sweet

Bulgarian Peach Sladkish and Czech Jam Kolache

Sladkish s Praskovi

With the lack of the light and the overall November blues atmosphere I seem to be reluctant to take photos of the things I’m baking these days. To make these pictures I had to use a lamp… Each year November seems to catch me off-guard, such a hard month. December somehow passes much easier as half of it at least is taken over by all the New Year and Christmas preparations (for those who do get involved). And then the days grow longer. But as for now, we are still a month away from that!

Sladkish s Praskovi

So why not dream about sun with this bright yellow cake (made extra-yellow thanks to the lamp 🙂 the recipe for which comes from the sunny Bulgaria. This country is famous for its peaches (as well as roses – and yogurt – and brine cheese…) so no surprise these guys know how to use them. The peaches I used were from Greece though 🙂 After baking with apples for so many months in a row I was really relieved to bake with something else!

Sladkish s Praskovi

1 year ago – Heritage Days in Avignon

2 years ago – Petroskoi or Petrozavodsk, Capital of Karelian Republic

3 years ago – Multigrain Bread and the Best View

4 years ago – Ramble On

5 years ago – 1 Idea for 2 Delicious Dinners

Sladkish s Praskovi or Bulgarian Peach Cake translated and adapted from www.zajenata.bg will make a big white cake with sunny peaches on top.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg peaches (or other fruit), sliced – I used almost an entire can of (Greek) peaches in syrup, drained
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (200 ml) sugar
  • 1 tea cup sour milk or smetana – I used tvorog (5 % cottage cheese) + smetana (15% sour cream) + kefir
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour – I also added some vanilla extract
  • ½ package baking powder – measured out something like 2 tsp
  • 100 ml vegetable oil – I used sunflower
  • a pinch of salt
  • powdered sugar, for decorating the top – skipped that

Procedure:

Beat the eggs with sugar, add smetana or sour milk, oil and salt. Then add in the flower sifted with the baking powder, so that you get a thick smooth mixture.

Grease and flour your baking dish and preheat the oven to 180 °С.

Pour the batter into the baking dish and bake for about 5 minutes. Then take the dish out of the oven and arrange the peach slices on top of the par-baked batter. Return to the oven for 30 minutes more. When the cake is ready, cool it and decorate it with powdered sugar.

Sladkish s Praskovi

Remarks: Although I par-baked the cake for more than 5 minutes, I also needed more time for it to be ready during the final baking. I guess the baking pan was a bit small for this cake. So I would add more peaches or bake the cake in a larger pan. Be sure to drain your peaches thoroughly if you’re using canned fruit like me.

Sladkish s Praskovi

Results: This cake can easily be used as a birthday / gift cake. It looks nice (even though it sunk in the middle a bit) and it keeps its shape. But as soon as you start cutting it, the peach slices inevitably fall apart 🙂

Grandma's Kolache

My second recipe that I baked the same day comes from a probably less sunny country, the Czech Republic. I have this idee fixe each time I want to bake something from the comfort food category – and that is jam envelopes, konvertiki s povidlom (pryaniki or Russian gingerbread belong to this category as well). This recipe comes nearly close to the thing I wanted so much.

Grandma's Kolache

Grandma’s Kolache or Czech Envelopes with Jam adapted from www.mrbreakfast.com will make 20 or so soft buns filled with your favourite jam. Follow the link to see the entire recipe. Kolache derives from the Old Slavonic kolo which means circle or wheel, and the Russian and East European bread kalach is actually round (more or less – depending on its local variation).

My changes and remarks:

I used butter instead of shortening, added less salt and vanilla extract, but had to put in more flour. As for the filling I chose homemade apple puree and just a few of the buns had apple jam inside.

I made less kolache – only 20 instead of the suggested 24.

I baked my kolache a bit longer than stated in the recipe. The jam started flowing out of the buns when I moved them to the upper shelf in the oven for several minutes. So the next batch I baked only on the middle rack and they rose better. On this photo the top kolache is with the apple jam (I used mostly the fruit part) and the other two are with the apple puree:

Grandma's Kolache

Result: These very soft mini-pies will remind you of your childhood years… even if you have never tasted jam envelopes before 🙂

Adding these recipes to the Country-specific and Sweet collections where you will find other recipes with peaches and apples.

G.

cookies · sweet

Whole Wheat Fig Bars

Whole Wheat Fig Bars

It’s been a while since my last post here and this post won’t be long either. Just wanted to share with you this winter-time recipe of Whole Wheat Fig Bars. The figs are used dry but then you book them creating a sort of fig jam filling. And the flavour is very summer-like! When we were in Greece we would go around the island with my Mom and pick up the over ripe figs which have already fallen – gosh, why waste all this goodness and buy them in a supermarket instead? So don’t waste your time, go make some some Whole Wheat Fig Bars and enjoy your piece of summer in the middle of winter!

Whole Wheat Fig Bars

1 year ago How to Make Silky Cream Cheese at Home

2 years ago – Apricot Oatmeal Bar With Pistachios

3 years ago – After Apples Come the Berries

4 years ago – 2 Energy-Boosting Sweets to Keep Your Mind and Spirit Up

Whole Wheat Fig Bars adapted from www.food.com will make bars with jammy fig filling and crunchy seeds, with that very Greek summer flavour! Visit the original website for the recipe. Here are my changes and suggestions:

I used a mixture of regular white ans brow sugar, butter instead of shortening or margarine and also opted for the orange juice. The procedure is quite easy – although you will have to cook the figs first. Also I луззе my dough in the fridge overnight but still it was kind of sandy and wouldn’t roll out easily (well, what would you expect from just whole wheat flour!). I made bigger bars (i.e. less in number) and baked them longer including several minutes with the oven switched to the ‘only top’ mode.

Whole Wheat Fig Bars

Remarks: As the author suggests, these bars can also be made with dates and I think that’s a good idea too! I wonder if you can actually substitute it with some jam filling, instead of boiling the dry fruit.

Result: Those fig seeds and the orange zest make the bars pretty unusual in terms of flavour. The fact that these bars are 100% whole wheat is an obvious plus too, making them a little bit healthier, you know. I also liked this other ‘fashion’ of shaping the bars (i.e. precutting them), they look like those jam or nut filled treats you can still find in Russian confectionery stores.

This post goes to Sweet recipe collection.

G.

St Petersburg · sweet

Peach and Raspberry Jam Bars

Peach Crumb Bars

Before we plunge into more sweet recipes I’ve tried during this festive time, let me share with you some of the shots taken in the streets of the brightly decorated St Petersburg these days.

St Petersburg decorations

This is a small side street that is just off Nevsky prospekt in St Petersburg.In the background you can see the statue of Catherine the Great in front of the Aleksandrinsky Theatre which I vividly remember for a Chekhov’s Three Sisters 3+ hour performance I once attended and almost died 🙂 I guess we were either too young for that or it was a very boring performance which was to blame. Anyway, this street looks very European-like, I think Peter the Great would have been very satisfied with the result.

St Petersburg decorations

And this is the Dom Knigi bookstore in one of the city’s most recognizable art nouveau buildings, Singer house. Behind it is the no less famous Kazan Cathedral, looking very much like that Vatican cathedral. All these lights make St Pete appear even more artificial and theatrical than it is in summer, for example. And yet I just love it (if you exclude the crowds, the shopping craze and the cold weather). Particularly now with the snow and the coziness of the lights coming from the windows. Makes you wanna soak in the frozen beauty of the city and happily go home to enjoy a cup of tea…

St Petersburg decorations

And here comes the dilemma of what to have with your cup of tea, indeed. Winter is the time when you have to switch on your imagination to make something different without having all those relatively cheap and fresh ingredients available. This is the time when all your jam and canned stocks will come in handy. We’ll start with a great combination of orange and canned Greek peaches:

Peach Crumb Bars

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 – 4 White Breads and Old New Year

Peach Crumb Bars adapted from www.cookingclassy.com will make zesty peach pies, soft and sugary. For the entire recipe please visit the link provided. Here are my changes and remarks:

I used a large can of Greek peaches in syrup instead of fresh fruit, resulting in having less (possibly much less) filling than required. I blended them and added quite a lot of orange zest instead of orange juice as the canned peaches are quite gooey even when drained. I used sweetened condensed milk (a rare bird in my kitchen, it was brought in by a friend) instead of sour cream.

As for the procedure, I followed it without changes.

Peach Crumb Bars

Remarks: Even though my baking dish was quite large, I think the dough layers were a bit too much for the amount of filling I had. I would increase the former next time. On the other hand, the dough recipe was very successful, I loved the addition of sour cream (condensed milk in my case) which helped make these crumbs much more … crumbly! 

Peach Crumb Bars

Result: Perfectly transportable and soft, these bars are a full-fledged peach pie! If you bake these you will understand what I mean when I say I enjoyed those sugar crystals in combination with the soft peach pieces and the zest in particular… I can only imagine making these with 4,5 cups of fresh Greek peaches, mmm!

Raspberry Oatmeal Crumble Bars

And here’s yet another winter recipe this time with jam. You can use up your leftover jam with this recipe, no doubt any jam will do:

Raspberry Oatmeal Crumble Bars adapted from www.averiecooks.com will make super-sweet, over-sweet jam bars with a crunchy crumb. For the entire recipe please visit the link provided. Here are my changes and remarks:

To imitate the required ‘old-fashioned whole-rolled oats’ I used a 4-cereal porridge (barley, rye, oat, wheat) and – why not – added some lemon zest too. My jam was with seeds but obviously too sugary for such a recipe. The procedure is very easy, no much time needed.

Raspberry Oatmeal Crumble Bars

Remarks: I would suggest adding less sugar to the crumb or using a less sweet jam. Or just use less jam – I added quite a lot because I thought the bars would be very dry. With the time the bottom crumb layer gets surprisingly not soggy with the jam but quite hard instead.

Result: A bit too sweet for my taste but definitely very crunchy and sugar-addictive.

Adding these winter recipes to my Sweet collection.

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.

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.

bread · sweet

Double-Decker Gooseberry Scones and Muesli Rolls

Double-Decker Filled Scones from www.kingarthurflour.com

Here’s another attempt at sharing with you some of the recipes I’ve recently made and liked – they’ve been impatiently waiting to get posted all this time! Both recipes in today’s post are made with whole wheat flour: scones filled with jam and rolls full of seeds. Let’s start with the dessert 🙂

Double-Decker Filled Scones from www.kingarthurflour.com

A year ago – Easy Cheesy Biscuits for Summer Picnic in St Petersburg

Two years ago – Khachapuri for the Bride’s Party

Three years ago – Some Desserts from Leftovers

Double-Decker Filled Scones adapted from www.kingarthurflour.com will make shortbread-like scones with sweet filling and moderately sweet dough. Follow the link to get the entire recipe.

My changes: Opted to mix in whole wheat flour as the original recipe suggests, added less salt but still the 50g sugar seemed not enough even with the sweetness of jam filling. I didn’t sprinkle the top of the scones with sugar but instead brushed them with jam. The procedure is somewhat more time-consuming than for scones without filling but there was nothing super-difficult.

Double-Decker Filled Scones from www.kingarthurflour.com

Remarks: The filling part is very flexible – I chose homemade gooseberry jam which I thought would match these scones. I would flatten the dough more and probably add more filling cause these scones are baked in uncut rounds, which will rise in the oven. Thus I got lots of dough and not enough jam. Although I added whole wheat flour, I cannot say that it was very distinct, although the addition definitely changed the texture (see the close-up in the second picture from above).

Double-Decker Filled Scones from www.kingarthurflour.com

Result: Real double-decker scones with a bit too much dough and runny filling (which you will also collect from the parchment paper as caramel). More like a huge shortbread cookie with filling, cut into wedges. By the way, can become your leftovers recipe for using up jam or some other filling! You will entertain yourself much more while making these then your usual scones 🙂 I thoroughly enjoyed the process on the balcony!

Muesli Rolls from www.karenskitchenstories.com

But what I obviously enjoyed even more was eating these extremely (!) tasty Muesli Rolls which were especially good when toasted, mmmmm! I just gobbled down several slices with nothing on them, just because they were sooooo good… They might not look very impressive with all the barley flakes fallen off but once you taste them, you will not pay much attention to the looks 🙂

Muesli Rolls from www.karenskitchenstories.com

Muesli Rolls adapted from www.karenskitchenstories.com will make cute and really addictive buns with lots of seeds and other tasty stuff inside 🙂 As always – follow the link to read the original recipe.

My changes: Used barley flakes instead of oats, active dry instead of instant yeas, did not add molasses and so had to add more water. As for the ‘muesli’ part, I omitted walnuts, apricots and chocolate. I used barley flakes to decorate the tops but they almost all fell off. The procedure is easy (typical for leavened buns), though I decided to make less but bigger buns. I forgot to flatten the buns before their last rise and did not mist the tops with water before baking. As my buns were larger, I had to increase baking time a bit.

Muesli Rolls from www.karenskitchenstories.com

Remarks: With all their seeds and stuff, these buns are not very crumbly, so will make for a very good breakfast option. Don’t know what they will turn into with chocolate (!), although you can see them looking pretty with apricots here, but sure enough they will still be great! So if you are in for sweeter buns, go ahead and try adding more of the ‘muesli’ ingredients.

Muesli Rolls from www.karenskitchenstories.com

Result: Try these muesli rolls toasted… although they are super-addictive even just plain, beware! And enjoy the chewiness at its most with every bite!

Muesli Rolls from www.karenskitchenstories.com

Adding these recipes to Yeast Bread and Sweet collections.

G.

muffins · on USSR / Russia · St Petersburg · sweet

Concert in Rotunda and Country Applesauce Muffins

Zinger House, St Petersburg

This week I continued exploring the mass of concerts and other events offered free at the St Petersburg libraries. I enjoyed going to these in Strasbourg which is especially rich in various cultural events. And you know what? Their ‘free’ status rarely meant they are low-quality or something. The same applies to the free events I’ve been to in St Petersburg! Actually the list of things one can do for free here is just amazing.

Music Shop, St Petersburg

On your way to the Ex-House of the Dutch Reformed Church you pass along the art-nouveau Zinger House and then this famous Music Shop on Nevsky Avenue. Continuing your walk, at the crossing with Bolshaya Konyushennaya Street you notice the familiar criss-cross of the wires against the St Petersburg sky.

Bolshaya Konyushennaya Street, St Petersburg

I was certainly in the mood of observing the things ABOVE my head that evening!

Concert in Rotonda, St Petersburg

An impressive door of the Arts and Music Center of the Mayakovsky Public Library promised some new discoveries inside. I have passed along this building so many times during and after my student years and never had I ventured inside! Shame on me…

Concert in Rotonda, St Petersburg

The concert was due in some 20 minutes so I had time to explore the interior of the former Dutch church built in the 19th century for the Dutch community of St Petersburg. It is now referred to as Rotonda (Rotunda) and is the place for various expos and concerts.Yet another example of converting churches into cultural institutions after the Revolution – a very-very lucky sort for a church during the Soviet times!

Concert in Rotonda, St Petersburg

You can imagine that the acoustics is great, particularly if you manage to get your seat right in the center under the cupola. Although in order to get there I had to move seats twice and end up with a very annoying spectator right behind me. She was all commenting and talking loud. A true connoisseur.)

Concert in Rotonda, St Petersburg

They say this is the most popular shot among the visitors of the Arts and Music center. And although I am not a huge fan of classical buildings, I think this one is something special. I didn’t have the chance to look inside the rest of the rooms but according to the photos on the center’s website, they look very modern and inviting! They have a huge list of heavy XXL-format art books there.

Concert in Rotonda, St Petersburg

The concert included pieces from mostly classical music created by French composers, performed by St Petersburg theatre Zazerkalye, one of my most beloved places in St Petersbyrg when I was a kid – a truly magical place for children! Although this theatre is mainly known for its children-oriented performances, they also stage operas and other concerts for the grown-ups.

Concert in Rotonda, St Petersburg

This woman played very beautifully. It was a completely different experience from that in the Smolny Cathedral where string orchestra of teenagers was performing. This was a truly professional musician who made her violin speak to the spectator’s hearts and years. There was also a woman performing Ravel’s compositions in Hebrew and Aramaic – I enjoyed the songs in Aramaic most of all, a very ‘world music’ experience, much more moving than, say, Bizet!

Country Applesauce Muffins from www.williams-sonoma.com

And now – some food which I devoured ate before the concert. After celebrating the final exhaustion of our apple stocks earlier this month with Apple Pancakes, we are now left with another task – use up the tiles of jars with various apple jam and apple puree, successful and not that very successful… The second type is the one I usually add to the recipes asking for honey or jam.

Country Applesauce Muffins from www.williams-sonoma.com

A year ago – Darnitskiy Bread (a time-proof recipe, I’m still using it almost every week! Like today, for example)

Two years ago – What a Peach! Sunny Cake and a Zesty Cranberry Cake

Three years ago – Oh Mon Dieu, Ces Baguettes!..

Country Applesauce Muffins adapted from www.williams-sonoma.com  will make s dozen of spicy and very good muffins. This is a very successful recipe which leaves you enough space for improvisation! Visit the link to see the original recipe.

My changes: I added just a bit of chopped hazelnuts, used less salt and less sugar, and opted for sunflower oil. As for the applesauce, I had our neverending homemade apple puree.

Country Applesauce Muffins from www.williams-sonoma.com

My first edition (on the photo above) featured chopped up hazelnuts which made the muffins quite crunchy. The second edition (pictured here with a rough thread) was done with no extra sugar, flaxseeds instead of nuts, a bit of olive oil instead of sunflower oil and some wheat bran. But wait – there’s more! There’s this third edition 🙂 I made it just now with some orange zest chopped up finely (it caramelized and added crunchiness and extra chewiness), no seeds/ nuts but oat bran along with wheat bran and ginger.

Country Applesauce Muffins from www.williams-sonoma.com

Remarks: The batter – and the resulting muffins – might seem a bit on the dry side, so I would suggest using a runny applesauce/ apple puree / apple jam and probably adding more of those apple chunks which make these muffins even tastier. Pay attention to the baking time – these muffins will not escape from the cups so they do not need high temperature and lots of time to bake. Try experimenting with different spices too.

Country Applesauce Muffins from www.williams-sonoma.com

The greatest bite is when you have this moist apple chunk!

Country Applesauce Muffins from www.williams-sonoma.com

Result: An easy recipe for chewy muffins, a cross between gingerbread and jam muffins. This recipe asks for just 1 egg, no special preparation and when it is ready, the aroma is super! And they came up very handy to use leftover apple jam!

Country Applesauce Muffins from www.williams-sonoma.com

Adding this to my collection of Apple recipes and to St Petersburg series.

G.