Rhubarb and strawberry tart

I’m more of a savory than a sweet kind of cook. I was inspired to make this sweet tart by the British Pie week, that’s been trending on Twitter. Before you get too confused though, the Finnish name for this kind of thing is a ‘pie’, which is why I thought of making it, before properly considering that in fact it’s more of a tart. I would however say pies and tarts are cousins, and I think this is a good enough entry to the pie week from me.  It’s very easy and simple to make, and you can easily change the filling ingredients to your taste.

Pastry
150g butter
1 dl sugar
1 egg
2 dl plain flour
2 dl porridge oats
2 tsp baking powder
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Filling
200g rhubarb (about 4 stalks, depending on size)
300g strawberries
1 tbsp sugar
2 dl crème fraiche
1 egg

1. Mix all the pastry ingredients together. Spread the mixture at the bottom and sides of your dish.

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2. Chop the rhubarb and strawberries into small pieces. Pour over the pastry, to fill the tart / pie. Sprinkle the sugar on top.

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3. Mix the egg with the crème fraiche. Pour the mixture over the strawberries and rhubarb.

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4. Heat the oven to 200°C / 390°F. Place the tart into the preheated oven, and bake for 30 minutes.

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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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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!

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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Cinnamon buns

This very Finnish bake (some might say Nordic) brings back many memories of cold winter days, steaming cup of hot chocolate with a big cinnamon bun. I don’t make them very often, but have been thinking about them for a while now. I’m so glad I decided to make them, this batch is the best I’ve ever made!

5 dl milk
2 saches of quick action dried yeast or 50g fresh yeast (I used dried)
1 egg
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
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soft butter
cinnamon
caster sugar
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egg

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, 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. As this is quite a big dough, I then cut it in half, and do the following steps in each half. With a rolling pin, roll the dough onto a flat plate. About 5-10 mm thickness should be good.

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8. Spread on soft butter, followed by ground cinnamon, and then sugar.

9. Let rest for 15 minutes, then roll the dough, and cut into desired size pieces with a knife.

10. At the top part of the bun, using your fingers bring the edges of the outer layer of dough to the middle part of top of the bun and press down, so that they stick. Let rise for 30 minutes, covered.

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11. Heat oven to 200°C (fan) / 400°F. Just before baking the buns, brush them with slightly beaten egg. Bake for 15 minutes. Depending on your oven, keep on eye on them whether you need to turn your tray half way.

Tosca cake

I was going to say this cake is from my native Finland, but like with many things, it’s very difficult to say whether something originated from Finland, Sweden or Norway (each country would always like to claim the ownership, take sauna for example), so I’ll expand a little bit and say this is Nordic baking.

200g butter
2 dl sugar
3 eggs (large)
4 dl flour (I use half plain, half self raising)
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla sugar
1/2 lemon skin, grated
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75g butter
3/4 dl sugar
1 1/2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp milk
70g almond flakes

1. Heat oven to 175°C / 345°F.

2. Whisk butter and sugar together, until light fluffy texture. You may find this easier if the butter has been sitting in the room temperature for a while prior to this, and is soft.  Add eggs one at a time, whisking as you go. If you find it difficult to incorporate the eggs to the butter/sugar mixture, you might want to add a small spoonful of  the flour as you go.

3. Mix all dry ingredients of flour, baking powder, vanilla sugar and lemon skin together. Add to the butter, sugar and egg mixture, and mix together. Keep in mind that you should not be mixing it vigorously or for a long time after adding the flour, as this will make your cake to fail.

4. Pour the mixture to your cake tin. I these days use silicon ones, so I don’t need to butter them, but if you are using the older style tins, you would like to butter them, and then add some fine breadcrumbs until all of the inside of the tin is covered. This will prevent the cake from sticking to the tin. Bake on the lowest shelf of the oven for 20 minutes.

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5. Whilst the cake is cooking, add all remaining ingredients of butter, sugar, flour, milk and almond flakes to a pan, to make the topping. Heat, and stir everything together until sugar has melted and all ingredients are mixed together.

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6. After the cake has been cooking for 20 minutes, pour the topping over it, and bake in the oven for another 20 minutes.