SochnikiPosted: February 27, 2016
The recipe this week is a wonderful cakey-pastry-thingy (technical term) from Ukraine.
They are probably best described as a cross between a cheesecake and a scone and are light as a feather and just a joy to eat.
The scone pastry is gently folded around the sweetened curd cheese filling and then baked for just 20 minutes.
Unfortunately, these aren’t what you’d call spur-of-the-moment bake, as they require some well-drained curd cheese for the filling. Now it is possible to find curd cheese in your local supermarket, but if they’re like the ones round here, it’s not always on the shelf, so instead of schlepping round all of them to see who has it in this week, if any, it’s easier just to make your own.
This too will require a little planning, in that you’ll need to get hold of some vegetarian rennet and some cheesecloth or muslin in which to drain your curds. Once you’ve got your hands on these items, it’s simplicity itself.
To make about 500g of cheese curds, you’ll need 4 pints of milk. Whole milk is fine, Jersey milk is richer, raw milk if you can get it would be amazing. Bring the milk to just above blood temperature and turn off the heat. Add 12 drops of rennet per pint of milk (48 in total), swirl to mix, cover and leave to cool. As it cools, the milk will set into curds.
When cool, gently break up the curds with a spoon. Pour boiling water over your muslin or cheesecloth to scald it, then line a colander with it. Put the colander over a saucepan and spoon the curds into the cloth, letting the whey drip through. You can either leave the curds to drain in the colander, or tie the corners of the cloth together and hang the curds up to drain, preferably overnight. Remember to put a pan or a bowl under to catch the whey, and also remember to tell your husband not to grab said pan/bowl when he’s looking for things to fill up the dishwasher…..
To ensure really well-drained curds, in the morning you can return them, still inside the cloth, to the colander and put a weight on top (some tins or jars will do) to press out the last of the moisture. Don’t worry (for this recipe) if the quantity of curd is less than 500g, this is very much a That’ll Do™ recipe. Save the whey and use it as the liquid when making bread – it makes for a beautifully soft crumb!
The scone component of this recipe is slightly unusual in that there’s no hard and fast quantity of flour to add – it all depends on the moisture content of the rest of the ingredients. The flour is added last and you should stop adding when you feel the dough is together enough to handle/roll. Do not feel obliged to use all the flour!
Makes 14-15 large-ish pastries.
For the filling:
500g curd cheese
50g low-fat creme fraiche
3tbs caster sugar
3tbs semolina or ground rice
1tbs vanilla sugar or 1tsp vanilla extract
zest of half a lemon
1 large egg-white
For the dough
150g unsalted butter – softened
200g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla sugar or 1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
200g low fat creme fraiche or sour cream
2 large eggs
700-800g plain flour – maybe
2 tsp baking powder
1 large egg yolk
- Put all of the filling ingredients into a bowl and whisk together until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
- For the dough, cream the butter and the sugars together until light and fluffy.
- Add the salt, creme fraiche and eggs and whisk until smooth.
- Measure out 500g of flour and sift it with the baking powder.
- Gradually add this flour into the wet ingredients, mixing thoroughly.
- If the dough still seems a little soft, gradually add some of the extra flour until workable.
- When it’s firm enough to handle, tip out the dough and knead smooth.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Roll the dough out to about 1cm thick and cut out circles of diameter 12cm. A fluted, individual tart tin is just about ideal. You can, of course, make smaller sochnikis – roll the dough thinner, use 1.5tsp filling and reduce the cooking time accordingly.
- Put a heaped tablespoon of the filling onto each circle and lightly fold over the other half of the dough, leaving the edges open.
- Transfer the pastries to the baking sheets.
- Mix the yolk and the milk together and brush over the tops of the pastries. Use the tines of a fork to mark the tops with an attractive pattern.
- Bake for 20 minutes, turning the baking sheets around after 10 minutes to ensure even colouring.
- Cool on a wire rack.
- Enjoy warm.