Monday, 16 April 2012

A new romance and the beginning of a fairytale...



I've been looking for the perfect cake. Not that I could generalize a cake that everyone would regard as the perfect one. I've been looking for a cake, that feels just right at the moment, perfect for this instant, this period of life. Perfect for me I guess, and hopefully perfect for others too. I was thinking about it so hard that this idea just struck me one night before falling asleep. Of course I had to stand up to write it down, I had a feeling that there was something revolutionary coming :)


I love, more than love bananas, so I wanted to bake a cake that would include my favourite ingredient of course. I also adore coconut and strawberries - I decided why not to use them too. With strawberries there comes always the white chocolate - and a touch of lemon to refresh the whole creation :) I wanted this cake to be comfortable and luxurious, decadent, at the same time. And for the frosting it had to be cream cheese, which gives such a lovely soft flavour and a texture.
 
Organic cream cheese.

Actually the idea for the decoration came first, the I started to build up the cake according to it, so that it would match the basic idea. The combination of white chocolate, banana, coconut and a hint of strawberry sounded irresistible. And the outcome is such a romantic, fluffy and ravishing cake. I decided to name it the Love Cake, Rakkauskakku in Finnish. I hope that when you taste it you can feel the love you used to make it. Love is the greatest of all. It's at least moderate to bake a cake celebrating it!



And then you see, it's spring. The season of love, new beginnings, new romances that lead into heartbreaking fairytales ot the ones with a happy ending. So, celebrate the beauty of life, the nobility of loving and being loved. Share this cake with your dearest, or bake it to brighten up your days filled of routine.
Don't miss the message of love <3 1. Cor. 13:13. Gal. 5:22.
 
" Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony". Col. 3:14.


For the Love Cake "Rakkauskakku"
 
3,6 dl mashed ripe bananas (about four medium sized bananas)
2 tsp lemon juice
4,8 dl wheat flour
2,4 dl organic coconut flakes
1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp himalaya salt
1, 8 dl (about 150g) organic butter
4 dl organic brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla sugar
1 zest of a lemon
3, 6 dl organic coconut milk
 
For the filling
 
0,5 dl organic coconut milk
juice of one lemon
1 tsp vanilla sugar
about 2 dl freezed strawberries
1 banana
2 tbsp agave syrup
about 0,5 dl organic peanut butter (I used smooth but crunchy goes perfectly too)
 
For the frosting and decorating
 
2 tbsp organic virgin coconut oil
100 g organic white chocolate with strawberry flakes



2 packages (175 g each) organic unflavoured cream cheese
1 dl icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar

one banana
some lemon juice
about 1 dl organic coconut flakes
30 g white chocolate (grated white chocolate flakes to decorate)
 
1. Butter the cake tin with coconut oil, flour it with organic potato starch or equivalent. Heat the oven into 150°C.


Extra virgin coconut oil. 


2. In a bowl, mash the bananas, add lemon juice. Grate zest of one well washed lemon, add to the mixture and set aside. Mix the wheat flour with coconut flakes, baking soda and salt, set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat the butter with the sugar with a stand mixer until well mixed.
Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in 2 tsp vanilla sugar, mix again.

4. Beat in the flour mixture alternatively with the coconut milk. Save the leftover coconut milk for the dampening of the cake.


5. Stir in banana mixture, mix well. Bake in the oven for about 2 hours, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. The baking process is a bit tricky. For the first one and a half hours keep the temperature 150°C, then for the last 30 minutes raise it to 180°C. Don't hesitate to bake it long enough. Be patient, it's worth it :) Put a foil on top of the cake to stop the surface from getting too brown or hard.


6.
Remove from oven and let it cool down in the room temperature for 2-3 hours. Put to the fridge overnight, it gets better and more moist. You can also serve it the same day, but I suggest this because it gets better and better in the fridge!


7. Take strawberries out from the freezer half an hour earlier so that they melt a bit. Prepare the filling: mash one banana. Puré the freezed strawberries with a hand mixer. Combine the two mixtures, pour 2 tbsps of agave syrup to sweeten it up a bit.

8. Take the cake from the fridge, remove it carefully from the tin. It should be easy to remove, especially of you've put baking paper on the bottom of the tin.

9. Cut the cake carefully into two halves horizontally from the center. Mix together lemon juice, coconut milk and vanilla sugar, with a tablespoon sprinkle over the bottom and the upper part to give the cake some moisture and flavour.

10. Spread the peanut butter on the bottom, then the strawberry-banana filling. Put the upper part of the cake on top. Don't put too much of the filling, otherwise it comes out from the sides.




11. Prepare the frosting. Take the cream cheese to the room temperature about half an hour earlier, it will make the frosting a bit smoother. Melt the white chocolate together with the virgin coconut oil in a small kettle over a bigger kettle with simmering water. Beat the cream cheese until smooth. Set aside. 
12. Prepare the decorations. Cut one banana into slices. Take about 1 dl of coconut flakes on a wide bowl. Put a baking paper near you so that you can but the dipped banana slices on it to cool down. Dip the banana slices one by one in the chocolate, then dip them in coconut flakes. Let them rest for a while.
 
13. You'll have plenty of the white chocolate mixture left, use it for the frosting. Mix it together with the cream cheese. Add vanilla sugar and then add the icing sugar. Mix until the frosting is smooth. Spread beautifully on top of the cake. Then put the dipped banana slices on top of the cake, making a round around the edges. Grate some white chocolate and sprinkle on the sides on top of the banana slices. 
14. Share with your family, friends...the people you love - or just anyone who might need a slice of pure love :)

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Dreamers can never be tamed - are you ready to travel?





Sometimes a will to go somewhere very far, to a distant, exotic and warm place really hits me. I feel a desperate urge to take the first plane to Mumbai or other suitable destination. But then the reality comes..there's no way to travel. So what do I do? I cook.



My way to go on an imaginary trip is to choose a recipe that fits my travelling desires. India has been my favourite for a long time - I find it very intriguing. I love Indian food and Indian spices, I love the colourful way of preparing it. It's made for all our senses. It's amazing how spices can turn very simple ingredients into most luxurious combinations of flavours. I think it's almost impossible to go wrong with Indian food.



I found a great food blog called "Chef In You". It's specialised in vegan and vegetarian recipes and contains a lot of Indian recipes too. I was excited to find so many different versions of this pan bread, which I guess is called "Paratha". It's so lovely...The original recipe that was my inspiration is found here: http://chefinyou.com/2010/07/hara-bhara-paratha/. My version is different of course but with the same basic idea.



When it comes to my travel today it was perfect :) Having an idea or a theme is a wonderfully efficient way to indulge into cooking - time went really fast and I really could feel the atmosphere of the Indian kitchen. Maybe on a street somewhere, with a huge frying pan to bake the breads...Oh dear, someday I wish to experience it for real.



But for all the dreamers, this helps. We must allow some pre-enjoyment for ourselves, while our dreams are waiting to come true. So, I suggest let's travel!

Hara Bara Paratha with a zucchini, leek, cottage cheese and onion filling

10-12 pieces

For the dough

2 cups freezed spinach
3-4 cups flour ( about 8 dl)
(I mixed hemp flour, spelt flour, rye flour and wholewheat flour -> more vital!)
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp natural yogurt or quark (I used quark, turned out great!)

For the filling

1 zucchini
5 cm piece of leek
1 red onion
3 garlic cloves
3-4 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 cup cottage cheese
fresh coriander and parsley, a handful or more of both
freshly grounded pepper
himalaya salt
spices: coriander, cumin, kurkuma, garam masala, curry, paprika, mint, ginger, just a little bit of cinnamon and nutmeg - amounts according to your taste :)

1. To make the dough, boil the freezed spinach until it softens. Pour the water out and put into a blender with the quark or yogurt to make it a smooth mixture. Mix together salt and flour, add the spinach mixture. Knead into a dough, add flour until it's not sticky anymore. Let it rest covered for five minutes.
2. To make the filling grate the zucchini, cut the leek and wash it well (it might have some mudd in between the layers), cut the onion into small pieces, crush the garlic. Sauté onion, garlic and leek in olive oil, add sunflower seeds and fry for a couple of minutes, on a lower heat. Mix together all the ingredients in a big bowl. When you add the spices use them carefully but do not be afraid to use many different spices together, because they aren't hot. Indian food is ought to be spicy. Just taste the mixture until you're satisfied :) But use only half a teaspoon of cinnamon and nutmeg.
3. Flour a table and knead the dough for a while to make it firm.


4. Deal it in two, then deal the halves into five or six pieces. Use a rolling pin to make a round, then put two spoonfuls of the filling in the middle. Gather the sides together into the middle, press them down with your hand put some flour on top and again use the rolling pin to make a round bread.






5. When you've prepared all the breads, heat a pan on quite a high temperature (in my stove the highest is 9 so I used 7 for baking these). Bake the breads in olive oil from both sides. Once the pan is hot it goes quite fast, so be careful not to burn them but to let them get a beautiful brown surface with spots.
6. Serve Parathas hot with some butter or Indian yogurt sauce called Raita.
7. Then eat. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and have a bite - can you feel the warm Indian wind that brings to you the smell of spices, flowers, dust from the road and the dampness of the river flowing somewhere near you...Can you hear the music that is played on the streets, ot the laughter of the children playing? I'm sure you can. ;)

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

There comes the sun and a greater joy with it - quark buns for Easter





I love quark. Who wouldn't? Ok maybe there are some people who don't, but I must declare that these quark buns (or pies, whatever you want to call them) are irresistable. It was truely a touching moment when we tasted them with my family, fresh from the oven...it brought us memories from those days when my grandmother used to bake this kind of buns. These tasted just as authentic, so soft, fluffy with a perfect texture.



And then the filling...the combination of lemon, raisins and quark is like a dream come true. The buns are made by a classic Finnish recipe and usually we bake them at Easter, even though it's possible to find them any time of the year in the bakeries. Still I think the best ones you get if you bake them yourself :)



I know this exalting description of buns might seem a bit too much, but for any food lover it's ordinary, every day analysis of the things you eat. Because when we eat, don't we quite logically want to have the best? At least I do. It's not selfish - we all have a permission to enjoy our lives and to take care of ourselves. Eating well and balanced brings us energy and joy, not to forget to enjoy some treats time to time. And, actually Easter is coming so it truely is a massive reason to celebrate! So. Go to your nearest grocery store, buy all the ingredients you need and start baking. You don't want to miss these.




Quark buns - "Rahkapulla" in Finnish

Dough

125g butter
1/2 tbsp cardamom
2 1/2 dl milk
25 g fresh yeast
1 dl brown sugar
1/2 tsp himalaya salt
1 egg
about 8 dl wheat flour (550g)

For buttering

1 egg and a pinch of salt

For the filling

250g quark
3/4 dl sugar
1/2 tbsp vanilla sugar
1/2 dl cream (can be double cream)
1 egg
the peel and juice of one lemon
1/2 dl raisins

1. Melt the butter in a kettle (make sure it doesn't get too hot) and add the cardamom, so you get a lovely flavour from it. Add the milk and mix together, warm to the temperature of your hand.

2. Crumble the yeast in a big bowl and add the milk-butter mixture, mix well until the yeast has "disappeared".


3. Add sugar, salt and one egg mixing well. Add flour little by little mixing all the time. It's the best option to use a kneading machine with a kneading hook, it makes it a lot easier. You can also knead with your hands. Knead until the dough is "bouncy" and doesn't get stuck to the sides of the bowl anymore. But it's good not to make it too thick, so leave it a bit soft if possible.


4. Let the dough rise for half an hour so it doubles. When it has doubled, knead the air bubbles away.


The dough. Quite lovely indeed.


5. Make small buns from the dough, knead them well into round balls with an even surface. Let them rise on a baking sheet for half an hour.

6. Meanwhile prepare the filling. Wash the lemon well, grate the peel away and then press the juice out from the lemon. Mix all the ingredients of the filling together.


7. Warm the oven into 225°C degrees. Mix one egg with salt for the buttering. Press a dimple to the small buns using the bottom of a drinking glass.


8. Butter the buns and then fill the dimple with the quarkmixture. Bake the quark pies in the oven for about 10 minutes. Let them cool down and enjoy fresh...mmm lovely.

Friday, 30 March 2012

For the lovers of Naan bread - how to bake it at home


Today my mission is to bake my all time favourite bread, the Indian Naan bread. I'm going to take it to our church's youth evening, where we usually serve some food. My friend is cooking Dhal from lentils, so it will be a perfect companion for the bread :)It's lovely to share food as well, as we share our thoughts and our lives. Fun & Food - two basic things indeed.


This recipe is very simple and always succesful. It is essential to use good ingredients and to enjoy the baking process...and to eat them fresh! They are best on the very day of baking. And you have to be careful not to burn them in the oven, they get ready quite quickly. They are wonderfully soft from the inside, a bit moist which is ideal. I altered the original recipe a bit, changing the buttering after oven into oiling, to have a better fat consistency - and I also love the taste of olive oil. But if you prefer some salty butter, of course feel free to use it.


This recipe makes about 6-8, depends how big you make them. I dealed the dough into 8 pieces, and the breads are still quite big for one person. Double the recipe if you're planning to share the bread with a lot of friends :)When you serve them, I suggest some sauce (for example indian style cucumber-yogurt sauce or any nut spread)


Naan bread

2 dl natural yogurt (I use either thick greek or turkish yogurt and organic if possible)

2 dl water
1 tsp himalaya salt
9 dl wheat flour, or half of it wholewheat to have some fibre, gives some more flavor and makes it more filling
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp olive oil

For the buttering:

0,5 dl olive oil (or same amount melted butter)

1 tsp paprika
some cummin powder, garam masala, kurkuma or ginger powder - use your favourites!
add a hinch of himalaya salt if you wish, but not necessary

1. Mix all dry ingredients together. Heat the oven to 250°C.

2. Mix together the wet ingredients and add into the dry ingredient mixture. Knead the dough in the bowl forcefully to make it fluffy enough. Then continue forceful kneading on a floured table to get a good consistency.


3. Deal the dough into 6-8 pieces, roll them to balls. Put them on a baking sheet, cover them with a cloth and let them rest for 10 minutes. Then, make them flat with a rolling pin, form into oval shape. Make them thin.


4. Let them rest covered on a baking sheet for five minutes. Bake them in oven for about five minutes, until they get a beautiful golden brown colour on the sides. If you have kneaded them well, they should rise in the oven and look like balloons with an air pocket in the middle.


5. Mix the olive oil or butter with the spices and butter the Naan breads. Serve fresh from the oven! Enjoy.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Beautiful bagels for a beautiful life



The last time I posted something was almost two years ago. It's hard to believe that I'm back again - actually I just felt that I must continue writing this blog. Of course I've been cooking as much as before all this time, you could never separate me from the kitchen.
Last week baking these bagels (that have the honour to be my first come back recipe) changed everything. They were so delicious and lovely so that I couldn't keep the recipe only to myself. The pictures really speak for themselves, who could resist such adorable creatures as these little bagels? :)

Baking them surprised me, because I thought it would be much more complicated. Actually it turned out to be a lot of fun - especially the part of the process when you boil them in the water. It became my new favourite "home baked bread" recipe. Why to buy those bagels from market, whose ingredients are suspectable (and probably not that natural anymore), when you can experience the joy of making them yourself?

Well, I recommend you to start baking and feel the special kind of happiness that only self-made bread can bring :) And I recommend you to use organic ingredients, whenever you can. Oh and one thing, I made these bagels a bit more different from the mainstream not using only wheat flour, but making my own mixture. Turned out tasty with a good texture, and a bit more vital!



This one is a real beauty, but it "lost" its hole in the oven :D


Bagels

about 16 pieces

5 dl water
50g yeast
2 1/2 tsp himalayan salt
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp rape seed oil or any vegetable oil of good quality
2 dl buckwheat flour
4 dl wholewheat barley flour
6 dl wholewheat flour
(1 dl oatmeal)

For boiling them

water and a big kettle
3 tbsp agave syrup
2-3 tbsp himalayan salt

For the "topping"
sesame seeds about 2 dl
oatmeal about 2-3 dl

1. Warm up the water to the temperature of your hand. Let then yeast melt into it. Add sugar, salt and oil, then add the flours and oatmeal mixing together all the time. You can add more flour if the dough stays too sticky, but remember to leave it a bit more softer than normally when you bake bread. Let the dough rise in a warm place so that it doubles.
2. Warm the oven to 225°C. Take to baking sheets and cover them with baking paper.
3. Knead the dough with some flour a little bit, then deal it to 16 pieces or less, if you want BIG bagels. Make "breadrolls", then push a hole into the middle of them and push your whole finger through and let the bagel roll a bit around your finger until the hole is big enough.
4. Boil water with agave syrup and salt (make sure there's enough water) in a big kettle. Add bagels to the water. When they rise to the surface, boil them from both sides 1-2 minutes, then move to the baking sheet. It's good to use a ladle with holes.
5. Pour the sesame seeds onto one plate and the oatmeal to another. Roll the bagels in the topping you wish, then put back to the baking sheet. Whean ready, bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, until ready.
6. Eat them fresh from the oven or let them cool down. If you let them cool down, cut into a half toast them before eating. Fill with anything you like, cream cheese is the classic option but I must say that you can use your imagination - I found out they were lovely with some peanut butter, honey and sliced banana. Of course it depends on the fact if you wish to eat them with a salty or sweet filling. Then, just enjoy!


Friday, 4 June 2010

The most delicious chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting



Every single time I bake something with chocolate I use Finnish Fazer's baking chocolate. I think that it's the best chocolate you could use, and by using it I have always succeeded very well. These cupcakes are one of the best things you could imagine, if you're a friend of chocolate - and tell me someone who isn't. Tomorrow we are going to celebrate the end of the school year with my friends, and I want to surprise them by bringing these cupcakes :) I hope they like them.

This is the third time I'm baking these chocolate cupcakes, but every time I have changed the recipe a bit and this time I have changed it to make the cupcakes super delicious and chocolaty. You know in Finland we are used to say that the third time tells the truth, and I think with these cupcakes it fits perfectly. And I just love cream cheese frostings, so I thought that this time I'll make one. And I have to admit that I tasted the frosting and it was superior good! And the dough also...Tomorrow I'll have a proper taste. But these cupcakes came out quite pretty, don't you think?

Ingredients:

114 g Bittersweet dark Chocolate broken into small pieces
240 ml all-purpose flour
60 ml unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
120 ml milk
60 ml cup water
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (olive or rape oil)
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Frosting:
110 g Bittersweet dark Chocolate, broken into small pieces
75 g butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
320 ml powdered sugar

Directions:

For the cupcakes:
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Paper-line 22 (small, 14 big) muffin cups.
2. Melt the chocolate in a metal dish attached to a pot with boiling water. Stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature.
3. Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Combine milk and water in small glass measure. Beat brown sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl on high for 2 minutes. Beat in melted chocolate. Beat flour mixture into creamed mixture alternately with milk mixture.




4. Spoon into prepared muffin cups, filling 3/4 full.

5. Bake for 18 to 23 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.Don't over bake them, it's better if they're a bit soft. Cool in pan for 10 minutes; remove to wire rack to cool completely.



For the cream cheese frosting:
1. Melt the chocolate the same way as before, stirring just until melted. Cool to room temperature.

2. Melt the butter in microwave, until it's liquid like. Mix the powdered sugar and vanilla extract with the cream cheese, add the melted chocolate and butter. Mix well to make an even icing. It should be light and fluffy.


3. Spread the frosting over the cupcakes with a spatula.

For decoration you can grate some dark chocolate, or you can us your imagination and figure out some other decorations as coconut flakes or nonpareils...

Monday, 17 May 2010

Mushroom & shiitake mushroom pie




I just love different kinds of mushrooms. Especially shiitake mushroom. Did you know that it's super healthy?It's almost like a medicine - it prevents the development of tumors, helps cure allergies and viruses, helps to lower the cholesterol and contains a lot of vitamin D. Great for vegans and vegetarians! And for everyone else.
This pie contains almost all of my favourite ingredients. It tastes unquestionably good, it's good for your health - what else do you need? I added oatbran to the crust, and the crust is made of wholewheat flour only, so it contains a great deal of fiber. And I love the texture. You might wonder about the spices - I assure you it's a lovely combination. I think Indian spices are really one of the best ones. Especially I love cumin. And the smell of these spices is just stunning. I think food would be nothing without spices, and without garlic and fresh herbs. They just create something magnificent and superior. Try it!

Ingredients:

For the crust:
1 dl water
1 dl rape oil
1 dl oatbran
3 dl wholewheat flour

For the filling:
2 onions
4 garlic cloves
100g shiitake mushrooms
400g common mushrooms
1/4 eggplant
olive oil for frying
2 tsp himalaya salt
plenty of black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin (or a bit more if you're into spices!)
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ginger
a pinch of garam masala
1 handful fresh coriander, chopped
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
2 eggs
2 dl milk
70g tomato puree
1 dl grated cheese

1. Heat the oven to 200°C. Butter a big pie mould with rape oil.
2. To make the dough, pour water and oil into a big bowl, add all the other ingredients, beat with hands into a even crust batter. Pat with hands the batter into the pie mould, cover the sides too.

3. Slice the onions, crush the garlic and slice the eggplant into small pieces. Fry them in a pan in some olive oil for 3-4 minutes. Remove, put into a big bowl.

4. Wash all the mushrooms, cut the ends away. Cut into small cubes. Fry in the same pan in some olive oil for 3-4 minutes. Put into the same bowl with the onions. Mix together.


5. Then add all the spices into the mushroom-onion mixture. Mix well.

6. Spread the onion-mushroom mixture over the crust.

7. Mix together using a whisk the eggs, milk and tomato puree. Pour over the pie. Sprinkle the grated cheese over, then bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes.


8. Remove and enjoy!