Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Delicious homemade laskiaispulla (semla)

First of all I have to say that the most common and traditional pastry in Finland is called "pulla". Pullas are sold EVERYWHERE, and they are really lovely. It's basically a cardamom-spiced wheat bun, which can have different shapes and filled with various types of jams, creams etc.

However, to celebrate Shrove Tuesday, Finnish people eat a special type of pulla: laskiaispulla. A much yummier version filled with raspberry jam (or almond paste) and whipped cream. The top can be also covered with almond chips or pearl sugar.

Of course every shop sells laskiaispulla, but there's nothing better than homemade ones, like these:

If you want to make these delicious buns, here's what you need:

 (butter and salt are missing from the photo)

Ingredients for the dough (about 20 small pulla):
  • 5 dl milk
  • 50 g yeast
  • 1-2 ts salt
  • 2 dl sugar
  • 1 tbs cardamom seeds
  • 1 egg
  • about 15 dl flour
  • about 150 g butter
For the filling and topping:
  • 1 egg
  • raspberry jam (or strawberry jam, or almond paste)
  • whipped cream
  • almond chips or pearl sugar

Melt yeast into lukewarm milk. Add salt, sugar, cardamom seeds and egg. Add then flour little by little mixing well. Melt the butter and pour it and keep mixing. Let the dough rest under a cover in a warm and draft less place.
After about half hour, or when the dough doubled its volume, drop it on the table and mold from it small round buns.

(yes this picture is quite blurry...)

Let the buns rest covered for about 15 minutes.
Beat the egg in a bowl with fork until yolk and white are well mixed and brush the buns, add pearl sugar or almond chips on top if you like.
Bake in 225°C pre-heated oven for about 5-10 minutes. When they're cooled down, slice them in two horizontally, make small holes in the bottom layers and fill them with some jam. Spray whipped cream all around the jam, and put their "hat" back on.

They're ready to be enjoyed with a nice cup of coffee!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Is not a proper Valentine Day without chocolate!
For the occasion I slightly changed my monkey muffins recipe making them even more yummy with the addition of chocolate chips :3

These muffins are extremely soft! They melt in your mouth! Try and see for yourself!

My army of muffins is ready to conquer the world :D

HINT: Try to use nicely ripe bananas because they are softer and have stronger flavor.

Ingredients (12 muffins):
  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 80-100 gr dark chocolate chips
  • 3,5 dl flour
  • 1,20 dl sugar
  • 80 gr melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Mash the bananas with a fork or in a mixer. Melt the butter at low heat and let it cool down. Beat the egg slightly with a fork.
Put the mashed bananas in a bowl with the egg and melted butter and mix well. In another bowl mix the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix wet and dry ingredients together, add the chocolate chips (but same some for toppings). Pour into muffins cups (fill them about 2/3) and drop more chocolate chips on top of them.
Bake in the oven at 180ºC (356ºF) for about 20 min. Check by inserting a toothpick in the middle, if it comes out clean, then the muffins are ready. Let the muffins cool down before serving.

Happy Valentines!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Runeberg's Cake

Runeberg's Cakes are named after Finnish national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg, who apparently was very fond of these cakes made by his lovely wife. They are traditionally baked and eaten on February 5th, Runeberg's Day.

These cakes are very good! They are flavoured with almonds, gingerbead cookies and rum and topped with raspberry jam and icing sugar.

The recipe is not my own, I took it from this website.

Ingredients (make 10-12 cakes):
  • 150 g butter
  • 120 g (raw) sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 ml apple sauce
  • 100 g plain flour
  • 50 g almond meal
  • 90 g gingerbread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • raspberry jam
  • 60 g icing sugar
  • ½ tablespoon hot water
Beat soft butter and sugar in a bowl. Add eggs beating well after each one. Add apple sauce and fold in the dry ingredients (mixed together first in a separate bowl).
Spoon the batter into cupcake molds and bake in 190C for about 15-20 minutes. Let cool.
Mix icing sugar and hot water in a bowl until you have a smooth, thick paste. Press a small dent in the middle of each cake and top with jam. Pipe a thin layer of icing sugar around the centre.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Chocolate Oreo Truffles

If I look outside the window now, I see a beautiful scenery of pure white snow, showered by the sun rays and little snowflakes falling down, glittering like diamond dust.

It is truly pretty! At times like this, I realize how I love to live here :)

All that inspired me to make these simple Chocolate Truffles, of course decorated with snow-shaped sugar sprinkles.

The base for these truffle is made the same way as the Cake Pops (recipe here), so basically with fresh creamy cheese, chocolate and Oreo cookies.

"Wonderful chocolate..."

Ingredients (about 20 small truffles):
  • about 90 g Oreo cookies
  • about 2 tablespoons fresh creamy cheese
  • 200 g dark chocolate
  • sugar sprinkles for decoration

Remove the vanilla filling of the cookies and crush them in a blender or with your hands to very fine crumbles. Put them into a bowl and add the cheese, one spoonful at a time, mixing with your hands. The dough is ready when it feels like modelling clay, it doesn't have to be sticky.
Make small balls from the dough, place them on a plate covered with a sheet of oven parchment and leave them in the refrigerator for some hours.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a pot. Dip the balls quickly but carefully in the melted chocolate and place them on a sheet of oven parchment (perhaps using two of teaspoons to grab them more easily).
Decorate right away with sugar sprinkles and put them back in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. If you want, you can place them into pretty paper cups like I did :)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tagliatelle Salmon and Ricotta

Ricotta (literally means "recooked") is a very popular cheese in Italy.
It's a fresh soft cheese and it's so popular because it's good (of course!), not too fat (13%) compared to other cheeses and can be used in a lot of different ways.

First it can be enjoyed as ... well... cheese! On the bread with ham or shrimps.
Secondly it is often used in baking. Ricotta is key the component of many Italian desserts such as cheesecakes and cannoli siciliani.

Lastly it is often used in savoury dishes like pasta, lasagne and cannelloni, ravioli and so on. In this recipe, I made a sauce for my tagliatelle using fresh ricotta cheese and salmon.

Ingredients (serves 4):
  • 400 gr tagliatelle pasta
  • 150-200 gr smoked salmon
  • 250 gr ricotta cheese
  • 1 onion
  • oil (rapeseed or olive oil)
  • salt & pepper
  • ½ glass of white wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley

Put a pot of salted water on to boil. Slice onion and salmon in thin slices.
Saute the onion in a saucepan with oil over medium heat. When it becomes soft add the salmon and cook at medium flame for some minutes.
Pour the wine and let it evaporate, then add ricotta and 3 tablespoons of the boiling water for the pasta. Stir well so it becomes a soft cream, add salt and pepper up to taste.
Drop the pasta in the boiling water and cook until al dente.
Drain the pasta and pour it into the saucepan with the ricotta and salmon sauce, and stir well.
Serve with fresh chopped parsley on top.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Ciambella with Lemon and Yogurt

Ciambella is a traditional Italian ring-shaped cake.
It's a wonderful cake that I love very much, tall and soft, perfect for breakfast dipped into caffelatte... Of course is lovely as dessert too!

I made a Ciambella with Lemon and Yogurt for my husband's birthday. Because it's not a proper birthday without a cake and it was really delicious!
The whole apartment was filled with a wonderful aroma of lemon mmmmhhh <3

HINT: The ciambella is good as it is, but you can make it even yummier coating the top with Nutella, zabaione cream, jam or glaze.

I'm using an instant baking yeast, very popular in Italy, that can be added directly to the dough. Feel free to substitute it with the yeast commonly used in your Country!

  • 250 gr all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 200 gr brown sugar
  • 80 gr unsalted butter (melted)
  • 200 gr yogurt (I used vanilla yogurt)
  • 1 lemon (zest)
  • 1 tablespoon liquid honey
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 small bag of dried instant baking yeast
  • powdered sugar for decoration

Wash the lemon and scrap the zest.
Whisk the eggs and the sugar together to soft cream. Add honey, salt and yogurt stirring well. Add then sifted flour and melted butter, slowly, always mixing. Finally add yeast and lemon zest, mix.
Grease a pie plate with butter and spread some flour on it.
Pour the mixture in the plate and bake in pre-heated oven at 170º C (338º F) for about 30-40 minutes. Check by inserting a toothpick in the middle, if it comes out clean, then the cake is ready.
Let it cool down and decorate with powdered sugar.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Tarts with jam, raisins & almonds

I swear, it wasn't my intention to post another puff pastry recipe... but after Christmas there was a nice puff pastry sale in the small shop down the street and I just couldn't resist!
I bought many packs and now I got to use them!

I has some leftover jam and raisins so I decided to make something a bit more interesting than the usual Christmas Tarts (recipe can be found here).
I remember this recipe was originally in a local food magazine one or two years ago.

I decorated the tarts with little puff pastry shapes. They look very cute like this :)

HINT: Better use a kind of jam suitable for oven baking, so it won't liquefy that easily.

Ingredients (7 tarts):
  • 500 gr (4 sheets) frozen puff pastry
  • about 150 g jam (I used raspberry jam)
  • ½ dl raisins
  • 2 tablespoons of crushed almonds
  • 1 egg

Crush the almonds finely and chop the raisins finely as well. Mix all together with the jam.
Take the frozen puff pastry sheets from the freezer, place them on a sheet of oven parchment and let them be at room temperature for about 15 minutes (or follow the package's instructions). Cut each pastry sheet into 2 squares.
Save one square for the decorations! With a small cutter, cut 7 shapes from this square.
With a sharp knife, make cuts along the sides of the squares without cutting the corners too. Make them a bout 1 cm from the outer border. This way the pastry rises all around and leave a nice "hole" in the middle for the jam.
Brush the sides of the pastries with lightly beaten egg. Place a teaspoon of jam in the middle of the tarts and a small shape that we cut previously on top of the jam.
Brush that too with the egg.
Bake at 225º C (437º F) for about 10-15 minutes, until the pastries have gotten a nice color.


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