I found a recipe in a 1971 Russian booklet on holiday recipes, (see it below). I translated it to English. My questions about the recipe will be these:
are there any advancements known to culinary science that will bring this recipe to 21st century? (I am thinking of things like mixing egg yolks and egg whites separately, mixing liquid and dry ingredients separately, use of baking soda vs baking powder, when to put ingredients together in what order, baking it at what temperature and so on, or is it fine as-is?)
there is no temperature listed at which it is to be baked, but I am guessing 180C
it mentions crushing star anise and cloves. Do I use the old methods and crush them in a mortar and pestle? Or do I use ... a blender? I do have the spices in whole uncrushed form.
in a word, can I make improvements to this cake, to make it better, without changing its authenticity?
200 grams of butter or margarine (1 cup or vegetable oil, better corn)
2 cups sugar
1 cup of thick (candied) jam
2 cups of buttermilk or yogurt
1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, cloves, star anise (crushed)
1 teaspoon baking soda
about 4 cups flour
Mix eggs with sugar, add the butter, jam, crushed spices, sour milk.
Pour baking soda and flour (flour pour as much as necessary to achieve consistency similar to a thick porridge).
Prepare the form (line bottom with oiled parchment, well-lubricate the entire form and sprinkle it with flour), put it in the mix, filling in the form only as much as 3/4 since the cake will rises.
Bake the cake on low heat in the oven.
Note. You can add chopped and sugared lemon and orange peel, raisins, nuts. If you do not have all of these spices, you can restrict it to 1 1/2 teaspoon of crushed cloves. Instead of jam you can try putting in the same amount honey or preserves. This cake should be kept in cool place, wrapped in a wet cloth and a plastic bag. Thus it can be stored even 2 weeks, but when it is necessary to change the cloth.
I tried baking it today with brown sugar, butter, plum jam and I put just a tad much flour (just under 4 cups which I put in right away), which I compensates with half a cup more buttermilk since the dough was too dense. Then I had it in the oven for about an hour at 180F, but it turned out heavy soggy and a little bit tasteless, despite me pulling it out after a toothpic stuck in the center of cake came out dry.
Next time I will try less flour and white sugar, or maybe even splenda, and olive oil instead of butter. And I will bake it for longer and I might just bake it at something closer to 350F.