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Bird's Milk Cake

On 28 Dec 2007 at 23:59, Paige wrote:

> Cher Oncle Phaedrus -- 
> Today, I read the following excerpt from Time Magaine concerning the
> selection of Vladimir Putin as 2007 Man of the Year:   
> Back at the dacha, with snow falling lightly outside, our dinner and
> discussion continue. Putin has been irritable throughout, a grudging
> host. Suddenly, at 10 o'clock, he stands and abruptly ends the
> evening. "We've finished eating, there's nothing more on the table, so
> let's call it a day," he declares. Actually, the main course (choice
> of sturgeon or veal) and dessert ("bird's milk" cake)-lovingly printed
> in gold ink on the prepared menu cards-haven't yet been served. The
> Russian President's brusqueness is jarring. Have our questions angered
> him? Bored him? Does he have another appointment? It's not clear. "Bye
> bye," says Putin-in English-as he walks briskly out of the room. The
> work of rebuilding Russia, apparently, is never done. 
> Naturally, I had to learn about this "bird's milk" cake (I can never
> resist something which sounds so absolutely ironic and poetic) -- and
> hopefully, obtain a recipe.
> Hélas, I have succeeded in acquiring some background about this
> apparently delectable Russian desert -- but no decent recipe (despite
> Googling intermittently throughout the day).  Here are a couple of
> descriptors I have found:
> a.. Ptichie Moloko ((bird milk) cake, a Russian white crème cake
> covered with chocolate b..  Bird's milk cake (a classic Russian dish
> resembling chocolate-covered souffle).
> I am distrustful of the term "Ptichie Moloko" because Googling this
> term doesn't necessarily lead me to "bird's milk" cake (or recipes),
> but rather, a variety of things....
> The other research I found on the Internet is the meaning of "bird's
> milk" (which I suspect you may find of interest):
> 1.  The best pastry I had in Russia is called "Bird's Milk Cake". 
> The name comes from an old Russian saying "you have everything but
> bird's milk".  I first had it at Vladimir's house, and again in St.
> Petersburg and it's very good.
> 2. He lacks only bird's milk = He has it all
> do I, pretty much....but not this recipe.  
> Because of this current reference in Time, I am sure that all kinds of
> people like me will now be desperately seeking the recipe....So if you
> succeed soon, you will be a "cutting-edge" dectective.  Vraiment.  And
> maybe you can cut everyone off at the pass and get it posted quickly
> to your website so your inbox won't be flooded with requests ad
> nauseam for a bird's milk cake recipe.
> Thanking you in advance for your time and attention to my request. 
> Truly: you provide a wonderful service!
> Sincerely --
> Paige 

Hi Paige,

The phrase "bird's milk" is an old European (not just Russian) way of describing something very rare and wonderful or difficult or impossible to obtain. It's similar to the phrase "hen's teeth" that we use in America.

In Polish, "bird's milk" is "ptasie mleczko", and in Russian and various neighboring countries, it is transliterated into English in various ways: ptichye moloko, ptiche moloko, ptich'ye moloko, ptashyne moloko, and ptitsa moloko

There is an old traditional chocolate candy made in Russia that predates the cake and is also called "bird's milk." See here for a photo of the candy:

Bird's Milk Candy

As for the cake, it is really a chocolate-covered souffle. There is a photo here:

Bird's Milk Cake

The cake was was created in 1978 by Vladimir Guralnik of the Praga restaurant. There is an article about it and a western adaptation of his recipe here:

Vladimir Guralnik's Bird's Milk Cake

His recipe uses agar-agar, which you can get at your local health food store or online. There's another recipe below that uses gelatin instead of the agar-agar. Note that it uses mixed English & Metric measurements. Note also that it fails to give a baking temperature.


Bird's Milk Cake

12 ea eggs. 
1 1/2 c flour. 
3 c sugar. 
1 tb gelatin. 
250 g butter. 
100 g water. 

5 tb cocoa. 
3 tb milk. 
1/2 c sugar. 
50 g butter. 

Cream-souffle: Soak gelatin in lukewarm water for 5 hours, bring to boil and 
strain. Separate 6 egg whites and beat up, stirring in 1 1/2 sugar, then pour 
in gelatin slowly and add mashed butter, stir carefully. Put into the fridge. 

Cake: Separate other 6 egg whites, beat up, stirring in 1 1/2 sugar, add all 
12 yolks one at a time and flour, stir carefully. Bake in the mold covered with 
foil and sprinkled with flour. Bake for 40-45 minutes. As soon as the cake is 
cooled down, cut it lengthwise. Spread cream-souffle on one part, cover with 
another and pour melted chocolate or icing (combine all ingredients and bring 
to boil) on the top and sides. Decorate with nuts and fruits. 

Woolworth's German Chocolate Cake

On 27 Dec 2007 at 10:05, Felicia wrote:

> Dear Uncle Phaedrus,
> I was born in the 60"s and I lived in Denver, Colorado.  Around the
> mid seventies and probably even before the Woolworths in Downtown
> Denver sold the best German Chocolate Cake my family ever tasted.  My
> grandmother used to buy them for us all the time. I looked on your
> website and could not see where someone has requested the recipe for
> this cake.  I could really use the help of the finder of lost recipes.
> I have never been able to find a cake as good as that one.  The ones
> in the bakeries these days have actual chocolate frosting and the
> German chocolate frosting and the cake is not as moist.
> I would appreciate any help you can offer.
> Felicia (German Chocolate Cake Lover)

Hello Felicia,

The recipe below is from the daughter of the manager of the Woolworth's that was in Redding, California. Hopefully, they used the same recipe book as the Woolworth's in Denver.


Woolworth’s German Sweet Chocolate Cake

4 ounces Baker’s German Sweet Chocolate
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, separated (save the whites)
2 teaspoons butter (for greasing pans and parchment)
21/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3 9-inch round cake pans 
(or 2 larger cake pans).
Line bottom of pans with buttered parchment paper or foil.
Melt chocolate in boiling water. Stir and cool.
Cream butter and sugar. Add yolks, one at a time, beating well after each yolk. 
Blend in vanilla and chocolate.
Mix flour with soda and salt. Add alternately with buttermilk to chocolate 
mixture, beating after each addition until smooth.
Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold beaten egg whites into 
the chocolate batter mixture.
Divide batter between prepared pans.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, but check on cakes earlier, especially if using 
3 pans.Cool in pans for 5 minutes before turning out on racks to cool. Frost 
with Coconut Pecan Frosting (recipe below).

Woolworth’s Coconut Pecan Frosting 

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
11/2 cups of sugar
5 egg yolks, slightly beaten
3/4 cup butter
11/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups Angel Flake coconut
11/2 cups chopped pecans (or walnuts)

Combine milk, sugar, yolks, butter and vanilla in saucepan.

Cook and stir over medium heat until it thickens, about 12 minutes.

Stir in coconut and nuts. (An electric mixer works for this part.) Cool until 
it’s thick enough to spread, beating occasionally.

Makes about 3 ~ cups, more than enough to fill and frost a 9-inch 3-layer cake. 
It will run off, so make sure it’s cool.
(Bev Corford)

More Woolworth's Recipes

Sewer Pipes

On 24 Dec 2007 at 15:19, Patrick wrote:

> Dear Phaedrus,
> I would love to acquire the recipe for a pasta dish  my father used to
> make.  It was very popular here in Southwestern Pennsylvania in the
> 60's and 70's. He called it Sewer Pipes.  It was a cross between
> lasagna and manicotti.  It was made with two meats (beef and pork) and
> lots of mozzarella, parmesan, and ricotta cheeses.  He would stuff
> manicotti noodles with the meat mixed with cheese and layer cheese
> over top with a tomato sauce.  I have tried several times but I cannot
> get close to his recipe. I would appreciate any help you may be able
> to give me.
> Sincerely,
> Patrick

Hello Patrick,

"Sewer Pipes" is a slang name for manicotti. The type of dish you describe is a version of "stuffed manicotti", and this dish have many versions from simple, such as the "sewer pipes" recipe below, to more complex recipes such as the second one below. The second recipe is the closest that I could find to your description. If you do any more searching, you'll have more luck lucking for "stuffed manicotti" recipes than for "sewer pipes" recipes.


Sewer  Pipes

1 box manicotti, uncooked
1 lb. ground beef
1/4 c. onion
1/3 c. celery
1/2 c. raw rice
Salt and pepper
1 lg. jar spaghetti sauce, about 28 oz.
8 oz. shredded Mozzarella cheese

 Mix the beef, onion, celery, rice, salt and pepper and just 3 tablespoons 
of the sauce.  Stuff the manicotti with mixture.  Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan. 
Pour 1/2 of the sauce in pan and lay in the stuffed pasta.  Pour the other 
half of the sauce over it.  Cover with foil and bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 
hours.  5 minutes before serving sprinkle on the cheese.  Serve with garlic 

Cook manicotti in 6 quarts boiling water for about 6 minutes.  DO NOT OVER 
COOK. Drain hot water off and add cold to stop cooking immediately and so 
it can be handled for filling. Remove shells from water one by one for filling.
Use a flat baking dish of proper size so it can be completely filled with the
manicotti one layer deep.  Pour enough sauce over bottom to cover before adding 
the manicotti.

Meat Filling:
1 lg. jar spaghetti sauce
1 1/2 lbs. chopped meat (all beef or 1/2 beef, 1/2 pork)
1 egg
1/2 lb. diced Mozzarella cheese
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
1 tbsp. Fines Herbes (can use basil, oregano, etc., instead)
1/4 c. finely chopped onion
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

 Cook meat until browned and broken up into fine pieces, then mix thoroughly 
with egg, cheese (except Parmesan), parsley, herbs, onion, salt, pepper. 
Stuff manicotti, arrange in baking dish and cover with remaining sauce. 
Cover dish tightly with foil, crimping edges to get a good seal, then bake 
in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Remove foil, sprinkle with grated Parmesan 
cheese and cook uncovered for 10 minutes more.
NOTE:  If shells are overcooked, they have a tendency to split when being filled.

Cheese Filling:
1 lg. jar spaghetti sauce
1/2 lb. Mozzarella cheese, diced
2 eggs
3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese (save 1/4 c. for sprinkling over top after baking)
1 tbsp. parsley
Salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste
2 lbs. ricotta cheese

Mix all ingredients together except spaghetti sauce and 1/4 cup Parmesan 
cheese, stuff manicotti and arrange in baking dish one layer deep after 
covering the bottom of the dish with spaghetti sauce.  Cover with remaining 
sauce.  Cook as directed above with meat 

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf

Cracker Barrel Meatloaf

10 lbs. ground beef
30 oz. onions, chopped
1 lb. diced green bell pepper
10 eggs
5 T. salt
1 1/2 T. pepper
1 1/2 quarts diced canned tomatoes
2 1/4 c. grated biscuit crumbs

Place all ingredients in a large bowl; mix completely. Place in
3 loaf pans, press down with spoon. Bake at 300 degrees in
convection oven for 60 minutes. Remove from oven and invert
each loaf over wire racks to drain grease and juice. Spread 1/2
cup of catsup over each loaf. Cut into portions 5 to 6 ounces
each and keep warm.

Trinidad & Tobago Recipes

Trinidad and Tobago Cookbook

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