Let’s find out what are the most popular Russian national desserts, pastries, beverages, sweets.
The Eastern and Southern Slavic people have a round white bread called kalach, usually baked in the form of a ring with a small hole in the center. The Western Slavs used this as a ritual bread. They also used wedding karavai (a small round loaf).
A kalach is a sort of high-quality white bread made of high-quality flour, baked in a particular form, resembling a dumbbell (with a massive bottom and “handle” above it) in the central and northern parts of Russia.
Muromskiy kalach is an older form of kalachi known by the location that it was baked in Murom.
Muromskiy kalach was made from sifted dough. It must be puffy, with a soft crust, and bread crumbs.
A pryanik is a spice cake, baked from special gingerbread dough. Honey, nuts, candied fruits, raisins, and fruit or berry jam can be added for flavor. A pryanik is a square, rounded or oval cake slightly prominent at the center with inscriptions or simple patterns written all over. A layer of confectionery piping sugar is often applied on top.
Historically, a pryanik is a symbol of a holiday since its ingredients were more expensive than the daily dish.
In Russia the first pryaniki were called “honey-bread” and appeared as far back as the 9th century. It was the mixture of rye dough with honey and berry juice. The honey made up more than half of the total ingredients for the dish.
Karavai is the main bread used for Slavic weddings. It’s big, round, and neatly decorated. It’s divided among all guests at the wedding.
The name “karavai” is known only among the Eastern and Southern Slavs.
When people didn’t know about Christianity still in pagan Russia, they already baked special bread at wedding feasts – a prototype of a wedding karavai, necessarily round, akin to the sun. The sun god is considered the main patron among ancient Slavs.
The wedding karavai is decorated with compound dough patterns, ears and viburnum branches.
Syrniki is a dish of Russian cuisine in the form of pancakes, fried round cakes. It is made from cottage cheese that is mixed with plough and eggs.
Slavs knew and broadly used milk, sweet and sour, and curd. In other words, cottage cheese and cheese for food. Ancient and single Slavonic character of these words is evidence of it. One variant of cooking cottage cheese was curdled milk that was put in a pot into the slightly heated oven. Afterwards, lactoserum was strained off, and cottage cheese was laid under press. Then, Slavs repeated this procedure. Only after the second taking-out of cottage cheese from the oven, it was laid under press again, and at that point, they carried it in a cellar.
Kulebyaka is one of the kinds of a closed pie with compound filling, and is a traditional Russian dish. You can see its description in a novel “Myortvyjye dushi” (“Dead Souls”) by Nikolai Gogol.
The main difference of a kulebyaka among traditional pies is the compound filling. It consists of some sorts of stuffing, put one after another and divided by thin, as a rule, unleavened small pancakes in order to prevent mixing. Another difference is the proportion of the filling to total weight. The filling amounts to half of it. At the same time, dough must be thin and firm enough.
Initially, ancient Russian kulebyaki were made exceptionally from yeast dough with some layers of stuffing – from cabbage, boiled buckwheat, hard-boiled eggs, dried and boiled fish, mushrooms, and onion.
In the 19th century, French cookery experts, which worked in Russia, promoted it in getting international popularity. In Petersburg, epicures of the 19th century sang the dithyrambs to Moscow kulebyaka, among them were Turgenev, Vyazemsky and Gogol.
Chocolate “Alyonka” is milk chocolate which has been made since 1965, first in the USSR and later in Russia, including by the factory “Krasny octyabr’” (since 1966). Its distinctive feature is a creamy, rich, taste. A 100 gram bar of chocolate is rectangular and consists of small pieces with the signature “Alyonka” on each. A girl wearing a kerchief is depicted on the wrapping.
In the early 1970s, the USSR government passed the new food programme with an emphasis on creation of mass milk chocolate at an affordable price.
Existing to present day, Alyonka’s portrait is a composite character, which was created by a painter who was inspired by his little daughter.
“Alyonka” has been familiar to us all over the years and has became one of the symbols of happy childhood for many generations.
Pastila is a sweet dish of Russian cuisine. This word had been written as “postila” (due to the spreading out technique, which is connected with the making of pastila) until the beginning of the 20th century. It was first mentioned in “Domostroy”and in Ivan the Terrible’s Charter of 1573.
Pastila was made of whipped apple sauce (chefs used sourish Russian types of apples) and berry pulp (red whortleberries, mountain-ash berries, raspberries and currants). The second important ingredient of pastila is honey, and since the 19th century, sugar. Pastila got its white colour due to the use of eggwhite.
Pastila can be considered one of the health-giving sweets, because only organic ingredients are used in its making.
Kompot is a dessert drink made of fruits and berries, or broth made of fruits in syrup and also a mixture of dried fruits or dried berries and fruits, or canned fruit and canned berries.
The drink made of fruits and berries which was called “uzvar” was famous in Russia as far back as the 18th century. Uzvar was a festive dish served on Christmas Eve.
Kompot is a traditional drink in Russia. Safety of kompot is provided for sterilisation. Most of kompots are made using sugar.
In the 18th century, kompot became more common in Russia, and became known as a northern drink. Also, groats were added in it to raise its nutritional properties.
Kissel or kisel is a sweet dessert jelly-like dish made of fresh or dried fruits and berries, berry juices, syrups, jams and the adding of potato or corn starch. Most kisels are made with adding sugar.
It is a Russian country dish – oat kisel – where the name kisel is originated from. And sweet berry kiseli, made later, when potato and potato starch had spread in Russia, inherited this name.
Oat, rye, wheat kiseli are regarded as ancient Russian dishes. Their age is over 1000 years. Russian kisel is an unsweetened, sourish jelly-like dish made of rye, oat, wheat, or pea flour. Kiseli were a daily sweet and a ritual dish eaten at commemorations (for the dead) and funeral feasts.