As a mature feminist I should probably think that princesses are a remnant of patriarchal society that should by now be thrown away with other rubbish. Well, in a way I do. But still, when there is an actual, real, royal – blooded, beautiful princess getting married in the neighbouring country, I must admit that something in me is evoked. We Finnish people are so sensible and not at all prone to unnecessary, costly silliness like a royal family, so I guess we can be a little bit delighted for what happens next door, in Sweden?
Recently, I have been very brave and done lots of things that have felt immensely difficult. So I decided to reward myself and bake a cake! And spend a couple of days only doing only silly things with my girlfriends. So we watched Princess Victoria’s and Daniel’s wedding and drank strawberry – sparkling wine, eating a cake that in Finland is called a princess cake. Partly because in honor of the actual princess and partly to remind myself of some princess – like virtues. A Real Princess, the mythical, archetypal creature of fairytales, is never angry, never mean to other people, and always in possession of her power and her beauty. And there is always the happy ever – after to her story. In real life, the princesses get eating disorders and have unfaithful boyfriends, and I guess the only true happy end awaiting us all is the peaceful grave. But still, there is always enough reason to spent a day dreaming princess dreams, with a piece of cake, and congratulate yourself for a work well done.
Vegan Princess Cake
A princess cake is usually a quite an ordinary sponge cake, filled with vanilla custard, raspberries and covered with a layer of green marzipan. Mine was a little different, because I used strawberries and pink marzipan for the ultimate princess – effect. The custard or pudding I made of oat milk and starch.
4,5 dl all – purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
0,5 tsp baking soda
a good dash of vanilla
2 dl brown sugar
1 tbsp apple vinegar
0,5 dl canola oil
4 lingonberry cider
Mix first the dry ingredients and then add the vinegar, oil and the cider. Mix quickly with a spoon, until the batter is fairly even, and pour into a round cake tin, 24 cm in diameter. Bake in 175 °C 30 – 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Lingonberry cider gives the cake a lovely reddish hue, but you can as well use another kind of cider. Let the cake cool down before filling it. Meanwhile, make the custard:
3,5 + 0,5 dl oat milk
a good dash of vanilla powder
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp potato starch
First, mix the vanilla powder and sugar with 3,5 dl of oat milk, and bring the it to the boil in a small cooking pot. Mix the potato starch with the remaining 0,5 dl oat milk, remove the pot from the heat and pour in the starch – liquid, carefully whisking. Then bring the oat milk to boil again, without mixing. Don’t cook, but remove the pot from the heat right when you see the first bubble.
Filling and Decorating
2 dl whippable oat cream
150 g pink marzipan
1 dl oat milk for moistening
2 dl strawberries, mashed
Whip up the oat cream, and blend it together with the custard. Cut the cake into to halves, and moisten it with oat milk. Fill the cake with mashed strawberries and half of the custard, and finally cover the whole cake with a layer of remaining custard mixture. Roll the marzipan into a flat round layer, bigger than the cake, with a rolling pin. Using a sheet of baking parchment under the marzipan might help, as well as sprinkling the sheet with powdered sugar. Lift the marzipan – layer carefully on top of the cake, and cut off the extra at the “hem” of the cake. Decorate with real roses and sprinkled powdered sugar.
Filed under: Drinks, Guerilla Gardening, spring seasonal food | Tags: drink, rhubarb, spruce tip, sweet cicely
Guess what? I’ve been busy. That’s why there has been no movements in this virtual space for a while. Spring is the time to start new gardens, and for a person or organization promoting urban food production and gardening it is crazy busy. But now there are several new guerilla gardens and many new urban gardeners in Helsinki, gardening in places you never thought a carrot could grow in. But that’s not my doing, but an effort of many people.
And, there is a website on urban farming! Kaupunkiviljely.fi it is called. I’ve been one of the people making it. Unfortunately so far all the texts are in Finnish, but maybe later there will be something in English too. But there are many pictures of all our projects, gardening tips for urban spaces and a blog, which you should order if you are interested in urban gardening, in Finnish.
And me? I’m a wreck. Now, I’ve been cleaning my house for two days, and slept for fourteen hours, and finally I’m starting to come to my senses again. It’s not easy to be making a movement, at least for me. Urban gardening is a lovely activism: there are no contradictions, no conficts, and even the authorities are mostly in fave of a group of people turning every unused plot into a garden. We are like pandas, cute and no threat to anybody. And a garden is easily removed when no longer liked. It is very rewarding to be part of a movement that is really for everyone: the grandmothers can join, as well as activists, and everyone will love you for what you do.
I’ve always been a girl for direct action: no demonstrations or signing petitions for me, but actual deeds that turn the world into a better place. But of course, there is not that much that you can do with a shovel when it is about turning a whole city into more garden – then the work is done by email, phone and facebook instead of a garden – hoe. And that is for a person like me very difficult, and takes up a lot of resources. And I do have to battle a lot of inner demons that tell me constantly that I have no right to do the things I’m doing, and especially not be successful with my actions. Previously, I was never aware of such monsters existing in my mind! So, power is a new trip for me, and not an easy one. I feel like a dentist: having to yield nasty tools in order to accomplish something for a greater purpose.
Burnout or not, who cares? Now I can have a peaceful moment, sit by the open window, smell woodsmoke and grass clippings, and hear the birds chirping in hedge. Besides, I dare say: Helsinki is changed city because of us, the Dodo Urban Farmers!
Rhubarb and Spruce Tip Drink
There will be some recipes at the kaupunkiviljely.fi – website, with the emphasis on seasonal food. This is the first, for spring or early summer. At least in Southern Finland the spruce tips are already past their prime, and have turned to actual needles, but this recipe could be made with rhubarb only as well. Sweet cicely or garden myrrh is an almost forgotten, but really nice, aniseed – tasting perennial herb that thrives in many gardens. I’m a bit embarrassed to post a recipe which is definetely no more seasonal, but I hope my readers will forgive! There is a good reason for it!
2 l spruce tips
2 l rhubarb stalks
some leaves of sweet cicely
0,5 kg sugar
25 g citric acid (works as preservative)
4 l water
Chop the rhubarb and rinse the spruce tips, and boil them with the water and the sweet cicely leaves for 2 – 3 minutes. Add the citric acid, and let the drink cool down overnight. Following day, add the sugar and citric acid, and bring to boil again. When the drink has cooled, you can pour it into bottles that should be kept refrigerated. The drink keeps two weeks.
Spruce tips should be harvested in Finland during May or early June, when they are still light green and tender. Never heard of spruce tips? They are the year – growths of spruce trees that appear in the spring. Later in the summer they turn into regular needles. Traditionally the spruce tips have thought to have medicinal properties, and used in cough – potions. Their taste is fresh and tangy, and in my opinion resembles somehow eucalyptus.