10 Kopeks for Happiness
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.
Sochen (singular) or socheni (plural) are rolled flat portions of dough stuffed, folded, and baked without sealing the stuffing. They can be stuffed with sweet and savory ingredients, but the ones with fresh Farmer’s cheese aka tvorog are the most widely known and loved.
Where Do You Get Your Inspiration To Cook?
In many cases, I get mine from my guests. I’ve been dreaming of making Socheni for the last 20 years, but the stars have never aligned until yesterday. My guests and I have been talking about Socheni, how we love them, how they were one of those foods to consume in large amounts uncontrollably, and I thought — now or never! We found a GOST recipe and made fresh cheese with whatever I could find in my fridge — half bottle of fermented baked milk aka Ryazhenka (available at BEM), a package of Lemon Noosa yogurt, and a quarter of a cup of half-n-half. It took some time to make cheese keeping the mixture of dairy products in a bowl floating over the bain-marie and then straining it properly. But the result was rewarding — a beautiful creamy cheese with a flavor of baked milk (similar to this cheese).
When baked, Socheni had some cracks on top, and we’ve been wondering what went wrong. They smelled and tasted great though. Since we baked them in the evening, I was pessimistic they would keep their awesomeness until the morning. My concern was the stuffing will make the crust moister, and its quality will suffer. In the morning, I discovered the cracks almost disappeared, because the cheese filling cooled and deflated a little. I will probably try small modifications in the future, but this version is already pretty good.
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.