What we call brioche is a bread highly enriched with milk, eggs, and butter. The more eggs and butter in the ratio, the puffier the bread, the more tender its crumb, the longer it stays fresh and soft (read it as moist). Similar dough recipes exist in many cuisines and have different uses. Differently shaped and cooked, brioche is loved all over the world. Alsatian brioche can be less sweet and served with foie gras and Riesling and can be sweeter and served as a dessert with coffee.
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.
“My mom just made her signature Gata. It smells like summer, sun, and a mountain breeze.
— This recipe is traditional, — she anticipates my question.
— Why is your Gata ten times better than mine?!
— It’s the quality of ingredients. The sour cream and matsun are the freshest and made of real milk. The butter is a Flower butter I melted myself.
Flower butter! It is made in June-July when high in the mountains wild strawberries are ripe, and flowers are in bloom. Cows then are milked with cream, and the butter churned of this cream makes any other butter seem like a mockery. If happiness has a taste, it should be the taste of Flower butter.” — read more: (in Russian) Narine Abgaryan Facebook post
After this story, I’ve been dreaming of the Flower butter, trying to imagine how it smells and tastes. Since Gata is made of 4 ingredients — flour, fermented milk, butter, and sugar — the quality of each component is what makes this pastry special. I can use the best there is in the states. And then a crazy idea came to my mind. What if I also add the flavor of edible flowers? How about Roman Chamomile? For the first experiment, I powdered 2 teaspoons of dry flowers and added them to the dough and the stuffing. For the second, I’ve infused heavy cream with Chamomile flavor and then fermented it. That was a hit!
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.
Since the kefir culture started living in my kitchen, I have fresh kefir products (drinking, strained, and soft cheese) in my fridge all the time. When they are handy, I find more amazing culinary uses for them all the time. The moment I saw a kulich recipe where farmer’s cheese was an ingredient to add to the dough, I knew I have to try it with my kefir cheese. I also wanted to try an idea I saw a few time online (don’t know who the author is) for forming this Easter bread as a flower, sunflower or daisy. The result is amazing! There is a faint hint of cheese. The texture is so creamy, a comparison to Japanese Souflee Cheesecake came to my mind. It is still a sponge, but the sensation of crumb melting in your mouth is incredible.
This is one of my old, before-culinary-school recipes. I was tweaking some rhubarb cake recipes six years ago, and this one was my final ever since. It came to my mind again a few days ago when I saw beautiful bright pink, glossy rhubarb stalks at Central Market. I tend to improve either proportions or techniques when revisiting recipes from the past. This cake escaped any changes at all. It doesn’t require any pro equipment or special skills, very easy to make, just follow the steps.
Made with relatively low-moist fresh cheese, traditional syrniki don’t need a lot of flour. Less flour helps to maintain low-carb diet and appreciate the natural taste of cheese in cooked pancakes. Syrniki are light textured, soft and fluffy, with only a hint of sweetness and vanilla. Serve them hot or warm, simply with a dollop of sour or whipped cream. The more elements you add, the more exciting this dessert becomes. You can add fresh seasonal or preserved berries and fruits. On top of the cream, sprinkle syrniki with sliced and toasted nuts, or cocoa nibs, or any other crunchy crumbs to add more texture and flavor variety to the dessert.
It is known as Tarte Flambée in France and as Flammkuchen in Germany. The dish is popular in both countries and there are many variations for the dough as well as for the toppings. Traditional basic version is made with thinly rolled rectangle of dough, which is covered with a generous layer of schmand/crème fraîche/20-30% butterfat sour cream, topped with onions and speck/lardons/small strips of lightly smoked uncured meaty bacon, seasoned with pepper and salt, and baked in a wood-fire oven. Flammkuchen was the first thing I wanted to recreate at home after my trip to Germany and France. The goal was to find the right recipe for the dough and the best local ingredients for the toppings. This recipe of flammkuchen is not final yet, it’s version 1.0, the closest to my favorite so far.