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.

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: 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 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


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.