Bird’s Milk

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Bird’s milk (Птичъе молоко) is one of our favorite Russian cakes! My husband makes it for special occasions. It is a chocolate cake layered with an egg white frosting and chocolate glazing.  I thought it is time for me to learn to make it, too, so I finally wrote down the recipe!

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As is typical for Russian recipes, the measures are in glasses. Here, one glass = ca. 300 ml (which is a good sized mug).

You’ll need:

  • 7 eggs
  • 1 glass sugar
  • 150g butter
  • 2 tablespoons cacao
  • 1/2 glass milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda + 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 1/2 glasses flour
  • for the glazing: 50g butter, 2 tablespoons cacao, 2 tablespoons milk, 3 tablespoons sugar

How to make it:

  1. Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Separate egg whites from egg yokes. Put egg whites aside.
  3. Melt butter and let it cool down.
  4. Beat egg yolks and 1/2 glass sugar.
  5. Mix with cacao, melted butter, flour and milk.
  6. Add baking soda and vinegar: I usually put the baking soda onto a large spoon and add the vinegar to it and mix. Add the mixture to the batter and mix well. The kids love to watch the chemical reaction!
  7. Butter a baking tray and distribute the batter evenly.
  8. Bake for ca. 10-15 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius until the cake is almost ready (check with a knife or wooden stick).
  9. Beat egg whites with remaining 1/2 glass sugar until stiff.
  10. Cover cake with beaten egg whites and bake for another 10-15 minutes until it starts to slightly brown.
  11. While the cake is baking make the glazing: mix all ingredients over medium heat until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolved.
  12. When the cake is finished baking take it out of the oven and cover the hot cake with the glazing.
  13. Cut the cake while it is still hot into diamond shaped pieces, take the pieces out of the tray and let them cool down.

Приятного аппетита!

The post Bird’s Milk first appeared on tamtamtiger.wordpress.com

Russian Zupfkuchen for Valentine

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Of course, being married to a Russian man, I was very curious about a cake we call “Russian Zupfkuchen” (maybe one can translate it into “Russian Pull-Off Cake”). When I asked him about an original Russian recipe for this tasty chocolate and cheese cake, I was met with utter puzzlement: such a cake is not known in Russia. So, where does this cake come from and why is it called Russian?

A bit of research revealed  that Zupfkuchen is known in Germany for many decades. The name comes from the spots of chocolate dough, which are on top of the cake, and those spots are created by pulling off (in German zupfen) pieces of dough. Only in the 1990 the company Dr. Oetker brought a cake mix onto the market and – yes – just named it Russian Zupfkuchen, presumably because the dark dough pieces sometimes look before baking like Russian church towers….

So, and here is our Valentine edition of a Russian Zupfkuchen, where we did not pull off pieces of dough but instead cut out little hearts…

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And, as is typical for Russian recipes, the measures are in glasses. Here, one glass = ca. 300 ml (which is a good sized mug).

You’ll need for the dough:

  • 200 g Butter, soft
  • 1/2 glass sugar (ca. 100 g)
  • 2 glasses flour (ca. 350 g)
  • 2 tablespoons cacao powder (ca. 30 g)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs

You’ll need for the filling:

  • 180 g Butter, melted and cooled down
  • 3/4 glass sugar (ca. 150 g)
  • 4 eggs
  • 500 g curd (Quark), low fat
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch

Now you have to:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius.
  2. Beat butter, sugar and eggs until fluffy.
  3. Add flour, cacao and baking powder and mix well. Eventually combine well by kneading the dough by hand.
  4. Take 1/3 of the dough and cover bottom and rim of a round cake form (ca. 26 cm diameter).
  5. Mix well all ingredients for the filling.
  6. Fill into the covered cake form.
  7. Roll out the rest of the dough (not too thin – at least 2 cm thick), cut out hearts and place them onto the filling.
  8. Bake at 180 degrees for ca. 50-60 min or until beaked through. When the cake is getting dark too early (which usually happens to me…), cover it with some tin foil.

Guten Appetit and приятного аппетита!

This post first appeared on tamtamtiger.wordpress.com.

Carrot Cake

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For a very long time I am trying to write this post about the carrot cake. We bake this cake often, it is one of our favourites. So, what prevents me from snapping a nice photo and from writing down the recipe? Well, this cake is typically faster eaten than I can run to grab my camera and wait for suitable light. The photo above is as good as it gets. And even then I didn’t manage to snap a picture of the cake in its entirety. I had only this short moment before the cake was completely devoured by my cake hungry family.

The recipe is from my husband’s Russian grandmother. As is typical for Russian recipes, the measures are in glasses. Here, one glass = ca. 300 ml (which is a good sized mug).

You’ll need:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 glass of sugar (our cakes are not very sweet)
  • 200 g sour cream (in Germany I use Schmand)
  • 50 g melted butter (cooled down)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/16 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 glasses flour (I prefer whole grain spelt flour)
  • 1 tsp baking soda + vinegar
  • 1 glass finely shredded carrots
  1. Mix well eggs, sugar, sour cream, butter and spices.
  2. Add slowly the flour. Mix well.
  3. Add baking soda and vinegar: put the baking soda on a table spoon, add some vinegar to the spoon and mix both with a little spoon. Add to the batter. Mix well. The soda and the vinegar will react with each other – its fun to watch for kids!
  4. Mix in the shredded carrots.
  5. Poor the batter in a buttered cake form – we usually use a ringlike form.
  6. Bake for ca. 1/2 hour at 180 degrees Celsius. Check with a knife if the cake is ready and take it out if the batter just doesn’t stick anymore to the knife. Don’t over-bake!

Enjoy!

This post first appeared on tamtamtiger.wordpress.com.

Quarktaschen

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Especially the best husband loves his Quarktasche (curd filled filo-dough bags) in the morning. After dropping the kids at school he often stops at the local bakery to pick-up his Quarktasche for breakfast. But on Sundays we have Quarktaschen for everyone!

You’ll need:

  • ca. 500 g filo dough
  • 500 g curd
  • 75 g sugar
  • 100 g butter meted and cooled down
  • 1 egg
  • 1 table spoon heaped corn starch
  • 1 tbsp vanilla sugar
  • zest from one lemon
  1. If you have frozen filo dough take it out of the freezer and let it thaw according to package instructions.
  2. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  3. Melt the butter and let it cool down.
  4. Combine the butter with all other ingredients.
  5. Roll out the dough and cut from it ca. 10-15 cm large squares.
  6. Place one spoon full of the curd mixture in the middle of the square and fold in all four corners, making little packages.
  7. Bake them for ca. 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Variations: add 100 g of steamed poppy seeds to the curd mixture and one more egg.

This post first appeared on tamtamtiger.wordpress.com.

Finnish berry cake

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The school start of our older boy caught us in full swing. Getting up every morning at 6:30 am is tough for a night owl like me and more than once did I fall asleep right after I put the kids to bed in the evening. The unfolded laundry is piling up faster than I can put it away, my mending basket is trying hard to get my attention and all the sewing, knitting and crafting projects are slowed down considerably. But there is always enough time for a quick and easy and delicious cake, right!

I was looking for an easy cake with berries and cream and one of the first recipes that showed up was this Finnish berry cake. What shall I say – it is our new favourite family cake!  The recipe is enough for a round cake form of ca. 25 cm in diameter. The cake is relatively flat, so be aware, it will be eaten in a blink of an eye…..

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You’ll need:

Crust:

  • 150g butter
  • 100 ml sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 300 ml flour (*)
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Filling:

  • 200 ml sour cream
  • 50 ml sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar
  • ca. 200-250g mixed berries (can be frozen)
  1. Mix butter and sugar until well combined.
  2. Add egg, flour and baking powder and combine everything to a smooth batter.
  3. Spread the batter into a buttered cake pan of about 25 cm diameter and pull up a small rim of about 1 cm hight all around. The cake is relatively flat, so it needs only a very small rim, just that the filling stays in place.
  4. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  5. Mix sour cream, sugar, egg and vanilla sugar and distribute the mixture on the batter.
  6. Sprinkle the berries evenly across the sour cream mix. The original recipe cautions not to use too many berries and suggests a maximum of one cup. I prefer to put a bit more and the cake turned out just fine.
  7. Bake for ca. 30 min. until the cake is done in the middle (you can check with a knife if you can cut the filling).

(*) I like spelt flour. For this cake I usually use half-and-half whole spelt flour and normal spelt flour.

Hyvää ruokahalua!  (I have no idea how to pronounce that….)

Reine Claudes

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My mom has in her garden a large tree of  reine-claudes (English: greengage; German: Reneklode), named after Claude (1499–1524), the Duchess of Brittany. Every other year its brunches break (literally) under the heavy weight of its fruits. They are ripe now while we are here on vacation, and we are busy with cooking jam, making compote, canning and freezing the delicious fruits. And of course we are eating them en masse straight from the tree.

The reine-clade is a wonderful rather old fashioned fruit. It has soft and juicy flesh and a delicate skin. I guess because it cannot be transported so easily, and has only a short self-life it lost its attraction to the food industry and thus is barely known anymore (even though it was cultivated in the gardens of Washington and Jefferson!). My mom knew it from her childhood and she planted this tree in her garden a few years ago. We love its fruits very much and we bake a delicious sheet cake almost every day, while the fruits last. By now I made this cake often enough to finally actually measure the ingredients and write it down (I am very much a rule-of-thumb kind of gal when it comes to cooking and baking….).

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Reine-Claude Cake:

For a baking sheet of ca. 30x40cm.

Yeast Dough:

  • 500g flour (I prefer spelt flour)
  • pinch of salt
  • handful sugar
  • 1 pack of dry yeast
  • 250-300ml hand warm milk
  • 1 egg

For the topping:

  • 1-1.5kg reine-claudes
  • 200g sour cream
  • 150g heavy cream
  • sugar and cinnamon (I prefer brown sugar)
  1. Mix flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl.
  2. Dissolve the dry yeast in one cup of hand warm milk (the milk must not bee too hot!) and add it together with the beaten egg and the rest of the milk to the flour. Mix everything well. The dough should be still a bit sticky. It depends a lot on the type of flour how much liquid it can absorb. I always prefer the dough to be rather a tick too soft than too firm, for this cake I prefer the dough to be rather soft and sticky.
  3. Let the dough sit for an hour or so in a warm place until it at least doubled in volume. Then beat it down.
  4. Preheat oven at 180 C.
  5. Butter a baking sheet and spread the dough onto the baking sheet. Since the dough is still quite sticky, this is best done with wet or floured hands.
  6. Cut the reine-claudes in half, take out the pits and cut the halfs once more half way through as if to quarter them, such that you get a pair of “ears”, and lay them flat inside-up on the dough.
  7. Mix sour cream and heavy cream and poor over the reine-claudes.
  8. Sprinkle the top with the sugar-cinnamon mix.
  9. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for ca. 45 min or until the dough starts to brown.

I love it best fresh, as soon as it is cool enough to bite into it. But it is also delicious when sneaking it from the pantry in the middle of the night or to have it for breakfast the next morning. When lunch time comes around it is typically time to prepare for the next batch…. Btw, this cake is also great with any other type of juicy fruit like mirabelles , plums or berries.

Bon appétit !