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Here are two Russian faves - pancakes and truffle cakes, as well as an Estonian shake. They come from the Companion Guide to my novel, My Soviet Kitchen (pub. Roast Books). It also features lots of Georgian recipes and some Uzbek ones.


Makes roughly 15-20.

Warning: You will need to allow 4-5 hours for rising. Though if you can't wait, the batter can be fried without rising, it just won't be light and fluffy.

500ml milk
8g dried yeast
250g flour
20g melted butter
1 teaspoon salt, 1 dessertspoon sugar
1 whisked egg


Heat the milk until warm. Stir in the yeast until dissolved. Add half of the flour and mix.

Cover with a dishcloth and leave in a warm place to rise for a couple of hours.

Now add the rest of the ingredients and mix to a stiffish batter. Cover with the cloth again, for another couple of hours.

Now you should have a thick bouncy batter. Get your frying pan ready - grease it with sunflower oil and heat to a hottish heat. Pour in enough batter to cover the surface, probably about 2 dessertspoons.

Alternatively, if you want thick little pancakes, which Russians call Oladi, then do not roll the mixture around the pan, dollop it in one place and cook 2 or 3 at once.

Heat for 2-3 minutes before flipping over. Serve with any of the following, or a combo: sauceboat of melted butter, Smetana (sour cream), a dollop of caviar (lumpfish will do), slices of smoked salmon and a sprig of dill.


This Slavic sweetmeat (oval or oblong-shaped sweet 'potatoes') was popular throughout the former Soviet Union, particularly in the Northern republics. It is basically a kind of chocolate-truffle cake.

75g butter
1 generous tablespoon cocoa
125 ml milk
115g sugar
500g fresh bread crumbs (finely minced, minus crust)
10 walnuts, crushed
A slug of rum or brandy


Melt the butter on a low to medium heat. Add the cocoa powder, stirring all the time until you have a smooth silky liquid. Stir in the milk, add the sugar and keep stirring until it dissolves. When you have a mixture that is not gritty, take the pan off the heat and add in the breadcrumbs and the walnuts. Stir until they are completely coated. Now is the time to add your slug of alcohol if you're going to.

When cool, shape into rounds or ovals and put on a plate in the fridge. Chill for an hour, or overnight.

When you are ready to eat them, roll in a dusting of cocoa and/or icing sugar. They can be sliced or eaten whole. Store in the fridge.


A wholesome Estonian-inspired honey-grain drink.

1 284ml pot buttermilk, chilled (use yoghurt if unavailable)
1 heaped tablespoon Kama flour or oatmeal
Lg. spoonful sour cream
1-2 tablespoons honey and/or sugar
Generous pinch salt
kama shake

Kama is a type of Estonian-made flour. Variations on this theme are also found in Scandinavia.

Kama flour looks a little like tortoise-shell-speckled sand, smells like roasted hazelnuts and is a mix of peas, rye, barley and wheat. It gives this shake a delicious nutty, slightly-bitter, flavour.

If you are in England, however, you will probably have to make do with chickpea flour, wheatgerm, or oatmeal as a substitute. Oatmeal makes a delicious, refreshing, wholesome shake, though the flavour is not half so individual.

Put all ingredients in a mixer and whizz. It you don't have machinery, or a mechanical arm, use a whisk.

Leave to stand for a bit (15 mins or so) and serve slightly chilled in a long glass.

As a variation, make a smoothie by adding a handful of soft summer berries to make a fruity-oaty drink, or dessert.

About the Author
Cake Challenge
The Versatility of Vodka

All text and images copyright 2010-17 Amy Spurling unless otherwise noted