10 Russian Sweets
How many traditional Russian recipes do you know? You have probably heard of Borsch – substantial bright-red from shredded beetroot soup, served with dollops of sour cream; there is also a chance, you know Blinis – Russian-style pancakes, topped with caviar or smoked salmon. But how about Russian desserts – have you heard of any of them? If not, below you will find 10 Russian Sweets. May be not they are not as sophisticated as French macaroons, or Italian tiramisu, but good enough to try, if you ever have the opportunity!
Every country has its own apple cake. Russian apple cake is called “Sharlotka” – sponge cake, with a hefty layer of caramelized apples; this treat has in fact become a staple in Russian households for its simplicity, availability of the ingredients and at the same time quite a delicious taste. Traditionally, though, the cake was made with… old black bread crumbs, overripe apples and only a tad of sugar! Good thing, those times are gone – not sure, if today someone would actually appreciate a dessert made of stale bread.
Basically Russian-style gingerbread, first mention of pryanik dates back to the IX century – at that time, however, it was made of mixture of rye flour, fruit juice and honey, the latter constituted about half of the its weight. Around the XIII century, when Middle-Eastern spices were first brought to Russia, black pepper, cardamom, bitter orange, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves were added to the dough, and pryanik has finally received its present flavor.
Vatrushka is yeast-leavened roll, with cottage-cheese filling, sometimes it might also have povidlo – apple or plum jam; or raisins. Vatrushka is not typically eaten after the meal; it is most popular served for breakfast with tea.
Fruit juice thickened with potato or corn starch. Сurrants, sour cherries and raspberries are more common, but there is also Kisel made by curdling milk – and then served with sprinkle of sugar, cinnamon, or coated with jam.
You probably don’t think of Russia as country blooming with fruits, and berries, and you’d be wrong. Traditionally, Russian garden is lined with apple and pear trees, strawberry and currants bushes, blackberry and raspberry thickets, cherries and plums- yes, they all grow just fine even in severe Russian climate. But since cold can strike surprisingly early, Russian have acquired a taste for preserving fresh produce in numerous jams, marmalades, or by drying them out. As the result, until today in some houses and even traditional eateries tea would be served with small dishes with home-made jam, or dried fruit.
Fruit confectionery, obtained almost always from Russian sort of tart apples – Antonovka, and sweetened with honey, or sugar; sometimes, though egg whites are also added, to make pastila lighter. There are variations with lingonberries, currants, and raspberries. Traditionally pastila is baked in Russian ceramic stove – to allow slow, even cooking at very low temperatures.
A kind of Easter bread, reminiscent of Italian Panettone, is in fact traditional in the majority of Orthodox countries. There are numerous variations of this typical pastry – some are spiced up with cardamom, or even saffron threads; some include macerated raisins, candied fruit and almonds. After baking, Kulich is coated with white icing, composed of egg whites beaten with sugar.
- Baked apples
Apple varieties in Russia are numerous; and for centuries Russian farmers looked for new ways to utilize rich harvest. Apples in Russia are baked solely sprinkled with sugar, and some spice; filled with dried fruit, or tvorog – local fresh cheese; or even wrapped in puff pastry – either way, they can be served on their own, with honey drizzle or sour cream on side.
- Sweets made with Tvorog
Like mentioned above, Tvorog is a type of fresh cheese from Russia; sometimes it is mistakenly referred to as “cottage cheese”, but in fact it bears more resemblance with German quark, or French fromage frais. In Russia it has been widely used in sweet preparations for centuries. Some of the most common uses include Paskha (typical Easter treat, aside from Tvorog, the mixture contains butter, eggs, sugar, sour cream, raisins or other candied fruit, and molded in pyramid shape), Vareniki (sweet ravioli; filled with meat, they are known as pelmeni), and Syrniki (thick pancakes, where milk substituted for Tvorog). Tvorog is also a popular filling for Blinis (crepes), Pierogi (pies), or eaten on its own with jam or honey on top.
Just like Italian Biscotti, Suhariki are made for dunking. Today, commercialized cookies are made exactly like its Italian relative, by double-baking the dough. However, years ago Suhariki were made of stale bread, which was sliced very thin, and baked, brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with sugar.