Carrot cake I

I have two recipes for carrot cake that I use. As both of them are nice, my dilemma was which one to post. I’ve decided that I will post one as I, and next time I’m making carrot cake I’ll make the other recipe as II.

200g carrots
2 eggs
1 1/2 dl caster sugar
1/2 dl chopped hazelnuts
2 1/2 dl self raising flour
1 dl oat bran
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla sugar
1 tbsp orange juice
1 dl olive oil
1 dl buttermilk

1. Peel and finely grate the carrots.

2. Mix all the dry ingredients together.

3. Whisk the eggs and sugar together until foamy, fluffy texture, then carefully add the dry ingredients.

4. Add the carrots and all the other remaining ingredients.

5. Pour the cake batter on a flat based cake tin (If you use a tin, you may want to butter it first. I use a silicon cake mold, which doesn’t require buttering). The batter will appear very runny at this stage, but will be nice and fluffy once cooked.

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6. Bake in the low part of a preheated oven 170°C / 340°F for about 50 minutes.

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Laskiaispulla (Shrove Tuesday bun)

I know Shrove Tuesday is usually called  Pancake Day. One of these years I’ll make pancakes on this day for my husband, however at the moment he’s still getting the Finnish version – buns filled with jam and whipped cream.

5 dl milk
2 saches of quick action dried yeast or 50g fresh yeast (I used dried)
1 egg, plus one more for brushing
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 dl caster sugar
1 tbsp coarsely ground cardamom
1 kg wheat flour (400g plain flour / 400g strong white bread flour / 200g self-raising flour)
200g butter, melted

1. Measure 900g of the flour in your mixing bowl. I use food processor for mixing the dough, but if you’re mixing by hand use a large wooden fork, as it’s important to get air in the dough mixture. Save the remaining flour until later. I have to confess I found the perfect mix of flours by accident. I have normally mixed plain and strong white flour half and half, but run out just a little bit, so had to finish with self raising, which turned out to be the best situation.

2. Heat the milk until lukewarm. Add the yeast, salt, sugar and cardamom, and stir until sugar has dissolved. Add slightly beaten egg.

3. Pour the liquid mixture to the mixing bowl with the flour in, whilst mixing.

4. Knead for 5 minutes, then start pouring in, little by little, the melted butter. At this stage, it’s a good idea to add spoons of the remaining flour, to help the butter to be incorporated with the rest of the dough. Knead for another 5 minutes. During this time, if the dough keeps sticking to the bowl or is too soft, add some more flour until it doesn’t stick anymore.

5. Cover the bowl with cling film and a cloth,  and place the bowl in a sink with hot water in. Leave to rise for an hour.

6. I then knead the dough again in the food processor for 30 seconds (or alternatively, you can of course do this by hand too).

7. Make into balls. Cover the individual buns with cling film and a cloth, and let them rise for 30 minutes.

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8. Preheat the oven to 200°C / 390°F.

9. Brush the buns with egg, then cook for about 10 minutes.

10. Once cooled, cut as many buns as you’re wanting to prepare as Laskiaispulla, half, so that you have bottom and top halves. Put some whipped cream on both halves. Add jam on the bottom half, the place the top half on top. The buns will be presented in this way, however when you eat them you probably want to eat each half separately.

 

Runeberg’s tart

The name for these mini cakes is slightly misleading, because they’re called tarts even though they are cakes. Direct translation between languages can sometimes be very difficult when you want to be true to the original name, but know at the same time it will give people a wrong impression. These delightful cakes are traditionally eaten once a year, in celebration of Finland’s national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg, on 5th of February.

makes about 8
Batter
1 egg
25 ml caster sugar
1/2 dl light muscovado sugar
100g butter, melted and cooled
1/2 dl double cream
2 dl plain flour
50g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 dl finely chopped hazelnuts
1 tsp vanilla sugar
1 tbs Amaretto
~~~~~
Sugar syrup
1 dl sugar
1/2 dl water
2 tbsp cognac
~~~~~
rasberry jam
icing sugar
water
a dash of Amaretto

1. Beat the egg and sugars until fluffy. Whip the cream until soft peaks are starting to form. Add the butter, cream and Amaretto to the egg and sugar mixture, and mixt together.

2. Mix all the remaining dry ingredients together, and fold into the wet mixture.

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3. To make the cakes the traditional shape I had to improvise, as I don’t have the molds (will have to try to remember next time is visit Findland to buy some). I used non stick baking paper to make cylinders, which do work pretty well.

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4. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 355° (fan). Bake the cakes for about 15-20 minutes.

5. While the cakes are cooking, prepare the syrup. Place the sugar, water and cognac in a pan, and bring to boil, cooking until all the sugar has dissolved.

6. Once the cakes have cooked, let cool for 5 minutes. Prick holes in them with a thin cocktail stick / needle. Then, brush the cakes with the syrup, using all of it. Let the cakes moisten for half an hour.

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7. Cut the tops of the cakes, to make them flat, and turn upside down. Place raspberry jam on top, leaving a space all around it. Mix the icing together, making a thick mixture, and finish the cakes with a ring of icing around the jam. Let the icing to harden, and the cakes are ready to be enjoyed!

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Karelian pie (not really a pie)

This Finnish “pie” is one of those foods I’ve had to learn how to make myself because of living abroad, to ensure availability when I would like some. It’s right up there with one of my all time favourites, salmon soup. These days, only the pies from the actual Karelia area can officially be called as Karelian pies, but to me they are all called this. When Gordon Ramsay tasted it and thought it was awful, he must’ve hurt every Finnish person’s feelings. To be honest, I do have to wonder if his comment was for the sake of the cameras. Everyone must’ve been thinking what version of this food was he served, as I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Karelian pies.

Even though the name says ‘pie’, it’s not really one. I was trying to think how to translate it (with the help from my British husband), but nothing seemed to fit. We went through pasty, pie, pastry etc and concluded that pie was still the best option.

Basically, this pie is something with very thin rye (and wheat) flour dough base, with cooked, savoury pudding rice in the centre. Very often, it’s enjoyed with butter that has hard boiled, crushed egg mixed in.

Filling
3 dl pudding rice
3 dl water
12 dl milk
2 tsp salt
Dough
4 1/2 dl rye flour
1 dl plain wheat flour
2 tsp salt
2 dl cold water

1. Put the rice, salt and water in a pan. Cook until the rice has absorbed all the water. Add the milk, and cook for half an hour. Once cooked, cool.

2. Whilst the rice is cooking, mix all the dough ingredients together. You don’t want it to be dry, but not sticky either.

3. Roll the dough into a tube, and cut in half. Repeat twice, then cut each piece in three equal sizes. After these steps, you should end up with 24 fairly equal size pieces.

4. Roll each piece into a ball. Cover the balls with cling film to stop them from drying. One by one, flatten each ball by hand, then using a rolling pin roll into very thin, oval shapes.

5. Put rice filling on the centre of the dough, from one end to another, leaving unfilled dough on the sides.

6. Turn the furthest end of the dough from you over the filling, then the sides. Pinch the dough between your fingers as you’re moving towards the closer end to you (picture is of a cooked pie, as I forgot to take a picture before putting them in the oven, but it should still give you an idea).

7. Cook in oven 250°C (fan) / 480°F for 15 minutes.

8. Put some milk and butter (25g-50g) into a pan, and warm until the butter has melted. After you take the pies out of the oven, bathe each pie in the milk-butter mix, turning it so that both sides are fully submerged during the process.

Thick vanilla custard

I was never that keen on custard in the past, when my experience was from pub desserts with this sauce. My husband was sometimes requesting this, so I finally decided to have a go. The first time I made it, I was amazed at how good it was! None of that tasteless from a packet stuff, but oh so wonderful, proper, creamy custard. This is still to date the best custard I’ve ever tasted, and I also use it for my trifle. I would strongly recommend this for anyone wanting a nice, thick custard. And it’s really easy to make too. Perfect accompaniment with your Christmas pudding, apple pie or rhubarb crumble, or whatever else is your favourite.

300ml double cream

3 egg yolks

2 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp potato or corn flour (any starchy flour for thickening)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Heat the cream in a pan until steaming, but not boiling. If you don’t stir it during this time, you will get a skin on top you will want to remove. I tend to stir the cream during heating.

2. While the cream is warming, mix all the other ingredients together in a bowl.

3. Pour the cream onto the eggs on a thin strip, stirring continuously as you pour. Then pour the whole mixture back into the pan.

4. Over medium heat, stir until the mixture thickens (5-10 minutes). I don’t usually get lumps, but if this happens, the custard can be passed through a sieve.

Then it’s time to enjoy the best vanilla custard to date!

Mince pies

I’m one of those who laughs in disbelief at this time of the year at any Christmas related things. I tend to forget that some foods need maturing, and should be made well in advance. I usually wake up couple of weeks before the festive period, and then curse myself for not preparing things earlier. Luckily, I’ve just remembered that I need to already make the mince for the mince pies. These are not part of my native culture, and I didn’t like them for a long time after moving to London, but since I started making these (to keep my husband happy) I have grown to like them. I think this recipe is a really good mince recipe. I have only included instructions for the mince itself today, and will be updating this when I make the rest.

Mince
225g Bramley apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped/grated
110g sultanas
60g currants
60g dried cranberries
175g raisins
110g mixed candied peel
4 tbsp dark rum, whiskey or brandy
25g finely chopped blanched almonds
1 large orange, finely grated zest and juice
1 lemon, finely grated zest and juice
2 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
110g shredded suet
175g dark muscovado sugar

Rum butter
125g butter, room temperature
50g light muscovado sugar
2 tbsp dark rum, whisky or brandy

Pastry
450g plain flour
180g butter, chilled and diced
50g lard, chilled and diced
finely grated zest of  1 orange
5-6 tbsp orange juice

1. Combine all mince ingredients apart from the muscovado and suet. Cook in a saucepan over low heat for 45 – 60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has plumped up, the apples have broken down and excess liquid has evaporated.

2. Set aside to cool, then mix in the muscovado and suet. For adults version, I also tend to add some more alcohol at this stage (3 tbsp), as the cooking has burned all alcohol off.

3. Put in sterilized jars, and mature for 3-4 weeks.

Chocolate bread

In my husband’s mind, I don’t make this bread often enough (he would still say this even if I made it almost every week). Chocolate bread might sound like a weird concept, and you would probably expect it to be sweet. I don’t think it’s either of the mentioned. Cocoa powder itself is always pretty bitter, and the bread only uses a little bit of sugar to counteract that. The taste of the bread is somewhere in a twilight zone between savory, bitter and sweet, and is quite addictive. You can of course alter the end taste by eating it with normal butter, nutella, peanut butter etc.

450g strong white flour
1 tsp salt
25g cocoa powder
1 sachet (7g) dried yeast
2 tbsp light brown muscovado sugar
300ml lukewarm water
1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil

1. Mix all the dry ingredients flour, salt, cocoa powder, sugar and yeast together. The cocoa powder tends to be a bit lumpy, you can either sift it through a sieve when adding it, or when mixing all ingredients together with a spoon just break the biggest lumps, which is what I do. Kneading the dough will get rid of the remaining lumps.

2. Mix oil and water together.  I use a food processor for kneading, but you can also do it by hand. Whilst mixing / kneading, slowly pour the liquid into the dry ingredients. Once it’s all mixed together, knead for 10 minutes. Cover with oiled cling film and a cloth, and place the bowl in a sink with some hot water at the bottom. Leave to rise for 1 hour.

 

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3. Knead again for about 30 seconds. Shape to a log to be length / width of your bread tin. Slightly oil your tin, and place the dough in. Cover with the oiled cling film, and let rise for 30 minutes.

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4. Bake in preheated oven 200°C / 400°F for 25-30 minutes.

5. Cool on a wire rack.

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