Family recipe · no-dough · on USSR / Russia · vegetarian

Stove-Baked Potatoes

Potatoes Baked in Pechka

This summer feels like a lingering spring. Though most of June it looked like autumn – isn’t it a bit early to sit in front of the stove yet?! Thanks God, we are having pretty warm days now and are already dying from ‘heat’ (22 ‘C) :). And the White Nights period is still on:

Potatoes Baked in Pechka

Since I’m (again) searching for a job and can move around freely, I’ve spent several days at our dacha, unfortunately dressed in many clothes and trying to warm myself and the house up by feeding the stove with all that paper junk. Among which I found this Geography notebook from 1997:

Potatoes Baked in Pechka

Yes, back then we learnt that Pluto was a full-fledged 9th planet in the Solar system (what a loss!). I remember the teacher gave each pupil a planet’s name and we had to quickly rearrange in the planets’ order. We did the same with the months of the year and I can vividly recall my fear because I didn’t really study the months at home for that lesson! However, nostalgia did not prevent me from eventually throwing this school memorabilia into the dacha stove as well.

Potatoes Baked in Pechka

Heating pechka (brick stove) is almost obligatory even in summer because our house is wooden and poorly isolated. It feels pretty cool inside during hot days which is nice but it cools down a bit too much once the heat is gone (in our case the heat has not been here at all). We used to heat soup or other things using the metal ‘plate’ on top of the stove but you can also cook things inside the stove too.

Potatoes Baked in Pechka

The ‘recipe’ I’m going to share with you today is actually a no recipe at all, it’s just a way of making up a lunch or dinner which requires two main ‘ingredients’: a stove and potatoes 🙂 Ah yes, the third ingredient is that grainy salty salt!

Potatoes Baked in Pechka

My grandparents would bake us some potatoes in the residual heat left over from heating the stove when we spent our school holidays at our dacha. By the way, they constructed the stove themselves back in the 1970s when they were allotted a plot near Sinyavino in the Leningrad region. The dacha era was on!

Potatoes Baked in Pechka

So, backing potatoes in the stove goes like this: you wait till you get burning coal in your stove and then place some potatoes with the skins on (no need to clean them) right inside that coal & cinder mess. Shut the stove door and wait for about 40 minutes to 1 hour. You can check the doneness from time to time (it depends on the amount of heat left and the size of your potatoes) by fishing one of the potatoes out and touching them with your fingers (ouch!). If it feels soft and you can almost squash the potato through with your fingers – the potatoes are done.

Potatoes Baked in Pechka

So grab some salt and peel the potatoes with your fingers, creating mess all around (your face included), gobble them down while they are still hot! The best part is this burnt crispy layer which lies right beneath the skin. The rest is tender and almost sweet. New (baby) potatoes work best here – they are small and so will bake through in less time.

Potatoes Baked in Pechka

If you’re afraid your potatoes will burn too much or in case you prefer a cleaner type of meal, wrap the potatoes in aluminum foil before placing them in the stove. But this won’t be the authentic rough old-school way, you know.

P.S. I’ve tried baking potatoes in a bochka, a metal barrel traditionally placed outside the dacha plot (so that all your neighbors can enjoy the smell), used to burn down all that cannot decompose naturally (according to my Granddad). So I guess anything goes here!

Adding this recipe to Lunch/Dinner collection.

G.

muffins · sweet

Vintage Soviet Cookware and Date and Hazelnut Muffins

Mom says it’s not that vintage claiming they bought this glazed iron dish in the 80s, but to me this looks like 60s, doesn’t it? I rediscovered it at my grandparents’ place, and since it’s been out of use for quite a long time, I’ve decided to bring it back to life. Cooking in vintage (and pseudo-vintage) dishes and pans certainly adds up to the whole process, making it more enjoyable in a way.

Vintage Cookware

I’ve already tried baking bread in this vintage Soviet cookware twice and I must say it takes a bit longer than in my previous (and unfortunately now broken) glass baking dish.

Vintage Cookware

The bread turns out quite moist with thick crust, reminding me of that bread you would buy some years ago (good ol’ times, ya know).

Vintage Cookware

I baked the loaves about 25-30 minutes with the lid on and then about 25-30 minutes more without, including some minutes out of the dish as well.

Vintage Cookware

The first time I baked in this dish, the lid left an indent in the top of the loaf, the other time it didn’t. Both times I used baking parchment although I should probably try greasing the dish for a change to see how it goes.

Vintage Cookware

And here’s the sourdough rye bread baked with that very flexible recipe I’ve been using for quite a while – makes you pretty lazy though cause it’s so fool-proof and easy:

Bread in Vintage Cookware

And now on to another lazy recipe. There’ve been quite a few dried fruit recipes in the kitchen (and in my blog) recently. Well, you see, with this very capricious autumn-like summer in St Petersburg one has to find some solutions to substitute the energy you would otherwise get from the sun (and good mood). And even though we can buy nectarines from Tanzania (!), they all taste a bit bland (and sometimes are hard as wood), so you naturally turn to using dried fruits and nuts instead.

Date and Hazelnut Muffins

A pretty nice combination from my recent experiments – dried cranberries, walnuts and dark chocolate in a sort of spice cake, with brown sugar creating a crunchy crust, and these date and hazelnut muffins:

Date and Hazelnut Muffins

1 year ago – Spinach Pie with Phyllo Pastry for Midsummer

2 years ago – Rolling Pin Recipes: Flatbread, Pie and Sweet Buns

3 years ago – Two Ways To Make Russian Carrot Patties

4 years ago – Soviet Kitchen Heirloom

5 years ago – Sourdough Bread with Dates and Flaxseeds

Date and Hazelnut Muffins recipe will make 12 coffee-flavoured muffins. The amounts of the ingredients are quite approximate!

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 150 g sugar
  • vanilla extract
  • 50 ml sunflower oil
  • ginger
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • 300 g flour mixed with ground flaxmeal and flaxmeal flour (super fine ground flaxmeal, aka flax porridge), approximately
  • 1/2 tsp ground coffee
  • orange juice
  • chopped dates
  • roughly chopped hazelnuts, toasted / microwaved

Procedure

Beat eggs with sugar, add vanilla extract and sunflower oil. Mix flours with baking powder, soda, coffee and spices, and add the flour mixture to the eggs alternating it with orange juice (I usually do it in 2 doses, starting and ending with flour. And if I add too much of either dry ingredients or liquids, I just add more of the other). Do not overmix. Add chopped dates and nuts. Divide the batter among 12 muffin cups (I was using paper cases too) and bake in the preheated to 210 ‘C oven for about 20 minutes.

Date and Hazelnut Muffins

Remarks: I added two kinds of flaxseed meal / flax flour to these muffins, a rougher and a finer grind. I think adding bran or some other kind of flour would work as well.  

Result: These are sweet muffins, with a crunchy sugary crust and a delicate coffee flavour – just a hint! They puffed up nicely too. And who doesn’t like those tasty-tasty hazelnuts?

This recipe goes to my Sweet collection where you will find more muffins and dried fruit recipes.

G.

cookies · sweet

Oatmeal Cookies with Sesame and Prunes

Oatmeal Cookies with Sesame and Prunes

Before I start a whole series of posts with my recent Crimea trip, here’s a quick recipe of crunchy oatmeal cookies with sesame seeds and prunes. Less words, more oats! 🙂

Oatmeal Cookies with Sesame and Prunes

1 year ago – Working Class Hero: Down-to-Earth Vyborgskaya Side

2 years ago – Addictive Grissini and Sourdough Bread Twists

3 years ago – Pear Clafoutis, Jelly Muffins and Scandinavian Twists

4 years ago – Colours of Summer

5 years ago – Gros Sablé Breton or Je ne Mange pas Six Jours

Oatmeal Cookies with Sesame and Prunes will make crunchy sesame-flavoured cookies perfect for the capricious St Petersburg summer. ATTENTION: the measurements are given in a very approximate manner…

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 200 g sugar
  • 50 g butter, softened
  • 50 g sunflower oil
  • 250 ml of oatmeal mixed with some oat bran (I used medium-sized oatmeal, not the instant type nor the old-fashioned)
  • 150 g oat flour (I used tolokno, a rough grind of oats) mixed with some all purpose flour
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • prunes, chopped (to taste)
  • sesame seeds, plus extra for coating

Procedure:

Beat eggs with sugar, add softened butter and oil, continue beating well. Beat in the oatmeal and oat bran (you can omit the former if you want), baking powder, soda, salt and nutmeg and then add oat flour mixed with some all purpose flour, enough to achieve a rather thick mixture. Mix in chopped prunes (I scolded them with boiling water beforehand) and sesame seeds. Ideally, you should get a pretty thick mixture that will allow you to skip the chill-in-the-fridge step (to save time). But you can of course place the cookie dough in the fridge (no need to cover) for some time (20-30 minutes) first. I baked the first batch right away while the rest of the dough was waiting in the fridge (can’t say there was much difference in the end).

Oatmeal Cookies with Sesame and Prunes

Preheat the oven to 175 ‘C. Take a small ball of cookie dough (moistening your hands with some water might help), roll it in sesame seeds and place it on the baking mat / parchment paper, then slightly flatten it with your hand. Continue with the remaining dough (the cookies will spread while baking so consider making two batches). Bake for about 20 minutes but be careful – do not overbake otherwise the cookies will be a bit too crunchy!

Oatmeal Cookies with Sesame and Prunes

Remarks: Prunes are really quite distinct in these cookies, so if you prefer a more neutral dried fruit or something more traditional, try making these with raisins. You can also experiment with flour, adding some whole wheat flour for a change.

Result: Crunchy, pretty sweet cookies, with an accentuated sesame flavour … and sesame crunch 🙂

Oatmeal Cookies with Sesame and Prunes

As I was taking pictures on the balcony, one of the cookies did fall from the fifth floor. It survived the fall almost intact apart from being attacked by an ant when I went out to find the errant cookie. Then we used the good Soviet anti-microbes solution which worked well with the unpacked bread they used to sell in the USSR and in the 90s: scorch the thing holding it close to the gas burner and turning it from all sides – and you are safe!

This post goes to the Sweet recipe collection where you will find more cookie recipes.

G.

Family recipe · sourdough

Spelt Sourdough Baguettes

Spelt Sourdough Baguettes

Last weekend I experimented with spelt flour which I had never used before in baking. I drew upon my basic sourdough recipe which I use most of the weekends when baking black bread for my family. I also use it for baking so-called white bread as well. So you can almost call it a family recipe now.

Spelt Sourdough Baguettes

I cannot say that the whole-grain spelt flour added in rather small amounts in relation to the bulk of all purpose flour brought in some specific flavour. Also, there was my sourdough culture which is rye.

Spelt Sourdough Baguettes

So in the end,  the baguettes had quite a dense crumb with a general whole-grainy look and flavour. But that flavour they had for sure!

Spelt Sourdough Baguettes

1 year ago – Spring in St Petersburg. The Beginning
2 years ago – Stirato or Italian Baguettes
3 years ago – 2,800 km of Russia Seen from Above
4 years ago – What a Peach! Sunny Cake and a Zesty Cranberry Cake
5 years ago – Pane al Cioccolato… Senza Cioccolato

Spelt Sourdough Baguettes adapted from basic sourdough bread recipe originally adapted from Darnitsky bread recipe

Ingredients:

For the starter:

  • 1 Tb rye sourdough starter from the fridge
  • 100 g water
  • 100 g rye flour

For the bread:

  • 200-220 g of water
  • 150 g spelt flour
  • 200 g all purpose flour, more if needed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pumpkin seeds

Procedure:

Take a tablespoon of sourdough starter from the fridge and mix it with 100 g of water and 100 of rye flour, then leave it overnight.

In the morning when your starter has puffed up, add 200-220 g of water, 150 g spelt flour and 200 g all purpose flour, salt and pumpkin seeds. You should get quite thick though sticky dough so keep adding all purpose flour as needed. You should be able to fold the dough. Leave it covered for more than one hour, making at least one fold in between (if it’s too sticky, use either more flour or water your hands). Now you can either flour a glass bowl or a proofing basket, shape the bread into a round loaf, flour it and place it in the bowl, cover and leave to rise for an hour. Alternatively, you can make baguettes by dividing the dough in two and then folding and rolling each part to create 2 baguettes, place them on paper / baking mat, then cover and leave the shaped dough to rise for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 225 ‘C with a pan / tray on the bottom to create steam and a reversed tray in the middle (as a sort of baking stone). Reverse the loaf onto a baking mat / paper, make several slashes and slide it onto the hot tray / slash the baguettes diagonally and slide them onto the reversed tray together with the paper. Pour some water into the pan on the bottom to create steam. I usually do not change the temperature but if I see that the loaf is browning too much, I might decrease the temperature or move it to a lower rack. The baking takes from 30-35 minutes for the baguettes to 45-50 for a loaf.

Remarks: I tried hard to shape these baguettes, working the dough quite a lot by folding and rolling and re-rolling, and they puffed up nicely in the oven, also growing quite chewy crust.

Result: Flavourful and chewy. You might not tell at once that they are made with spelt flour but these baguettes are perfect for breakfast. Pumpkin seeds are good too!

Spelt Sourdough Baguettes

Here pictured with the precious Piave cheese from Italy’s Veneto region:

Spelt Sourdough Baguettes

It was a pretty Sunday morning and I took a lot of photos of the baguettes. I also spotted this thingy here which is a projector for silent cinema reels we have of me and my sister. My Mother is being busy converting the films into megabytes of me and my sister doing the pretty mundane things – without a sound 🙂 Yes, sometimes I do feel I was born way earlier than what my passport claims!

Spelt Sourdough Baguettes

Adding this post to my Sourdough Bread collection.

G.

no-dough · vegetarian

Carrot Soup Puree

Carrot Soup Puree

I recently had a sudden inspiration which resulted in a big pot of Carrot Soup Puree. A bright and spicy comfort food soup for these frosty March days.

Carrot Soup Puree

Year ago – Chestnut Coffee Cake and St Petersburg in February
2 years ago – Italian Sourdough Bread with Potatoes and Herbs
3 years ago – No-Fuss Russian Blini from Old Recipe Book
4 years ago – Sprouted Grains and Welcome Spring!
5 years ago – Sourdough Pancakes, as Promised

Carrot Soup Puree – spicy and creamy soup from carrots and the secret ingredients – cauliflower and potatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 5 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 400 g frozen / fresh cauliflower
  • 2 onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 boiled potatoes
  • stalks from fresh parsley, dill and coriander
  • chopped dried celery and parsley roots (traditionally used in soups in Russia)
  • soy sauce
  • olive and sunflower oil
  • pepper, salt, turmeric, paprika, dried basil and other herbs and spices
  • 4 l water
  • fresh herbs and smetana (sour cream), optional

Procedure:

With my mother we usually first make the (vegetarian) broth by heating plain water in the pot together with stalks leftover from the fresh parsley, dill and coriander we use for salads (we keep those in the fridge for the ‘soup day’). We discard them once they loose colour. Then we also add chopped dried celery and parsley roots (traditionally used in soups in Russia) and we do not discard these. My mother also adds whole black pepper but I don’t – since I was a child I just hate the moment when you get it in between your teeth, brrrr.

Meanwhile, heat a large cast-iron pan on medium to low heat and add your roughly chopped carrots. I usually first ‘roast’ the carrots without oil and then when they start getting a bit too brown, I add a mixture of olive and sunflower oil. Add chopped onions (again, the chinks can be pretty big and rough, you will puree them anyway), herbs and spices and keep cooking the veggies stirring from time to time. At some point I also add soy sauce and then I throw in the garlic, chopped.

When your broth is ready, discard the stalks and add the cooked veggies. Don’t forget to pour some water from the pot into the pan, stir a bit and pour the water back into the pot so that you get all the juices and flavours from the veggies. Add you frozen / fresh cauliflower into the pot (you can leave large florets whole), adjust salt and pepper, lower the heat and keep cooking until the carrots and the cauliflower are verging on becoming soft. Puree two boiled potatoes in your blender and add them to the pot – stir well cause the starch can create lumps. Then fish out carrots, onion chunks and cauliflower and puree those too, adding them back to the pot and stirring well. You can leave your pot at low heat while doing this. At this point you can adjust the amount of water and the salt / spices. No need to keep cooking the soup, it should be ready.

Carrot Soup Puree

Remarks: I guess you can use any ‘secret ingredient’ such as pumpkin, zucchini or other member of the cabbage family. And of course you don’t have to have pre-boiled potatoes, you can cook them with the rest of the ingredients. As I was quite generous with the black and red pepper, my soup was pretty hot. Adjust the amount of spices and herbs to your taste buds. Also, add as much water as you wish (to create a thicker / thinner soup) and feel free to leave some veggie chunks too.

Result: Colourful comfort food for early days of spring. Serve it with sour cream and fresh herbs and a slice of good rye bread.

Carrot Soup Puree

Adding this recipe to the Lunch/ Dinner collection.

G.

St Petersburg · sweet · traditional Russian recipe

Bird Cherry Birthday Cake

Bird Cherry Cake

This is my second attempt at making a Cheryomukhovy Tort or Bird Cherry Cake. You might have never heard of this bird cherry tree at all. You might have never even thought you could eat anything made from it. And yet it is one of the traditional ingredients in the Northern and Siberian cuisine.

Bird Cherry Cake

Last summer for instance we tried some bulochka with bird cherry filling in the Urals.  And my first attempt at making a bird cherry cake was back in 2014, after I bought a small package of bird cherry flour in Novosibirsk. This time I managed to get the flour in St Petersburg – it can be found in eco / bio / health stores and even in bigger supermarkets in the baking department. Funny enough, the flour I bought during my roaming on Vasilyevsky island last year is produced in Ulan-Ude, where we suffered from extreme heat just a couple of month earlier, in the summer 2016.

Bird Cherry Cake

I have doubts that the bird cherry flour can be found that easy outside Russia, so if you go on the Trans-Siberian one day, do try this thing. Such a distinct flavour – of almonds and some booze at the same time! This is why I decided to make a bird cherry cake for my Grandpa’s 85th birthday – something different for a change. And here is the recipe. And although you might never actually use it you will at least know how this exotic thing is made.

Bird Cherry Cake

1 year ago – Peanut Butter Post

2 years ago – How to Make Silky Cream Cheese at Home

3 years ago – Two Spinach Pies and Spinach…Rice

4 years ago – Polenta, Sempre Polenta and Broccoli

5 years ago – Two Rrrrrye Breads (Raisin and Riga)

Bird Cherry Cake or Cheryomukhovy Tort adapted from the recipe on the bird cherry flour package by aiuduhlesa.ru. Will make a huge multi-layer cake with distinct – or should I say never heard of? – flavour and dense crumb.

Ingredients:

  • 6 (!) eggs
  • 100 g sugar
  • 300 g all-purpose flour
  • 300 g bird cherry flour
  • 180-200 ml sparkling water – mine has lost its bubbles, see remarks
  • 1 heaped tsp baking soda
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 3 cups of high fat sour cream (smetana), for the icing – used less, see remarks
  • 5 Tbs sugar, for the icing – used a mixture of powdered and regular sugar

Procedure:

Beat the eggs with sugar until foamy. Add half of the sparkling water (100 ml) but do not stir. Add the flours and start mixing the batter with a spatula or a spoon (do not beat). Pour lemon juice onto the soda (it will bubble like hell) and add it to the batter. Gradually add the remaining sparkling water: your batter should resemble thick sour cream (I had to add more water). Leave the batter for about 10 minutes. It should get all bubbling and airy (mine was not…).

Divide the batter between two greased round pans (26-28 cm in diameter) and bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes at 180’C. Leave the layers to cool completely.

Meanwhile, get your icing / filling ready: beat the sour cream with sugar pretty well until the sugar dissolves. Cut each cake layer in half (I did it with the help of a special string but you can do it with a thread or a knife) and start building the cake. Take a half and place it on a plate cut side up, spread the sour cream filling and cover with the next layer,again cut side up. Proceed till you have your last layer, this time placing it cut side down on top. Ice the top layer with the remaining sour cream and decorate it with grated chocolate or some bird cherry flour (see remarks).

Bird Cherry Cake

Remarks: 300 g of bird cherry flour seemed like a lot after I added all the all-purpose flour to the batter. I wonder if you should actually use less of whether it’s just that I used less soda and still water instead of sparkling? Yes, I thought we had some sparkling water in the fridge and it turned out to have lost its ‘bubbling power’ by that time. Three cups of sour cream might also seem a bit too much but in the end you do get a lot of layers! I would add more sugar to the batter and use all the three cups of sour cream next time. And yes, although there’s no butter or oil in this recipe, there are SIX eggs 🙂

Bird Cherry Cake

As for the decoration, I sprinkled the top with finely ground flaxmeal – it’s rather neutral in flavour and taste, which doesn’t interfere with the bird cherry flavour. I did it not only for the sake of the desired ’85’ pattern but also because the top layer sour cream mixed with sugar and left overnight (although in the fridge) tend to acquire a brownish colour (no fear, it’s only natural!). So you would actually need something to decorate the top with (leave it to the last moment before serving) in case you’re not planning to serve the cake straight away. Leaving the cake in the fridge overnight is preferable so that the layers soak in the sour cream. 

Result: A big cake with the unusual flavour and the traditional sour cream filling which looks like a chocolate cake and yet is not. With minor changes to the recipe this can make a pretty good (birthday) cake. 

Snowy Saturday

Bird cherry tree is closely associated with the coming of spring: it blossoms lavishly in May, emitting its perfume all over the place. And since the weather changes back to cold for several days at exactly the same moment, there’s this persistent belief that it’s not a mere coincidence. In brief, when you see a bird cherry tree ready to show off its white flowers, there will be some cold days ahead. It works every year.

Snowy Saturday

We are quite far away from May now…

Snowy Saturday

Woke up today to seeing this outside our windows:

Snowy Saturday

And yet the days are growing longer and there’s even more light with all the snow. And you start hearing birds. Winter is beautiful but it’s just so long.

Snowy Saturday

This post goes to the Russian and Sweet recipe collections.

G.

bread · Greek recipe

Koulouri Thessalonikis, Take 2

Koulouri Thessalonikis

This is a take 2 of trying to reproduce the wonderful bread rings called koulouri: street food, breakfast food, snack food, these rings are sold all over the place in Thessaloniki, Greece. Of course I’ve done many more attempts over these years but the result has never been nearly as good.

Koulouri Thessalonikis

And hooray, now there’s a video of this recipe that you can watch (there was a request for that in one of the comments to the take 1)! I’m sure there’ll be no problem with it being in Greek as you might as well just try to reproduce the movements of the baker with the help of the recipe that follows. Here’s the video from the SKAI’s Chef on Air TV program – start watching from 3:55 if you don’t know Greek.

Koulouri Thessalonikis

The first koulouri I posted on this blog back in 2012 was with a slightly different recipe. I think overall those first koulouria (plural for koulouri) looked more authentic but almost 5 years later there’s no way I can actually compare the two recipe other than by appearance.

Koulouri Thessalonikis

1 year ago – Whole Wheat Fig Bars

2 years ago – How to Make Silky Cream Cheese at Home

3 years ago – Apricot Oatmeal Bar With Pistachios

4 years ago – After Apples Come the Berries

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

Koulouri Thessalonikis or ΚΟΥΛΟΥΡΙ ΘΕΣΣΑΛΟΝΙΚΗΣ adapted from chefonair.gr will make a dozen of soft and a tad sweet bread rings. I’ve made several changes to the original recipe which included filling the rings with chocolate cream cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 kg all purpose flour
  • 4 Tbs seed oil – I used olive oil
  • 1 Tbs salt – I used less
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water for the dough – I needed more
  • 2 Tbs sunflower seed oil for brushing the baking sheet – I used paper / baking mat
  • 2 cups lukewarm water for the sugary water – I cut this in half
  • 1 cup sugar for the sugary water – I cut this in half
  • 2 cups sesame seeds – I had too little of these (be generous!)
  • 3 Tbs flour for the yeast
  • 15 g fresh yeast – too lazy to check the yeast conversion website, I put in a bit of instant yeast (it should have been 1.76  tsp of instant yeast or 2.65  tsp of active dry yeast)
  • 1/2 cups lukewarm water for the yeast
  • 2 Tbs sugar for the yeast – I used a bit of honey

Procedure:

Pour lukewarm water into a bowl and dissolve the fresh yeast with the 2 Tbs of sugar. Add 3 Tbs of flour and mix. Cover with plastic foil and leave to rise for 30 minutes at room temperature.

(The original recipe asked for the mixer) Place the flour, the yeast mixture, the oil, the water and the salt to a big bowl and start kneading (3 minutes with the mixer running at low speed and then 5 minutes more at high, a bit longer by hand). Cover the bowl with a towel / plastic foil and leave to rest for 30 minutes and then knead again (5 minutes with a mixer, longer by hand).

Divide the dough into 15-18 pieces (I made 12 balls) and roll each piece into a rope about 30 cm long. Mix sugar with lukewarm water in a plate to create sugary water (it helps keep almost all the sesame seeds on place and adds some colour). Dip the ropes first into the sugary water and then into sesame seeds (place them on a shallow plate: I would suggest keeping some as a reserve because they stick so well and disappear pretty fast). Pinch the two edges to create a ring. Place the koulouria on a greased baking sheet (or line your sheet with parchment paper / baking mat), leaving space between them as they will puff up. Cover with a towel / plastic foil and leave to rise for 30 minutes (my first batch was rising for a bit longer already shaped while the second was rising longer as dough balls).

Bake in the preheated oven at 170’C for 15-20 minutes (mine took 20 minutes).

Koulouri Thessalonikis

Remarks: You can see how naked the second batch looks, as I was running out of the sesame seeds… For this recipe you do need quite a lot of them if you want a really authentic look and taste! And by the way, with the sugary water trick these seeds do not come off as massively as they would with dipping them in just plain water.

Koulouri Thessalonikis

The second batch also looks more browned as I was using a black baking mat for these. It’s a pity today on such a beautiful snowy winter day there’s not much light so the koulouria look rather blueish. Which they don’t 🙂

Koulouri Thessalonikis

I added less sugar to the dough and a bit less salt and still I think the crumb tastes pretty salty which comes into contrast with the slightly sweet outside thanks to the sugary water.

Koulouri Thessalonikis

Result: These traditional Greek bred rings are soft and chewy. I would eat them plain or with cheese and salad – although the original recipe suggests slicing them and filling them with chocolate. Which I imagine is also nice as bread is multipurpose!

Koulouri Thessalonikis

As for the crumb, koulouri is much softer than its Russian counterpart bublik (which has a dense crumb and poppy seeds instead of sesame). Bublik is also larger and thicker, with a more browned surface. Gosh, I love both 🙂

Koulouri Thessalonikis

By the way, all in the mood of the first Saturday of the month when we participate in the local recycling activity, I recycled the sugary water into a berry coffee cake. Worked out just fine.

Koulouri Thessalonikis

This post goes to the by Country and the Yeast Bread collections.

G.