Our cake this weekend comes from the Ukraine, the famous ‘land on the edge’ and mother of Russian towns. The Ukraine was central in the development of all European culture originating in Kiev, today the capital of the Ukraine. A fascinating and rich history gives birth to a cuisine that grows up nurtured by Mongolian, Lithuanian, Polish, Turkish, Astro Hungarian and Scandinavian parents. Notwithstanding it’s vastness the Ukraine has been so richly blessed by nature that I can well understand why the Tzar chose to have his summer home here. Russians are joyful when they cook, they respect and give thanks like no other nation on earth – they truly celebrate food. For today it’s enough to understand where our cake comes from and to take joy not only in the eating but absolutely in it’s preparation. Here then a Russian celebration:
250 g butter
300 g all-purpose flour
100 g sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 extra large free range egg
1 tablespoon water
125 g smetana (sour cream)
500 g blackberries (I have used mulberries and blueberries and they worked as well)
100 g icing sugar (aka confectioners sugar)
Pre-heat oven to 225C
Combine flour, sugar, butter and baking powder in your food processor (or by hand, creaming the sugar and butter until light and fluffy and then folding in the sifted flour and baking powder). Add the water, the smetana and the egg and combine well. Knead into a smooth dough. Roll out the dough into a circle about ½ cm thick and put on a well greased pie plate. Shape the edges prettily into an edging of your choice. Fill with the blackberries, sprinkle with the icing sugar and bake in the preheated oven for 30 – 40 minutes.
Check your oven, though – sugared berries can burn!!! Serve covered in cream or smetana or as is,
Why not try with a good sparkling wine from the Crimea -made using the Russian ‘continuous’ system – base wine and yeast is pumped through several small fermentation tanks at a specific pressure. A specific method of dosing the yeast is used but the important thing is that in under 100 days it’s ready. The wine pours out at the other end constantly. It’s an interesting try but do keep an open mind.