Latvia: Rūpjmaizes Kārtojums (Latvian Rye Bread Dessert)


When I was researching Latvian foods, I came across this layered dessert.  It fascinated me because I’ve never heard of using rye bread in a sweet dish like this.  When sweetened with sugar and cinnamon, it almost tastes like graham crackers.    The original recipe I found called for cranberries instead of raspberries, but according to Wikipedia, “Raspberry, strawberry and apricot are each favorite preserves for preparing Rupjmaizes kartojums among Latvians, as are the more peculiarly Latvian aroniasea buckthornlingonberryrose hip andred currant varieties.”

If I were to make it again, I think I’d layer it in parfait glasses to get the full effect.

Latvia: Rūpjmaizes Kārtojums (Latvian Rye Bread Dessert)
  • 10 slices coarse rye bread, dried
  • 4 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp.cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 1 container mascarpone cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. cream
  • 1 can (I used SOLO) raspberry filling
  1. Combine rye bread, sugar, and cinnamon. In a medium-sized bowl, combine cheese and cream. Whip until smooth. Layer in parfait glasses or a trifle bowl and chill well, or overnight to let the flavors meld.


Thanks, Russian Season!

Poland: Chocolate Babka

chocolate babka

If you’re like us, you know Chocolate Babka from the episode of Seinfeld called The Dinner Party.  Jerry and Elaine make a stop at Schnitzer’s Bakery on their way to a dinner party to purchase a Chocolate Babka.  They forget to take a number, and as a result the bakery is sold out when they reach the counter.  They’re forced into buying a Cinnamon Babka, which Elaine considers ”a lesser babka.”  Here’s a clip:

Chocolate babka is a Jewish dessert popular in Eastern European countries like Ukraine, Czech Republic, Belarus and Poland. Babka is sweet yeast bread, popular in most of Eastern Europe, similar to coffee cake. Arthur Schwartz, author of Arthur Schwartz’s Jewish Home Cooking wrote, “Babka, in its original form, was stout and round, just like grandmothers used to be before they went to aerobics classes and practiced yoga.”

Chocolate Babka
  • DOUGH:
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 4 C. flour
  • ¼ C. butter
  • ¼ C. white sugar
  • ¼ C. water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ C. butter, softened
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used chocolate chips)
  • 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ C. sugar
  • ¼ cup confectioners' sugar
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup butter, chilled
  • 1 egg beaten with
  • 1 tablespoon water for glaze
  1. Add yeast to warm milk and allow to foam for 5-10 minutes. Next, add flour, butter, sugar, water, eggs and salt. Mix using a dough hook until smooth. Set aside to rise for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut dough in half and roll each section into 10x18 inch rectangles. Spread butter evenly on both halves. Spread chocolate pieces, cinnamon and sugar on top of the butter. Roll lengthwise, sealing ends shut. Place each loaf in a parchment-lined bread pan.
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine sugar, flour, butter and egg/water. Brush the tops of each loaf with glaze before placing in the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.

chocolate babka chocolate babka chocolate babka chocolate babka chocolate babka chocolate babka

Russia: Poppy Seed Roll

Russian Poppy Seed Roll

Russia: Poppy Seed Roll

It’s been over a week since I’ve posted anything on the blog.  I was visiting my parents in Florida, enjoying some sunshine and R&R.  It was beyond fabulous to escape our brutal Minnesota winter.  I almost didn’t come back!  Now that I’m back in action, I figured I should tackle Russian food in honor of the Olympics being held in Sochi.  I’m definitely hoping my dishes aren’t another #sochifail like so many other things that are going wrong over there right now.

I’ve always loved anything with poppy seed filling, so when I was researching Russian foods this definitely stood out.   This traditional Poppy Seed Roll is a typical treat around the holidays in many Russian families.  I figured my family would enjoy it too – but while spreading the poppy seed filling on the dough, my son Nick said it looked pretty gross.  I have to admit, he’s right.  Poppy seeds taste much better than they look.

Russia: Poppy Seed Roll
  • Dough:
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1½ C. warm milk
  • 4 C. all-purpose flour
  • 7 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • Filling:
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 egg yolk plus 1 Tbsp. water for egg wash to finish the roll
  • 1 can (12.5 oz.) poppy seed cake and pastry filling
  1. In a bowl, mix warm milk, yeast, and sugar. Set aside for ten minutes until yeast bubbles. Add flour, butter, and salt. Mix with a dough hook (or knead by hand). Cover dough and set in a warm spot to rise for 30 minutes. Dough recipe makes TWO rolls.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough into a 12" rectangle. Spread with honey, then poppy seed filling. Roll up lengthwise and connect the ends to make a wreath shape. With a knife, create slits in the dough. Brush with egg yolk and water. Bake for 20-25 minutes.


IMG_4174 IMG_4180 IMG_4182 russian poppy seed roll

russian poppy seed roll


Thanks, Melangery!

Pinterest, You’re a Fickle Bitch (aka Black Forest Cake)

black forest cake

Pinterest, You’re a Fickle Bitch (aka Black Forest Cake)

The gorgeous Pinterest images of the Black Forest Cake made me think I could re-create the same thing at home.  It’s EASY they said.  It’s SIMPLE they said.  Silly Pinterest.  She’s a fickle bitch.  She’ll lure you in with her pretty pictures and promises of the good life then leave you on your own when things don’t work out quite the way she promised.

What’s pictured above is a my version of the REAL WOMAN’S Black Forest Cake.   It’s not quite Pinterest Fail bad, but not nearly what was promised me.  Still as tasty, just not as pretty (kind of like real life). She may not win any beauty contests, but this one won’t abandon you when you need her most.

PicMonkey Collage


The “Pretty” image source:

Germany: Black Forest Cake
  • 2 C. flour
  • 2 C. sugar
  • ¾ C. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¾ tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 C. milk
  • ½ C. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 1 jar pitted cherries
  • 1 C. sugar
  • ¼ C. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 C. heavy whipping cream
  • ⅓ C. confectioners' sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch, round, cake pans; cover bottoms with waxed paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, 2 cups sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, milk, oil, and 1 tablespoon vanilla; beat until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  3. Bake for 35 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool layers in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Loosen edges, and remove to racks to cool completely.
  4. Drain cherries, reserving ½ cup juice. Combine reserved juice, cherries, 1 cup sugar and cornstarch in a 2 quart saucepan. Cook over low heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Cool before using.
  5. Combine whipping cream and confectioner's sugar in a chilled medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form.
  6. With long serrated knife, split each cake layer horizontally in half. Tear one split layer into crumbs; set aside. Reserve 1½ cups Frosting for decorating cake; set aside. Gently brush loose crumbs off top and side of each cake layer with pasty brush or hands. To assemble, place one cake layer on cake plate. Spread with 1 cup frosting; top with ¾ cup cherry topping. Top with second cake layer; repeat layers of frosting and cherry topping. Top with third cake layer. Frost side of cake. Pat reserved crumbs onto frosting on side of cake. Spoon reserved frosting into pastry bag fitted with star decorator tip. Pipe around top and bottom edges of cake. Spoon remaining cherry topping onto top of cake.

This was inspired by a black forest cake recipe I found on

Norway: Krumkake

norwegian krumkake maker

If it’s possible to consider yourself Norwegian without having any ancestors from Norway, then that’s what I am.  As a Minnesotan, I’m surrounded by so many Norwegians I feel like I’ve absorbed the culture in my own blood.  My husband is 50% Norwegian, and so are other friends and non-blood relatives.

Our good friends the Knutsons, also Norwegian, have inspired my interest in Norwegian food.  So, when I invited them for a holiday celebration this week it had to have a Norwegian theme.   I knew I’d be making meatballs and lutefisk, but I was still searching for a good Norwegian dessert idea.

Oddly enough, I came across this Norwegian Krumkake maker while cleaning out the storage room downstairs just a day before our Norwegian Feast.  It had belonged to my grandmother, who passed away over four years ago.  I hadn’t given it a second thought since then.  My grandmother wasn’t Norwegian but her sister-in-law was, so I assume it was a gift from Aunt Marg. I knew I had discovered it at just the right time to give it a whirl.

My first batch was a learning game.  I had the heat too hot, so the krumkake burned before they got crisp.  The second time went much better.  I lowered the heat and was able to get in the groove of how long to leave them in the krumkake press.    As soon as they came off the heat, I wrapped them around the wooden cones to crisp.  

Norwegian Krumkake Recipe
These light, airy Norwegian cookies are as pretty as they are delicious.
  • 2 eggs
  • 1¼ C. flour
  • ¾ C. cream
  • ¾ C. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ tsp. cardamom
  1. Preheat krumkake iron over low-medium heat. Mix the batter and drop by teaspoonfuls onto krumkake iron. Heat about 30 seconds on each side. Remove immediately and wrap around wooden cones until cool and crisp.

norwegian krumkake recipe norwegian krumkake recipe

France: Almond Financier Cakes

France: Almond Financier Cakes

French Almond Financier Cakes

Everyone knows that grandmothers have a special kind of clout in the culinary world.  Their recipes have stood the test of time, and their cooking skills well-honed.  So when you stumble upon a foreign recipe from a real-life foreign GRANDMA, pay attention.  It’s probably pretty darn good.

One of workout buddies, Christophe, is French.  Every month at SNAP Fitness we have a birthday party and bring in yummy, ever-so-fattening treats (don’t judge– we’re allowed to pig out after all the hard, physical exercise, right?).   In December, Chris brought these for our joint 43rd birthday party.  They were so good.  Not just ordinary good, but melt-in-your-mouth I-could-eat-a-HUNDRED-of-these kind of good.   Plus, they were nice enough to give me the recipe when I asked for it.

In doing my research, I learned that these little almond cakes are called financiers because they were popular in the financial districts of Paris.

My kids don’t care for nuts, but they liked these.   The almonds are ground finely enough to hide nicely inside.

When I first made French Almond Financier Cakes I used muffin tins.  However, I found these cute petit fours molds at TJ Maxx for just $6.99 and thought they were cute.  It’s important to have cute food, right?

France: Almond Financier Cakes
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 6 large egg whites
  • ½ C. flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 C. finely chopped or ground almonds (I used whole almonds and ran them through my coffee grinder)
  • 1½ C. powdered sugar
  • 1½ sticks butter
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Butter 18 muffin tins (traditionally, you’d use a Financier Mold but if you don’t have one the muffin tins you have at home already work well too).
  3. In a medium bowl, combine egg whites and almond extract. Meanwhile, combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add egg whites to the dry ingredients. Add melted butter and give a quick stir until a light batter is formed. Pour into muffin tins.
  4. Bake 6 minutes at 450 degrees then lower heat to 400. Bake an additional 5-6 minutes until golden brown. Baking it first in a super-hot oven will crisp up the outside, while reducing the baking temperature to finish keeps the inside nice and moist. Allow the cakes to cool slightly then remove from the tins.