This is one of the best dough recipes for small stuffed baked pies common for Eastern-European cuisines. It is best for its ability to keep the crumb soft, fluffy, and moist for a few days, because this enriched dough comes close to the dough for brioche. Can you imagine two-bites sized stuffed brioche pies? That’s what I am talking about.
With slight variations, this versatile dough recipe is used for many baked goods all over Ukraine. The same dough is made for savory garlicky pampushky served with borsch and for sweet, plain or filled with fresh berries, jam (povydlo), poppy seed filling, and dusted with sugar powder. Pies, braided and intricately decorated loaves of sweet bread, rolls — it is good for all of them. Try it this holiday season! This snowflake-shaped sweet bread makes a light, fluffy, nutty, and delicately sweet gift to remember.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon.
Edward Lear — 1871 Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany and Alphabets
“The Owl and the Pussy-Cat”
I’ve seen it at the Central Market almost always available but never considered buying because of the price. Then a month ago, I came to shop for something else to the H Mart, and its fragrance attracted me from the moment I entered the fresh produce department. I followed the perfumed scent and after a few turns found a pile of quince with smooth golden skin. It was impossible to miss and irresistible.
Quince is known as one the most difficult fruit to approach. It is tough to prep and long to cook. I’ve been thinking is there a way to cook it elegantly and effortlessly?
It’s already scorching hot in Central Texas. But early in the morning, the light is golden and gentle, and the air is still fresh. Socheni and some tea in a shadow of live oaks filled my morning with dear flavors, nostalgic images from the past, and piece. And it was good.
If you recognize the pastry in the picture, you and I probably belong to the same culture and generation. Most likely you are smiling and wishing you could get one of those right now. I bet you are thinking about your school years and other favorite cookies and pastries from a long time ago, aren’t you? Socheni, aka Sochniki, don’t need any introduction to those who know what they are. The rest of people would probably pass them by as they look pretty rustic and not as attractive as modern pastries. This phenomenon is an illustration how much we treasure our childhood food memories. They stay with us forever.
It was the first recipe I learned as a child, and it became my signature dish. I was extremely proud to be able to make these sweets for the whole family all by myself. They sort of disappeared from my adult menu. I don’t even remember when I made them for the last time. A request to make them for the coming Fat Thursday surprised me. I had no idea they are traditional carnival sweets! For me, making them was another chance to reminisce about my childhood, family, home… Thank you.
Only twice in my life, I had a chance to eat Poltava nalysnyky (Ukrainian crepes) with homemade tvorog (See Recipe Notes about tvorog). Thin and lacy, crepes were quartered, rolled with cheese, layered with sour cream and honey in a deep buttered dish, and slowly cooked for hours in a residual heat of a wood-fired oven. Every bite was like sweet nothings whispered in my ear! (Many bites later, I asked how this goodness was made and realized it was didko (one of the names for the devil in Ukraine) whispering…) The recipe below is inspired by
didko my memories about eating good food in Poltava region.
Until a few days ago, I was sure Polish Pączki have something to do with Easter bread Paska because for a Russian speaking person this word looks like it should sound the same. I was wrong, and I was wrong. Apparently, Pączki are pronounced POONCH-key [ˈpɔnt͡ʂkʲi] and are similar to what I know as Ponchiki from my childhood. Only now I discovered their name came to Russian from the Polish language!
A friend of Shuvalovs family in California, Klavdia Motovilova was using this recipe as a volunteer to make Russian crepes — blini — for the guests of annual Russian festival in February, organized by the Russian Center in San Francisco. For years, many Californians had a chance to enjoy these amazingly delicate crepes during Maslenitsa. My friend Anna Derugin was lucky to team up with Klavdia Motovilova and save the recipe. Klavdia is 90+ years old now, still in good health, but doesn’t volunteer anymore. With her permission, I am very grateful for the chance of being able to add this treasure to my online collection and make it available for more home cooks to enjoy.