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Russian, Eastern European and international cuisine brought to you by a mother and a daughter

Large Cupcakes For Little Ivanka

Lemon Cupcakes for Ivanka

Ivanka has turned 6 months old! It feels like it was a week ago that we brought her home from the hospital, and yet it feels like she’s been here always. The first two and the most exhausting months have simply disappeared from my memory. I know there have been sleepless nights and tears and exhaustion, but I don’t really remember all that.  As we all know, that’s how a woman’s brain is designed. It erases all negative memories connected to giving birth and raising a child.

Ivanka's little foot

Ivanka has changed so much from a tiny orange-skinned creature to a lively baby interested in everything. She wants to touch our books, drink our tea, taste our food, and of course her biggest dream is to play with the notebooks, mobile phones, and electric cords. The sports programme is prevailing at the moment: she is more interested in learning to crawl and trying to stand up than to learn pronouncing new sounds… what she does love though is to spit with a loud bubbling “ppp” sound - she can do that for hours… *sigh* hope she will make us happy with some more advanced sounds soon!

Ivanka's clothes

To celebrate Ivanka’s little anniversary, I made some cupcakes. Well, strictly speaking these were muffins topped with cream cheese and whipped cream and they were too large to be called cupcakes, but anyway. Cakes, mini cakes, large cupcakes, whatever - I am proud that I have managed to bake and decorate them:) They are not as neat and beautiful as what I’d like them to be, but I believe they’re quite okay for a busy Mom :) I’ve never been a perfectionist, after all.

Decoration

I adapted the recipe for lemon muffins from here and topped them with cream cheese that I whipped with some maple syrup. I had baked these muffins before and I loved how well buttermilk and lemon paired, not to mention how fluffy the batter was thanks to the combination of acid and baking soda. For the other sort of cakes, I used the same proportions, incorporating some whole wheat flour, frozen sour cherries, cinnamon, and nutmeg. For some reason I love the combination of nutmeg and cherries. These muffins/cupcakes came out more moist and dense, with a pleasant homely flavour of whole wheat. I decorated them with cherry-flavoured whipped cream and coloured sugar hearts… I hope Ivanka liked them even though she couldn’t eat them! :)

Ivanka's clothes

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Banana Chocolate Swirl Muffins

Banana Chocolate Swirl Muffins

I came up with the idea of these muffins when I wanted to bake something as a little “Thank you” gift for a friend of ours who is helping us with choosing and buying a car. Of course the idea of banana chocolate swirls is not new, but I didn’t really follow any recipe except for using my Chocolate Marmalade Candy Muffin recipe as a reference for making chocolate batter. I generously complemented the banana batter with vanilla in order to enhance the contrast between the moist, sweet banana swirls and the dark, rich and dense chocolate swirls. The batter was very quick and easy to make, although of course adding mashed banana and melting the margarine involves some extra bowls. I haven’t actually tried to just cream margarine instead of melting it - I suppose the batter would be  plastic enough with creamed margarine, so if you don’t want to wash an extra saucepan, try using creamed margarine at room temperature.

I was very content with the result and was happy to give these muffins away as a gift. I also gave a couple of them to my parents and left two for me and Stano to sample. I am trying to follow a healthier diet these days - five months of breastfeeding are making themselves felt and my skin and hair are starting to suffer (although I’m still getting off lightly I believe!).  One of my latest hits is an easy salad made with arugula, baby spinach, canned cannellini beans, walnuts, and blue cheese (yes, blue cheese again!). I’ve also bought a pack of organic wheat, so soon I’ll be able to jazz up my salads with wheat sprouts.

Banana Chocolate Swirl Muffin

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Chocolate Marmalade Candy Muffins

Chocolate Marmalade Candy Muffins
It’s good to have Orthodox Russians and Catholics in the same family, you know? Our Christmas season began on December 6th, when we celebrated the Slovak holiday of Mikulaš and filled each other’s boots with sweet goodies (or you can get an onion or a piece of coal if Mikulaš thinks you behaved badly during the year). Now Stano’s parents have come over and we’re getting ready for Catholic Christmas (everyone gives presents to Stano and his family) and the New Year (everyone gives presents to me and my family), and then Orthodox Christmas (no gifts, just a family get-together). Wahoo! Stano’s parents have brought along several boxes with Christmas cookies and mini cakes, so I’ll be posting some Slovak recipes and photos soon. Until then, I would like to present you my Chocolate Marmalade Candy Muffins that I also made for the Christmas season. I find these muffins quite perfect - not too buttery, not too sweet, very chocolatey, with specks of red and green translucent marmalade candy, they kept their shape perfectly, and I finally didn’t feel like coating them with some kind of glaze to make them look puffier. I think the inclusion of melted dark chocolate added some extra firmness to muffin texture, so perhaps if they would have lasted for 3 days, they would be a little bit chewy; but they were polished off in a day.

Chocolate Marmalade Candy Muffins
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Chocolate Coated Pumpkin Cottage Cheese Muffins

Pumpkin Cottage Cheese Muffins

Buttery. Moist. Sweet. Fluffy. Aromatic. Coated with dark bittersweet chocolate and generously sprinkled with walnuts. The milky flavour of cottage cheese curds and the mild sweetness of pumpkin enhanced by the rich aroma of nutmeg and cinnamon. Perfect served for breakfast or for dessert, with a glass of milk or a cup of tea alike. I’m talking pumpkin and cottage cheese muffins!

Chocolate Coated Pumpkin Cottage Cheese Muffins
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Yogurt Summer Berry Muffins

Yogurt Summer Berry Muffins

I never stop wondering why everything is so disorganized in local kitchen equipment stores. I’ve been looking for a very simple thing – muffin tins with matching paper liners. As a result, I’ve got tins of three different sizes (and all of them are too shallow) plus two packs paper liners that match none of these tins. Great. I’m hoping that if I continue collecting mismatched moulds and paper liners, someday one of the liners will fit in one of the moulds. Until then, I managed to squeeze some very nice liners with floral pattern into my six medium-sized moulds. That looked far from perfection, but better than nothing. The rest of the forms I just greased with butter. So in the end I got a batch of cakes of assorted size and style… and I liked it! Looked kind of informal. A friend of mine once said that although I try hard to put things in order, chaos is my true element. So this time I was in my element, you know :) Now I’m thinking of baking this as one big cake. I think it should look lovely with that colourful marble pattern inside.

I’ve got to say huge thanks to Patricia of Technicolor Kitchen for her post on Apple Yogurt Muffins, which inspired me to make yogurt muffins with fresh summer berries. The recipe worked out great for me, I just substituted margarine for oil and added more sugar (the original recipe highlights that the muffins are meant to be not too sweet).

Aaand then I had fresh berries in my muffins. Two handfuls of tiny sweet strawberries, juicy blackcurrants and tender raspberries that swirled into a beautiful pattern of pink, red, and purple inside these moist, buttery cakes. I loved how the heavy strawberries sunk to the bottom of my mini muffins and coloured them fluorescent pink. The muffins tasted best about an hour after I took them out from the oven – still warm and spreading a lovable sweet smell all around the house, but they were also good this morning when I grabbed a couple before going to the swimming pool. I’m definitely going to bake this as a single loaf on the weekend, when my sister returns from her trip around Central Europe! Thank you Patricia for the great recipe and inspiration!

Yogurt Summer Berry Muffins

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Are you curious to learn more about Eastern European cuisine?
RussianSeason.net is a food blog run by two Russian-speaking women - a mother (Natalia) and a daughter (Alina) - living in Latvia. Natalia is a professional artist and Alina is the co-owner of a web directory of Russian-speaking businesses in Europe. We both cook and Alina writes posts and takes photos.
In our blog you'll find a range of (mostly tweaked&adapted) recipes from Russia, Eastern Europe, the Baltics, and former USSR. But we can't restrain ourselves from experimenting with other cuisines too :)
Stano is the guy behind the Slovak version of this blog. He is currently living and working in Latvia and is also known as the Man Who Makes Alina Eat A Lot Of Cakes, because he hardly ever eats cakes or pies she bakes. He doesn't have a sweet tooth, you see. Stano also provides us with traditional Slovak recipes - such as Halušky that he's been promising to make for 7 months now :) Just be patient - we're sure he will eventually do it!
Ivanka is the largest cross-cultural project Alina and Stano have been ever involved in:) We hope she will be a foodie too when she grows up!
Our email address is: russianseason@gmail.com

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