This recipe is for a Tvorozhnaya Zapekanka which is a delicious Eastern European warming cottage cheese and semolina bake, with lemon zest and vanilla. I really recommend serving it with a beautiful berry or fruit sauce, like the blackcurrant sauce below. Zapekanka is crustless and not meant to be too sweet. Commonly served warm as a breakfast dish, but depending on what you put in it, it can also be served as a dessert after lunch or dinner. I’m sharing a recipe that is really fast to put together and then it’s up to you if you would like to add any other ingredients – experiment with fresh berries or orange zest and dried fruit (zapekanka is often made with sultanas as well).
This recipe is best made with cottage cheese that is traditional and dry. I wouldn’t recommend making this recipe with a cottage cheese that has a lot of liquid – as the consistency will be too moist. The addition of semolina makes this quite light and the extra semolina sprinkled on the surface of the baking tin creates a nice almost crunchy like edge.
Recipe for the Zapekanka
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: Approximately 1 hour
1 kg cottage cheese (dry cottage cheese)
2 x eggs
4 tbsp semolina + extra sprinkle for coating the cake tin surface
2 tbsp sour cream (to spread over the top surface) + extra for serving (use a full fat sour cream and alternatively you can use creme fraiche!
1 tbsp sugar + 2 tbsp sugar for the sauce (raw, brown, caster, any other sugar) (use more if you would like it to be sweeter)
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 lemon (zest and juice from half of the lemon)
butter or oil (for coating the tray surface)
450g blackcurrants (defrosted from a frozen packet or use fresh)
1 tbsp corn flour
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Prepare a medium baking tray/spring-form cake tin (round or rectangular) by evenly spreading the butter or oil over the surface then sprinkle with an extra large pinch of semolina all around or use baking paper to cover the surface.
- In a medium size mixing bowl add the cottage cheese, eggs, semolina, sugar, baking powder, vanilla and use a microplane to finely grate the lemon zest directly over the mixture. Use a fork to combine the ingredients together thoroughly but still keeping its rough texture and not making the mixture overly smooth.
- Transfer the cottage cheese mixture into the baking tray/cake form and even out the surface (don’t press down too much) then evenly spread out the 2 tbsp of sour cream over the surface. Place it into the oven to cook for approximately 1 hour and then turn up your heat to 200 degrees for the last 10 minutes (Depending on your oven it might need an extra 10 minutes or so). The Zapekanka is ready once the surface has risen and is slightly golden in colour.
- While the zapekanka is cooking in the oven, make the quick blackcurrant sauce. In a small pot place the blackcurrants, along with the sugar and the juice of half a lemon (simple squeeze it directly into the pot). Bring to a boil then add the cornflour and reduce the heat to a low. Stir for 1 minute more then remove from the heat and set aside until serving.
- Remove the Zapekanka from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. The top surface will naturally fall and flatten a bit. Remove from the tray or slice directly in the tray to serve warm! Top with plenty of extra sour cream and the black currant sauce.