Saturday morning brunch-Russian sweet cheese fritters “Syrniki”

Syrniki Russian sweet cheese fritters.
As a child I always liked Saturday mornings. They meant special breakfast for us. I grew up with a mom who worked full time. She had an important job as an engineer so every morning my brother and I had pretty simple breakfasts before heading to school. She loved to spoil us on the weekends by making something special for breakfast. I still remember waking up to the wonderful smells coming from the kitchen. Syrniki (seer-nee-kee) were one of her Saturday treats and one of my precious childhood memories. I missed them terribly when I moved away from Russia. Syrniki are made from a farmer’s cheese called ‘Tvorog’ in Russian and I couldn’t find a good substitute in the US or Canada for the longest time. It’s very similar to cottage cheese and ricotta cheese but is drier and has a tangy taste. This is what it looks like in texture.

I have used well-drained cottage cheese in the past but it really lacks the slightly sour kick of ‘Tvorog”.

However, I am getting reports that all the major supermarkets in North America are now carrying this item under the name of ‘Farmer’s Cheese” and you can always find it in any Russian or Eastern European store if there is one close by. I bought mine from a local Eastern European Foods shop in my neighborhood in London. Imagine my excitement! It’s been so long since I last made the recipe that I had to pull out my Russian cookbooks for a refresher. As I often say I am not a recipe follower, I only use it as a guideline. I had to combine two different ones, tweak them in a few places and this is what I came up with.

Russian sweet cheese fritters "Syrniki"

Ingredients:

Farmer’s Cheese- 1 lbs/450 gr

2 eggs

2 tbsp. oil

4 tbsp. sugar

3/4 c. flour plus extra flour for dusting and rolling

1/2 tsp. baking powder

vanilla

Directions:

The method of preparing syrniki is pretty much the same as old plain pancakes. If you ever attempted to make pancakes you will manage this recipe with ease. Combine cheese, eggs, sugar, oil, flour, baking powder and vanilla in a medium size bowl and mix all the ingredients with a hand mixer until you get a homogenous mass- no longer than 2-3 minutes. The mixture will be very sticky. Don’t panic, that’s what you are supposed to get!

Put your non-stick or cast iron frying pan on the stove on medium heat and add 3 tbsp of oil to it.

Dust a clean work surface with some flour. Take a regular soup spoon and start scooping the mixture from the bowl. Put it directly on the floured surface and roll it in the flour, then flatten it with your palm to make it into a patty. Continue the process with the rest of your cheese mixture until it’s all gone. You should get about 14 patties.

Before you start frying your syrniki make sure the oil in the frying pan is very hot by sprinkling a bit of flour into it. If it sizzles it’s hot enough. Fry your syrniki the same way you would pancakes. When you turn them over they should puff up a bit. The flour coating will make the outside slightly crispy while the mostly cheese filling will taste light and delicious.

Dust syrniki with icing sugar as the final touch and serve them with your favourite jam or a fruit sauce. If you want a truly Russian experience enjoy them with a bit of “smetana”-creme fraiche. I love mine with blackcurrant jam! Yum!  This one tasted just like my babushka used to make. If only my kids had the same appreciation for it. They rejected it and went for the maple syrup. However they LOVED the syrniki and I have one of the pickiest children in the world. I call it- Success!


Russian sweet cheese fritters "Syrniki"

Comments

  1. says

    Julia~ Your food blog is wonderful!! I am thrilled to be able to read it, learn from your experiences and heritage, and it’s fun to get glimpses of your childhood as well as your current stage of life! You are doing an amazing job, keep cooking! ~Julie Jones

  2. Jessica says

    mmmm… sounds lovely… i hope to try this someday soon. typically we do a special breakfast on sat and sun mornings too, it’s fun to make the kids something special! thanks, julia. :-)

  3. Melissa says

    …just made your awesome Syrniki. Emily said, “These are the best pancakes you should make them all the time!” You’ll be horrified to know they tried them with ketchup and then decided on honey. I agree jam would be best, but we were out. Thanks! My only thought was these can’t be low-fat.

  4. says

    I am so pleased that you are adventurous enough to try them! As far as fat content, the cheese I used was semi-skimmed and surprisingly enough many Russian women eat that kind of cheese ‘Tvorog’ when they diet! So I am guessing the cheese is not very high fat but of course, everything is healthy in moderation!

  5. Ирина says

    Замечательный рецепт. Я тоже так их готовлю. Но, не очень люблю жарить в масле, поэтому, приспособилась запекать их в духовке. Бывает, обжарю по быстрому, а потом запекаю еще минут 10. А бывает, что и сразу ставлю в духовку минут на 15-20. Творог вообще долго готовиться.

  6. Lisa Ide says

    I was lucky enough to participate in an exchange program in (then) Leningrad about 25 years ago and lived with a lovely retired couple. The wife was an amazing cook and was very resourceful, given the rationing and limited availability of ingredients at the time. She would make her own “farmer’s cheese” by leaving her milk out to spoil and then boiling to create the curds and straining. To get the “tang” she would add some sour cream. From this cheese she would make syrniki and filling for blinchiki s varenyam, both served with homemade strawberry jam. I’ve tried to recreate her methods for tvorog here in the US, but couldn’t get the correct consistency. Using farmer’s cheese never occurred to me – I’ll give it a try. Thank you for your post!

    • vikalinka says

      What a lovely comment. Thank you Lisa. :-) We went to Leningrad (yes, it was still called Leningrad) on family vacations several times when I was little. I absolutely fell in love with that city. I am still planning on taking my own kids and my husband there. One day!

  7. Julia m says

    Came across your blog and this particular recipe for syrniki today and smiled to myself a couple of times reading it. I LOVE them with sour cream and black currant jam, it’s the most luxurious way of eating syrniki! I was missing our tvorog too when we first moved to Canada, a lot of other food items as well, but tvorog especially. I’m very persistent in getting everything I need to cook “my stuff”, so I found the way to get the right cheese for my syrniki. It’s simple and very, very good! I use 2 litres of buttermilk, 1 litre of coffee cream and 0,5 litre of milk. To make it less fatty, one can use 10% cream instead of coffee cream, which is 18%. Mix well, and heat up on a medium to low until it starts to boil. Reduce the heat to very low and cook for 10 minutes uncovered. Then turn off the heat, cover and let cool off completely, strain in the cheese cloth. It’s amazing for anything that requires tvorog, even just on its own with sour cream and some honey! I hope you try it sometime, I’m sure you’ll love it!
    By the way, great blog! Thank for the inspirations!

    • vikalinka says

      Thank you for the recipe, Julia! I will definitely try it. So glad you’ve enjoyed this post and my blog in general. :-)

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