For New Year’s, I gifted myself a book: Baking According to All-Union Standards. It is a collection of recipes of various baked goods that were made and served at state-owned delicatessens, school canteens, restaurants, cafes and bakeries all around the Soviet Union, when All-Union standards were still a thing.
I can’t say that I have a lot of memories connected to any of the baked goods described in the book, because in our neck of the woods we didn’t have bakeries, restaurants, state-owned delicatessens or anything of that sort. There were some biscuits called коржики that you could sometimes get at the school canteen, but they were a rare occurrence. Such things as the famed Kievsky Cake, made mostly out of meringue, or the richly chocolate Praha layered cake from Moscow’s Praha Restaurant were out of reach. You could sometimes buy the Soviet version of the qurabiya biscuit in the store, but that was about it.
Not that I had any reason to complain – my mother was (and is) a wonderful cook and baker, and the stuff that she baked was ten times better than anything store-bought. Still, the book and its recipes held some sort of allure, and so I decided to start studying it by replicating the only recipe I knew, that of the коржики, because at least with them I knew what they should look and taste like.
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