bread · Italian recipe · leftovers

Pane a Spiga con Patate or Spike-Like Potato Bread

Pane con Patate

These last days of the year I’ve been baking a lot – making up for the days I’m going to be away from the family oven soon 🙂 Among all that I could manage to bake and squeeze into the freezer for my parents, this potato bread in particular stands out of the crowd. This is an Italian recipe which originally calls for lard but which I quite successfully turned into a vegetarian version, using butter instead.

Pane con Patate

It looks kind of funny too. It’s supposed to resemble a spike (spiga) but mine looks more like some insect. Well it might as well but it certainly tastes like white bread! 🙂

Pane con Patate

A year ago – Architectural Walks in Kolpino Part 6 – Prospekt Lenina

Two years ago – Old-Fashioned Apple Slab and Greek Crumble

Three years ago – Goodbye 2013

Four years ago – Let Me Invite You into the New Year

Five years ago – Flammekueche

Pane a Spiga con Patate or Italian Spike-Like Potato Bread translated and adapted from the original recipe at ilpane.blogspot.com will make a giant loaf of soft and sweetish white bread.

Ingredients:

  • 500 g flour (or farina 0 if you can get it), sifted
  • 200 g water
  • 12 g fresh yeast – I used an equivalent 1.4 tsp of instant yeast
  • 10 g salt
  • 15 g sugar
  • 25 g home made lard – I used butter instead
  • 300 g of boiled and pureed potatoes (weigh them after pureeing)

Procedure:

Place all the ingredients in a big bowl, adding the pureed potatoes last. Knead the dough pretty well, about 10 minutes, then place the dough into a greased bowl. Leave to rise for 1 hour. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and form 2 logs (batards), one smaller than the other (roughly a 1/3 and a 2/3) and leave them to rise for 30 minutes. With a help of a rolling pin or just with your hand make an indent in the center of the bigger log and place there the smaller one, pinching it so that they stick to each other (I had to reshape them both after the 30-minute rise as they were quite puffed at that point). Cover the loaf and leave it to rise for 40 more minutes. Dust it abundantly with ground bran (almost forgot to do it and dusted it with lour instead) and cut the top part with scissors to resemble a spike (I cut the lower part too and in a much freer fashion so to speak 🙂 ). Bake in the preheated 220 °C oven for 30 minutes or until your bread is done (mine took a bit longer).

Pane con Patate

Remarks: I used leftover potato puree which my Mother makes with milk and butter (plus salt). There were little bits of it visible in the crumb and I think the puree also added sweetness to the bread. I guess that eaten with some soup or cheese will counterbalance the sweetness. The loaf is huge but has baked through just fine.

Pane con Patate

Result: Soft and really white, a tad on the sweet side with a contrasting ‘burnt’ crust. Flavourful. The recipe is quite easy (having leftover potato puree helps a lot too) and yet the result is pretty impressive. And it does taste Italian to me! 

Pane con Patate

The air bubbles and the crust:

Pane con Patate

If you are looking for more Italian bread, here’s another – sourdough – version of potato bread (also with herbs) Pane con Patate ed Erba Cipollina, sourdough oatmeal bread Pane di avena a lievitazione naturale, leavened Italian Panini all’Olio, Pane Tipo Altamura, Tuscan Bread, Stirato or Italian Baguettes, or simply Italian Bread.

This post goes to the Leftovers, Yeast Bread and By Country recipe collections.

G.

sweet

Peanut Butter Post

Reese's Dark Chocolate Cake

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

Homemade Peanut Butter

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

Homemade Peanut Butter

1 year agoHow to Make Silky Cream Cheese at Home

2 years agoTwo Spinach Pies and Spinach…Rice

3 years agoRye Malt Bread, Two Versions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reese's Dark Chocolate Cake

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

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

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

Reese's Dark Chocolate Cake

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

Reese's Dark Chocolate Cake

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

Reese's Dark Chocolate Cake

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

Reese's Dark Chocolate Cake

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

improvised peanut cake
This post goes to the Chocolate and the Sweet recipe collection.

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.

leftovers · sweet

Sipping at Spring with Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Spring at Dacha

A somewhat belated but already traditional spring-at-our-dacha post. Spring-cleaning and pillow-beating! What else can be a clearer indication of the coming of spring than the flocks of dacha-people heading from the city in all directions, towards their summer houses to open the new season?

Spring at Dacha

Here in St Petersburg, the period of kilometer-long traffic jams on Friday night has begun. It seems every St Petersburgeois (?) has a dacha, but that’s a misinterpretation of the situation. It’s just that everybody has a friend or a relative who owns one 🙂 I don’t think they all run there to help with the spring-cleaning or admiring the almond tree in blossom (see below), it’s mostly for more trivial things like barbecue (shashliki) or fishing.

Spring at Dacha

Let’s all take in spring, sip by sip, adding to the pictures the birds singing and the sun appearing and disappearing in its St-Petersburg-spring-fashion:

Spring at Dacha

The velvety red of the tulip:

Spring at Dacha

And – ta-da-dam – apple trees in blossom!

Spring at Dacha

As we know quite well from the last year’s experience, that might as well result in hundreds of kilograms of apples

Spring at Dacha

with apple trees falling down under the disproportionate weight and apples surviving until March!

Spring at Dacha

New life springs up from something looking rather dead than alive:

Spring at Dacha

The birch tree is in its fresh-green state, absolutely love it!

Spring at Dacha

And now on to a rather boozy recipe I’ve tried recently. We had some leftover red wine from my Dad’s birthday and so I could finally make the chocolate cake recipe I’ve been meaning to make for some years.

Chocolate Red Wine Cake from blog.lemonpi.net

A year ago – Magic Apple Orchard

Two years ago – Ecco Una Collezione Italiana

Three years ago – Koulouria of Thessaloniki

Chocolate Red Wine Cake adapted from blog.lemonpi.net will make a boozy, very soft and syrupy cake with a distinct wine aroma. For the original recipe visit the link.

My changes: used ginger instead of cloves and regular granulated sugar for the soaking.

Remarks: I baked my cake in a small glass pan instead of a bundt tin, in which I also soaked it in wine. I didn’t glaze the cake, just decorated it with some grated chocolate which very quickly became soft and boozy too 🙂

Chocolate Red Wine Cake from blog.lemonpi.net

Result: Soft and moist to the point of being almost liquid, this cake not only baked with but also soaked in red wine, is not for car-drivers for sure 🙂 As far as the taste goes, this cake is not oversweet, nor is it especially tasty. But if you want something else than a usual chocolate cake, this is it.

Chocolate Red Wine Cake from blog.lemonpi.net

Adding this to my Chocolate, Sweet and Leftover recipe collections.

G.

cookies · German recipe · Italian recipe · sweet

Almond Biscotti and Sour Cream Snickerdoodles

Almond Biscotti from smittenkitchen.com

After a tasty Greek cheese pie all one needs is… a combined Italian and German / American (the origin is contested here but who cares!) dessert! The trick of these two recipes is that they are complementary – you won’t need to think where to use leftover egg white (after baking cookies) or egg yolk either (from the biscotti).

Almond Biscotti from smittenkitchen.com

Making biscotti is somewhat a longish procedure but a very joyful one, really. Especially when the recipe is very good, you’re in a similarly good mood and there’s sun in the kitchen!

Almond Biscotti from smittenkitchen.com

And you will be in an even more cheerful mood when you complement biscotti (and yourself) with a batch of big chewy cookies! Made with the leftover tvorog (Russian cottage cheese) and the egg yolk left over from the biscotti.

Sour Cream Snickerdoodles from www.evilshenanigans.com

Let’s start with the biscotti:

A year ago – Makowiec or Poppy Seed Roll for Easter

Two years ago – St Petersburg the Great Part 2

Three years ago – Sour Rye Bread to Make Your Life Sweeter

Almond Biscotti adapted from smittenkitchen.com will make sweet and truly addictive crunchy-crumbly biscotti which are surprisingly soft inside (or should I say – they just melt in your mouth!). Follow the link for the entire recipe.

My changes: Added less butter and less sugar and still got very sweet biscotti. Instead of orange liqueur I used some brandy. Also I was quite lazy to grate the zest, so I just chopped it up. As for the procedure, I baked my cookies in between the first and the second bake that is required for the biscotti, so they were cooling down longer than 25 minutes waiting for the cookies to bake.

Almond Biscotti from smittenkitchen.com

Remarks: You will need an extra egg white – but will not use all of it. Use the left over egg yolk in the second recipe of this post. I would reduce the oven temperature or the time of the second bake as I think these biscotti would be even better if they retain more of their softness which was so obviously great after the first bake.

Almond Biscotti from smittenkitchen.com

Result: Crumbly and sugary, a bit over-baked but still melt-in-your-mouth kind of biscotti. The bits of almonds contribute to the crunchiness and chewiness .) Don’t hesitate, these are worth the two bakes they require!

Almond Biscotti from smittenkitchen.com

So now that you are left with an egg yolk (and some egg white too, cause you won’t need all for brushing), you can try this cookie recipe where you will use up the leftovers:

Sour Cream Snickerdoodles adapted from www.evilshenanigans.com will make big and soft cookies – just what you were craving for! Visit the link for the original recipe.

My changes: As I said, I had some 5% tvorog (cottage cheese) which I used instead of sour cream. I added some cinnamon to the cookie dough too. As I made these while waiting for the biscotti’s first bake, I placed the cookie dough into the fridge for some time. I think this only helped them get this perfect shape!

Sour Cream Snickerdoodles from www.evilshenanigans.com

Remarks: I used a less liquid and more grainy cottage cheese instead of sour cream so my cookies certainly differ from the original. Also, the second batch puffed up more than the first, but all in all these are very ship-shape cookies and do not spread much.

Sour Cream Snickerdoodles from www.evilshenanigans.com

Result: Big and chewy!

Adding these to my Country recipe collection and to Sweet and Leftovers collections.

G.

bread · British recipe · leftovers

Deli Bread with My Un-Favourite Ingredient

Deli Bread from www.guardian.co.uk

There’s this ingredient that can spoil even the most adorable food on Earth – bread. And that is… caraway seeds! Traditional rye bread in Russia is often spiced up with it (sometimes with coriander) which makes me always on guard when I’m discovering new bread while traveling. And here’s just one of those things – you bake wonderfully moist bread and… and then you realize you won’t enjoy it cause you followed the recipe and added caraway seeds 🙂

Deli Bread from www.guardian.co.uk

My Mom says, however, that she loved this bread. In my family I’m the only one with this caraway seed-intolerance. Mom says the bread disappeared quickly and she especially noted the caraway seeds (of course) that she thought were a very good addition. She also said the bread was really soft but had very light potato flavour (I was actually using her leftover mashed potatoes). Here they are, those bread-killer seeds 🙂

Deli Bread from www.guardian.co.uk

So if you are not like me and have nothing special against caraway seeds, here’s a truly successful bread recipe! Although I have to admit that I did not taste it and have to rely on my Mom’s impressions, I can assure you that from the outside this is a very smart-looking loaf:

Deli Bread from www.guardian.co.uk

A year ago – Dying Eggs for Easter the Natural Way

Two years ago – Black and White Sourdough Bread

Three years ago – Novgorod Borkannik or Carrot Pie

Deli Bread adapted from Dan Lepard’s at www.guardian.co.uk will make soft, very moist and ship-shape bread which would be perfect for me too – but for the caraway seeds…! To get the entire recipe please visit the link above. ATTENTION: requires a 12 hour rest in the fridge.

My changes:

I used active dry yeast. Didn’t add cooked onion. Had to add more water. Used less caraway seeds.

Deli Bread from www.guardian.co.uk

Remarks: Although this is a rather easy recipe, you will have to chill the dough for 12 hours in the fridge. So start making dough in the evening and you will have fresh bread next day. If you want extra flavourful bread, do not skip the onions – I was too lazy to do cook them 🙂

Deli Bread from www.guardian.co.uk

The bread includes some rye flour which I tried not to increase and… succeeded!, but that did not change the color much. It just added to the flavour for sure. I would suggest baking this bread for your deli breakfast – or serving it with soup.

Deli Bread from www.guardian.co.uk

Result: Deli bread is deli bread. Soft, moist and salty enough (according to my parents). Enjoy it with or without caraways seeds! 🙂

Adding this to my Yeast Bread collection, British recipes and to Leftovers too!

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.

bread · Italian recipe · leftovers · sourdough

Italian Sourdough Bread with Potatoes and Herbs

Pane con Patate ed Erba Cipollina from freebakery.blogspot.it

This is my first officially-spring post in 2015. And it’s about bread, you know… I’ve missed the blini-themed post this year as I didn’t make any Russian blini (crepes) this time. However one recipe I tried making for this year’s Maslenitsa period was pretty nice – the Swedish pancakes which were thin with just a little bit of flour, making them more like an omelette or a dessert. Ah, wait, there was another – quite challenging – recipe of wheat & rye pancakes which were really tasty with maple syrup.

Pane con Patate ed Erba Cipollina from freebakery.blogspot.it

I like using potatoes in bread recipes but sometimes they become the cause for a very short life of the bread. Not that we eat it so fast that it doesn’t last long but mostly due to the very addition of the potatoes to the yeast dough. They seem to create this sticky moldy mess in the middle of the bread in several days. I hope that this recipe I’m sharing with you today is different – at least it doesn’t have that much moisture in it. But it is very-very soft and at the same time so potato-chewy! Slice and enjoy:

Pane con Patate ed Erba Cipollina from freebakery.blogspot.it

A year ago – Sunflower Seed Rye Sourdough or We Need Sun Here

Two years ago – Thessaloniki and Sprouted Grains and Welcome Spring!

Three years ago – Mangoes and Rye to Welcome Spring

Pane con Patate ed Erba Cipollina or Potato and Herbs Sourdough Bread adapted and translated from freebakery.blogspot.it will make a chewy moist sourdough bread. I could not find the original recipe copied some time ago, it’s not available online anymore. So here is its English version (see my remarks in italics).

Ingredients:

For the biga fermented for 10 hours at room temperature:

  • 90 g bread flour (farina tipo 1)  – I normally feed my sourdough with rye flour
  • 60 g water at 26 °C
  • 15 g rye sourdough culture

For the main dough:

  • 410 g bread flour  – I used a mixture of all-purpose + rye flour
  • 210 g water at 26 °C
  • 10 g rye sourdough culture
  • 8 g salt – I added less as my mashed potatoes already contained salt
  • 250 g mashed potatoes – you can use leftovers!
  • 7 g chives – I used various chopped herbs, left over from lunch

Procedure:

When the biga is ready (after fermenting at room temperature for 10 hours), dissolve it in water in which you have already dissolved the additional 10 g of sourdough culture. Add the mashed potatoes, then gradually add the sifted flour (I couldn’t resist making a mix with rye flour). Add the salt and make it absorbed by the mixture, then add the chives. Leave the dough to rest for 15 minutes, covered. Make folds at thirty minute intervals, 5-6 folds in total (I made 5 folds but not precisely each 30 minutes…) so that your dough is ‘mature’. Leave for 20 minutes after the last fold, covered. Preshape the dough and leave for 15 minutes, covered. Make a boulle and place it into a floured basket for 40-50 minutes.

Slash the top of the loaf and bake it at 250 °C with steam for 15 minutes, then at the same 250 °C but without steam for 25 min more (here my bread started burning which I could easily tell from the smell of burning flour) and then for the final 10 minutes at 200 °C without steam and with the oven door slightly cracked (I had to switch the oven off for the last period and leave the bread inside).

Pane con Patate ed Erba Cipollina from freebakery.blogspot.it

Remarks: This is a recipe that helps using leftover mashed potatoes and probably even herbs (that’s what I did) and turns your plain bread into something more flavourful. I was using potatoes mashed with milk and butter which added some richness to the crumb. But you can use plain mashed potatoes for sure. Just add more herbs!

Pane con Patate ed Erba Cipollina from freebakery.blogspot.it

A close up of the crumb:

Pane con Patate ed Erba Cipollina from freebakery.blogspot.it

Result: The crumb is soft and crumbly, the crust is, well, in my case – burnt (rye flour that I used for sprinkling the basket also ‘helped’ here I guess). But the great thing about burning this bread a bit is that it tastes just like potatoes cooked in the ambers of a fire (or in the Russian oven)! I didn’t get much of the flavour from the herbs but for sure the addition of the mashed potatoes make this bread into a full-fledged meal.

Pane con Patate ed Erba Cipollina from freebakery.blogspot.it

Adding this to my collections of Sourdough bread, country-specific recipes and recipes using Leftovers (where you can find more ways to use your leftover mashed potatoes).

Went to De Phazz concert yesterday – what a voice & instrument show!

G.

leftovers · no-dough · vegetarian

How to Make Silky Cream Cheese at Home

Homemade Basa Cheese from honestcooking.com

Experiments in the kitchen time!

I love sour milk products as much as I love bread. I’m kind of crazy about them, I can leave without many food items but anywhere I go and anywhere I find myself eating – I’m searching for milk products. With my insatiable hunger for them I’ve been thinking recently about making my own – yogurt at least. But to start making something you really have to DO it. And here is what I did!

Homemade Basa Cheese from honestcooking.com

the photo features this whole-wheat baguette

I’m sharing with you a Croatian recipe I picked up to make homemade cheese (for sure many nations will have their own cheese recipes). This is a very interesting process to observe, really! Full of pleasant surprises : ) It even feels creative although you’re not DOING anything, you just leave it to work on its own. I’ve already started my ‘cheese process’ thrice, the first two times the result was very nice, the third – well, I think I bought some pretty weird milk which wouldn’t even boil O_o But with my stubborn zeal to get the result, I finally had another bowl with yogurt-like product soon to become silky cream cheese!

Homemade Basa Cheese from honestcooking.com

A year agoApricot Oatmeal Bar With Pistachios

Two years agoAfter Apples Come the Berries (I wish I could say the same this year…)

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

Homemade Basa Cheese (Croatian) adapted from honestcooking.com will help you make your own yogurt, then cream cheese and finally soft cheese / tvorog. It all depends on how fast you eat it 🙂 The original website has clear instructions so here are just my changes and remarks.

The amount of milk given in the original recipe (2 litres) might turn out too large for an already stuffed refrigerator (and for your strainer / pan / bowls). So I would suggest making only half of it. Anyway, if you want to experiment and not to regret it, begin with small amounts 🙂 1 litre of milk will be just about right for a small pan and a medium strainer. You won’t need too much free space in the fridge for it either. Although be ready to start a new portion as soon as you see how easy you can get all-natural homemade yogurt!

I used 2.5 % fat milk but instead of sour cream which is about 15-20% fat here in Russia I used prostokvasha which is only 2.5% fat. Prostokvasha is simply (prosto) the first product you get when you sour (kvasit’) the milk, kind of very delicate yogurt. I didn’t add salt.

Homemade Basa Cheese from honestcooking.com

Advice: Oh that dairy heaven! If you don’t want to turn it into something nasty, please, observe two things. First, do NOT use enameled pots! The milk will burn INTO it. I used a ‘plain’ metal pan and still the milk would burn a little at the bottom. This gave a sourish taste to my third portion (see further). If this burnt milk drama happen to you, generously sprinkle soda on the bottom of the poor pan, add hot water and leave it for some time. Soda helped me more than any other detergent. A very Soviet solution! The second rule is not to leave your milk while it’s heating. It might look very peaceful and the next second it’s overflowing the pan!

Homemade Basa Cheese from honestcooking.com

Remarks: If you’re patient enough, you can wait while your cream cheese continue its metamorphoses until it becomes a sort of soft white cheese. I couldn’t : ) Also, if you add a more fatty sour milk product like sour cream, you would get a different result and I’m sure you’ll get to the soft cheese point (which will keep its shape) much faster. Probably even before you eat it all all the while it’s still at its ‘cream cheese’ stage! =)

Homemade Basa Cheese from honestcooking.com

By the way, if you have just one strainer but want to make ahead another portion of cream cheese, you can hang the first portion over something taller than a bowl like a jug, fastening the cheese cloth ends to a stick or a wooden spoon, which you will place across the jug. Thus the cheese ‘parcel’ will hang over the whey without touching it. The cheese will form better this way too, I guess, cause it will release whey even faster.

Homemade Basa Cheese from honestcooking.com

love the texture printed on the cheese!

Homemade Basa Cheese from honestcooking.com

Result: Unbelievably silky soft and tasty. Although it doesn’t have much of a conventional cream cheese ‘taste’ (I mean, I didn’t add any salt), the cream cheese that I got was the most tasty. But here you have to take into consideration the fact that the result will depend on the texture, fat content and flavour of the sour milk product you’re using. My three portions had a delicate vanilla hint (the same as the whey it produced). The things I’ve tried the cream cheese ON and WITH already: bread, sweet muffins, corn groats porridge (perfect union!) and just plain 🙂

Also, as a ‘side’ result (and a positive one for those baking quite a lot!) you will get lots of whey which you can certainly use instead of buttermilk or even milk in your bread or sweet recipes. It has a very tangible flavour though. I already used all of whey in various muffins, bundt cakes and even sourdough bread (like this and this). And if you continue making this cream cheese you will get such a leftover of whey that you will have no need in buying extra buttermilk / kefir for baking!

Homemade Basa Cheese from honestcooking.com

This is my third portion in early morning when I peeped in to see the result (the second portion is pictured with pink cloth). And who would believe that this third portion almost failed: first the milk wouldn’t boil then it wouldn’t coagulate even overnight and then I had to warm it up again and add more prostokvasha while the pot I used got double burnt milk layer on the bottom… Probably thanks to this extra ‘effort’ this portion tasted just like low-fat tvorog – cottage cheese! We’ve just finished it today.)

Homemade Basa Cheese from honestcooking.com

This time vanilla flavour was even more pronounced. The photos feature the second loaf from this super-tasty whole-wheat sourdough bread recipe. On this shot you can see the texture is different – it’s more grainy. After one more day the colour and flavour also changed to creamy and more sour.

Homemade Basa Cheese from honestcooking.com

I think I will resume this curious process after I turn back from my next journey. Meanwhile, enjoy your cooking experiments!

G.