'Feather-like!' is how my Ukrainian mum Sasha used to refer to Syrnichki, when making these pillowy drop cakes for my breakfasts. Sasha would fry them gently in butter with a little oil, making sure that all the sides were lovely, pale brown.
Syrnichki are cheese cakes of sorts, but these round cuties are much lighter than most cheese cakes. They have no base, just the clouds of fresh tvorog.
Tvorog is a soft, cream cheese in Russia (or syr, the way how the fresh cheeses were called in the olden day Russia - hence the name).
Syrnichki are one sweet dish that all of us, the children of Russia and surrounding countries, miss the most, especially in the mornings. They are a staple on kindergarten and school menus, normally eaten with smetana (like this one) and some jam.
What's the secret of making syrnichki that are feather-light?
- Very little flour - silly how little, really.
- Patience - they'll stick to your hands when shaping, but please persevere.
- The 'right' hands:) - light, not too hot (our Karinka's hands are perfect!)
You can make them at home with a little patience or there are several places in London where you can buy syrnichki ready-made (Zima magazine published a very helpful list recently), including, of course, our own little shop.
A word of tvorog: there are different types of tvorog you can find in Eastern-European shops, all would work, although you will have a different texture. Or, you can use Italian ricotta, but drain it in a sieve for 3-4 hours, and the shaping process may require a couple of extra table spoons of flour.
(makes 10-12 cute syrnichki)
What you will need:
1 small egg
20g plain flour
pinch of baking powder
10g vanilla sugar
20g caster sugar
Note: our syrnichki have a mousse-like texture and not very sweet. You can add a little more flour and more sugar for a more substantial cake:)
In a big bowl mix tvorog with an egg. Add flour and baking powder.
Mix in vanilla sugar. If the mixture is too soft add a bit more flour but don’t overdo it!
Take a piece of tvorog dough and roll it into a ball, then form it into a cake with the help of wide bladed knife.
Line them up on a tray ready to be fried.
Heat a frying pan with a bit of oil, lower the heat and fry the Syrniki on a low heat for a couple of minutes on each side.
If you don't eat them straight away, keep them in a fridge (for up to 3 days) and re-heat them in a pre-heated 160-180C (fan-assisted/non-fan) oven for 5 min.