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.

cookies · on USSR / Russia · sweet · traditional Russian recipe

Taste from Childhood: Nutshells with Condensed Milk

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

From all the recipes I’ve tried over this long winter break that we officially have in Russia (the cold has made me stay at home most of the time) I’ve picked this Soviet recipe as the first post in the newly arrived 2016, another childhood sweet treat like Zemelakh cookies. Back in 2013 I made a post featuring a selection of Soviet kitchen utensils that are mostly out of circulation now. Among these were the aluminum molds to make walnut-like cookies filled with condensed milk. They look like this:

nut molds

My friend came along with her batch of walnut molds and two cans of sweetened condensed milk. Though three years older than our set of molds, her recipe is exactly the same (in the best Soviet traditions) and it comes on a gloriously Soviet-design packaging. If you take a look at the back of this recipe made by a Voronezh industrial machine plant (!), you will find out that it was printed on a recycled leftover packaging from a canning plant in Orel! 🙂

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

To make the walnut-like cookies even taste like walnuts, you can fill them according to the recipe (3 egg whites beaten with a cup of sugar until thick and then mixed with 1.5 cups of ground walnuts). Our choice that evening was caramelised sweetened condensed milk. And yes, you will need an entire evening to make all the cookies from the required 3 cups of flour with the limited amount of molds! 🙂

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

1 year ago – Winter Fairy Tale and Semolina Bread

2 years ago – Chocolate, Cocoa, Coffee and Cakes

3 years ago – Join the Soviet New Year Table

4 years ago – Sourdough Breads

Nutshells Filled with Caramelised Sweetened Condensed Milk or Орешки со сгущенкой (Oreshki so sgushchenkoj) translated and adapted from a 1982 packaging of the nut molds will make a mountain of small nut-like cookies willed with the sweety-sweet condensed milk (teeth, beware!). If you don’t have the molds, try using madelaine cookie molds instead.

Ingredients

for the dough:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 200 g margarine – we used about 150 g butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar – you really don’t need even that much as the filling is super sweet
  • 3 egg yolks – save the whites for some souffle, I made banana souffle
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt – we added just a pinch + some vanilla extract

for the filling:

  • about 3 cans of caramelised condensed milk or any other thick substance you prefer
  • or the original suggestion: 3 egg whites beaten with a cup of sugar until thick and mixed with 1.5 cups of ground walnuts

Procedure

We reversed the original procedure a bit, first beating the egg yolks with sugar until pale, then adding the softened butter and a pinch of salt and vanilla. Then we mixed in a third of the flour, then added a tiny bit of vinegar to the soda and poured the bubbly soda into the mixture. The 3 cups of flour were quite a lot for the decreased amount of butter that we used, so the dough ended up quite hard and not very easy to roll out. But if you dare using the whole 200 g of butter you will probably avoid this dryness.

Leave the dough covered in the fridge (original suggestion – somewhere cold) for 15-20 minutes and then roll it out into a thin sheet (we did it in portions). Cut the dough with the same molds and press the dough into the molds (we didn’t grease them as the butter in the dough will mdo the job). Here you will understand if you rolled the dough too thick or too thin – you should be able to cover the entire mold from the inside with the dough. The recipe suggests cutting the overhanging dough with ‘a sharp knife’ but you can also do it with your fingers (the overhanging dough will only appear if you cut the dough using a round cutter).

Place the molds on a baking sheet ‘like saucers’ (the dough side up) and bake (we guessed 175’C would be fine) for about 15-20 minutes until the dough starts browning. Be careful not to overbake! Leave the molds to cool a bit and then take the shells out. Fill both shells and bring them together. Enjoy!

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

Remarks: The caramelised condensed milk filling is super sweet as you can imagine. So if you want a lighter version I would suggest using some  nut butter or super-thick jam – or the original walnut filling. And if you do run out of filling (like we did with the whole two cans of condensed milk) and you realise it soon enough before you make another batch of nut shells, try using the dough for some individual tartlets filled with whatever you like (I had some thick cranberry jam). Well, at least even a small tartlet will use up more dough than a nutshell will!

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

Result: ‘A taste from childhood‘ was the verdict of my friend’s parents (the recipe makes such a mass of these nuts that you can feed three families with no problems :). These nuts are super-sweet and addictive. Best consumed with lots of tea to wash down all the thick condensed milk filling. There are various ways to enjoy these cookies – some people (kids) like licking out all the filling first and then eating the chewy shells, some prefer biting and some will just swallow the entire piece 🙂

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

The caramelised and regular condensed milk is definitely a taste from childhood. The caramelised version is particularly often used in many industrially made foods like syrok (a fatty cream cheese treat in chocolate glaze), layer cakes, cookies and biscuit rolls. A housewife in USSR would boil a whole can of sweetened condensed milk and produce the caramelised version at home, as only the un-boiled version existed (with such editions as sweetened condensed milk with chicory or sweetened condensed milk with cocoa / coffee). Some of these home experiences ended up on the kitchen door, floor and all over the place too 🙂

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

As yo can see in this photo we had quite a lot of shells left unfilled – I didn’t witness what happened to them later but I guess they just served as a ‘base’ for the jam or something. I was actually glad we ran out of filling cause the procedure is quite tiresome with such a mass of dough! A recipe for a tireless Soviet housewife who knows how to make a treat out of the scarce ingredients 🙂

This recipe goes to my Soviet/Russian and Sweet recipe collections.

G.

sweet · traditional Russian recipe

Zemelakh Cookies, Straight from Childhood

Zemelakh - forum.say7.info

I would like to share with you some of my – food – memories from childhood. You know, there are these tastes and flavours and smells that immediately take you several years back. Here is a recipe which at least makes an attempt at recreating that taste of (or from) childhood – Zemelakh cookies. It turns out that this is a Jewish recipe (couldn’t find the translation of this word though) but these cookies were and still are largely referred to as ‘vostochnye sladosti‘, oriental delight, and sold in an eponymous shop on Nevsky. But as we’re talking Soviet cuisine here, let’s assume that this recipe has already mutated into the Soviet / Russian food heritage.

Zemelakh - forum.say7.info

A year ago – Architectural Walks in Kolpino Part 3 – Early 20th Century Red Bricks

Two years ago – Cookie Time: Cheese Biscuits and Pistachio Biscotti

Three years ago – Those Were the Days or 90s in Russia Continued

Four years ago – Puerto Rican Flan

Zemelakh or Sugar and Cinnamon Coated Shortbread Cookies translated and adapted from forum.say7.info will make sweet cookies, soft inside and crunchy from the outside. This recipe has been travelling all over the Runet (Russian web), so cannot say where the original comes from exactly. See my remarks in italics.

Ingredients

  • 125 g butter, chilled
  • 125 g sugar + some for the coating (larger grain sugar will be perfect for coating)
  • 250 g flour, sifted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs milk
  • pinch of salt
  • cinnamon

Procedure

Beat chilled but not frozen butter with the egg, add a pinch of salt. Add sugar and beat well until the grains are no longer visible. It should get fluffy and homogeneous. Pour in the milk and beat well again. Beat in the flour in several parts. The cookie dough should be pretty thick (mine for some reason wasn’t…). Make a ball and place it covered in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200 ‘C. Cover your cutting board with baking paper and roll the dough out on it to a rectangle no thinner than 1 cm (I guess I should have rolled it out thicker than 1 cm – for better, softer results). Cut the dough in diamonds (that was tricky!), sprinkle them – first with sugar, then generously with cinnamon and then a bit with sugar again. Transfer the cookies along with the paper to a baking sheet. Bake at 200 ‘C for 10-15 minutes, not longer or they will be too dry! The cookies will be very soft when just taken out of the oven but you can check with a toothpick. If some of them got stuck to each other in the process, run the knife in between. Leave the cookies to cool before transferring to a serving dish.

Zemelakh - forum.say7.info

Remarks: Feel free to double the recipe! And try not to roll the dough out too thin – the fatter these cookies are (within certain limits of course), the more authentic the cookies will taste. Also be careful not to overbake them!

Result: The recipe is pretty easy though I cannot say that what you get as a result is the authentic Zemelakh. I remember that they were more …sandy. But as long as your cookies are sugar-cinnamon coated-crusted and buttery inside, you’re on the right path 🙂

Zemelakh - forum.say7.info

Adding this recipe to Sweet, by Country and Russian/Soviet collections.

G.

no recipe · on USSR / Russia · travel

Rossosh, the Other Russia

Rossosh, Russia

Rossosh in the South of Russia is where my mother was born. Last time we were there with her was 25 years ago and to tell you the truth I do not remember much. There were stories, photos and those silent family movies from that last visit which in reality constructed my own ‘memories’ of it all. It seems as if I remember something but most probably it was all just created in my mind by what I later saw in the family albums.

Rossosh, Russia

This was a very old-school journey. Regardless of all those shops and sushi and ugly contemporary buildings and shopping centers you can see in any Russian city. There is something to this place which suggests a very heavy trace of the old ways of life still present in the town and the villages around it.

Rossosh, Russia

It was a rather short visit too, for family reasons we had to come back earlier – but I guess we saw almost everything we could. My mother who would spend her summer holidays at her babushka’s place as a child, was obviously taken aback by all those changes and now absent places, buildings and other objects which she preserved in her memories.

Rossosh, Russia

What was present though was this stupendous aroma of the sunflower seeds being processed for sunflower oil. Just sweeping you off your feet and making you instantly craving for a pan of sizzling potatoes! This land where Rossosh stands is called Chernozem or black soil. And it IS black!

Rossosh, Russia

And almost everything grows there miraculously fast, just drop an apricot seed in your garden – and you will get an apricot tree soon! The problem with this region is that the droughts can easily ruin all your harvest, turning you into a bankrupt. We visited our relatives in a village called Ukrainsky, a former sovkhoz (it is in fact close to the border with Ukraine).

Rossosh, Russia

And they actually do speak a certain Ukrainian-like dialect there. And their Russian is also reminding me of what I heard in Ukraine… And these traditional mazanki houses (wikipedia claims it’s called wattle and daub in English) just transport you somewhere into the Gogol’s tales!

Rossosh, Russia

Look closer at the roof – it is first covered with reed and then with composition roofing (a later addition) – a traditional way applied to most of the houses in the town, Mom says. And these windows are amazing! It’s obvious that glass was kind of expensive and rare back when it was built!

Rossosh, Russia

My childhood memories do not contain any of these details. I just remember that the street we lived in (in a third of a former merchant’s house, separated into tiny one-floor apartments with all the conveniences in the yard) had more trees and that there was that mount of sand in front of it. And we hid a sandal in there with my sister, just to make our mother’s life easier, you know 🙂

Rossosh, Russia

Saw these nalichniki (traditional window casing moldings) too often in Rossosh to believe they were kind of a characteristic trait of the town. My guess is that they introduced them somewhere in the 1970s to make them all look alike…

Rossosh, Russia

This window belongs to the only house we saw which had the authentic reed-covered roof. With all its ruinous look it had this curtain moving with the wind. Someone used to care for this house, someone made this window look pretty. Love decadence but at the same time I always feel sad when I see something which was useful and who knows, very cozy too, so irreversibly abandoned.

Rossosh, Russia

Hand-painted advertisements promising you loads of cheap fur coats and bed sheets to be sold at the local house of culture, – THE best! Next to it was an abandoned park with a ruined pavilion and the remains of the dancing place. AND the aroma of sunflower seeds as there IS a functioning factory still!

Rossosh, Russia

A very 1970s view to my mind. There’s something about this town that is either 1990s or 1970s, I couldn’t make out the period it got stuck in exactly. The other thing which amazed us was the feeling of spring rather than of late autumn the last day we were there – such a disarming and confusing feeling when you see those multi-coloured leaves just about to fall to the ground!

Rossosh, Russia

The coat of arms of Rossosh on the gates of the market place – the town took its name from the Old Slavic for ‘bifurcating river’. And the apples there are AMAZING there! And it’s such a SHAME they never reach our shops here in St Petersburg. They are pink inside, they are super sweet and not acidic as our local apples are. And they make thick apple juice with no sugar added! Ohhh…

Rossosh, Russia

They also make wonderful honey there. But in vain did we search for it in the local shops and at the market even. If you need authentic honey from Rossosh you have to buy a local paper, find a producer and make an appointment. This is how you avoid buying Moscow honey while travelling in the honey region!

Rossosh, Russia

Golden Lenin. Mum says it’s typical of the Southern towns to paint their heroes in gold. The WWII monument was also painted in gold. BTW, there is this explanatory plaque for the new generations apparently: Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the first socialist state in the world. Probably to justify his still standing out there in the middle of the square.

Rossosh, Russia

A local Venus de Milo – a pioner-girl without a hand. This couple is right in front of the school where my great grandmother used to work. I remember her telling me about the war times when they had to write on the book margins for the lack of any paper. And she also taught me to read faster and lots of other curious things I struggle to recall now…

Rossosh checklist

  • bookstore & postcards – none
  • museum – nope
  • local food – homemade borscht, potatoes and apple juice! Plus a nice fruit braid and delicious grapes…
  • market – full of clothes and other junk because we were there on Monday when the food is not sold there
  • old town – it IS old anyway 🙂 There’s a 19th century church near the market and merchant houses here and there

I definitely miss traveling in Russia this autumn. Even though it takes ridiculously long train rides to get around, I enjoy this slow-tempo discovering of my country!

P.S. Just remembered two hilarious names we encountered in Rossosh – Aphrodite Lux for a beauty salon and Ritual Plus for funeral services. Everything better than the ordinary!

Adding this to my Travel and On Russia sections.

G.

Georgian recipe · pies · sweet · vegetarian

Peach Pie and Khachapuri Revisited

Aunt Alice’s Peach Pie from www.thesisterscafe.com

A short break in between my Provence posts. A food post! Both recipes I’m going to share with you seem to be quite popular on my blog already and have lots of other variants. Greek peaches and Georgian pies – the best!

Aunt Alice’s Peach Pie from www.thesisterscafe.com

A year ago – Chocolate-Chocolate Cookies for the First Snow

Two years ago – Autumn Leaves and Karelian Pies

Three years ago – Khachapuri, I’m addicted!

Four years ago – Some Soviet Things for a Change

Aunt Alices Peach Pie adapted from www.thesisterscafe.com will make two small pies (or one big) with a runny & chewy fruit filling. Addictive-ly sweet! Check the link to get the entire recipe (which is super short).

My changes: I used no recipe for the pie shell but improvised as usual (see this for example). I used less cornstarch though would suggest using all the 4 tablespoons. Instead of fresh peaches, I found Greek canned peaches – some of them I sliced and the rest processed in the blender. Instead of almond flavoring I added cardamom.

Aunt Alice’s Peach Pie from www.thesisterscafe.com

Remarks: you will need to prebake the pie shell, so I would suggest putting some weight on the bottom of the pie (I skipped this with my second pie and, well, it all rose up and the result was not that straight :). The filling wouldn’t thicken unless I placed the pies in the fridge which seems to help with some pies.

Aunt Alice’s Peach Pie from www.thesisterscafe.com

Result: An addictive sweety-sweet pie with super soft runny peachy filling. Hats off to Aunt Alice, whoever she is!

More ways to use canned (or fresh) peaches:

And though the original recipe (and post) for that peach pie was definitely about Georgia, the peach state, here’s a connection to the other recipe I’m revisiting today… Piles of khachapuri, anyone?

Adjari Khachapuri

Three years ago in a random magazine somewhere up there in the North, in the Komi Republic (Russia) I found a recipe for a Georgian pie which I’m still using now. Recently I decided to bake the famous Adjari Khachapuri again.

Adjari Khachapuri

My khachapuri might not be authentically Adjari as those should be boat-like and have an egg in the middle, which you break closer to the end of baking. I add the eggs into the filling instead. My khachapuri also mutated to include pine nuts (why not?), spring onions and coriander (they say herbs are almost obligatory for such super-cheese pies), khmeli-suneli seasoning mix and smetana (sour cream) to make the filling softer.

Adjari Khachapuri

Khachapuri is what comes to your head first thing when you want to eat something hearty, when you have friends coming to your place, when you just want that comfort food (especially in autumn!). Khachapuri is for every occasion and I can sing songs about it just as I do for the sourdough rye bread.

Adjari Khachapuri

Khachapuri has become so very much known in USSR that we somehow consider it traditional. And although we do know very little how to make authentic Georgian pies (with the recipe varying from house to house, village to village, region to region) if you judge from what you can get in mainstream places, well, at least we do appreciate this super tasty food immensely! In particular in my family khachapuri is something like a family recipe, beating pizza no doubt.

Adjari Khachapuri

The are hundreds of recipes for these pies, I have already gathered an entire collection on my blog. The recipe for the boat-like khachapuri coming from the Adjari region is this recipe. I guess for the sake of the dough being elastic and shape-able, you’d better not choose a no-yeast no-egg recipe for these pies. The recipe is fool-proof – and who knows, probably you will dare and bake them with an egg cracked in the middle of each pie!

Adjari Khachapuri

I also baked another batch of these pies on the next day, adding some whole wheat flour to the dough and cottage cheese (5% fat tvorog), kefir, dill, spring onions and Adygea salt (salt + pepper, coriander, garlic, herbs) and khmeli-suneli to the filling. It was even more chewy and rubbery than a pie without tvorog. And as long as you can get hold of good rubbery suluguni cheese – you will succeed!

Other variants of the celebrated Georgian cheese pie khachapuri:

Enjoy!

Adding the peach pie to the sweet recipes.

G.

sweet · traditional Russian recipe

Medovik or Russian Layered Honey Cake

late August sky

This Saturday was a great day at our dacha with food, family, food, friends and more food. There was a sudden cats-and-dogs rain which made everyone run into the safety and warmth of the house. And as a true St Petersburg day, it ended with a gorgeous sunset colors and, well, sun – a cerise on the cake! Reminded me of the sunset we saw in Sestroretsk, on the Gulf of Finland.

Medovik or Russian Layered Honey Cake

This is how my sister just celebrated her birthday and this is what I baked for her:

Medovik or Russian Layered Honey Cake

This birthday cake started its journey in Kolpino a day before and then in the morning off it went (along with some baked aubergines) to our dacha place. It didn’t see the light of the following day… 🙂 The cerise on this cake is actually cherevishnya, a weird cross between sweet cherry and sour cherry – unfortunately with the weather and the soil we have here it tastes more like sour cherry.

Medovik or Russian Layered Honey Cake

If you’re in for this soft layered cake already you should know that it takes some time and effort. But it’s worth it, you know, as is always with those layered cakes 🙂 And oh do we all merely adore medovik, a traditional Russian honey cake! Made with lots of honey and layered with tons of smetana (sour cream), mmm…. There are hundreds of recipes for it but this time I made it this way:

Medovik or Russian Layered Honey Cake

And to avoid eating the entire cake all at once (and by one person) – just invite more friends and relatives! I had to take the cake out for a photoshoot after the first helping so that there was something to shoot 🙂

Medovik or Russian Layered Honey Cake

A year ago – Italian Apple and Cinnamon Cake

Two years ago – Franconian Wood Oven Bread in Regular Oven

Three years ago – Pita, Sourdough Pizza and Stewed Aubergines

Медовик Medovik or Russian Layered Honey Cake translated and adapted from eda.ru will make a super-soft and can-I-have-another-piece-please cake. See my remarks in italics.

Ingredients:

  • 280 g honey
  • 64 g butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 60 g sugar – I added more
  • 268 g all-purpose flour
  • 8 g baking soda
  • 300 g 20% fat smetana (sour cream) – I used more and 15% fat
  • 75 g powdered sugar
  • optional – nuts, more powdered sugar and honey, berries for decoration

Procedure:

Prepare a bain-marie (hot water bath): heat water in a larger pan and place on top a smaller pan with honey. Wait till it melts and then add butter cut in pieces. Whisk the mixture until the butter melts and leave on low for some time.

Meanwhile start mixing sugar and eggs at high speed. This will take about 8 minutes: you need to get a thick white cream (mine was beige and God those eight minutes!!! 🙂

Sieve (!) flour with soda so that the layers are puffy and soft. By this time the honey mixture should acquire brownish color. Take it off the heat, gradually add the egg mixture in and whisk it moving from the top downwards. Add the flour mixture and whisk moving from the bottom upwards (to my mind whatever direction you take, the movement is almost the same:).

You will need 6 * 20 cm layers, 2 mm thick. At home it’s hard to reproduce all the professional tricks (and you do not have all the equipment either), so instead of using special metal rings, you can level the layers with a knife and bake them on a buttered (better lined with parchment paper!) pan. I baked two at a time and then one at a time as they threatened to burn quickly.

Ideally you should have some batter left which you will use for crumbles (I did not, I got only 5 layers and I didn’t even level the layers, so some of them were more puffy and some less).

Preheat your oven to the maximum temperature (somewhere around 250 ‘C for me) and bake the layers for 3-4 minutes. Watch them closely as they will brown (aaand burn!) fast but should stay soft all the same. Leave them in the fridge to cool down (I didn’t).

Make the smetana cream: whisk powdered sugar with smetana. Then take one layer and place it ‘burnt’ side up (the top side) – this will be the bottom layer (I suggest using one of the ugliest but yet whole). Spread some cream on it and place next layer on top, this time ‘burnt’ side down. Repeat with the remaining layers, spreading cream on top of the last layer (use the best layer here) too. Finely blender the 6th layer and use these crumbs to scatter on top and sides of the cake (I didn’t, I actually used some ground peanuts on top and these weird berries). You can decorate the cake with powdered sugar and honey, then place the cake in the fridge overnight or better for 24 hours. This time is needed for the cake to soak in all the cream. It will also diminish in height.

Medovik or Russian Layered Honey Cake

Remarks: This cake should (and will definitely) be eaten on the day after the stay in the fridge as sour cream looses its whiteness and, well, in theory might ruin the cake. In practice though it will not survive longer than a day! Be careful with the layers – I tried various pans including silicone and metal, buttering them each time. And be careful also with the pans – not all of them are prepared for such high temperatures! I needed more smetana to cover the sides of the cake but didn’t have another container…

Result: A pillow-like cake which has nothing to do with all those heavy cream cakes. Not overly sweet and surely not dry. A perfect summer birthday cake!

Medovik or Russian Layered Honey Cake

Adding this to Russian and Sweet collections where you can find more traditional Russian dishes with honey and layered cake recipes.

G.

muffins · sweet · traditional Russian recipe

Birthday Kovrizhka and Chocolate Chip Muffins

Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka from www.pravmir.ru

How come it suddenly feels so 1st-Septemberish on the 1st of August? It was dramatically windy today but sunny too – and yet there was this autumnal light and the mountain ash trees all covered in red berries that made me shiver a bit. I just hope those were fake signs! You see, this year summer merely forgot its way to St Petersburg 🙂

Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka from www.pravmir.ru

I’m sharing with you the recipe of a Russian gingerbread-like (or rather pain d’épices) cake traditionally made with honey. Its Russian name is kovrizhka – and I can assure you the only sound of this word brings up so many sweet memories! It’s even more evocative than pryanik (gingerbread) – honey, raisins, nuts, spices… Kovrizhka is a diminutive of kovriga, which is a measure of bread (something like a loaf of bread but round).

Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka from www.pravmir.ru

Kovrizhka can be made plain and quite flat (it’s also considered a lean food as it doesn’t contain eggs, milk or butter) but it is sometimes sandwiched with varenye (jam) in between and glazed with sugar. This is exactly what I did some days ago – turning a plain kovrizhka into a layered cake for my Mother’s birthday. Well, it’s kind of obligatory to make a birthday cake, right?

Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka from www.pravmir.ru

A year ago – Chasing Alexander Pushkin in Tsarskoye Selo

Two years ago – Zucchini and Aubergine Whole Wheat Pizza

Three years ago – Fruit Post

Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka translated and adapted from www.pravmir.ru and turned into a 2-layer birthday cake.See my remarks in italics.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbs honey – half honey half apricot jam
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbs cocoa or ground coffee
  • 0.5 cup raisins
  • 0.5 cup ground nuts – I processed some grilled peanuts in a blender
  • 0.5 cup sunflower oil
  • 1.5-2 cups all purpose flour
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of ground coriander
  • jam, chocolate glaze (see further) – optional

Procedure:

Place sugar, oil and water in a pan, place over low heat and add honey. Mix well until the sugar and honey dissolve. In a separate bowl mix soda, cocoa or coffee and spices, then add this mixture to the liquid mixture. Mix well. Add nuts, raisins and flour sifted with baking powder. The amount of flour may vary: the mixture should look like thick sour cream.

Bake in a baking dish lined with parchment paper or greased and floured (I used a round silicon pan without paper or lining) at 200 ‘C for 30-35 minutes. You can eat kovrizhka plain or layer it with jam.

Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka from www.pravmir.ru

Remarks: My cake took less time – it started to burn actually, so I took it out earlier. Be careful! I used this recipe to make a layered cake, cutting it in two and spreading some chunky apricot jam in between. I normally do not like raisins but here they are just right! I also liked the zestiness of the peanuts – they worked well both inside and on top. I also glazed the cake with chocolate icing (see further).

Result: Tasty, chewy but soft, flavourful. I’m sure it will be very rich even without all the extras. Once you bite in this kovrizhka you menacingly become unstoppable… Beware!

Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka from www.pravmir.ru

As for the glaze, I think it’s high time I share with you this family recipe!

Chocolate Glaze, the family recipe we traditionally use for my Mother’s spécialité – the all-time birthday cake. This amount is enough for glazing one cake.

Ingredients:

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

Procedure:

Mix all the ingredients together in a non-glazed pan and bring to boil, stirring constantly.

Remarks: You can adjust the ingredients if the glaze is too runny or thick. The glaze will set while cooling so use it while it is still warm. The best thing is to try to get the glaze leftovers from the bottom of the pan! 🙂

Result: An easy and quick recipe with basic ingredients! A perfect Soviet practicality showcase 🙂

***

And now a bonus recipe which has been waiting its turn in the backlog for some time already:

Chocolate Chip Muffins from www.browneyedbaker.com

Chocolate Chip Muffins adapted from www.browneyedbaker.com will make cute little muffins. The only drawback is that the amount of the muffins is just not enough =) As always – visit the original website for the entire recipe.

Chocolate Chip Muffins from www.browneyedbaker.com

Changes: Used more sugar and a whole chocolate bar of Osoby, the best quality chocolate from St Petersburg!

Remarks: Had to bake these muffins a bit longer. You might want to double the recipe because… well, just believe me 🙂

Result: Super-nice! Soft and not rubbery at all, with melting chocolate inside…

Adding these recipes to Russian / Soviet, Chocolate and Sweet collections.

G.