Saturday, December 6, 2008

Finnish saffron cinnamon buns

My homesickness begins traditionally today and keeps on growing until I go home for christmas. A set of feelings evoke in me, reminding to appreciate everyone and everything back home. Sure it's a melancolic time, but that word has more of a positive than a negative meaning forme Missing someone is better than not having anyone to miss at all...
Someone once said to that it's okay to leave, as long as you have a place to come back to. I had to move elsewhere to understand what he meant by it.
Happy Independance Day!

Korvapuusti is a typical finnish cinnamon bun made with yeast. Directly translated the word actually means a slap on the ear, not because of the taste, but because of the shape it is known for. The dough is traditionally seasoned with cardamom and cinnamon is added before baking. For an additional pinch of christmas and colour, I also tossed in some saffron.

P.s It seems the spirit is coming slowly..!

Sahrami Korvapuustit - Saffron Ear Slapps
(Finnish cinnamon buns with saffron) makes 16

500 ml milk
50 g fresh yeast
1-2 teaspoons salt
2 dl sugar
1 tablespoon cardamom
1 tablespoon saffron
1 egg
14 dl flour
100 g butter or margarine

50-100 g butter or margarine
firmly packed brown sugar (fariinisokeri)

Mix the yeast into the luke warm milk. Add the sugar, salt, cardamom saffron and egg and stir well. Start adding the flour stirring the whole time. Continue kneading with your hand until you have a firm dough that is not too sticky but also not too dry. Let it stand in a warm place for an hour.

Fold the dough o n a working table a few times to get the air out. Divide it then in half and roll the other half to a 50x50 cm sheet. Spread half of the butter and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Then make a long roll out of it and cut into eight pieces. Set the pieces on a baking sheet and press each one in the middle with your thumb so that they get 'ears'. Smear with egg and bake in 225 °C for ten minutes. I like to live them just a little bit raw from the very middle.
Enjoy fresh from the oven!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

too much sunshine..?!

Not long ago declaired I how winter time had begun for me and how from now on it will be all about christmas and all that. I was wrong. Somehow I still have an eye and appetite for autumny things although I keep telling myself 'come on, girl! Get over it! It's already December!' Could it be because of all the sunshine here in Freiburg? Is it too much for someone who is used to 27 hours of light during December. Yes, 27. And those hours don't yet promise sunshine from a clear blue sky, it just promises that you are able to see where you are going without a flashlight. Okay, that was exaggerated... Finland is not one big forest, although we do have a few trees and lakes.
Back to food. I had some brussels sprouts which I wanted to turn into something edible. I'd had a picture in my head of a brussels sprout quiche and to add a touch of christmas, I through in some cumin seeds as well as nutmeg. Good old orange found it's way to the pre-christmas party too and they all came along very well together!
What's different about this quiche is that it's made with a yeast dough. That means it's lighter and less buttery as the usual one. And for the filling: if you dont't find quark, replace it with 200 ml cream and leave out the milk.

Brussels Sprout Quiche

200 g spelt flour (or normal)
1 teaspoon sugar
10 g fresh yeast
125 ml water

700 g brussels sprouts
olive oil
50 ml water

2 eggs
150 g quark (curd cheese)
75 ml milk
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon orange zest
hint of ground nutmeg
pepper and salt

Mix the yeast, sugar and 125 ml of luke warm water. Add the flour and 1/2 tablespoon salt and knead into an even dough. Set aside for 30 minutes and cover it with a towel. Set oven to 175 °C.
Meanwhile cleanse the brussels sprouts and cut in half. Heat the oil in a pan and cook them first for two minutes and then add water. Add some salt and braise for 5 minutes.
Mix together the eggs, quark, milk and spices.
Butter a quiche form and roll the dough on the bottom and on the sides. Pour the quark mixture on the bottom and set the brussels sprouts on top, round side up.
Bake for 45 minutes and let it stand for 10 minutes before cutting into pieces.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

there's something about savoy cabbage

My passion for savoy cabbage continues and got to a whole new level with this gratin adapted from Orangette. It warmed both my heart and apartment on a chilly day, as it needed quite some time in the oven. Great with meat or simply with a crispy piece of bread.

Savoy Cabbage Gratin

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 savoy cabbage cut into small shreds
400 ml (1 3/4 cups) chicken or vegetable stock (preferably a good quality one)
1 ripe Saint Marcellin cheese (3 oz)

Preheat oven to 180 °C (350 F) and butter a large gratin dish.
Melt the butter in a big pan and add the cabbage and some salt. Cook stirring for about 10 minutes until it gets soft and starts getting some colour.
Add the stock and bring to simmer. Keep on cooking for two minutes and pour the whole thing then to the oven dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes.
Remove the foil and continue to bake for 20 minutes.
Then cut the cheese into pieces and spread on top. Set oven temperature to 190 °C (375 F) and bake for another 10 minutes, until cheese is melted.
Let it stand for a few minutes before serving. Guten Appetit!


Monday, December 1, 2008


There is a candy query going around the finnish food blogging world. To me this came from the lovely Bella Vanilla blog and I got a good reason to by candy...

Salty Fishes and Chewy Blueberry Balls...

... Mini Fruit Buddhas

And of course Milka Chocolate! (In Finland it would be Fazer.)

And I am challenging...


-Unelias Kokki


The rules are:

1. Pick at least five different sorts of candy - candy that you would normally also buy.
2. Take pictures of them and publish them on your blog.
3. Then challenge at least 3 other blogs to do the same and put a link on their blog. You can try to guess what kind of candy they are into!
4. You can also say a few words about the candy you've chosen.

Tässä meemin säännöt:
1. Valitse vähintään viisi irtokarkkilaatua, jotka valitsisit oikeastikin karkkipussiisi.
2. Ota karkeista joko itse kuvat tai nappaa ne netistä ja julkaise ne blogissasi.
3. Tämän jälkeen haasta vähintään kolme ihmistä tekemään tämä meemi, ja linkkaa heidän blogeihinsa. Voit haastaa myös useamman! Koita arvata, mistä nameista he tykkäävät.
4. Halutessasi voit vielä selvittää sanallisesti valintojasi…

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Not just a piece of cake

I was really really nervous. All that talk about 'balancing fat with acid and protein JUST RIGHT' scared a beginner like me. Not forgetting the warnings and safety precautions of preparing the caramel syrup - which I did finally get right on my third try.
I took this as a three day project. On the first day I made the syrup. Although it scared the hell out of me, I would recommend this to everyone. Not only because it's sometimes good to conquer your fears, but also because it tastes so good, is (after all) quite simple (and cheap!) to make, makes a great gift and goes great with fruit, ice cream, hot milk, with plain yoghurt... I could go on, but at this point I have to admit that I almost gave up while running to the shop to buy more sugar during my attempt to get it right. But that's irrelevant.
Next day I baked the cake. I Used three different sized glass jars instead of one springform and baked them for almost an hour. Of course I was stressed and afraid about how they would turn out, but when the sweet scent of caramel spreaded across the kitchen, I was sure it couldn't have gone completely wrong.
Then the third day was frosting day. It went quite well although I was still worried if my caramel syrup had the right consistency. I did everything exactly as in the recipe and found myself tip toeing around the ingredients to keep them happy and co-operative.
After that it was pure pleasure. I liked how the salt and caramel tasted together. And the cake itself was amazing. In all I'm proud that I completed my first ever Daring Bakers Challenge and I'm already looking forward to the next one!
Thank you Lisa and Yvonne, and Thank you Shuna for the recipe!

To see other Daring Bakers creations, go here


10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F

Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.

Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

Sift flour and baking powder.

Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.

Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.


2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly (colour should be dark amber) without mixing it.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.


12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste

Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.
To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light

Recipes above courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon, as published on Bay Area Bites

Co hosts this month ( are Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo:, Jenny of Foray into Food ( And since none of us know jack about alternative baking, we’ve once again turned to Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go ( to assist us.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Saying good bye and moving forward

This Sunday was a special one for me. I woke up and discovered the mountains outside my window all white and snowy; winter had arrived to Freiburg. Conveniently this happened the same day as the traditional Weinachtsmarkt, christmas market was do to open.
Of course that snow is already gone and is substituted with cold rain and sleet but what stayed was my christmas feeling, from which there's no return. The only obstacle was, that I hadn't yet had the chance to close the earlier season properly.
There I was with a few Boskoop apples, a friend coming over and an urge to bake. What happened next was an apple pie so fluffy, mellow (can this word be used in this contents..?) and delicate, that I could at peace leave this one as the last autumnal pastry for this year and hereby state that christmas is exactly ONE MONTH away from this day. Welcome woolen stockings and gingerbread and everything related to it!

Apple Pie from Alsace

200 g flour
100 g butter
1 egg yolk
30 g sugar
hint of salt
2 tablespoons cold water

4 large sour apples (I used Boskoop)
2 tablespoons lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
100 g sugar
3 eggs
the seeds of one vanilla bean (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
1/8 liter cream

Measure all the ingredients from the crust into a bowl and knead either by hand or with a mixer until you have one block of dough. Wrap it in aluminum foil and place it in the fridge for an hour.

Preheat oven to 200 °C (400 F). Press the dough on the bottom and sides of a 26 cm springform (I used two rectangular glass dishes) and poke some wholes to the bottom with a fork.
Peel the apples and cut into thin slices. Arrange the slices on the pie crust.
Bake the whole thing in the lowest part of the oven for 35 minutes. If it starts getting brown, just put a foil on top.

For the filling combine the eggs and sugar and whisk until fluffy. Add the vanilla and cream and pour on top of the apples. Bake again for 25 to 35 minutes until it gets some colour. When ready, let cool almost completely before cutting out pieces.

This was wonderful when almost completely cooled but still slightly warm. Didn't even need ice cream or whipped cream but they won't do any harm either!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

just a little something

This Greek dish had been on my to do -list for a long time. I had just been waiting for the right occasion to make it. Nothing big, maybe just several friends coming together around one big round table, some candles and bottles of wine on a warm night, with a guy playing the bouzouki on the background. No. Wait! that was too much. Let's go back to a few good friends. And the wine, maybe. This is still Germany and it is November.
Anyway, I had a picture of Pastitsio being something grandiose and complicated to make. I was wrong. This is how I see it:
1. Making the filling
2. Boiling the pasta
3. Béchamel

Then you just put it all together and shove it in the oven and everyone is impressed.Sometimes life can also be easy.

Pastitsio (for 4 to 5 friends)

olive oil for cooking
1 onion
1 tablespoon parsley
1 clove of garlic
400 g mincemeat
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
50 ml white wine
200 g canned tomatoes
225 g Bucatini pasta (the long tubular pasta) or penne
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon dryed mint


60 g butter
60 g flour
500 ml warm milk
a hint of ground nutmeg

Heat the olive oil in a pan and cook the diced onion until soft and golden. Add the parsley and the chopped garlic and cook for a while before adding in the mincemeat. Cook for a few minutes, until the liquid has faded and it starts to get colour. Season with salt and pepper and add the bay leaf and cinnamon.
When the meat is done and brown, pour in the wine and let it cook until the wine has faded.
Add in the canned tomatoes and a five tablespoons water and continue cooking on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the tomatoes have become creamier. At this point the meat should not get dry, add water if this happens.
Remove the pan from the heat.

Heat oven to 180 °C (350 F). Meanwhile cook the pasta about two minutes less than directed on the package. Pour all of the water away and mix the butter and mint into the pasta. Then lay half of it into an oven dish (I used a 16cm x 25 cm dish), spread the sauce over it and put the rest of the pasta on top. Press with a spoon to make it compact.

Preparing the béchamel:
Melt the butter in a pan. Add the flour and cook for a few minutes constantly stirring. Then begin to add the warm milk, whisking as you pour it. Cook and stir until the sauce becomes thicker. Then add salt, pepper and nutmeg and continue cooking for a few minutes.
Pour it then all over the pasta and bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the surface gets golden brown.
Let it stand for 10 minutes before serving, so that the béchamel stiffens and doesn't spread when cutting pieces.
It's nice with a fresh green salad!

Source: Falling Cloudberries, Tessa Kiros

...on how to deal with a problem

Finland's answer to Oreos are Domino cookies. Dominos are as well known and classic in Finland as their American cousins are in their homeland. I find the taste of Oreos a bit deeper and somehow saltyer than Dominos, and depending on the day and my mood, prefer the original ones more than the crunchyer finnish equivalent.
Because I live in Germany at the moment, access to either one of these cookies doesn't exist. There for the big question is: what do I do when I desperately begin craving for sandwich cookies?
The first thing to do: Breath. The second part: neglect my high demands and thoughts on what kind of consistency they must have and settle for compromise. Number three: Proceed from whining to action, scan for sandwich cookie recipes in the internet and take out my blue bowl and whisk. And finally: Set my mind and heart open for a creation that might not be a Domino, nor an Oreo, but something even better that I could never even imagine putting in my mouth. A cookie that gives a new meaning to the saying 'melt in your mouth' and brings juicyness to the vocabulary of describing a cookie.
The teaching of this story? Next time you want something good, consider this recipe.

Sandwich Cookies

3 dl flour
(1 1/4 cups)
1,2 dl dark cocoa powder (1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3,4 dl sugar
(1 1/2cups)
10 tablespoons butter (room temperature)
1 egg


100 g cream cheese
powder sugar (depending on how sweet you like them. I used 3 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 190 °C (375 F). In a bowl combine together flour, cocoa powder, soda, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix with an electric mixer and add the butter and then the egg. Blend until you have one solid mass of dough.

Take small pieces of dough and roll them in your hands into balls. I made 2 cm thick balls, but you can decide yourself depending on the size of the cookies you want. I propose you try out with a few and then you will see how much they spread in the oven. Also try to make them about the same size, so that it it easier to pair them in the end.
Remember to leave some space between them on the baking sheet.
Press the balls of dough with your fingers to flatten them slightly. And bake for 9 minutes.
Don't be confused when taking them out of the oven. In the beginning they may seem raw and too soft. The cookies will settle after letting them cool on a rack for some time, nevertheless they do maintain a soft and juicy consistence.

When you've baked the cookies and they have cooled down, it is time to make the filling.
It's simple, just whisk together all the ingredients. Then put a teaspoonful of filling on a cookie and press another cookie lightly on top. And there you have it! The first homemade, oreo/domino-like sandwich cookie. Now, do the same to the rest of the stuff.

P.s They taste even better the next day!

Adapted from:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Crumpets crumpets crumpets crumpets

The word gets me in such a good mood everytime I say it. I used to eat these for breakfast with lots of butter when I lived in London. I had actually forgotten the existance of crumpets until I bumped into the recipe again. We used to get them from Sainsbury's and it never even crossed my mind at the time, that it would be possible to make them at home.
Well, this weekend I did, and I am happy I tryed them out because the taste was even better than I remembered. And they are actually quite simple to make and don't require any special ingredients; just time for the batter to stand and a couple of egg cooking rings (or round cookie dough cutting rings about 8 cm diameter) for the frying part.

Crumpets (makes about 12)

225 g flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
280 ml milk
50 ml water

and oil or butter for cooking

Heat the milk and water lukewarm. Pour it then into a cup and mix in the sugar and the yeast. Let it stand in a warm place for about 15 minutes, until the surface begins to look bubbly.

Meanwhile measure the flour and salt into a bowl and make a hole in the middle.
When 15 minutes have passed, pour the liquid in the middle and start mixing with a wooden spoon until the batter is smooth. Then leave it again in a warm place, covered with a cloth. The batter will become light and frothy.

After 45 minutes, grease the cooking rings and the frying pan and place over a medium heat. Fill the rings to the middle* (or a little bit less) and cook for 4 to five minutes. At this time the small bubbles on the surface will explode, leaving them their characteristic holes.
Then with the help of two forks, turn the rings and the crumpets over to cook from the other side for another minute.
Grease well the rings and pan again for the next batch.

*if the stuff floods over the edges the first time cooking, fill the rings a bit less on the second round. It depends on the on the batter how much it rises.

Serve the crumpets while still warm with butter and jam or marmalade. They are also delicious the next day when toasted!


Haasteruokaa - challenge food

Tämän reseptin myötä osallistun ensimmäistä kertaa kuukauden ruoka haasteeseen. Itseasiassa halusin osallistua jo lokakuussa mutta tuoreen kalan ja etenkin silakoiden löytäminen Etelä-Saksasta osoittautuikin niin suureksi haasteeksi, että jätin suosiolla osallistumatta.
Melukylän Krisu valitsi marraskuun teemaksi lampaan ja niin kuin hän blogissaan kirjoitti sesonki- ja lähituotetun ruoan suosimisesta, päätin minäkin hyödyntää kaalia. Tällä hetkellä Freiburgin torit ovat täynnä mitä erilaisimpia kaalilajikkeita, joista yksi suosikkini on ehdottomasti savoijinkaali, joka tunetaan myös nimellä kurttukaali.
Siispä otin askeleen kohti uutta ja muutin hieman perinteistä kaalikääryle ohjetta.

Savoijinkaalikääryleet lammastäytteellä (6 kpl)

6 isoa savoijinkaalin lehteä
200 g jauhettua lampaanlihaa
1 sipuli
1 dl keitettyä täysjyväriisiä
1 kananmuna
0,5 dl kermaa
nokare voita
0,5 tl hunajaa
2 dl lihalientä
1 rkl tummaa siirappia

Hienonna sipuli ja kuullota paistinpannulla tilkassa öljyä. Lisää liha ja ruskista hieman (ei tarvitse kypsentää täysin). Ota liedeltä ja anna jäähtyä.

Keitä sillä aikaa kaalin lehtiä kiehuvassa vedessä 5 minuuttia. Kuivaa lehdet talouspaperilla ja veistä kovia kantoja/ruotoja veitsellä pois.

Sekoita kulhossa keskenään sipuli-lampaanliha, kerma, kananmuna ja hunaja.
Mausta suolalla, valkopippurilla ja hunajalla.

Aloita sitten kääröjen teko: Jaa täyte kuuden kaalinlehden kesken ja painele tiiviiksi. Taittele lehdet paketeiksi ja asettele voideltuun uunivuokaan taitoskohta alaspäin. Kaada lihaliemi pohjalle.

Sivele kääröt voisulalla ja valuta siirappia päälle.
Paista 175 asteisessa uunissa noin 40 minuuttia. Tarjoile esimerkiksi perunamuusin ja puolukkahillon kanssa!

The theme of November's food blogger's challenge is lamb, so I am taking part to the competition with the following recipe.

Savoy cabbage rolls with lamb filling

6 large savoy cabbage leaves
200 grams minced lamb meat
70 grams cooked brown rice
1 onion
5 tablespoons cream
1 tablespoon butter
0,5 teaspoon honey
200 ml meat bouillon
1 tablespoon dark syrup

Cut the onion into small dices and cook in a frying pan until golden. Add the lamb meat and cook for a few minutes (it doesn't have to be completely done). Put it then to a bowl and let it cool down.

Boil the cabbage leaves in boiling water for 5 minutes. Dry them with a cloth and cut the hard parts away with a knife.

Add the cream, eggs and honey to the mixture in the bowl and mix. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Then divide the mixture equally on the middles of the cabbage leaves, and form them into tight packages.
Set them on a griesed oven dish so that the folding areas are faceing down. Pour the bouillon on the bottom of the dish.

Spread the melted butter and the syrup on top of the rolls and bake for 40 minutes in 175 °C (325 F) until golden.
Serve with mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam!