Simple pleasures

Tag: dessert

Snow castle hot chocolate

by tableofcolors

Valentine’s day always surprises a bit in Finland as it is not such a commercial happening here and so I all of a sudden realize that it is the middle of February and the day has arrived. The children do remember it though, and usually wish for a little something special. This past week it had been raining and all along the driveway and on many of the smaller roads there was a thick layer of ice under a layer of water. It was slippery.

lumilinnakaakao collageBut today it snowed almost all day. It was heavy, wet snow perfect for building snow castles, snow dogs, snowmen and having snowball fights. And it was a perfect day for having hot chocolate in the snow castle.

Our Erik did complain in the car the other day that no one had given him a Valentine’s day card. Some of the girls had gotten a card or two from a friend, but as it is not such a notable holiday here there are no class parties where everyone exchanges cards. He did seem quite sad. So today my husband told some of the kids to make him a card, and soon they were all making cards for each other. And that is what our Valentine’s day or Friendship day, as it is called in Finnish, was made of: play in the snow, hot chocolate and homemade cards made from the heart that brought smiles to the recipients.

valentine's day cards

vintage chocolate chip cookies spelttijauhoilla edit

Vintage Chocolate Chip cookies with Spelt


The original recipe is from BBC’s good food site. I substituted some of the white flour with wholegrain spelt flour to give it an added dimension of flavor.

150 g/5.3 oz softened butter
80 g/2.8 oz light brown sugra
80 g/2.8 oz sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
150 g/5.3 oz flour
75 g/2.6 oz wholegrain spelt flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
200 g/7 oz dark or semisweet chocolate (I used only 100 g/3.5 oz for this batch)

sunspelt jauhojaFor our family I made a triple batch. For a smaller cookie I make 30 g/1 oz cookie dough balls that I froze and then bake off. For a larger cookie I have made a 56-58 g/ 2 oz ball of dough. Line a freezer safe container with parchment paper and place the balls of cookie dough in rows and freeze. Between each layer place a piece of parchment paper. Plastic bags work just as well but then I suggest to not layer the cookies. Bake the frozen cookies at 180 C/350 F. For small cookies the bake time is 8-9 minutes and for the larger cookies it is about 10-11 minutes. Do not overbake.

lumilinnaleikitHappy Valentine’s to all my dear readers! “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” Marcel Proust


Memories of times passed


The children were all up today earlier than I was. It must be the anticipation and excitement as tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I remember when I was little my stomach almost hurt on Christmas Eve because of the excitement and my appetite was not at it’s best. Christmas is a time of memories of times spent together as a family and of making new memories for our little ones. On Thanksgiving I called my Grampa Jim and Gramma Darlene. I know that they have gathered pictures and studied the family history on both sides. Grampa has been sending me some photos along with some of their stories. In 2015, I would like to share some of these photos and stories with you along with recipes that have been an inspiration.

Grandma AggieI remember Great Grandma Aggie as a smiling white-haired lady with a quick wit. I remember sampling white chocolate truffles in her little apartment as a little girl around Christmas time, and if I remember correctly she preferred white chocolate. From the left is my great uncle Reino, great aunt Ellen, my grandfather Jim and my great aunt Margaret. This is what reading a storybook looks like in our house as well. Everyone likes to listen to the storybooks, even the babies. Some things never change.

gingerbread icecream moldI have been in a time pinch lately even though I have made the effort to take everything extra off the calendar. Not everything can be taken off the calendar as there are always doctor and dentist appointments and events at the schools that are important for both children and parents. The children had their last day of school this past Saturday. Two of them had Christmas church with their whole school and one had a Christmas program at school. We divided the parents and kids as we had to be in two different destinations at 8.30 am. But now we have slipped into our vacation schedule with no effort. We stay up a little later doing things together. Yesterday the kids decorated the tree. It might not look like something from an interior design magazine as the kids had been making ornaments at home and school during the past few weeks, but it has been decorated with love.

filling the moldOur dessert for our Christmas Eve dinner had been lacking inspiration. Due to the time pinch, it had to simple yet delicious and preferably something that could be done before hand to make things more relaxed on Christmas Eve. I happened upon this recipe on a Finnish blog called Heavenly bakings. It was the perfect recipe for my situation. as it couldn’t be easier and the result was both spectacular and not overly sweet. The traditional Finnish Christmas dinner with the carrot, rutabega, beetroot and potato casserole is quite heavy and so having a little slice of homemade gingerbread icecream seemed inviting.

gingerbread icecreamGingerbread Ice cream


4 dl/1.7 c heavy whipping cream
1 can (397 g/304 mk) sweetened condensed milk
8 small gingerbread to be placed on the bottom of the bundt pan
16 cookies roughly chopped/crushed, divided into two (8 cookies make about a generous 1 dl / 1/2 c of cookie crumbs)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ginger
7 smaller cookies for garnish on the sides

Using cling film, line the small bundt pan and place the small gingerbread cookies on the bottom of the pan. Whip the cream until thick and fold in the sweetened condensed milk along with the cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Mix in half of the cookies crumbs setting the other half aside.

Spoon the cream mixture into the bundt pan until about 1/3 full. Next add one half of the cookie crumbs that had been set aside. Spoon in more of the cream mixture and then sprinkle the rest of the cookies crumbs. Add the rest of the cream mixture and stick the last cookies along the side in a vertical position.

Place in the freezer for several hours or overnight. Before serving flip over onto a serving plate and remove cling film. Drizzle with caramel sauce.

gingerbread icecream and caramel sauceWishing you a blessed holiday season. Merry Christmas!

holiday card 3gingerbread icecream and caramel sauce 2

Eighteen days until Christmas

by tableofcolors

There are eighteen days until Christmas if you ask the Finnish kids and if you ask the American kids there are still nineteen days. Today in the kids’ entryway where the calendar is on the wall, there was a little spat between two of the girls. One claimed that there are eighteen days and the other nineteen days. Both were right, it just depends how one counts the days.

huuteinen peltoYesterday the field was tousled like a messy mop of blond hair. Today in the morning it was covered with a heavy layer of wet snow. It was cold enough that it made everything look white. This is what our children have been waiting for. When it is dark before four in the afternoon they often come and complain that there is nothing to do. Perhaps it was the lack of fresh air that instigated the spat in the entryway. It all changes with a little snow and head lamps. They can easily be outside for hours and come inside with rosy cheeks and in much better spirits. I’m keeping my fingers crossed the snow stays.

Finnish flag and independence day

Today is the 97th independence day of Finland. Peace arrived in the mid of winter. Last night at our literature club we discussed the well-known novel, The Unknown Soldier (Tuntematon Sotilas) by Väinö Linna. I received a copy of the English translation of the book at the young age of eighteen from my honey. Now after living here in Finland for almost fifteen years I am glad to be reading it again. I have come to learn how society has been shaped by it’s history. The book tells the experience of war in a rather truthful unglorified manner. All of the stress, fear and feelings can be sensed. My almost six year old in the picture above has been asking me recently why we have wars. One day we were discussing the Ukranian situation with kids, when my eight year old asked me why Russia needs to be so greedy. Difficult questions to answer. I understand the need for the armed forces as their primary task is to protect and defend and in all truth, soldiers are probably the last ones to actually want a war. Always in wars someones gets hurt and families become split and it is a sure test of the human spirit. Below are two links to the Finnish song, “Veteran’s Evening Call”. The first is accompanied by a slideshow of photos from the Finnish wars. The second youtube link is of the same song, but is sung by a compilation of men’s choirs of which many of them are eldery and there are many war veterans standing in the front rows. Almost all of the rest standing behind the veterans are children of veterans. Jorma Hynninen is the solist and their powerful memories of the war is transmitted to younger generations. They are passing down history in the age-old tradition of singing. I think the performance is very powerful.

Traditionally on the Finnish independence day two candles are placed at the windows. The exact origin of the tradition is not known but according to wikipedia, the burning of two candles was used on the February 2nd to commemorate the Finnish poet Runeberg as an action against Russification. The two candles in the window was also used in 1915-1918 to designate safe-houses when Finnish jaeger soldiers secretly made their way from Finland in to Sweden and continued their way into Germany to receive training. It seems as if the two candles in the window are a symbol of independence.


In my previous post I promised a recipe for a gluten-free no-bake pumpkin cake in just a few days. It has been more than a few days now but I promise that I have not been sitting lazily on the sofa. In fact it has been quite exciting. I have been creating a new blog that I will be writing in Finnish called, Jenkki mutsi maalla. Jenkki in Finnish is a slang term for American and it probably derives from the word Yankee. Mutsi is slang for mom and maalla means countryside. In other words the name means, Yankee Mom in the Country. I will be working with Kluuvikadun Coffee Roastery and Leipomo J. Martin which is a bakery. I will definitely continue tableofcolors and the intention is that they will not be copies of each other. They may occasionally have the same recipes and perhaps sometimes even the same story but they will live lives of their own.

gluten free pumpkin cake

This cake was originally made for the reception of my friend, Kaisa Peni and the debut of her Christmas recording, Ihme. In my previous post is a sample of her singing. If you click on her name it will bring you to her website. For the English version click on the English tag on her website. It could make the perfect Christmas present for someone special that enjoys peaceful music.


Gluten-free Pumpkin Cake (no-bake)
150 g/5.3 oz gluten free gingerbread cookies (I used one package of Semper gluten-free cookies)


One half of the package of cookies is for the crust and the other half is mixed into the filling
25 g/just under an ounce of melted butter
1 tbsp sugar


2 dl/1 c whipping cream
2 dl/1 c quark (or other sour dairy product)
1 and 1/2 dl/ 2/3 c pumpkin purée
0.6 dl/ 1/4 c sugar
0.6 dl/ 1/4 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
dash of cloves and ginger
3 gelatin leaves
1/2 package of gluten-free gingerbread cookies (set aside one or two for garnish)
1/2 dl/ 1/3 c boiling water

Line one 15 cm/6 inch springform with parchment paper. Melt the butter and crush the gluten-free gingerbread cookies and divide into two. Place one half of the crushed cookies into the lined springform. Melt the butter and mix with the crushed cookies in the spring form. Add sugar and mix. Pat firmly to form the crust. Set aside.

Place the gelatin leaves into a bowl with cool water. Allow to soak for about 10 minutes. Make the filling meanwhile.

For the filling whip the cream and then add the quark. Next fold in the pumpkin purée, sugars, the other half of crushed cookies, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Next boil the water. Remove the gelatin leaves from the cool water bath and gently squeeze excess water away. Place in a small cup. Pour the boiling water over the gelatin leaves and mix until melted. Pour in a stream into the cream and quark mixture mixing continuously until incorporated. Pour the mixture into the springform and cover with cling film and place into the refrigerator or freezer for a quicker set. Allow to set in the refrigerator for about four hours or in the freezer for an hour.


1 dl/just under 1/2 c of whipping cream
160 g/5.6 oz quality dark chocolate

Bring the cream to boil in the microwave. Add the roughly chopped dark chocolate to the hot cream and stir until smooth. Remove the springform place cake on a rack. Pour the ganache over the cake. Garnish with a gluten-free cookie or two. Enjoy!

In My Kitchen, March sweetness

by tableofcolors

I had been desiring something sweet. Shrove Tuesday had been on Tuesday and traditionally in Finland we would enjoy the laskiaspulla along with sledding in the white banks of snow. This year nature has not been following traditions and neither did I as we do not have any snow and really only got a few inches all winter. I found a recipe and video tutorial by Jamie Oliver for his simple sponge cake. I have been a fan of Jamie Oliver for some time. Maybe we have some things in common. We’re about the same age, he’s a dad of four and I’m the mom of six. We’re passionate about food. Perhaps we don’t agree on all political questions but we do agree that kids should be offered healthy meal options at school. Quite often, children are offered highly processed food. In Finland, we are lucky that our school meals are generally fairly healthy and strawberry or chocolate milk is not an option. Actually at our house we had a small episode over hot chocolate. I really don’t have anything against hot chocolate. I love a good cup myself occasionally. To me it becomes a problem when the kids are drinking it every morning and evening and they would regularly fill the cup half way with the powder and the rest of the way with hot water and some milk. It would turn into a thick slurry of hot chocolate. I tried my best to supervise, but they are quick. So we instituted Hot Chocolate Sundays. Every Sunday we make hot chocolate and we make it the real way with milk straight from the farm and occasionally with some whipped cream that had be skimmed off of the milk. Once we even made our own homemade marshmallows and they certainly tasted better than the store bought version. It has become a family ritual that everyone looks forward to and no one even asks for hot chocolate during week anymore.

hot chocolate collageSo this month in my kitchen to satisfy my sweet tooth is Jamie’s simple sponge cake to share.

sponge cake sliceJamie’s Simple Sponge Cake (slightly altered)

250 g/8.8 oz unsalted butter, softened
250 g/8.8 oz sugar
250 g/8.8 oz flour
2 tsp baking powder
vanilla bean
pinch salt
orange zest
4 eggs

2 dl/1 c heavy whipping cream
250 g/8.8 oz marscapone cheese
3 tbsp sugar
2-3 tbsp orange juice
150 g/5.3 oz lemon curd

powdered sugar

simple sponge CollageMeasure the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, and the seeds scraped from one half of a vanilla bean into your stand mixer or food processor. Allow to mix until combined. Add room temperature eggs into the batter one at time, beating strongly after each addition. Line the bottom of the spring form with parchment paper. Pour the batter into the form. Place the cake form into the oven that is heated to 170 C/340 F and bake for 20 minutes. I used a smaller 20 cm/8 inch form for a taller cake and the bake time was about 45 minutes. Bake until a test skewer comes clean. Allow to cool.

sponge cake filling

For the filling, whip the cream and combine with the marscapone cheese. Flavor with sugar and orange juice. I used the juice of one half of an orange. Slice the cake into two so that the bottom is clearly thicker than the top. Spread two-thirds of the lemon curd on the bottom and one-third on the top layer. Next spread the marscapone cream filling on top of the lemon curd. Finally sprinkle the berries on the cream filling. Carefully flip the top of the cake on top of the filling and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

jamie oliver sponge cakeAnd it just so happened that on that day there was a pleasant surprise in the mailbox, the March issue of one of my favorite interior design magazines. So many new ideas and color combinations. Perhaps some ideas will be put into practice. So there I was in my kitchen. Outside the day was somewhat gray but quite spring-like for the beginning of March. Inside there was a freshly made cake, a large cup of hot tea, a new magazine and a moment of peace. Perfect for a name day celebration.

This post is part of Celia’s In My Kitchen Series.

Oh, Mr. Sun, Please shine down on me

by tableofcolors

The winter Sun in Finland tends to be a bit moody and even stubborn with a mind of his own. He will at times shine down in beautiful splendor turning the landscape into winter wonderland, but for the most part it stays hidden behind the clouds. Until Spring arrives. Come March, and the Sun starts making an appearance nearly daily, suggesting that soon the white landscape may turn into first brown and then into a spring green.

Oh, Mr. Sun, Sun
Mr. Golden Sun
Please shine down on me.
Oh, Mr. Sun, Sun
Mr. Golden Sun
Hiding behind a tree.
These little children are asking you,
To please come out so we can play with you.
Oh, Mr. Sun, Sun
Mr. Golden Sun,
Please shine down on me.

This song and first or second grade music class came to mind today when Mr. Sun finally made an appearance. The last time it appeared was a week ago on Saturday, just peeking for a bit from behind the clouds. The time before that, I could not even recall. Even though I have had some sort of a flu bug and my voice sounds like a bassoon I bundled up well and went out just for a bit with my camera in hand. Today has been a beautiful day. As I write, the sun is descending in the horizon like a bright orange ball of fire throwing up a reflection up into the sky somewhat like the reflection that it makes over the surface of a lake. There are hues of pink and purple in the sky lining the clouds.

snowy field

By no means, am I suggesting that you should become a mood-eater just because the sun does not shine, but with temperatures dipping today to a -9 C/15.8 F today the Cinnamon Roll Cake below seems like the perfect match with a cold winter day. This could be a celebratory cake since the sun did decide to come and play today. If you happen to have a case of the sniffles, it is even a more perfect match as you soak in the rays through the window.

cinnamon roll cakeCinnamon Roll Cake

This recipe is from my good friend Jess and we have both tweaked the recipe making it not so sweet. Even now, it has plenty of sweetness. The filling and glaze below is half of the original amount, so for a sweeter version double the filling and glaze.

4.7 dl/ 2 c flour
2.4 dl/ 1 c raw sugar/granulated sugar
(I used half raw sugar and half granulated sugar)
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 dl/ 1 and 1/3 c sour cream or Greek yoghurt
150 g/ 5.3 oz softened butter
1 tsp vanilla extract or sugar
3 eggs

Mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls and then combine. Pour into a lined 23×33 cm or 9×13 inch pan.
cinnamon roll cake dollops
Cinnamon Swirl

85 g/3 oz softened butter
0.8 dl/ 1/3 c brown sugar
1/2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp cinnamon

Mix all the ingredients together. Place evenly dollops of the swirl filling on the batter. Use a knife to make swirls.
cinnamon swirls
Bake in the oven at 190 C/375 F for about 18 minutes or until a test skewer comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cool for about 10 minutes. Make holes with a fork and add glaze.


2.4 dl/ 1 c powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp coffee
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or sugar

Drizzle and lightly spread over the cake.
bella in the winter sunSo glad that Mr. Sun decided to come out today.

Six nights until Christmas Eve

by tableofcolors

There is not too many days left in the countdown. The mornings are dark and I find that an extra hour of sleep would feel nice but the children get up easily when they know that it is their turn to peek into the advent calendar. Of course the older children do not believe in Santa Claus and elves anymore and the middle kids waver in between. They would like to believe but yet at the same time they have picked up on the fact that magical creatures live in the world of storybooks. Our four almost five year-old who told me that “Elves are magical creatures” also told me once that, “they are just normal people dressed up as elves” when I said the elves might be watching. I had been quite exasperated with him that day. Take that, Mom!

advent calendarBut no hard feelings. He is also the kid that will come give me a hug or rub my shoulders if he thinks I am tired.

2013-12-17 11.17.46-2Little by little the holiday preparations are done. Some of them are done together like baking gingerbread and some are done by the elves late at night. The household is full of little mysteries and even the littlest ones wrap toys into blankets and bring me gifts. With bright shining eyes they wait for you to open their gifts of love and your exclamation of delight.

The date cake is perfect for the days of waiting. You may eat it on its own with a morning cup of coffee, or if surprise guests walk in the door, it can be easily dressed up with a dollop of equal parts of whipped cream and Greek yoghurt and a drizzle of caramel. My mother would make date cake when I was still living at home and it is a favorite. This recipe is slightly altered from the one found in the book, Hyvää Ruokahalua, kotikokin parhaat leivontaohjeet, edited by Anna-Maija Tanttu. It is the kind of recipe that needs no special equipment: a bowl, a pot, a wooden spoon and a bundt pan.

date cake

Date Cake

250 g/8.8 oz chopped and pitted dates

3 dl/1.3 c water
200 g/7 oz soft butter
2 dl/1 c sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
4 dl/1.7 c flour

Place the chopped dates and water into a medium sized saucepan or pot and allow to boil for about 4-5 minutes so that it thickens just a bit. Take off from the heat and stir in the soft butter. Add the sugar and vanilla next. Then add in the eggs mixing them in well with a wooden spoon. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Pour the warm date mixture into the bowl and combine with the flour. Pour into a greased and floured (I like to use wheat germ or wheat bran for the flouring) bundt pan and bake in the oven at 175 C/350 F for about 40 minutes or so that a test skewer comes clean when inserted in the middle. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before flipping the cake over onto a plate. The flavor of the cake improves with time, if it lasts that long and freezes wonderfully.

mixing the batter

For the cream dollop, mix equal parts of whipped cream and Greek or Turkish yoghurt and sugar to taste. Drizzle with caramel sauce.

laila wuollet uljasphotograph by Noah Photography

Hoping your holiday season is a peaceful and festive one.

Christmas 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

by tableofcolors

sweet potato pie 2

If there was one thing that I could transport from America to Finland, and I could not choose to have my family imported, Thanksgiving might be that one thing. It is one of my favorite holidays. I like the message that it contains; being thankful for the people and things in life and not just simply taking everything for granted. When life is smooth sailing it is not hard to find the things to be thankful for, but I would like to believe that even during the most trying times that there would be something positive in everyones’ lives. It just might need a little soul-searching to find them.
sweet potato
Here in Finland, the fourth Thursday in November is a normal school and business day. I would like to instill some of the American traditions in my children, especially the ones that are special to me. During the fall, it is possible to find the “jack-o-lantern” pumpkins in the grocery store, but not the variety pumpkin pies are made from. I have tried making them from the “jack-o-lantern” pumpkins sometime in the past and it was a watery mess. Yesterday I was reading Suzanne’s blog, a pug in the kitchen and she had made a pie using baked sweet potato. Perfect, I thought! The consistency, color and flavor are close enough. So today I made sweet potato pies with my go-to pumpkin pie recipe by Jane Whitman Tierney.
mashed sweet potato
To make things go smoother, I baked the sweet potatoes in their jackets for about an hour to an hour and a half the night before and just set them on a rack to cool overnight. The next morning I mashed them with my immersion mixer.
pie crust
First thing in the morning I started with the pie crust so that it would have some time to rest in the refrigerator.

Jane Whitman Tierney’s Pie Crust for one 23 cm/9 inch pie

You may make this pie crust by hand, in a food processor or in stand mixer using the paddle attachment. I made a triple amount and put the extras in the freezer for later use.

3 dl/1.3 c flour
1/4 tsp salt
115 g/4 oz cold butter cut into small cubes
1 and 1/2 tbsp cold lemon juice
2-3 tbsp ice water
lemon juice
I think that the secret to this pie crust is in the lemon juice giving it the perfect contrast to any pie filling.
Mix the flour, butter and salt so that it forms a crumb mixture. Add the ice water and cold lemon juice and mix until if forms a ball. Place in a plastic bag and allow to rest in the refrigerator. You may allow it to rest over night as well.

Roll out the dough on a table sprinkled with flour. Using a fork or your index finger and thumb make a pattern along the edge of the crust. Allow to chill for another 20-30 minutes before baking. This will prevent the pie crust from shrinking. Bake the crusts at 225 C/435 F for about 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven. While the pie crusts are baking make the filling.


5 dl/generous 2 cups of mashed sweet potato (a raw 700 g/24 oz sweet potato will be needed for this amount)

2 eggs
1/2 dl/ 1/4 c sugar
1 dl/ 1/2 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp all spice
1 tsp ground cloves
dash of salt
2 dl/just under 1 cup of heavy cream

filled pies

Whip the eggs and sugars until they form a fluffly light brown foam. Mix the spices (I use smaller amounts than what the recipe calls for) into a small amount of the mashed sweet potato and combine the spice mixture with the rest of the sweet potatoes. Fold in the sweet potato mixture into the egg foam and finally mix in the heavy cream. Pour the filling into the pre-baked pie crusts and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes at 225 C/435 F. Reduce the temperature to 175 C/350 F and continue baking for another 40 minutes or so that skewer comes out clean when tested in the middle. Allow to cool until it is a luke warm and enjoy it with a dollop of whipped cream.

sweet potato pieHappy Thanksgiving to everyone near and far!


by tableofcolors

About a month ago, a friend of mine published her first recording. It is a recording including mainly pieces of music composed by Finnish composers including Oskar Merikanto, Leevi Madetoja and Ilmari Hannikainen. The name of the recording is Rauha, which means peace or in this case serenity. Last night Kaisa sent me photos from the event since I had unfortunately forgotten my camera home that evening. She is quite the amazing lady that juggles many projects at one time. The evening was an unique occasion and it was nice that we could be a part of it. It felt as if the nervous anticipation that is often a part of large project was gone and her music was relaxed and dynamic. Below is a sampler of a few pieces of Kaisa Peni’s music. She is accompanied by Ilia Kalioujnov-Salminen on the piano. Ilia plays a few solo pieces on the recording as well and the Intermezzo in the sampler is a little taste of his expressive talents.

kaisa peni and ilia kalioujnov-salminen


After the concert there was a reception and an opportunity to meet some of the people that have been working closely on the recording with Kaisa. Kaisa had asked me to make a dessert to go with coffee. I decided on Sacher squares that have a twist to them in that they are not the traditional version. Instead of using apricot marmalade, I used a homemade apple jam made with the apples from my mother-in-laws yard. Since Sacher Torte is often served with whipped cream, I thought it might get a bit tricky and maybe a little messy with a bowl of whipped cream on the side when serving a larger group. I decided to add a layer of chocolate whipped cream in the middle giving it a bit of delicate luxury. In addition to the squares I made a round gluten-free cake using the same filling as in the squares.

rauha leivos2Sacher squares

I used the chocolate cake recipe that I found from the BBC food website and have used it previously for my daughter’s birthday cake. The reason why I used it is that it cuts nicely and has a moist texture without being too heavy. *Note: the bake time is reduced to about 15-20 minutes when baking the cake in sheet form.
I doubled the recipe and baked it on two baking sheet with sides, lined with parchment paper, making for a total of two sheet cakes.


6 dl/2.5 c heavy cream, whipped
80 g/3 oz dark chocolate, melted ( I used 70%)
2.5 dl/1 c homemade apple jam or apple sauce
3 tbsp sugar

Whip the cream. Mix a few spoonfuls of the whipped cream with the melted chocolate and then pour the chocolate mixture into the whipped cream. Stir until combined adding sugar if needed. Spread a thin layer of apple jam on one sheet cake. Pour the entire amount of chocolate whipped cream onto the thin apple jam layer and spread until even. Place the second sheet cake on top.

Ganache icing
2 dl/0.8 c heavy cream
260 g/9 oz dark chocolate
Bring the cream to a boil (I use the microwave). Remove from heat and add in the chocolate chunks and stir until smooth. Spread a thin layer of apple preserve/jam on the top cake layer before pouring over the ganache. This will help seal in the crumbs. Pour the ganache over the cake and spread with a palette knife if necessary. Place the cake into the refrigerator and allow to set. Using a knife dipped in hot water and wiped clean cut the Sacher sheet cake into squares. If you would like to make this dessert well in advance, you may freeze it and then cut the cake into squares while it is still frozen.


Gluten-free Sacher torte

4 eggs
1.5 dl/0.6 c sugar
2 tbsp potato or corn starch
4 tbsp gluten free flour mix of your choice (I used Semper)
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder

Whip the eggs and sugar until it is a very light and fluffy foam. Sift all of the dry ingredients and fold into the batter. Spread onto a baking sheet that has been lined with a lightly greased parchment paper. Bake in the oven at 180 C/360 F for about 8 to 10 minutes or until it has gotten a little color and the sides of the parchment paper can be easily pulled from the cake. Remove from the oven. Take another piece of parchment paper and lay it flat on the table. Sprinkle with sugar and flip the hot cake on it. The sugar will prevent the cake from sticking to the paper. Now pull the parchment paper that is on the bottom of the cake away. This is best done before the cake cools, as it is then much more difficult to remove.

Using a plate or the bottom of a spring-form cut away two circles. The rest of the cake can be frozen and used when the occasion arises. Fill with the filling above but halving the amounts. Before pouring the ganache over the cake, spread with a thin layer of apple jam or preserve to help seal in the crumbs. Ice with the ganache in the above recipe, but halving this as well.

Photos from the event are by Jaakko-Pekka Ikonen. The photos of the dessert are my own.

kaisa peni ilia kalioujnov-salminen

In my Kitchen

by tableofcolors

Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial hosts a series every month called “In My Kitchen”. I thought I would participate this month and give you a little peek into my kitchen. Since it is October, it really is the end of the berry season. Lingonberries are the last of the berries, bright red and tart. My husband picked close to fifty liters of the little round berries this year.
Some of them we freeze. We collected empty milk cartons, washed them and dried them and reused them for freezing the berries. The cartons fit neatly in a row and are easy to stack in a chest freezer.
freezing lingonberries
The berries that are not frozen end up in juice. It was the perfect thing to do when the weather was rainy.
2013-09-21 12.38.24
In my kitchen can by found my favorite appliance. It was my graduation gift when I graduated with my Master’s and so it has some sentimental value as well. It is in use nearly everyday. In addition to being a trusty workhorse it is a design classic that never goes out of style. In my opinion.
kitchen aid
In my kitchen I have plenty of fingerprints.
tart crust
Of these little monkeys.
beautiful eyes
little monkeys
As I bake and cook, I can see the living room room from the kitchen since it is an open area, the heart of the house.
tart berries
In my kitchen is a collection of recipes. The following is from my Mother-in-law and it was my husband’s favorite as a child and as he grew up. It is called Pyhäpiirakka. Pyhä in Finnish means holy or in this case sabbath and piirakka could be translated as tart or pie. So this tart could be called “Sunday tart”. Possibly meant to be enjoyed on Sunday afternoon with coffee or tea.


300 g/10.5 oz softened butter
3 dl/1.3 c sugar
2 eggs
3 dl/1.3 c flour
3 dl/1.3 c whole wheat flour
dash salt

lingonberries, blueberries or berry of choice.

6 dl/2.6 c kermaviili(sour milk product) or Greek yoghurt
3 eggs
1.5 dl/0.6 c sugar
1 tbsp vanilla

Place the softened butter and sugar in your stand mixer and use the paddle attachment. Whip until light and fluffy. You may alternatively use an electric hand mixer. Add in one egg at a time, beating vigorously. Fold in the flours and salt. Scrape the batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Flouring your hands, pat the batter evenly. Sprinkle the berries over the crust.

Using a whisk, mix the ingredient for the filling just until it is smooth and pour over the berries. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes at 200 C/390 F. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.

scenic fall2

From my kitchen I am able to observe the passing of seasons of the birch forest across the road.

Lingonberry tart

Queen’s Tart

by tableofcolors


The inspiration for this post came from a fellow blogger in Sweden and her tart that she made using blackberries. And my little two year-old Isabella and her love for berries was certainly an inspiration as well. My husband snapped these shots of her enjoying her berries at the cabin this summer.

bellas berries3

It’s a favorite past time of the children in the summer to take a long piece of Timothy-grass and slide raspberries and blueberries on it. After their little excursion they might enjoy them while sitting on the porch. I think the most important part of it is that they are their very own berries. Fresh berries always at their prime. But sadly blueberry season is coming to a close, even though I spotted quite a few on a walk yesterday evening. The recipe below can be easily made with frozen berries.

In Finland, when raspberries and blueberries are mixed and served together for example in jam it is called “Queen’s jam”. And so this tart that originally was a plum tart and has been made using blackberries has been now transformed into Queen’s tart.


Queen’s Tart (from the blog Leya, slightly altered)

Gluten-free version

This tart works great with fine grain gluten-free flour. I made a double batch of the recipe below and made a gluten-free version with 1/3 of the batter and regular with the rest. It turned out great and the difference in flavor was very minimal. When baking with gluten-free flour it is helpful to lower the oven temperature a little since the baked goods tend to get color a little faster.

Blueberries and raspberries so that the bottom of the tart pan is covered with two layers of berries.
1 and 1/2 dl/0.6 c sugar
2 eggs
4 tsp sugar
(1 tbsp potato or corn starch)
1 dl/0.4 c flour (or gluten-free flour)
1 tsp baking powder
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 dl/0.8 c whipped cream

Butter your tart pan. If using frozen berries mix with potato or corn starch and 4 teaspoons of sugar.


Whip the eggs with the 1.5 dl/0.6 cups of sugar until a light foam. Fold in the flour and baking powder. Whip your cream and fold it into the batter. Pour the batter over the berries and bake in the oven at 200 C/390 F for about 20 minutes. The original recipe called for a bake time of about 45 minutes but this is probably due to shape and depth of the tart pan. I used a wide (22 cm/8 and 1/2 inch) and shallow pan. Enjoy with vanilla sauce or ice cream.

queens tart