Serves 8

1/4 cup sugar + 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup scalded milk, cooled to 110 degrees
1 cup + 3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 large egg yolks (reserve 2 egg whites)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup chopped candied orange rind

1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspons lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
2-3 teaspoons warm water

1. In a large bowl, combine yeast, water, 1/4 cup sugar and milk, mixing until yeast and sugar have dissolved. Stir in 1 cup flour until well blended. Cover and let stand in a warm place for 1 hour.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter, 1/2 cup sugar and egg yolks. Add yeast-flour mixture from Step 1, stirr well. Add vanilla, cardamom, salt and enough of the 3 to 3 1/2 cups flour to make a soft dough. Stir in raisins, almonds and orange rind.
3. In a small bowl, beat 2 reserved egg whites until stiff. Fold them into the dough. Knead by machine or hand until a smooth and elastic dough forms, about 3-5 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning once to coat both sides. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.
4. Coat a 2-pound coffee can or kulich pan with cooking spray. Punch down dough and knead a few times. Place it in the prepared can, cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until dough reaches the top of the can.
5. Heat oven to 400°F. Place pan on a baking sheet and bake 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°C and bake another 35 to 40 minutes or until tester comes out clean.
6. While kulich is baking, prepare glaze by combining in a small bowl the confectioners' sugar, lemon juice, almond extract and enough water to make a smooth, runny glaze.
7. Remove kulich from oven and let cool 10 minutes. Unmold from can and cool on a wire rack. While still slightly warm, drizzle glaze over the top. To serve, cut off the crown and slice base into rounds. To keep any leftovers moist, replace the crown.

Apricot-Nut-Meringue Torte 

Serves 10

Pastry Dough:
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup room-temperature sour cream
12 ounces soft butter
4 large egg yolks (save the whites)
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Nut Filling:
16 ounces ground (not chopped) walnuts
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Apricot Filling:
2 (12-ounce) cans apricot filling

4 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the pastry dough:
1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and stir in sour cream. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream the butter, and mix in the egg yolks and yeast mixture.
3. Then add the flour and salt, and mix well.
4. Divide dough into three parts and let stand wrapped in plastic for 20 minutes.

Forthe nut filling:
1. In a medium bowl, mix together ground walnuts, 3/4 cup sugar and cinnamon.
2. Reserve 1/2 cup of this for the topping and set the rest aside.

To assemble:
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll out into a thin rectangle (the size of a half-sheet pan, about 18x12 inches).
3. Place on a cookie sheet or into a half-sheet pan.
4. Top with ground walnut mixture, reserving 1/2 cup for topping.
5. Roll out second portion of dough and place on top of walnut mixture. Loosen the apricot filling by stirring it well and spread it over the entire surface of the dough.
6. Roll out third portion of dough and place it on top of the apricot filling. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven.
7. Toward the end of the 40-minute baking time, make the meringue by whipping the egg whites until foamy.
8. Add 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla and beat until stiff. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. Spread meringue over hot torte and sprinkle with reserved nut mixture.
9. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until brown. When cool, cut into diamond shapes to serve.

Napolyeon Tort

Serves 8

Pastry Layers:
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) softened unsalted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
2 stiffly beaten large egg whites
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vodka
Pinch salt
About 2 cups all-purpose flour

Custard Filling:
6 cups milk
10 large egg yolks
1 large egg white
2 1/2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon vanilla
8 ounces unsalted butter

To make the pastry layers:
1. In a large bowl, beat together 2 ounces butter and 1 tablespoon sugar together until creamy. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites, sour cream, vodka and salt.
2. Gently fold in the flour a spoonful at a time until the dough is soft and pliable. Wrap in plastic and chill for 1 to 2 hours to make it easier to roll out.
3. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a baking sheet pan and dust with flour. Divide the pastry dough into 16 pieces. Roll out each portion of dough directly on the prepared baking sheet into a very thin 8-inch circle (if you can get two circles of dough on one sheet all the better).
4. Bake each layer until golden brown, about 6 to 10 minutes. If dough blisters as it cooks, pierce them with a fork. As each layer is cooked, remove from the sheet pan and set aside to cool on a wire rack. Repeat until all dough pieces have been baked.

To make the custard filling:
1. Pour the milk into a large saucepan and heat, but do not boil. In a large bowl, beat together the egg yolks, egg white and 2 1/2 cups sugar until creamy. Add 6 tablespoons flour and mix well.
2. Pour this mixture into the saucepan of milk, stirring initially with a whisk until smooth and then with a wooden spoon constantly over low heat until thick and creamy. Add the vanilla and butter and stir until smooth.
3. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Stir frequently as the mixture cools.

To assemble:
1. Place one layer of the cooked dough in the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan and cover evenly with a layer of cooled custard filling.
2. Continue to build up the cake in this way, layering the custard on top of the pastry, finishing with the 15th pastry layer. Crumble the remaining pastry layer on the top. Refrigerate for 5 to 6 hours.
3. When ready to serve, run a butter knife around the edges of the cake, remove the springform ring and, using a cake lifter or two spatulas, carefully transfer to a serving platter. Use an electric knife to get nice, clean cuts.

Chernika Tartaletki

Serves 4

Sweet Pastry Dough:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2/3 cup ice water

Blueberry Filling:
3 cups fresh or frozen (unthawed) blueberries
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon potato flour or all-purpose flour

2/3 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons sugar
Confectioners' sugar

To make the pastry dough:
1. In large bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups flour, 2 tablespoons sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter just until marble-size clusters of dough form. Sprinkle water over dough and, using a pastry blender initially, mix lightly.
2. Then, using your fingertips only, bring the dough together to form a ball. Wrap dough in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling.
3. Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, mix blueberries with 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon potato flour or all-purpose flour. If using frozen blueberries, add an extra tablespoon of flour. Have several mini muffin tins at the ready.
4. Remove dough from refrigerator and flour rolling pin lightly and, working with half the dough at a time (keeping other half refrigerated), roll dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut as many 3-inch circles as possible, reroll scraps and repeat with second half of dough.
5. Lightly coat muffin tins with cooking spray. Place round of dough into the wells of the muffin tins, pushing to fit. Fill with as much blueberry filling as it will hold. Repeat with remainder of dough and filling. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.
6. While tartlets are baking, in a small bowl, combine sour cream and 3 tablespoons sugar. When tartlets are golden and fully baked, remove from oven and set on a wire rack. Immediately spoon a little sweetened sour cream over the tops. Serve hot or cold. Dust with confectioners' sugar when ready to serve.

Pechenie Yabloki

Serves 4

4 large Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples
Lemon juice
3 tablespoons melted butter, divided use
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins soaked in 2 tablespoons rum or water
4 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon allspice (optional)
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Find a baking dish that will just accommodate the apples without them rolling around. Coat it lightly with cooking spray.
2. Make the filling by combining in a medium bowl 2 tablespoons melted butter with toasted walnuts, drained raisins, honey, cinnamon and other spices, if using. Set aside.
3. Peel the apples. Rub them lightly with lemon juice. Slice off the top portion of the apples and core them, leaving the apples intact at the bottom to ensure that the filling will not run out. Place them in the prepared baking dish.
4. Divide the filling among the four apples. Rub the exterior of the apples with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Place 1/4 cup water in the bottom of the baking pan and bake for 20 minutes until the apples are soft, but before they collapse. If desired, serve with pan juices, and ice cream or whipped cream.


Makes 750 ml, or 1 wine bottle's worth

1/2 cup of honey
1 tsp of cloves
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
16 ounces (1 lb) blackberry jam
10 1/4 cups water (or wine)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 mint leaf (optional)

1. 1.Bring 10 1/4 cups of water to a boil.
2. Add the ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, honey and homemade blackberry jam and stir gently.
3. Turn the heat down to about medium-low and bring it to a simmer. Stir the mixture for 6 minutes then take the pot off the stove.
4. Let cool for 2 minutes. Afterward, ladle the hot beverage into 10 mugs.
5. Garnish with a homemade mint leaf candy and enjoy!


Serves 8

1 1/2 lb shelled walnuts, finely chopped
2 c honey
6 tbsp sugar

1. Preheat oven to 200 deg C. Spread the chopped nuts in a layer in a pan and toast them in the oven for 10 minutes, turning them from time to time. Watch carefully for any sign of burning.
2. In a heavy pan, combine the honey and sugar and, stirring constantly, bring to a boil. When the sugar is melted, lower the heat and stir in the nuts. Stirring regularly, cook for 15 minutes.
3. Brush the inside of a pan with cold water and pour in the nut mixture. Smooth the top and set aside, uncovered, to cool.
4. When firm, dip the pan into hot water and invert a flat plate on top. Turn over; the candy should slide out in one piece.
5. With a sharp knife dipped in hot water, cut into diamond shapes.


Serves 2

12 egg yolks, raw.
9 tablespoons sugar.
2 tablespoons brandy.
2 teaspoons orange liqueur.
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Combine raw egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat at low speed for 1 minute.
2. With a rubber spatula, scrape up any sugar that may have stuck to the bottom of the bowl. Beat for 10 seconds more, gradually turning to maximum speed, then beat for 3-4 minutes, or until the mixture is pale yellow and thick.
3. Add the brandy (optional), liqueur(optional), lemon juice, and grated rind of 2 lemons, and beat at maximum speed for 4 minutes, or until the mixture is very thick.
4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or more, up to 2-3 hours.