THE RUSSIAN FOOD NETWORK
Please fill out the form below, print it, and turn it in, in hard copy, on the due date you selected on the signed up sheet. The Russian Food Network Event as a follow up to your Russian cooking experience will take place on December 2 during class time, in the Whitman Commons. Please duplicate your recipe and bring it in for the event.
Recipe: Hazel Nut Rusks (Sukhariki)
2 eggs, ¾ cup sugar, 1 cup flour, 1 ¼ cups hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
Beat the eggs and the sugar until light and fluffy. Dredge the nuts with the flour and blend them into the egg mixture. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Grease an 8 inch loaf pan. Pour the batter into the pan and bake at 300 degrees for 50 minutes. Turn the loaf out of the pan and wrap it in a moist dish towel. Let the loaf stand for 4 hours. Then cut it into slices about 1/3 inch think. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Place the slices on a cookie sheet and bake until lightly browned and crisp for about 3 hours.
A synopsis of your research on the recipe and the area where the recipe originated:
Rusks are not only Russian in origin. Recipes similar to the rusk are recorded far back to Roman times, but the name did not exist until the late 16th century. Rusk recipes have also come from Germany, England and France. Also, due to the fact that they are almost like a sweetened form of hardtack, rusks were a common staple of English military provisions.
While not solely Russian in nature, rusks themselves come in different varieties from different cultures for hundreds of years.
Your description of the experience of preparing and the tasting the recipe (any ingredients you needed to substitute, any changes you made to the recipe… does it remind you of something you tasted before? What would you serve to accompany it? Etc.
Unfortunately, the recipe did not turn out for me in my first try. For a relatively simple recipe, it seems the final product completely depends on the preparation. I wouldn’t substitute any of the ingredients, but would advise to keep track of what you are doing for the rusks. The entire process takes about a total of 8 hours, so it is easy to lose track of time while waiting for the rusks to finish.
Hazelnut rusks are comparable to biscotti, and when finished, are meant to be relatively hard. My final product ended up as burnt sugar and hazelnut bread bricks. My second try will be monitored and prepared much more closely. If prepared and baked correctly, the final product will still be hard, but that’s why rusks lend themselves to dipping, also like biscotti. I would definitely recommend serving these with coffee for dipping.
Like a wine recommendation to accompany a dish, make a recommendation of a reading from Russian literature that would accompany the making or the tasting of the dish you prepared. Perhaps the reading would suit the mood of the dish, its spiciness or its sweetness… perhaps there was a mention of one of the ingredients or the dish itself in the reading… etc. You may select from the stories read or presented in class, or some other Russian work with which you are familiar.
While I did not find any mention of sukhariki in the works that we have covered so far, it reminded me of the beginning of Gogol’s “The Nose” (page 25) where Ivan Yakovlevich awoke to the smell of coffee and hot bread. I mention the coffee because I cannot imagine it being eaten without it, perhaps due to my disastrous first try. I was also reminded of the district police superintendent in “The Nose” described by Gogol as “an extraordinary lover of sugar” (page 39). I would imagine that this superintendent as being familiar with sukhariki as a sweet expert.