It’s been a week since my Granny died. A few hours before she actually died while turning my thoughts back to my Babushka I for some reason had a ‘vision’ of those sweet rolled things filled with jelly she used to bake – called sigary, i.e. cigars. I told myself that I would make them too.
Although in my mind I confused them with somewhat similar dessert – not with jelly but with nuts, I found a copy of the original recipe in my Mother’s recipe book and – a bit taken aback by the sheer… brevity of its instructions – I however ventured on this experiment.
Can we call it a traditional Russian recipe? Probably not. But this is definitely a Soviet recipe. Soviet recipes has at least three features in common. Firstly, they can have very vague ingredient measurements. Like this phrase ‘put as much flour as the dough will take’ which can mean anything from several glasses (Soviet cooks do not use cups) to a kilo or more.
Secondly, the procedure itself might be quite elliptical in its explanation. Like… no procedure at all, just the ingredients or something like ‘bake until done’ without any indication of temperature, time or even any instructions on what to do before baking (how come you don’t know what to do if the recipe’s title is ‘cake’?!).
Thirdly, the ingenuity with which a Soviet cook would use the ingredients (the choice of which can be quiet scarce and / or striking to begin with) tells you a lot about the Soviet way of life in general.
The recipe in question is at the very bottom of the page, written by my Granny’s hand. Some of the instructions must have been added later, probably when my Granny’s memory started to fade a bit and she had to resort to more detailed recipes. I will share with you my Mother’s take on this recipe combined with my changes, so this is a true family recipe.
A year ago – Whole Wheat Biscotti with Chocolate and Pistachios
2 years ago – Finnish Sourdough Flatbread and Cookies with History
3 years ago – German, French and Polish Sourdough Bread
4 years ago – Winter Light and Lemon Cake
5 years ago – Winter’s Here. Time for Spicy Rye Bread
6 years ago – Flammekueche
Sigary or Cigars from my Granny’s recipe book
- 200 g smetana or 15% fat sour cream
- 180 g butter, melted*
- 2-2.5 glasses or about 320-350 g flour
- jelly / jam / confiture of your choice (tangy ones are best)
- powdered sugar
Melt the butter and add in the smetana. Start adding the flour gradually until you get smooth malleable dough. Optional – place your dough covered into the fridge for about half an hour. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 190 ‘C**.
Take a piece roughly the size of a big walnut and start rolling it mostly in one direction so that you get a long strip resembling an oval. The thinner you roll your dough the more layers of it you will get in your cigar. Spread your jam over the dough in a thin layer leaving narrow margin on the edges. If your jam has bits of fruit in it, place a small bit in the middle of the strip. Start rolling the strip starting from the top edge (it’s somewhat easier this way) so that you get … well, a cigar. These cigars won’t spread so you can place them pretty closely on the baking mat but mind that the jam will most certainly leek out (I would suggest using silicon rather than paper – to collect all the jam drippings :).
Bake for about 20 minutes or until your cigars are nicely browned. They become crispy and pretty fragile when they cool down. While they are still warm, roll them in powdered sugar. The best here is home-made grounded sugar that will contain some larger bits as well – for a more Soviet-gourmet experience.
As I was making this recipe I had to stop as I realized I didn’t really know what to do once I mixed all the ingredients. So I put the dough into the fridge, a step which was not in the recipe, until my Mother came back home and explained me the procedure. I guess you can omit it or give your dough a short chill anyway. For this recipe I used two types of homemade (Mother-made) jam – plum jam and apple jam – both with large bits of fruit in them. I had to pick out one piece of fruit per a cigar. You see, the dough itself is quite fragile so you probably won’t be able to put in a chunkier jam. My Granny’s side note says that you can add some sugar to the dough but I wouldn’t do that as the jam provides all the sweetness you need.
* I reduced the amount of butter in this recipe – the original recipe actually called for margarine as it was and still is much cheaper than butter.
** We had to experiment with the oven temperature with the first batch. For some reason my Mother thought that these should be baked at a pretty low temperature, so we started somewhere at 120’C and them moved up to almost 200 as the cigars just wouldn’t brown. We baked our second batch at about 190’C for exactly 21 minutes.
Sweet and tangy, crispy but moist too. Such a treat! One of those things I haven’t tasted for years.
I intend to make more recipes from my Granny’s recipe book. There are those that with just their taste can bring back so many childhood memories.
And no, I do not smoke and in no way do I promote it!
Adding this post to the Sweet recipe collection.