Simple pleasures

Tag: baptism


by tableofcolors

This summer has been full of celebrations. We’ve had a baptism and a wedding and next Sunday we will be celebrating the confirmation of our oldest daughter. Seems just a little while ago she was small and now she is a teenager more independent on some days than others. It makes me reflect, did we do enough for her? Fortunately there are still a few years until eighteen and so I console myself that we still have a bit of time. But the fact that she is already fifteen, means the other kids are all growing up as well. There is something nice about the fact that we now have big kids in the house as well. Discussions can be quite interesting. I’ve had my first grader-going-on-second ask me one day if I knew what carbon monoxide was. I did my best explaining what produces carbon monoxide and why it is important to let the fire in the fireplace and the wood-burning oven in the sauna completely die out before closing the dampers. He then asked me, “But Mom, do you know why carbon monoxide is so deadly?” Before I had a chance to respond he went on to tell me about how the carbon monoxide is able to penetrate through cell membranes making it deadly. And I thought I was the one teaching.

esikoinen ja kuopus collagem&v weddingJasmin and Erik collageSince we are preparing for another celebration next weekend, I thought I would share a couple of recipes perfect for the occasion. We don’t make cookies daily but quite often I do have a batch of cookie dough balls in the freezer ready to pop in the oven if the need arises. At the moment my freezer is quite empty as nearly all of the berries are eaten as well and so have needed to something completely new and fresh. I have tried two types of cookies. One is a gluten-free cookie and the recipe is from the lovely Ardys. Here is the link to her delcious Gluten-free Double Chocolate Chip cookies made with buckwheat. I think the main thing of importance is that they should not be overbaked. The lovely thing about these cookies is that they have no added refined sugar if you use unsweetened chocolate. I was not able to find the unsweetened version so I used a dark chocolate. So my cookie did have a bit of refined sugar. Eat them plain with coffee, or if you’re really feeling like it is a special day perhaps a scoop of ice cream on top would do the trick.

gluten-free double chocolate chip cookiesThe other cookie that I have been working on is a Alfajores recipe. It is a completely new cookie to me and I still need to do some research but I promise that the recipe below is a melt-in-your-mouth cookie experience. The reason for their delicate nature is that they have quite a bit of corn starch in the dough.

I had been at the coffee shop one day and two young lads happened to stop by and stand in the doorway. They obviously were not Finns as they were not as blonde in complexion. I welcomed them and they claimed that they just came for a quick look that they would be back some other time. They really liked the interior design and soon they were inside and we were chatting. They just so happened to be from South America, and they recommended that we might take the alfajores cookies on our menu. Perhaps we could, as they are delicious. Below is one version that I found on Chowhound’s website.

80 g/ 2 dl/ 1 c cornstarch
65 g/ 1.5 dl/ 3/4 c flour, plus more as needed
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
110 g/ 8 tbsp butter at room temperature
72 g/ just under 1 dl/ 1/3 c sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice (or you could use pisco or brandy)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla sugar
2 dl/ 1 c dulce de leche
Powdered sugar for dusting

Mix all of the dry ingredients in one bowl and set aside. Next place the butter and sugar in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. You may also use a hand-held electric mixer for this. Mix until light and fluffy. If needed, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg yolks, orange juice (or brandy) and vanilla and mix until incorporated. This will take about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed. On low speed, gradually fold in the flour mixture and mix only until everything is incorporated.

Turn the dough on a piece of cling film and wrap and form a smooth disc. Place into the refrigerator to rest until firm for at least one hour. I have also allowed it to rest overnight.

Once ready to bake, turn your oven to 175 C /350 F. Place your dough on a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough to a thickness of 0.6 cm/ 1/4 inch. The dough may crack, but it is easy to patch up together. Using a 5 cm/ 2 inch cookie cutter, cut out rounds and placed on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Mine were a bit smaller and although the original recipe calls for a bake time of 12-14 minutes, I baked mine for a meer 3 minutes. At four minutes they had become quite dark. So watch the first pan closely to see what the right bake time is with your oven.

Once out the oven, let them cool a bit before removing and placing on a wire rack. Fill half of the cookies with 1-2 tsp (depending on the size of the cookie) dulce de leche. Place a second cookie on top to form a sandwich. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

This cookies freeze immensely well! And they only take a minute to thaw. I actually prefer them just a bit cold, causing the dulce de leche to be just a bit chewy along with a cup of hot coffee. Perfection!

alfajores and dulce de leche

family celebrations collage

cutting cakemika and venla2



A Princess Torte for a Prince

by tableofcolors

The day before the baptism I baked and filled the cake. One of our girls came in the kitchen and asked what I was making. I said that I was making a Princess Torte. “A Princess Torte for a boy?” was the next question. I had to explain that it was just the name of the cake and that it would work fine for our little Prince Hugo.

The princess torte is originally Swedish and according to Wikipedia it was originally called Grön tårta or Green torte. The original recipe appeared in a cook book written by Jenny Åkerström who also taught the three daughters of Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland. And since the princesses really came to like the cake, it was renamed “Prinsesstårta”. I really liked eating this cake as a child, as it was made and sold at the Wuollet Bakery, which is our family bakery. I don’t make it very often, but when I do, we savor each bite.

My Princess Torte for the baptism was not covered with the traditional green marzipan, but a creamy white. I tied a green ribbon around it in a little bow. For the cake I used a Victoria Sponge cake filled with pastry cream that had been mixed with whipped cream and fresh wild raspberries from the patch down the road mixed with a good quality raspberry preserve. I moistened the cake with a little milk. But it is important that the cake does not get too wet!
princess torte

The Perfect Victoria Sponge (slightly altered from the Word of Mouth Blog)

I doubled the recipe below since I was serving a larger amount of people and wanted my cake to be taller with more servings. Instead of splitting the batter into two 21 cm/8 inch forms, I poured the doubled recipe into two 23 cm/9 inch forms.

3 large eggs weighed in their shells (mine were 200 g)
same weight of lightly salted butter, sugar and flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp milk
caster sugar on top (if preferred)

Grease and base-line two 21 cm/8 inch spring form pans.
Beat the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy. Whisk the eggs together in a separate small bowl or glass and add them in little by little. Beat on high. I used the paddle attachment with my stand mixer. Mix the dry ingredients together and fold into the batter. Add enough milk so that the batter drops easily off of a spoon but does not run off. I used a little more than in the recipe. I poured the entire doubled batter into 23cm/9 inch forms.

Bake at 180 C/350 F for about 25-30 minutes or until a test skewer comes clean.

Allow to cool and split both cakes.

Pastry Cream

The custard in the pastry cream is the same as in my banana cream pie. It can be found here.
Once the custard has been chilled, whip 4 dl/1.7 cups of whipping cream adding 2 tablespoons of sugar to it. Mix the whipped cream with the custard until smooth. This recipe is generous and I did not quite use the whole amount of pastry cream with the cake. The little left over cream we enjoyed with some fresh raspberries.

Raspberry filling

300 g/10.5 oz good quality raspberry preserves or jam
4 dl/1.7 cups fresh raspberries
Mix the raspberries with the jam.
If using frozen raspberries reduce the amount of milk for moisturizing the cake since the frozen berries let out juice.

I spoon milk on each layer of cake(about 1.5 dl/ 1/2 c for the whole cake) before adding a layer of raspberry filling and then pastry cream. Spoon the pastry cream so that it starts to form a dome shape. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours or overnight.

Remove the cling film and trim the sides so that they are even. Spread a layer of buttercream over the entire cake. This helps the marzipan stick to the cake.

Basic buttercream (from the book, Maailman Parhaat Kakut by Barbara Maher)
125 g/4.4 oz unsalted butter
250 g/8.8 oz confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 tbsp milk or cream to make it more pliable

Beat the room temperature butter with the sugar until it is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and milk or cream until it has reached the desired consistency.

Roll 500 g/17.5 oz of marzipan on a table surface sprinkled with confectioners sugar. Gently lift it over the cake and smooth down starting from the top.


Macarons with a chocolate ganache and pistachio filling

These macarons are a great option for a party. Almost everyone likes them and they are gluten free as well for those who cannot eat gluten.

The macaron recipe used is from my Happy Easter post. The only alteration was the color of food coloring. This time it was green.

1 dl/0.4 c heavy cream
175 g/6 oz dark chocolate cut into chunks
pistachio, finely chopped
(if preferred some fleur de sel)

Bring the cream to a boil and remove from heat. I prefer using the microwave. Add in the chocolate and mix until it is shiny and smooth. Add in the finely chopped pistachio. Spoon a little filling on half of the macarons and sprinkle a couple grains of fleur de sel on the ganache before covering with a second macaron shell. Due to the warm day, I stored mine in the fridge before serving.

flowersLast weeks post has more on the baptism and its menu

A celebration at home

by tableofcolors

This past Sunday we had the baptism for our little Hugo. We have always held our baptisms at home and it is a fairly small, intimate affair with family members and close friends. I really enjoy organizing the celebration for the small baby, even though the baby has not an inkling of the color coordinated napkins, ribbons or macarons. Really those things are not the essence of the celebration but just something that I enjoy and find pleasing to the eye.
We had balmy weather, perfect for being outside and running barefoot on the lawn. Although I appreciate all seasons, my favorite season is summer. I love the warm days, the spring greens of early summer and the deeper greens of late summer. I chose green ribbons for our summer baby’s baptismal gown. The previous weekend I went to the local flea market on Saturday morning with a couple of our girls and the baby. I felt like I had found a treasure when I found some glass bottles for only an euro. Right away I could envision the flowers that they might hold and perhaps sometimes later, juice and a straw.
flowers outside
EllenkakkujaOrganizing the baptism involves the whole family. Everyone helps in their own way depending on their age and capabilities. Some helped with the baking, others helped pick the sprigs of blueberry and tall grasses and everyone helped clean and organize the house.

Sugar cookies

We had a mix of sugar cut-outs and traditional gingerbread cookies that were in a variety of shapes and decorated using dark and white chocolate and nonpareils. The gingerbread recipe can be found here.The recipe below is one I have received from my sister a few years ago that I have altered a bit.

6 dl/2 and 1/2 c flour
1.8 dl/ 3/4 c almond flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
115 g/1/2 c butter
2.4 dl/1 c sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp almond extract or vanilla extract
1.2 dl/ 1/2 c sour cream (I have also used greek yoghurt)

Beat the softened, room temperature butter with the sugar until fluffy and light in color. If using a stand mixer use the paddle attachment. Add the eggs in one at a time and beat at high speed until they incorporated into the cookie dough. Next add in the sour cream and almond or vanilla extract. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and fold into the dough. Allow the dough to chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. Roll the dough on a floured surface and use cookie cutters to make desired shapes. Bake at 175 C/350 F for a few minutes so that they have just a little color. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Easily the day slips by and it is nice to have a few savory items on the menu. One of them is this Broccoli salad. It has become one of my new favorite salads. The recipe to the salad I found from the great REMcooks blog.

broccoli salad I tried it out and it tasted absolutely fantastic and all of my taste testers agreed with me. Not to mention that it fit the color scheme as well, a definite bonus! Other than two tiny alterations to the original recipe, I followed the recipe quite closely. I used dried cranberries instead of dried cherries just because they were not readily available here and I did not blanch the broccoli as the original recipe suggested. Either way it works fine.

3 crowns fresh broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets (about 1 to 1-1/2 lb)
1.2 dl/1/2 cup red onion, small dice
1.2 dl/1/2 cup celery, small dice
0.8 dl/1/3 cup raisins
0.8 dl/1/3 cup dried cherries (or dried cranberries)
2.4 dl/1 cup almond slivers, toasted
0.8 dl/1/3 cup mayonnaise
1.6 dl/2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp wildflower honey
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
170 g/6 oz chorizo, cut into small pieces
1 tsp salt

Chop up the broccoli, red onion and celery and mixed them together. You may toast your almonds on the pan quickly before frying the chorizo or in the oven. Next I fried the chorizo and tossed them in with the broccoli. Then combine the remaining ingredients: raisin, cherries (cranberries), mayonnaise, Greek yoghurt, honey, balsamic vinegar and salt. Pour over the salad and mix until combined.


In my next post I will share a few more recipes from the baptism menu.


Broccoli Salad
Garden Fresh Salad with Feta
Oven-toasted baguette slices with a rosmary honey-butter

Sugar cut-out cookies
Gingerbread cookies
Kiwi white chocolate cake
Macarons with a ganache and pistachio filling
Turtle brownies
Princess torte