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A Taste of Russia: Russian Easter Cake

A Taste of Russia: Russian Easter Cake
A Taste of Russia: Russian Easter Cake
Chef Larry Edwards/Casa de Cuisine

If the only thing you know about Russia is the news surrounding Edward Snowden or the riff between Obama and Putin, then turn off the damn television and head into the kitchen because the true Russia can be found in its outstanding cuisine (and yes, vodka).

There are many variations of Russian Easter Cake. Some can be quite fancy, yet the most authentic rely on taste and texture instead of frills. Real Russian Easter Cake was always made in an earthenware or metallic container (quite obviously heat-proof). In latter days a coffee can is used. In keeping up with tradition, here at Casa de Cuisine we used a 2-pound coffee can. Since this is a yeast-infused cake, you will want something big enough for the cake to grow in.

One look at the recipe and you might say "nope, not for me." It is a rather daunting recipe. There are quite a few ingredients and steps. I think once you read through the recipe, you will find it is not nearly as hard as you might think. It's not a quick recipe and it will take some time but then again, when something is as special and historic as this dish, time should not really enter into the picture.

Ingredients needed to make Russian Easter Cake (makes 1 cake):

  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 ½ Tbs. honey
  • 2 Tbs. corn oil
  • 4 ½ cups flour
  • 2 ½ tsp. yeast
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 9 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground cardamom
  • 2 Tbs. vanilla
  • 2 Tbs. Contreau liqueur
  • 2 Tbs. brandy
  • 1 orange, juice and zest removed and grated
  • ¾ cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ tsp. almond extract
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 empty coffee can (2-pound size) with one end removed

Steps:

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat add the milk and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the honey and the oil. Stir in ½ cup flour until smooth. Set the bowl aside.
  2. In a large bowl whisk the yeast into the warm water. Set the bowl as to proof (foam).
  3. Into the proofed yeast stir the milk mixture and the remaining flour. Cover the bowl and let rise 1 hour.
  4. Ina medium bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale and light. Whisk in the spices, vanilla Contreau, brandy, zest, orange juice, butter, raisins, walnuts and almond extract.
  5. In a small bowl whisk the egg white until hard peaks form. Fold the egg white into the yolk mixture.
  6. Stir the egg yolk mixture into the dough. Cover the bowl and let rise 2 hours.
  7. Oil the interior of an empty 2-pound coffee can and lightly dust with flour.
  8. Punch the dough down and place within the prepared coffee can. Let the dough rise 45 minutes.
  9. Pre-heat oven to 325.
  10. Place the coffee can on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake 75 minutes or until done.
  11. Remove from the oven and let cool in the can 15 minutes.
  12. Open the other end of the can and carefully push the bread out if the can and let cool on a rack.

The new cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards is now available from Amazon.com and bookstores worldwide. One of the most anticipated cookbooks of the year, "Edwardian Cooking: Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals."