Goddess of Cake

Fredrika’s Tart
February 5, 2010, 12:00
Filed under: Desserts, raw food | Tags: , , , ,

The 5th of February is the honorary day of the national poet of Finland,  Johan Ludvig Runeberg. He lived in the 19th century and was a popular author of his day.  These days we celebrate his memory with a little pastry called Runeberg’s Tart.

Runeberg, like other men of his status, had a wife, Fredrika. For over a hundred years Fredrika was only credited for being the wife of Runeberg, and as  the inventor of the famous tart. In reality,  Fredrika did not even invent this pastry,  it was a specialty of a local bakery.  Instead,  she was an herself an aspiring writer, and a deeply ambitious person. But she was always left in the shade of her famous spouse. In those days before washing machines and vacuum cleaners, her days were mostly filled with household chores that she found absolutely dreary, besides of having to deal with a womanizing husband and financial difficulties.

Fredrika, isn’t it strange how still in 2010, a young lady, liberated and educated, like me, would make the choice of trying to be famous with her skills in the kitchen? Why would she do that? Since, between you and me, a pretty young lady with good cooking skills is to most people nothing more than that, however ambitious or clever she may be otherwise.  A hundred years after you, Fredrika, I must admit that certain attitudes do sit tight in the society.  And all you young ladies who are reading this blog and haven’t started your own, do consider another subject than cooking or handicrafts! Because, to formulate this clearly: after you are dead, do you want to be remembered for a friggin’ cake,  named after your husband, or because, for example, winning the Nobel Prize in physics? I think this is something we all should think about, seriously.

But anyway, this tart is for you Fredrika, I promise to read your texts one day too.

Fredrika’s Tart

I decided to make a raw version of Runeberg’s Tart. A Runeberg’s tart is a pastry with almond meal, bread or gingerbread crumbles, flavoured with cardamom and moistened with rum or punsch, a typical Swedish alcoholic drink.  The tart is topped with some raspberry jam and sugar icing. You can find a nice vegan recipe here. This is how they look made by my friend Rosa, who traditionally arranges each year a party where only  Runeberg’s Tarts are served.

My raw version contained almonds, lucuma, coconut, cardamom, dates, honey and some rum aroma, which is indeed artificial and not raw at all. But you could leave it out, substitute it with real rum or use bitter almond extract. The pink  “icing” was a bit of a challenging part, and I ended up doing it with coconut oil and honey, but later realised that probably also some cashew nut cream would have looked nice.

5 pieces

2 dl blanched almonds

1/2 dl shredded coconut

3 tsp lucuma powder

5 dates

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp coconut oil

3 drops rum aroma

a pinch of cinnamon

1/2 tsp cardamom

The ” icing”:

2 tsp coconut oil

1 tsp honey

some raspberry purée/ other red juice for colour

The “jam”

1/2  dl frozen, thawed raspberries

honey for sweetening

I blended together all the ingredients for the tart with a food processor. Then I formed a round bar with the help of some baking parchment and stuck it to the freezer for about ten minutes. Then I cut the bar into five pieces, about 4 cm tall, and decorated them with raspberry puree and and piped on the icing.  The raspberry puree was made with a hand held blender and the icing by simply mixing the ingredients with a spoon.

The tarts tasted surprisingly much like actual Runeberg’s tarts, but the consistency was a bit too heavy and oily  for my taste.  So I think I need to experiment a bit more with this raw dessert thing…

Climate Change Wonderings

This weekend I did some catering for Ilmasto.org, which is a Finnish website about climate change. It is a great source of information on different aspects of the catastrophic change that will soon be part of everyone’s life (yes, I mean you too!). In English you can find reliable information at IPCC or at Hadley Centre, which is the leading British research center for climate change.

Food is also one factor in climate change. A recent study by World Watch Institute shows that the methane emissions of livestock might actually present a half of all the carbon dioxide emissions produced by the human civilization (carbon dioxide is basically the cause for climate change, though I assume everyone knows this by now!). This means that transition to a vegan diet might actually be an even faster way to cut down the emissions than moving to non – fossil fuels. There is a certain hope with these results though: starting to eat a vegetable based diet would actually be a fairly easy thing to do to prevent climate change, and something we could do as individuals. If we just did it!

So if I’m cooking for a climate change – related project, of course I would like my food be as low – carb (meaning carbon dioxide, not carbohydrates) as possible. But when I go to the supermarket to buy the ingredients, how could I possible remember all the complicated information that I’ve heard? I really wish there was an obligatory certification system of food that would somehow tell you how climate friendly the things that you’re about to buy really are. I know vegan is always better than meat or dairy, but there are so many things to take into account: Is is better to buy frozen berries that are locally grown instead of Spanish seasonal fruit? I know tomatoes grown in Finnish hothouses have a heavy ecological backpack, but how do they compare to tomatoes grown in the Netherlands? How can I be certain that the soy products that I buy haven’t been grown in ex- rainforest?

Well, finally I didn’t go for totally local options with the food that I made, but vegan it was anyhow. I made a tofu – mushroom quiche and some raw food desserts, which is something I’ve wanted to explore a long time.

Tofu – Mushroom Quiche

The Crust

125 g vegetable margarine or oil

4,5 dl graham flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 dl cold water

The Filling:

1,5 dl soy yogurt

1 dl oat cream

2 tsp egg replacer

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp marjoram

a pinch of black pepper

1/3 of a red onion, thinly sliced

100 g smoked firm tofu, cut into cubes

10 champion mushrooms, sliced

a few cherry tomatoes

a few basil leaves

olive oil

I made the crust by kneading the margarine and the flour into a crumbly mixture, and then added water. Then I patted the crust into pie dish.

For the filling I mixed the soy yogurt, oat cream and egg replacer, and seasoned the mixture with salt, black pepper, lemon juice and marjoram. Then I poured it on the crust, and added the sliced onion, mushrooms, tofu, cherry tomatoes and finally the basil leaves. Then I drizzled the whole thing with olive oil. I baked the quiche in the oven in 200ºC about 40 minutes.

The thing why I absolutely wanted to have tomatoes in this quiche is because sometimes with cooked food all the colours are so dull and brownish that adding even a little bit of red will make the dish much more interesting and appetizing.

Raw Chocolate and Orange Truffles

about 25 pieces

1 l dates

3 dl oat flakes

2 dl pecan nuts

1 dl coconut oil

2 tsp cinnamon

1dl raw cocoa powder

1dl maple syrup or honey (is maple syrup raw?)

the zest of an organic orange

I used the  cutting blade of a food processor to chop up the nuts and dates finely, then I mixed in the rest of the ingredients by hand. I formed small balls of them and powdered them with cocoa powder. It might be a good idea to soak the dates for a couple of hours, if you don’t own a powerful mixer. Though since I tried both ways, I think the taste is nicer if you don’t soak them.

Raw Raspberry Treats

about 25 pieces

1 l cashew nuts

3 dl raspberries (frozen)

2 dl grated coconut

1 dl maple syrup or honey

1 tsp vanilla powder

1 dl coconut oil

I chopped the cashews with the cutting blade of a food processor, until they were completely pulverized, then I added the rest of the ingredients and made a paste, using a hand held blender. Then I put the paste to the freezer for 10 minutes or so, in order to make it stiffen a bit. Then I formed small balls out of it and rolled them in grated coconut, and finally decorated them with a bit of freeze dried berry powder.