long mixing anyway. Cover the bowl and leave the dough for 1-1.5 h.

Flour generously the surface and spoon the dough out on it, flouring it too. As for the shaping part, there are different possibilities:

— Roll out (which I could never do, so I just water the palm of my hand and flatten the dough with it) to thickness of 8 mm – 1 cm and cut into rectangles. Prick the dough with a fork and move to the baking sheet (this is a tricky part so I would suggest rolling the dough already on the baking silicon mat. The author warns you against using baking paper as they stick a lot. I still use baking paper but flour the surface quite heavily).

— For a super-authentic look, spoon the dough out into two heaps onto a wet surface (here too I use a heavily floured paper – it would have been impossible to transfer my dough once shaped!). With wet hands form each heap into a circle. Flour the baking sheet heavily, the same as the top of the circles. With the help of a wet knife, transfer the circles to the baking sheet. Flatten them with wet hands. Cut a whole in the center of each circle with a (shot) glass. To make the ‘rays’ use a wooden stick (an ice cream stick works well) with which you will make indentations (but do not force the stick right to the bottom).

For both variations, cover the dough with a linen towel for 50-90 min (90 min if using the sourdough). Spray the top with some water and sprinkle with oat bran generously. Put in the oven preheated to 200 ‘С and turn down to 180 ‘ С after several minutes. Bake for 12-15 minutes more. Do not overbake as the flatbreads should remain soft! (here I realized I had to increase the temperature to about 220 ‘C and bake all the way maintaining this temperature, otherwise the indicated 12-15 minutes turned into 30 minutes and still the breads would be too moist. So I baked them also at the top shelf for some minutes to get a crustier top).

Remove the baked bread from the oven and wrap it into a towel. Enjoy!

Finnish Sourdough Flatbread

Remarks: I’ve made this recipe several times, trying various shapes, cuts and baking time / oven temperature. Even if sometimes I failed to make them look ship-shape ( I also tried baking them as separate ovals or as a sheet of rectangles cut halfway through), they would still taste great. Work out the most convenient shaping procedure for yourself! By the way, these flatbread freeze well and do not take much space either.

Finnish Sourdough Flatbread

Result: These chewy breads are just wonderful. The combination of rye malt + coriander makes them very flavourful! And some of these breads did rise to the point when they split in two layers, letting you separate them or use them as a pocket and make a double sandwich, mmm!

Finnish Sourdough Flatbread

***

The $250 Neiman Marcus Cookie

For the dessert today here are these tasty sweet chocolate cookies with ground oatmeal, walnuts and pistachios! The story behind these cookies is that someone who paid for the recipe 250 dollars thinking it was 2.50 USD instead, decided to spread the recipe all over the net so that no one would have to pay that much for a cookie recipe! And you know what? The recipe is really nice and the result is probably worth the price… But I’m definitely grateful for having this recipe for free 🙂

The $250 Neiman Marcus Cookie

The $250 Neiman Marcus Cookie adapted from www.browneyedbaker.com will make sweet and crunchy cookies that would certainly sell very well and justify the price paid for the recipe! For the original recipe visit the link above – and you won’t have to pay anything for that either 🙂 Here are my changes and remarks:

I also put some oat bran into the coffee grinder together with the oats. Used less butter and substituted regular sugar for the brown sugar. As for the chocolate, I used 1 chocolate bar – part of which I grated and part chopped into pieces. I had a very limited amount of walnuts so I also added some pistachios.

The $250 Neiman Marcus Cookie

Remarks: I made my cookies pretty big so had to bake them longer. Be careful with the baking time though as I definitely overbaked the first batch. The recipe will make quite a lot of cookies but be ready to repeat the process very soon 🙂

The $250 Neiman Marcus Cookie

Result: These are great cookies! The walnuts add to the nuttiness of the ground oats, there’s something toasted about this cookies too. Which makes me agree with the author that these cookies are truly hearty! The melting chocolate inside is so oh-oh!

Adding these recipes to Sweet, Chocolate and Sourdough 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.

bread · French recipe · sourdough

Breakfast Sourdough Rolls and Whole-Wheat Pain au Levain

69% HYDRATION PAIN AU LEVAIN from www.karenskitchenstories.com

Ascending and descending stairs in museum-like libraries might make you hungry. A good ol’ slice (or slab? 🙂 of sourdough bread with honey will quench your hunger immediately! So don’t be shy, just make yourself a large slice and pour some honey over. A more Soviet variant will be bread with varenye, or confiture, a perfect substitution for any sweet treat. And it still works for me!

69% HYDRATION PAIN AU LEVAIN from www.karenskitchenstories.com

Here are two recipes that I’ve tried recently to make my favourite type of bread (and food) – sourdough bread. If this works for you too – get your sourdough culture out and refresh it generously (I know you love it, just like I do!) – you will need quite a lot for these two recipes.

Breakfast Sourdough Rolls from sweetsoursavory.com

Let’s start with a recipe for sourdough buns – full of seeds and oats and very rustically-pretty on the outside too. I love to have something to chew on in my bread!

Breakfast Sourdough Rolls from sweetsoursavory.com

A year agoCaucasian Cheese Pie and Some Winter Reflections

Two years agoPetite Alsace and Petits Pains

Three years ago2 Breads with Poolish

Breakfast Sourdough Rolls adapted from sweetsoursavory.com will make pretty buns with seeds, seeds, seeds! Follow the link for the recipe, here are just my alterations:

I didn’t use any additional yeast, relying 100% on my rye sourdough culture. As for the other ingredients, I added 4 cereal mix for porridge (oats + barley + rye + wheat flakes) + some extra rolled oats to make up for 1 cup. I couldn’t resist adding some rye flour (of course), so my buns turned out darker (of course). But that’s how I like my bread! I didn’t roll my buns in anything, just used plain flour.

Breakfast Sourdough Rolls from sweetsoursavory.com

This bun got such a peculiar shape cause, well, I shaped it this way! : )

Breakfast Sourdough Rolls from sweetsoursavory.com

Remarks: All the while these buns require 12 to 20 hour rest in the fridge, they bake really fast, just about 15-20 minutes in the oven and they are done! And they also ‘cracked’ nicely, making you want to tear them open at once! : ) Like this:

Breakfast Sourdough Rolls from sweetsoursavory.com

Result: A great recipe for rustic-looking sourdough buns. If you want something like those crusty buns from a French bakery (in France, s’il vous plaît!) that make that crunch-crunch sound when you grab the paper bag… – you got them!

Breakfast Sourdough Rolls from sweetsoursavory.com

Next recipe – to keep in line with the French theme – is exactly a French bread recipe, made more Russian with my imminent addition of rye flour. Again, if you compare my result with the photos on the original website, you’ll see how far my rye addi(c)tion sometimes take me : )

69% HYDRATION PAIN AU LEVAIN from www.karenskitchenstories.com

69% Hydration Pain au Levain adapted from www.karenskitchenstories.com will make dense, moist bread with strong whole wheat flavor. Follow the link to get the entire recipe. My changes:

Used my rye sourdough culture and fed it with rye flour (I know what my baby likes most! :). I didn’t use less levain, so secreased the amount of water by 45 g. What I did add as usual was more whole wheat flour + some wheat bran + rye flour (haha). I used less salt (when I bake bread for myself only, I normally skip salt at all).

As for the procedure, it requires time for sure, but I started in the morning, left the levain for the required minimum of 8 hours (with the rye flour the result is quicker) and then baked the bread in the evening. Which gave me cooled down, almost fresh bread in the morning!

My oven here is small, so I did not use any Dutch oven-substitution (which is usually a large metal bowl turned upside down to cover the bread loaf), I just baked two loaves side by side with some steam.

69% HYDRATION PAIN AU LEVAIN from www.karenskitchenstories.com

After some hesitation (or should I say – caprice) the St Petersburg sun made its appearance and turned the bluish photos into a more pleasing and realistic representations. But of course there’s nothing like actually EATING this bread!

69% HYDRATION PAIN AU LEVAIN from www.karenskitchenstories.com

By the way, our lazy and consequently rare St Petersburg sun appears in winter ONLY when it is VERY cold. I’m serious! The clouds bring warmer weather but they also veil all the sun rays from us, already ‘pail as death’ as we say in Russia. On the contrary, cold days most often mean sun. It doesn’t heat but it makes life better.

69% HYDRATION PAIN AU LEVAIN from www.karenskitchenstories.com

Remarks: Although I don’t have a slightest idea whether my bread was 69% hydration or not, I surely did like it from the very start. Actually, I think that my bread is less moist and has less air pockets with all my additions.

69% HYDRATION PAIN AU LEVAIN from www.karenskitchenstories.com

Result: I can assure you that this bread IS tasty. The two loaves are not here to stay very long… I was craving for something with whole-wheat dominant in it. Just to make change from all-rye bread : ) And here I found it! The bread will make suuuuch nice slices (=slabs in the widest part of the round loaf). Tried it with honey, mmmmm!

69% HYDRATION PAIN AU LEVAIN from www.karenskitchenstories.com

Coming up – sweet recipes with the most obvious ingredient, guess which one!

Adding these recipes to my ever-growing  sourdough bread collection.

G.

cookies · sweet · traditional Russian recipe

Honey Pryaniki, Russian Gingerbread

Pryaniki Medovye from www.trapeza.su

Back in January 2012 I published my version of Pryaniki, traditional Russian gingerbread. That recipe was quite successful and I was thinking about making some more since then : ) So in April 2014 I searched for a recipe in Russian to make some authentic gingerbread and here’s what I found, baked and now finally posted after all these months!

Pryaniki Medovye from www.trapeza.su

Well, you see, winter is somehow a more suitable period for tea from samovar with some pryaniki. And yes, I do drink my tea from… an electric samovar (I took it home from our dacha where it was sadly disused for quite a lot of years)! The very word pryaniki has this spicy-cozy connotation in it (pryaniy means spicy) which makes me think about making this Russian gingerbread in winter more than in any other season. And then I have soooo many Soviet cookie cutters!

Pryaniki Medovye from www.trapeza.su

Anyway, back in April last year I had too much going on to post these cookies. So here they are, put your samovar (which means ‘boiling by itself’) on and take out all those cookie cutters!

Pryaniki Medovye from www.trapeza.su

A year ago: Caucasian Cheese Pie and Some Winter Reflections

Two years ago: Post in Which We Swap Sourdough Bread for Camera Lens and Finish with Apples! (oh, how lucky we were in 2013! It’s January and we still have apples from our dacha!)

Three years ago: 4 White Breads and Old New Year

Honey Pryaniki, Traditional Russian Honey Gingerbread (Пряники медовые) translated and adapted from www.trapeza.su will make a mountain of soft and chewy spicy cookies. ATTENTION: overnight rest! I made half of this recipe (see my remarks in italics).

Ingredients:

  • 1,5 kg flour – even making only half the recipe I used less flour
  • 500 g honey
  • 300 g sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 200 g butter
  • 1/2 glass of sour cream (smetana) – a Russian glass contains 250 ml water
  • 2 tsp soda
  • ground coriander
  • ground cinnamon
  • cloves – I prefer nutmeg

For the glaze:

  • 1 egg white
  • 150 g powdered sugar
  • mint drops – nope

Procedure:

Heat the honey, mix with spices, add sugar, butter, eggs, soda and flour.

Knead the dough (it should be thick and dense) and leave in a cool place, covered, for 24 hours.

Roll out the dough, cut out the cookies, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 180’C for 25-30 minutes.

For the glaze: Work the egg white together with the powdered sugar and then add the mint drops. Brush the cookies with the glaze and return to the oven (at 150’C) for 2-3 minutes. You just need the glaze to set, so the oven shouldn’t be too hot!

Pryaniki Medovye from www.trapeza.su

The sugary crust:

Pryaniki Medovye from www.trapeza.su

Result: Lots of spicy delicatessen even from half the recipe! And they do keep well! I remember now I took some pryaniki with me when I went to Strasbourg in May 2014. I think they were perfect with the old town as the background and the memories of the spicy Christmas market! And also Alsace is a homeplace for everything gingerbread, like these traditional bredele.

Pryaniki Medovye from www.trapeza.su

This recipe came to my mind after I sent a parcel to my friend with some Tula pryaniki inside (with black currant jam and sweetened condensed milk). Hope she likes them! I did not dare to send anything made by myself (= without preservatives) as there’s this khm particularity of Post of Russia to deliver things veeery slowly…

Pryaniki Medovye from www.trapeza.su

A glimpse of St Pete these days? Here you are : )

mushroom

This might need an explanation. People in Russia recently started decorating their yards – sometimes with toys or flowers or both. You see, before it was a very futile thing – anything you introduced to embellish the place was either vandalized or just stolen. Well, those were the days when people were less well off – and they also had nothing else to do, I guess. So, this is a big bowl turned upside-down and painted. Now it looks like a poisonous mushroom and is here to decorate the yard : ) Got it?

This recipe goes to my Russian/Soviet collection of recipes.

G.

Greek recipe · pies · sweet

Old-Fashioned Apple Slab and Greek Crumble

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Guess what? The year’s almost up and we’re still not finished with our apple harvest! The recipes which ask for a lot of apples are the most welcome these days – we’re desperately trying to deal with all the remaining BOXES of apples. And guess what? We’re just a tiny bit tired of apples… Well, just a bit : )

Old-Fashioned Apple Slab from www.kingarthurflour.com

A year ago – Vermont Sourdough and Yellow Roses

Two years ago – All the Soviet Children…

Three years ago – Flammekueche (I just neeeeed to repeat that!)

Old-Fashioned Apple Slab adapted from www.kingarthurflour.com will make a maxi-apple-fitting pie with very tasty pastry and soft-soft filling. The original website will give you all the necessary instructions. Here are my changes:

Ingredients: Used milk powder instead of buttermilk powder (never seen that in Russia!). Used butter instead of vegetable shortening (the same situation). For the topping I used some kefir instead of milk or cream and for the glaze I used maple syrup.

The procedure might appear complicated but it’s worth it! When I was baking the pie, it started getting brown too quickly, so I moved it to the next-to-bottom rack.

Old-Fashioned Apple Slab from www.kingarthurflour.com

Result: The pastry is flaky, not very sweet and surely tasty, while the filling is really sweet and soft. The maple glaze once set creates a flavourful ‘crust’ on top of the soft pie, mmmm! And what is even more pleasing is that you can fit in a fair amount of apples! And I think this would work with other fruit too.

Old-Fashioned Apple Slab from www.kingarthurflour.com

And now a Greek recipe which I made back in June, when there were just apples from the supermarket but already a clear understanding that for a number of months we will certainly NOT need to go shopping for apples! Forgot about this one and now, looking through the drafts and unfinished posts, I found the unattached pictures of the crumble:

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Crumble Tarte with Apples, Pears and Raisins adapted and translated from Gastronomos magazine vol. 90, October 2013 – will make a super sweet Greek-size treat! See my remarks in italics.

Ingredients:

  • your favourite pastry recipe for double-crust pie – the recipe says 650 g but I used less
  • 60 g melted butter – I did not add this
  • 3 pears, cut whole in thin rounds – I used 2
  • 2 apples, cut whole in thin rounds – I used 1
  • 200 g raisins – I am not a big fan of these, so I added less
  • 60 g brown sugar – less cause I added a bit of honey and still the crumble was very sweet!
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

For the crumble:

  • 80 g brown sugar – less + added cinnamon
  • 80 g butter, roughly grated – less
  • 80 g hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Procedure:

Pre-heat the oven to 170 ‘C.

Keep one sheet of pastry in the freezer. Grease a rectangular or square baking dish and place the other sheet of pastry on the bottom. If you’re using a ready-made pastry, then defrost it according to the instructions. Cover the dish with a towel and leave it to set it the fridge.

Meanwhile, prepare the crumble. In a bowl mix all the crumble ingredients and place in the fridge.

Take the dish out and line the bottom with the apple and pear slices, buttering each layer up (which I skipped) and sprinkling with raisins, sugar and cinnamon.

Take the other sheet of pastry from the freezer, roughly grate it and add to the crumble ingredients. Mix carefully and cover with it the fruit layers.

Bake for about 40 minutes until it gets brown and crunchy.

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Result: The pears and hazelnuts do add some extra flavour to this crumble! It was veeeery sweet and I like the combination of the pretty soft filling and the nutty top. Not a very Greek recipe (an authentic one would have like 6 eggs =) but certainly very Greek-sweet!

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Adding this to my Apples page.

P.S. It’s been snowing like hell today… Found out that I’m able to bake some bread rolls without a recipe running temperature about 39.1… New record : )

G.