This simple recipe for a light and golden, orange-flavoured, plaited Easter bread comes from a 1961 edition of Home Baked: A Little Book of Bread Recipes by George and Cecilia Scurfield. Published in Britain, the book was aimed at the novice bread baker and the authors included a chapter called ‘Coffee Breads from Abroad’. Most European countries have recipes for traditional breads eaten on festive occasions – usually made from ordinary bread dough enriched with butter or oil and eggs and flavoured with dried fruit and spices. I have made many of them over the years, but this modest recipe has become a favourite. It probably can’t claim to be authentically Russian, but it is pretty, delicious and completely reliable.
A baked cheesecake made from ricotta or quark is always more to my taste than a heavy, dense cream-cheese confection. These sorts of light cheesecakes are made all over Europe and Russia, often with homemade cottage or farmhouse cheese and they are served after dinner or with morning coffee. The layer of apples under the cheesecake replaces a crumb or pastry crust, and the filling is flavoured with lemon, cinnamon and vanilla, studded with raisins and topped with flaked almonds. Serve the cheesecake at room temperature. It will keep for a couple of days.