About two decades ago I started to collect recipes, jotting them down in my very first recipe notebook. The very first recipe, written neatly with my then legible handwriting was called Banani, which is plural for banana in Russian. The bananas in the recipe have nothing to do with the banana fruit, except for their shape – they are shaped like real bananas, with soft sweet “flesh” made of farmer cheese and sugar.
My mom would make these often – when we, the children craved something sweet or to snack on, when we had guests over, and on special days, such as birthdays, most of the time along with honey cake, another staple baked goodie in the family. When I was in Baku this summer, my mom made “banana” pastries for us and I took the pictures to share with ythe recipe. I hope you will like the pastries of my childhood, and I have a feeling you will. So, here it comes, the famous “bananas” from my ancient recipe book. Enjoy!
Makes 20 “bananas”
For the Dough:
1 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
200 g (7 oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 cups all-purpose flour
For the Filling:
2 cups unsalted crumbled farmer cheese or ricotta cheese, thoroughly drained (liquidy ricotta will make the filling soggy)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of vanilla powder
Powdered (confectioner’s sugar), to coat
First, prepare the dough. In a mixing bowl, combine the sour cream and baking soda. Add the butter and flour. Toss together and knead until you obtain dough gentle to touch and not too tight. Cover the dough with a plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling. In a mixing bowl, combine the farmer cheese or ricotta cheese, sugar, flour and vanilla powder. Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour if used farmer cheese, and about 30 minutes if you used ricotta cheese (ricotta cheese is not as dry as farmer cheese and chilling the filling made with for a long time will result in runny filling).
Preheat the oven to 370F (190C) and have 2 ungreased baking sheets ready at hand.
Now, prepare the “bananas.” Shape the dough into small balls, about the size of a tennis ball. Using a rolling pin, roll the balls into thin 5-inch (12 cm) circles. Place a heaped tablespoon of the filing along one half of the circle, but somewhat closer to the center, leaving a border around the edges. Bring the short end over the filling and press to seal. Fold again and pinch the edges to seal. Place the pasties seam side down on the baking sheets and curve them into a banana shape.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until light golden on the bottom. The top of the pastries should remain white. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Dust generously with powdered sugar. Nush Olsun!