The day Christmas left

Today Christmas left the house. Well, not quite all of the way. The Christmas stars are still in the windows bringing light into the dark evenings and the Christmas decorations that the children made are still on the wall. But the Christmas tree, which was quite large, nearly 4 meters(13 feet) in height was carried out and burned in a bonfire. All of a sudden it seemed as if the living room and dining area had become more spacious.IMG_2778 This past week has been cold. So cold that I have even given rides to kids on some of the school mornings (-29 C/-20F). Usually they always bike whether it is snows, rains or shines. It has been beautiful during the days, but when you open the door in the evenings you can literally see the cold roll into the house. Today it was only -15/5 F and it felt quite balmy. In spite of the cold weather, the scenery from the kitchen window has given a promise of spring as the sun has been shining so bright.

Christmas leaving and january lightIt has been our tradition to celebrate a birthday that happens to land right in the days in between Christmas and New Year’s on New Year’s Eve. Later we will have a party for friends after all of the excitement of the holidays has died down.

happy birthday kotivinkki joulukakkuI used Jamie Oliver’s simple sponge for the cake and filled it with a mixture of quark and cream and a thin layer of cloudberry preserves. The idea for the decoration of the cake came from the December cover of the Finnish women’s magazine Kotivinkki.

sponge cake with cloudberry

Wintery Cloudberry cake

The recipe for the sponge cake can be found here. Since it is such a versatile recipe, it has been often used for different cakes. This time, I doubled the recipe and baked it on a sheet pan from which I cut three circles. One of the circles was a bit of piecemeal, but after filling the cake, I wrapped it tight with cling film and allowed to rest in the refrigerator.

3 dl/ 1 and 1/3 c whipping cream
500 g/16 oz quark
1 dl/ 1/2 c of sugar
1 tbsp vanilla sugar or exract

Whip the cream until thick. Fold in the quark. Flavor with sugar and vanilla sugar or extract.

Good quality cloudberry jam or preserves (I like to use Meritalo brand)

generous 1 dl/ 3/4 c milk for moistening the cake

3 dl/ 1 and 1/3 c whipping cream
sugar to taste

Make the filling and set aside for a bit. Take the three circles of cake and place one circle on a cake stand or dish of your preference. Lightly moisten with milk. Spread a thin layer of cloudberry jam on the cake. For a stronger flavor of cloudberry, apply a bit of a thicker layer. Spoon a generous layer of the cream mixture on top of the cloudberry jam and place the next circle of cake on top. Repeat process until the last layer of cake is placed on top. Remember to moisten the top layer of cake with milk and a thin layer of cloudberry jam to act as a crumb sealer before the cake is frosted with whipped cream. The cake is at its best if allowed to rest in the refrigerator for several hours or even overnight. Decorate right before serving with crushed candy canes and pine trees made from paper and glued onto wooden sticks. If you have kids, they will be happy to help with part of the project.

ice blossoms

january afternoon

This post is part of the In My Kitchen series that is now hosted by Maureen at the Orgasmic Chef. Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial is taking a break from hosting. Stop by Maureen’s blog for links to kitchens all around the world.


  1. I used to think the house looked bare when we put away all the garish colours of the Christmas ornaments. The cake looks wonderful! Thank you Laila.

    1. Same here…but in some ways I rather like the look of “bare” and have thought of ways to reorganize the stuff. But in all reality since there are so many little hands helping with the organization the minimalistic look never lasts too long, usually only until the next morning! 😛

  2. So much fun to bring out the Santas and so nice when they are put away! We didn’t have the tree to deal with…I know the feeling, so much space…the cake- would have enjoyed a taste of that. Cute dec too, hugs

    1. The tree was quite wide since it was so tall and so it literally took up about a third of the living room. Erik had commented before the tree ever made it inside that it looked quite small…I think he changed his mind after it was brought inside. Where do display your santa collection in your new home. Would be lovely to see your Christmas home. ❤ hugs to you both!

  3. Love your photos of the winter in your world! One day I must experience a real, northern hemisphere Christmas. the Christmas symbolism (snow, holly, mulled wine etc) doesn’t quite make sense here in Australia, on a 32C day. Santa would cook in his red suit down-under!

    1. Yes, I hope you have the opportunity to experience a “White Christmas” someday! It would be interesting to experience a Christmas in a warm place someday…it might feel a bit different. Our children follow the weather reports quite closely in the days before Christmas in hopes that it snows in time for the holidays. This year we didn’t actually have snow on Christmas but it did lightly snow shortly after…and in the end they were not too disappointed as Santa Claus came to visit anyway and many treats were to be had. 🙂

  4. We took down all our Christmas decorations yesterday and were patting ourselves on the back for our hard work and then I went into the guest bedroom and found another box of stuff we never put out. I unpatted myself. 🙂

    These photos are beautiful and that cake sounds wonderful, although I’ve never heard of cloudberries. The name sounds like they have a heavenly taste.

    Thanks for being part of In My Kitchen!

    1. Thank you for hosting, Maureen! Well, clean-up was perhaps a bit easier when one box was never undone 🙂 And I like to change things around every once in a while and not quite do all of the decorations in exactly the same way each year. Although there are some things that do follow a yearly tradition…and if I don’t follow through, my kids make sure to!

    1. Thank you Gallivanta! We have often had our Christmas stars in the window until the beginning of February…by that time the days are getting noticeably lighter and the need for them to bring light into the evenings is not as necessary. No need to hurry with the Christmas decorations. 🙂

  5. It has been very cold there, wow. Love the photo of the kids on the ice and that cake is just beautiful. I love a triple layer cake like that.I have never heard of cloudberry jam. Have to look that up but I bet it’s wonderful. Yes Christmas has left, I also have put away my decorations until next year. Have a very happy New Year!!

    1. I was hoping to get some pictures of cloudberries when were were in Lapland last summer, but the summer was so cold and so they had not ripened yet…but perhaps I can find a photo from somewhere else for a post in the future. It looks like a golden colored raspberry and they grow in the marsh and require a lot of work to pick and are therefore considered a valuable berry chock full of vitamins. Happy New Year to you Suzanne!

  6. My living room looks bare without our tree as well…it takes a few days before it starts looking normal. You certainly have had cold weather and even though your landscape is stark at this time of the year it is still beautiful. I love the way you decorated the cake…I know it had to be delicious.

    1. Last night we took down the Christmas star that hangs in the window throughout the Christmas season bringing light to all of the dark mornings and evenings…yes, a little sad…but on the other hand now we are heading towards spring and the abundance of light 🙂 Thanks for stopping by Patty!

  7. We took down our Christmas tree last week as well and I find things look rather bare! Hope you are all staying warm with the chilly weather, we just got a blast of cold weather as well. The cake looks delicious! I like simple recipes that you can pull together with minimal fuss 😉

    1. Aren’t simple recipes the best! They are the ones that get returned to time and time again! We have been using our fireplace quite regularly lately to bring a bit more warmth. Thanks so much for commenting!

  8. I’m so intrigued by cloudberries! I have never had them! They sound delicious with this sponge cake recipe and I’ve also always wanted to make Quark. Do you keep enough on hand for other uses? I’d love to attempt making it. So nice to meet you and thanks for stopping by my blog! Any friend of Celia’s is a friend of mine!

    1. I just love quark and use it all over the place, as a snack or to bring a bit of structure into fillings along with a bit of tart flavor. Not to forget that it is a great source of protein. 🙂 Quark is readily available here so it is on my weekly grocery list. Thanks for stopping by…so glad to have found you!

  9. Happy New Year, Laila! (or happy mid-January at this point!) I can understand why you drove your kids to school; I remember the invigorating sting of sub-zero air from Minnesota winters, but THAT cold isn’t one you want to be out in for long. Beautiful photos! Your birthday boy looks entirely awed by his cake. 🙂 I like the idea of moistening each layer before filling and can only imagine how delicious every bite was! Glad to hear signs of Spring are appearing.

    1. Thank you Kim! Today it was another freezing day measuring at -30 C/-22 F…but it was definitely beautiful with snow frosted trees….very similar to what winters in Minnesota can be like. I’ve heard from family that they also have had a bout of cold there as well. Today I didn’t have the car so I walked my first grader home just to make sure he doesn’t take too long in the cold…he can be kind of slow at times if sidetracked 🙂

  10. Your opening photo brought to mind some wonderful memories of playing hockey in our backyard, It had been coated with countless layers of ice until a smooth surface appeared. I’m suer your kids will have many such warm memories to recall when they’ve grown. Our temps never got as low as yours, though. That’s incredible!

    1. We used to play also hockey with siblings and friends at the ice rink one block away…and my figure skates were full of black marks from the puck. I’m not sure if I was any good, but it was good fun full of fresh air and exercise 🙂

  11. Those temperatures being back memories of my years growing up,in Wisconsin. We walked to school all the time and only got a ride when it was incredibly cold like there. That cake is so beautiful. I miss having quark readily available, it just isn’t common in the States which is makes it even more prescious when I find it. I enjoy taking the tree down to de clutter and do a mini pre-spring cleaning, not that it lasts long with three boys!

  12. Delish cake! I love all your photos of Finland. Such a beautiful country. All that snow is so pretty. Although I can imagine quite cold and inconvenient at times!

    1. Thank you 🙂 It’s really only inconvenient if it gets really cold since then the cars don’t like to start…or when it all starts to melt and the roads can be in quite bad condition. But the white landscape and sun and temps just below freezing is the recipe for a perfect winter day 🙂

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