tableofcolors

Simple pleasures

Tag: kaisa peni

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)

Crust

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

Filling

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.

Ganache

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!

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Ihme

by tableofcolors

The Christmas season is almost here. It is nearly pitch dark here at quarter after four in the afternoon and across the fields and on the road there is just the lighest dusting of snow barely making the gravel look white. The other Saturday after the sun had set, my friend Kaisa Peni released her second recording, called Ihme for the Christmas season. Ihme could be translated as Miracle or Wonder. Click on the youtube link below and pretend to be with us at the recital as you read this blog post and perhaps you will feel the peace of Christmas.

I have found it to be the perfect music to play early in the morning as I have lit a few candles and go uptairs to wake up the sleepyheads for school. I am nearly as much of a sleepyhead. Maybe I am not really a morning person even though for years I really liked to believe that I was.

ihme julkaisu debuteAs I listen to the music, the house is peaceful for once and I have a fuzzy feeling in my stomach. Maybe it is anticipation. This is what Christmas is supposed to feel like: a gentle, relaxed atmosphere in the soft light of candles with your loved ones.

ihme collageKaisa is accompanied on the recording with baritone Elja Puukko, her daughter Jatta and her friend Sanni. Ilia Kalioujnov-Salminen is the very talented pianist. In addition to traditional Christmas music, Ilia has composed and Kaisa has written the words to two new original pieces. I think they just might be my favorites as I found myself humming the melody as I was doing things around the house.

ilia kalioujnov-salminen collage

kaisa peni ihme 3

For the event I made pumpkin squares with a gingerbread mousse filling and a gluten-free no-bake cake. Usually when baking for an occasion, I try to make the gluten-free option complimentary in flavors so that no one needs to feel left out. As we were celebrating a Christmas recording I thought the pumpkin and gingerbread flavors would have both a traditional Christmas flavor as something a bit different usually not found here as pumpkin is not very common. On the recording there is a bit of an international flair as well. There are two songs sung in Russian and one in English. You may remember if you have followed the blog for some time that a year ago Kaisa published her first recording Rauha. A year ago I made Sacher squares with homemade apple jam made with locally sourced apples.

ihme leivos pumpkin square

Pumpkin squares

makes 45 5×5 cm squares

For the pumpkin squares and gluten-free cake, I used the purée of one small pumpkin. It comes out to about a total of 3 dl or 1 and 1/3 cups of purée.
For the pumpkin sponge cake I used the recipe by Joy of baking which I tweeked a bit. Here is the link to the tutorial video, but below are the amounts and the recipe.

For the 45 servings I made three sheets of the pumpkin sponge. Two of them were layered with the filling in between and the third was cut in half, filled and then layered.

The recipe below is for one sheet of pumpkin sponge

1.8 dl/ 3/4 c (95 g/3.4 oz) flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp cloves
dash of nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 dl/generous 1/2 c (150 g/5.3 oz) sugar
1/2 dl/1/3 c (50 g/1.8 oz) brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 dl/ 2/3 c (150 g/5.3 oz) pumpkin purée

Line a baking sheet with sides with parchment paper. Lightly butter it or spray with a non-stick spray.

Place the room temperature eggs and sugars into a bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip until light and fluffy. Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a separate including the flour, baking powder, soda, spices and salt. Mix the vanilla extract with the pumpkin purée. Click here for a recipe on how to make your own pumpkin purée.

Fold in the dry ingredients into the egg batter. Last fold in the pumpkin purée. Pour the batter on the lined baking sheet and bake at 180 C/350 F for about 8 minutes.

Once golden brown and springs back to the touch remove from the oven and let cool just slightly. Take another sheet of parchment paper and place on the table. Sprinkle with sugar. Now flip the baked sponge cake onto the sugar so that the top is on the sugar. Carefully remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake (that is now facing to the top). It pays to do this step while the cake is still warm as the parchment paper is so much easier to remove. The sprinkled sugar assures that the cake does not stick to the other sheet of paper.

Filling for 45 servings

1 liter of cream
24 small gingerbread cookies crushed (90 g/3 oz)
5 gelatin leaves
800 g/28 oz quark or a thick Greek or Turkish yoghurt
1 dl/ 1/2 c (105 g/3.7 oz) packed brown sugar
1 dl/ 1/2 c (85 g/3 oz) sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
dash of following: ginger, cloves and nutmeg

Place the gelatin leaves in a bowl of cool water. Let soak according to the package instructions. Bring some water to a boil and set aside. Crush the gingerbread cookies. Whip the cream and fold in the quark. Next fold in the cookies and check for taste. Squeeze the water out of the gelatin leaves and place into a very small bowl or dish. Pour a little bit of the boiling water over the gelatin leaves and mix until dissolved. Fold in the gelatin by pouring it in a stream and constantly stirring.

Spread the filling on the cake and place other sheet cake on top.

Cover the cake with cling film and place into the fridge while the ganache is being prepared. You may also let the cake rest overnight.

 

Ganache

I have noticed that working with white chocolate is a bit more tricky than dark chocolate. The cake nearly absorbed the first batch of ganache. I would suggest sealing the cake with a very thin layer of apricot jam.

2 dl/ 0.8 c heavy whipping cream
340 g/12 oz white chocolate

Pour the cream into a bowl and microwave on high for about 1 minute or so that it boils. Roughly the chop the chocolate up. Remove the boiled cream from the microwave and mix in the white chocolate. Stir until a smooth consistency.

Pour the white chocolate over the cake. Melt a few squares of dark chocolate in a separate bowl. Form a piping tube out of parchment paper and pour the melted dark chocolate into. Make thin stripes all along the cake. Using a knife, pull the tip of it through the stripes, alternating the direction every other time.

ihme leivosI have a confession to make. I have been writing this post now for about five days, trying to find those little fuzzy-tummy candle-lit moments. Those moments have not come by nearly as often as I would like. First there is a simple explanation. My husband has been away recently on business, meaning that I am running the household.  Originally I had been planning to write my blog after the house is quiet and with everyone asleep. No such thing. My two youngest are night owls by nature and keep me entertained until the minute I go to bed. And since I have started writing this post, the landscape has turned into a wonderful winter wonderland that just invites us all outside.

The night of the recording debut, I also served a gluten-free no-bake pumpkin cake that turned out delicious. I think it would work perfect for Thanksgiving as would these pumpkin squares above. So instead of working on this post for a week, I saved the cake for my next post. I am planning on posting the new recipe in the next few days. Hope everyone has a wonderful week and Happy Thanksgiving!

kaisapeni.com

Rauha

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

rauha

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.

Filling:

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.

rauhaleivos3

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