Whole Wheat Biscotti with Chocolate and Pistachios

Whole Wheat Biscotti with Chocolate and Pistachios

Inspired by a colleague who brought us some Iranian pistachios to the office (those were good!) and another colleague who baked her own sukhariki (Russian for rusks) recently, I just had to make some biscotti too. With pistachios.

Whole Wheat Biscotti with Chocolate and Pistachios

I ended up following an American take on an Italian recipe and using Greek pistachios, Russian chocolate and dried fruits from Finnish muesli which do not necessarily come from Finland as you can imagine 🙂 And that having in mind to ‘finally follow a recipe to the letter’. No way!

Whole Wheat Biscotti with Chocolate and Pistachios

A year ago – Architectural Walks in Kolpino Part 5 – Around Railway Station

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

Three years ago – Vermont Sourdough and Yellow Roses

Four years ago – All the Soviet Children…

Five years ago – Flammekueche

Whole Wheat Biscotti with Chocolate and Pistachios adapted from Chocolate, Raspberry, and Walnut Whole Wheat Biscotti on www.kingarthurflour.com will make crunchy sweet rusks, almost 100% whole wheat if you follow the recipe 100%. The recipe is on the website; here are my changes and remarks:

Ingredients: had to use a mixture of wholewheat flour + a bit of all-purpose flour as the batter seemed too sticky to handle; added less salt; instead of freeze-dried raspberries (what are they anyway?) used raisins and other dried fruits from muesli; used whole pistachios instead of chopped walnuts.

Procedure: did not flatten the logs that much for the first bake and thus the biscotti turned out smaller (shorter) in size; the procedure might take some time but there’s something so enjoyable in it that you’ll want to do it again.

Whole Wheat Biscotti with Chocolate and Pistachios

Remarks: Already after the first bake the biscotti (or rather logs of biscotti) looked pretty attractive with a crack along the top. Be careful with the timing: during the second bake you’ll have to flip the biscotti over halftime through and they might seem not that crunchy enough. However, 10 minutes after they will be more than crunchy, believe me! By the way, these biscotti do not contain any butter or oil. I would add less sugar next time, as chocolate and dried fruits already contain sugar.

Whole Wheat Biscotti with Chocolate and Pistachios

Result: Chewy, crunchy, sweet. The pistachios (from Aegina) I used were slightly salty which added that little something in contrast to the sweetness of the chocolate. The (original) raspberries should have contributed to the appearance too, however even with the modest raisins these biscotti have a very rustic look.

Want more biscotti? Try these Almond Biscotti or the Greek Ouzo and Pistachio Paximadia or simply Biscotti.

Thanks God we’re past the shortest days of the year, the light will gradually come back, drop by drop. We’re having no snow and consequently no sun here in St Petersburg. Wearing sneakers at the end of December reminds of my other December, 6 years ago in Thessaloniki, almost entirely spent in a T-shirt 🙂

This post goes to my Chocolate and Sweet collections.

P.S. Domes of the St Sophia Cathedral in Veliky Novgorod on some of the photos on a Catholic Christmas Eve unintended.


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.


  • 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


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.


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


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.


sweet · sweet bread

Makowiec or Poppy Seed Roll for Easter

I’ve just come back from a trip to several regions of France, which was a real escape from the thoughts and facts that I am to face right now. Will make a separate post for sure, got lots of photos and interesting details. And brought some food along too =) Oh, this gourmet country! Will miss the numerous boulangeries, patisseries and restaurants!

This post is from the end of April actually. Since I’ve got the permission of the recipe’s author to publish the English translation on my blog, here it is – a bit late, but better late than never, you know! After all, it’s been SNOWING here in St Petersburg while I was burning in the unexpectedly hot sun f the French Riviera (or Provence – Cote d’Azur). As I was leaving for my trip to France, I wanted this post to appear before the May holidays. I just guessed that when I come back I will already witness the nature in its luscious green blooming state (which I experienced 100% in Provence) and thus miss some stages of the spring process… But I was wrong, as today the trees here in St Pete are just starting to get dressed in light green colours. So let’s get back to Easter and start the spring thing all over again =)

Easter for most of us in Russia is the celebration of spring. In one of my previous posts you could get to know how we usually dye eggs for Easter in my family and in this post I will share with you another of our Easter favourites – poppy seed roll.

Makowiec from beufalamode.blogspot.it

This is not the recipe my mother would use though, as I’ve used another one found on the net. There’s no evident tradition in Russia to eat poppy seed rolls for Easter but in my family that was the most delicious treat you would expect to see at the Easter table. Also I remember that poppy seeds would miraculously disappear from the food shops around Easter times, so there were always some stored in the pantry.

Makowiec from beufalamode.blogspot.it

So, for those of you fans of poppy seeds and – consequently – who are eager to spend some time on this roll, here is the recipe translated from Italian. Originally this recipe was adapted from a Hungarian recipe of a Polish dish =) Well, a truly international cuisine is going on here.

Makowiec from beufalamode.blogspot.it

A year agoExperimenting with Sourdough Bread

Two years ago Sour Rye Bread to Make Your Life Sweeter followed by Peach Cheese Cake for Victory Day

Makowiec translated and adapted from beufalamode.blogspot.it will make a crunchy poppy seed roll with lots to chew on. ATTENTION: Requires time, you will have to make some preparations in advance (at least 8 hours). My remarks are in italics. Grazie, Cristina!


For the dough:

  • 80 ml lukewarm milk
  • 1 g instant yeast
  • 35 g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • vanilla
  • lemon zest
  • pinch of salt
  • 210 g flour (the Italian source says it should be the ‘oo’ type)
  • 60 g of butter (I used sunflower oil instead)

For the filling:

  • 125 g poppy seeds (I added more)
  • 125 ml water (I added more accordingly)
  • 125 ml milk
  • 15 g sugar
  • 50 g almonds
  • 50 g raisins
  • orange zest
  • 1 egg white (I used a whole egg)
  • 35 g honey
  • 2 Tbs breadcrumbs (I did not use these)

For the sugar glaze: (I did not make it, just sprinkled some sugar…)

  • 60 g powdered sugar
  • 7 g of egg whites
  • 7 ml lemon juice


Place poppy seeds in a pan and cover with water. Bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave for about 8 hours (I increased the time).

Next, add milk and cook on low heat till the liquid is completely absorbed (this took some time indeed! At first I thought this milk will never disappear but in the end it was fully absorbed). Let cool a bit.

Meanwhile make the dough. Dissolve yeast and a pinch of sugar in lukewarm milk.

Beat the egg with sugar till foamy. Add dissolved yeast, salt, vanilla, lemon zest and mix well. Gradually add the flour. Knead until the dough is no longer sticky, then add the butter cut into pieces (I substituted with oil) and knead some more. Leave to rise in a greased bowl, covered, in the fridge overnight (I increased the time).

Makowiec from beufalamode.blogspot.it

Prepare the filling: Add almonds (apparently crushed), sugar, raisins, orange zest and honey to the poppy seeds. The author says that she has placed the mixture in the freezer for about half an hour and then processed finely at turbo speed. I did the same but my blender just would not process such a mixture finely, so the seeds remained almost intact. Add breadcrumbs (which I did not) to get a dense and spreadable mixture. Leave in the fridge until needed.

Once the dough has rested, roll it out on a floured board, spread the poppy seed mixture on top and roll it into a cylinder. Place it on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Leave covered for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180 °C.

Brush the roll with beaten egg (I used whole egg + some coarse sugar) and bake for 30-35 minutes. Let cool.

The author suggests that the roll is best the day after baking – especially if you glaze it with egg white beaten with powdered sugar and lemon juice – but I skipped the glaze.

Makowiec from beufalamode.blogspot.it

Remarks: This recipe needs time and so I had to adjust the procedure to my possibilities. As both the seeds and the dough require an approximately overnight rest, I prepared them both at the same time.

With the egg wash (glaze) the top of the roll quickly becomes really brown so be careful and watch it ; ) Just not to ruin the entire poppy seed experiment!

Makowiec from beufalamode.blogspot.it

Result: Though quite elaborate and time consuming, this is a very tasty recipe, perfect to enrich your repertoire : ) I would not claim that this is a convenient recipe – with all the required preparation and resting time and overnight rest, etc etc – but once a year, well, why not? I usually prefer non-leavened sweet treats for our family but this roll does not really taste like a leavened thing, it is quite balanced in terms of dough / filling, rather on the dry side I would say. The filling is rich and nutritious – although it’s all mixed together and blended, I gather this poppy seed thing is quite a challenge for your belly .)

Makowiec from beufalamode.blogspot.it

It’s Victory Day here in Russia today, will watch the traditional throwing-loads-of-money-into-the-air fireworks later tonight : )


bread · sourdough · traditional Russian recipe

Rye Malt Bread, Two Versions

Black Bread with White Seeds

After my French and Italian posts I figure out it’s high time I posted something on Russia. And particularly Russian bread, after all I have this kilo of fragrant rye malt which I brought from Kirov! I’ve searched for the black bread recipes using rye malt in Russian language this time and selected some of them. I even found a recipe of the Italian sourdough bread with rye malt, I wonder if they really use it there. I will share with you two recipes, one is leavened bread and the other requires sourdough culture (I now have separate pages for the yeast and sourdough bread recipes). But before that, here’s a photo (followed by inevitable reflexions…) from our Grandpa’s birthday, the table is usually so… usual with slight variations, that I felt as if I travelled back in time.

birthday table

{on the plate with store-bought gateaux there’s a piece of Cinnamon-Streusel Coffeecake from the ever-trusty www.kingarthurflour.com}

With all the respect to my grandparents, they do live in the Soviet past and always seem to be failing in adjusting their ways to what they see on the TV and around them (ahhr, this mighty TV!). As long as I remember myself, there were these talks initiated by my Grandpa over destroying the entire country (USSR) and leading it to a complete mess. There’s always this looking back, the regret (or better offense, almost a personal offense if we talk about my Grandpa) of the whole thing coming to the end. My grandparents live in this sort of a secluded world, they have their TV to tell them about some stupid news they believe and they have their short walks to get their bread (they have only recently discovered that in a huge supermarket you can get so many kinds of cheese and they all have names for them…) and this is it. Their perception of what’s going on comes from TV mostly and they do believe it, honestly (why do you say this or that, we sometimes ask them, and they answer, well, that’s what they say on TV!). And they have their old ways which sometimes drive me crazy, not because they’re so old-fashioned because in many ways I’m old-fashioned too, but because they’re so groundlessly… self-deprecating and even miserable.

This photo has triggered some reflexions in my mind. I am not sure whether this is a true tradition, these caviar-on-bread and champagne and cheese+sausage… or just doing the same thing almost without any changes. But then what IS a tradition? It just seems to me that the contemporary Russia has not yet developed any traditions, everything we’ve got either comes directly from the past or is a derivation of the past habit. Well, there are surely new trends etc etc but then they are mostly taken from other countries and we’re so proud we’re marching alongside the rest of the oh-so-developed world. This why it’s so hard to find a very good traditional restaurant in St Petersburg (I cannot account for Moscow), they’re mostly a disappointing tourist trap, but some of the better places have appeared which is a good sign.

When we were travelling in our car round the ‘nearest’ history-loaded Russian towns, I frequently had this feeling, yes-yes, here were are in Russia at last, there’s something here that speaks to my soul, to my roots. But I could not seize this something, it was the atmosphere, the nature, the details. And all those children we were interviewing in St Pete and in other cities, they all throw in this ‘I will tell the Americans about our traditions’ phrase. We sometimes asked them to be more precise and they gave us all those cliché. But, really, in my ordinary life I can hardly tell you what Russian traditions there are still, cause so many of them disappeared due to all sorts of reasons (USSR being one of them), plus what was left after destroying so much of the Russian traditions in order to build a better country got all so much mingled with the new Soviet quasi-traditions (I mean, they are a bit too young to call them traditions perhaps?) that now there’s not just a mess, there’s… a gap and we’re busy filling it up with some unified-standardized-globalized ways. We were so eager to renounce our old ways, embracing everything which was coming from the outside and would help us be cool and modern and new. And here I should better stop and turn to one of the culinary traditions which is perpetuated from the indeed old days, that is eating (if not baking yourself) black (rye) bread, something like Borodinsky or Darnitsky.

Black Bread with White Seeds

No sourdough needed for the first bread! And all those raisins and pie nuts are my addition, so you can obviously leave them out (and also be more careful when baking than I was, which resulted in this OVER browned crust : ). The recipe is from a site dedicated to everything about the bread machines and as I have none but liked the recipe… I just adapted it to my needs.

Black Bread with White Seeds

Here’s the recipe of Black Bread with White Seeds (Cherny khleb s belimy semechkami), translated and adapted from www.vse-hlebopechki.ru which will make a soft chewy brown bread


  • 2 glasses of wheat flour (Russian glasses are bigger than cups, about 130g of flour each)
  • 1 glass of rye flour
  • 1/2 glass of white seeds – and here I opted for pine nuts + raisins (they’re not seeds, I know : )
  • 2 tsp dried yeast – I used instant
  • 1 glass water (that is 200g)
  • 4 Tbs of bran – I used dark rye bran
  • 3 Tbs of rye malt
  • 70g of boiling water
  • 2 Tbs of vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbs of sugar
  • 1 tsp of salt


First, make a zavarka – pour boiling water over the rye malt (ohhh, the aroma is so… ryeish!) and leave it aside, so that it cools down a bit. Mix the wheat and rye flours with the yeast, bran, sugar and salt. Add water, oil and the malt mixture. Knead the dough and leave it for two hours in a warm place (I left it for a longer time).

Knead the dough once more, roll it out and scatter the seeds over it (here I added the raisins, just because rye bread and raisins are inseparable it seems):

dough, pinenuts and raisins

Knead the dough again. Shape it into a loaf (I made a sort of boule; there’s no mentioning of the second rise once the bread is shaped but while the oven was preheating, my bread got its second rise; I also slashed the top). The recipe says to bake it in the bread machine but here’s what I did – I preheated the oven to 200-220 ‘C and baked the loaf without any tin/pan for about 40 minutes, and I suggest covering it with foil after 20 minutes of baking (in Russian such bread is called podovy cause it’s baked right on the bottom of the Russian pechka, furnace, and the opposite is formovoy khleb, the one baked in a pan / tin etc.).

Black Bread with White Seeds

Result: The bread keeps well and stays soft long but be careful – if you add raisins like I did, the combination with yeast might be dangerous as the bread will become too soft and rubbery (where the crumb surrounds the raisins) if you keep it TOO long.

Black Bread with White Seeds

And talking about the crumb – it was wonderful. The pine nuts give a particular flavour to the bread, the raisins add sweetness (although I do not like them, to my taste they’re better than caraway seeds which are also associated with black bread here in Russia). And if there’s this crazy winter sun finally, you seem to make more photos than usual (there’s none now that I’m typing this, just this blueish white snow day).

Black Bread with White Seeds

And here is the second recipe, with rye sourdough culture this time. Compare the crumb and the crust of these two breads, this other one is more… Russian, I suppose:

Sourdough Rye Bread with Malt

Sourdough Whole Rye Bread with Malt (Rzhanoy khleb na rzhanoy zakvaske i obdirnoy rzhanoy muke) translated and adapted from forum.say7.info will make a loaf of dense fragrant bread


For the opara (sponge)

  • 2 glasses of obdirnaya rye flour – which means the flour should contain bran. I used 300g rye flour + dark rye bran
  • 300g of rye sourdough
  • 300ml warm water – the amount depends on flour

For the dough

  • all of the 0para
  • 2 Tbs rye malt
  • 1 tsp ground coriander  – another typical spice for the rye bread in Russia, mostly associated with the Borodinsky bread
  • 1 tsp ground caraway seeds
  • 1 Tbs liquid honey
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs olive or sunflower oil – I usually use both
  • 1 to 1,5 glasses of wheat flour – according to the dough consistency


The fermentation of the opara – an essential element of the traditional bread baking process – will take 3 to 4 hours, so you’ll have enough time to go shopping or do whatever you need. Meanwhile you should also make the zavarka – pour 50ml boiling water over the rye malt and leave it to cool down.

Mix the ingredients for the dough, knead, shape your loaf – I chose a more common brick shape using a glass loaf pan:

Sourdough Rye Bread with Malt

…and leave it for rasstoyka (rising) for 1 to 1,5 hours. Bake in a preheated to 180 ‘C oven for about 1 hour 10 minutes (I had cover the bread with foil for the last 20 minutes of baking). Leave the loaf to cool completely before slicing.

While baking, the loaf cracked on the side creating this sort of an eave. The crust is superb, it makes a crunchy noise when cut.

Sourdough Rye Bread with Malt

There was no winter sun the day I baked it, but still I made quite a lot of photos, maybe because this loaf turned out a very close imitation of my favourite Russian black bread, this regular dark brown brick with a hard crust and soft dense moist crumb. So, such was the result!

Sourdough Rye Bread with Malt

There’s still a whole line of recipes waiting their turn to be published (there’ll be more of the Italian and French stuff for sure). I also decided to digitalize my recipes from 2009 which I used to print back then (surely I deleted the documents from my old laptop and emptied the bin! ; ) Now that I’m searching on the web for those which were successful, I cannot find almost half of them, ’cause either the sites / blogs do not exist anymore or the recipes are already altered, – and merely several years have passed!

Sourdough Rye Bread with Malt

Now that I’m finishing this post, the snow is melting frantically, making walking almost impossible without getting all soaking wet. I’ve noticed that the street running along the river has been painted (colourful feathers, a salamander, a bottle?) and with the puddles and the melting snow dripping from the trees, there’s an interesting effect being created. Listening to Greek radio and waiting for the spring to come and bring change.