Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Grandfather Frost and the Snowmaiden

On January 7th the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates its Christmas, in accordance with the old Julian calendar. Due to the suppression of religion during the Soviet regime after the 1917 Revolution, St. Nicholas was replaced by Ded Moroz or "Grandfather Frost", the Russian Spirit of Winter who brought gifts on New Year's. He is accompanied by Snyegurochka, the "Snowmaiden", and she helps to distribute the gifts.

My family celebrated Russian Christmas a number of times over the years. When we returned to school after the Christmas holiday break we were always asked the question "What did you get for Christmas" - it was fun to still be anticipating opening gifts! In the Orthodox tradition nothing is eaten or drunk on Christmas Eve until the first star appears in the sky. One of my favorite memories is of a coffee cake that my Mom used to make. It was so light and delicious, especially after fasting! Here is the recipe:

Russian Christmas Coffee Cake

2 ½ cups flour
2 sticks butter (½ lb)
2 cups sour cream (1 pint)
3 unbeaten eggs
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

¾ cup sugar
4 Tablespoons cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Cream together sugar and margarine. Mix in the sour cream. Add the unbeaten eggs, one at a time. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Combine the flour mixture gradually into the butter and egg mixture. The dough will become stiff. Spoon half the dough into a well-greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Mix together the topping ingredients: sugar, cinnamon, and nuts. Sprinkle 3/4 of the topping/filling over the first half of the dough. Add the remaining dough and sprinkle on the rest of the topping. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. Cool 1 hour before removing from the pan.



Piggy said...

Beautiful tradition! It's important that we treasure these traditions and cultures.. ensuring that they get pass on thru the generations. :)

... so what did you get for Christmas? :D

Valerie said...

So many of my memories of different holidays center around baking. I treasure some cookie recipes I have that are well over 100 years old. This recipe looks delicious and I can't wait to try it!

Tiffany Teske said...

MMMMMM! I can't wait to make this coffee cake with my daughter. I am sure we will blog about it so I will come back and give you the link. Beautiful story, memories are precious. There is a quote by someone that says, "We remember not days, but moments..."

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