2 hours active, plus 4 hours rest
Yesterday, we shared our Cranberry Custard Tart, and now it is time for my favorite dessert for the evening…and the one that was so popular, it went home with everyone as “breakfast cake.” Smetannik means “the one that is made of sour cream” and it is my all time favorite Russian cake. When we first came to North Carolina and found an International Grocery (read Russian store), we started buying their frozen Smetannik by the pound. It was THE celebration cake. It would get cut down to whatever size we wanted and thawed to a delicious creamy cake.
When we moved to Maryland, we found another shop, and thankfully were able to continue our obsession with the glorious cake filled with walnuts, apricots or prunes, chocolate, and sour cream…and butter…and sugar…and joy! When I moved to New York and later to Philadelphia, I would insist upon trios to the International Store whenever I visited my parents.
Eventually, I decided to attempt the cake myself. It has taken several attempts (read dozens) to finally achieve the perfect thinness to the layers in the cake, and the ideal ratio of cake to frosting. This cake takes a bit of effort, but you will not be disappointed!
To start off our meal, and to placate everyone while I was finishing cooking, I served a baked Camembert with sautéed porcini mushrooms and shallots sweetened with some fig jam. Check out our Baked Camembert with Porcini Mushrooms and Fig Jam here. Serve it with some sliced up fresh baguette. Try my French Baguette recipe here!
Here is a little recap of our Chez Nous Dinners style Thanksgiving! I have never quite got along with the traditional Thanksgiving menu though. For me, the holiday is an opportunity to invite all of my international friends and family over to create our own traditions. Most folks our age go to visit their families for the holiday, however, most of our international friends don’t get to participate. The holiday is an American tradition, and a 4 day weekend is generally too short to warrant a $1000 flight home. In come the Russians. My parents and I have made our own tradition of inviting folks over to share the holiday with us…our style. And since Nico and I moved to out new home with our big kitchen, we have been hosting our International Thanksgivings.
So while everyone was snacking away at our appetizer, I had a good half an hour to finish preparing the rest of my thanksgiving meal!
I was never a huge fan of turkey, so I generally prefer to make a big lamb roast. This year, I wanted to make a whole baby goat or lamb! My friend Anwar looked for one for me, and in the end sold me an entire half of a full grown goat, which made a beautiful roast! Check out my recipe for Roast Half Goat with Anchovy, Garlic, and White Wine here!
As friends started to RSVP, I learned that some folks aren’t into lamb and goat, so I decided to add a beef dish. I came across his Ravioli à la monégasque recipe and was hooked! A ravioli filled with chard, spinach, cheeses, and a bit of lamb’s brain (because why wouldn’t you?) is served on top of a stew of beef braised in red wine with carrots and herbs, very much like a Boeuf Bourguignon. Try our Ravioli à la Monégasque recipe here!
As people RSVPd, we had more dietary restrictions, so we also served a gorgeous Lobster dish! I was leafing through Alain Ducasse’s book and came across this combination of lobster and fresh truffle, perfect for our fish eaters. I loved a lot of Ducasse’s recipe and was inspired by his flavor profile, but have simplified this recipe to make it easier for the home cook. Check out our Lobster and Summer Truffle Spaghetti recipe here!
We finished our meal with a beautiful trifecta of desserts! We served our favorite Cannelés Bordelais, a traditional Russian Smetannik, and my single bow to American flavors, a Cranberry Custard Tart. Stay tuned for all of those recipes later this week!
- 5 eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups sour cream
- 2 cups pastry flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 3 tablespoons cocoa
- 1/2 apricots, finely chopped
- 1 cup crushed walnuts
- sour cream filling:
- 4 1/2 cups sour cream
- 2 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 teaspoons vanilla
- 3 tablespoons amaretto
- 36 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup + 3 tablespoons sugar
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 1/2 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons vanilla
- chocolate ganache:
- 3/4 cup dark chocolate
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
Boil a cup of water and soak the apricots in the water for 10 minutes. Discard water.
- In a bowl, mix together flour, salt, and baking soda.
In a stand mixer, blend together eggs and sugar.
Carefully add sour cream.
Add the flour mixture slowly.
Add the vinegar.
- Separate dough into two batches.
Add cocoa and crushed walnuts to one half of dough.
Add drained apricots to the second half.
Pour into two buttered cake pans, use release pans if you have them.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool cakes completely.
Carefully slice each cake into 304 thin layers, as thin as you can make it.
- buttercream: In a saucepan, mix egg yolks, and sugar on low heat to boil.
Simmer 2 minutes and cool completely.
- Beat butter with vanilla until fluffy.
Add the cooled egg mixture and continue beating.
Place 1/3 in a pastry bag for decoration and reserve remaining for filling. In this iteration, I decided to coat the exterior in chocolate instead of buttercream.
- sour cream filling: mix ingredients, set aside
- assembly: Add one cake layer to bottom of spring-form pan.
Add 1/2 cup sour cream mixture and a bit of buttercream.
Repeat for all cake layers.
Add only sour cream mixture to the top of the cake.
Refrigerate for at least four hours.
- remove from spring-form, place on a platter.
- Combine chocolate and butter in a saucepan, melt.
When I am lazy, I just combine in a bowl and microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until melted.
Place in a plastic bag, or pastry bag, cut a slit (or use smallest pastry attachment) and create a pattern on the top of the cake.
- Pipe the reserved buttercream around the sides of cake. Alternatively, coat the sides of cake with extra chocolate.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.