When you consider traditional Russian dishes, creamy Beef Stroganoff, or sweet, tangy borscht (beet soup), may instantly come to mind. But sometimes, you might not want a hearty dish … and instead, you’d like to enjoy a smaller Russian treat.
Here, Program Director Violetta Balakireva shares her recipes for two Russian desserts—sweet honey cake and potato scones—that are easy to prepare … and simply delicious. Violetta says she often bakes these treats for her family and friends.
Russia is famous for its honey—and is proud to boast of hundreds of different flavors, including lime, buckwheat, and flower, each with its own unique taste and texture. Russians tend to eat honey with tea and porridge, bread, pancakes, and/or apples. But if you find yourself with only one tablespoon of honey left in your pantry, you can use it to make this simple honey cake.
1 Tbs. honey
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ cup water
½ tsp. baking powder
¾ cup flour
1 ¼ cup sour cream
- For the filling, blend sour cream and one cup of sugar together. You can also use other types of cream (like ice cream) or even jam. Set aside.
- For the cake, mix together honey, egg, water, baking powder, flour, and remaining sugar.
- Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the doughy paste on the baking sheet. Level the dough with wet hands.
- Bake in an oven preheated to 350°F for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Cut the cake into three even parts while still hot. Let the cake cool.
- Cover one part of the cake with the sour cream and sugar mixture. Place another piece of cake on top of the first. Cover the top layer with the cream and sugar mixture. Place the remaining piece of cake on top. Add any remaining cream and sugar mixture to the top of the cake.
Servings: Serves 6
Today, potatoes are one of the most popular Russian vegetables. But that wasn’t always the case: the tuber, which isn’t native to Russia, wasn’t introduced until the middle of the 18th century. Prior to the potato's arrival, turnips were the most common root vegetables eaten by Russians.
During the reign of Peter the Great, potatoes were only served in the homes of the noble class—where they were eaten raw and sprinkled with sugar. Common people didn’t even like potatoes, going so far as to call them the “Devil’s apples” since they grew underground—and therefore close to hell. It’s a shame they weren’t able to try these potato scones—which, we’re sure you’ll agree, are heavenly.
2/3 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
3 ½ Tbs. margarine
½ cup mashed potato
About 2 Tbs. milk
Beaten egg (for glazing)
- Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together.
- Cut in the margarine.
- Add mashed potatoes and mix well.
- Add just enough milk to create a soft dough (the amount of milk will depend on the softness of the potatoes).
- Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead lightly.
- Roll out until the dough is about ½ inch thick. Cut the dough into about ten triangles.
- Place the scones on a greased and floured baking sheet. Brush the top of each scone with the beaten egg.
- Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown, and the scones have risen.
Servings: Makes about 10 scones
Enjoy traditional—and tasty—Russian snacks like these on your Russia Revealed: Moscow to St. Petersburg River Cruise.