Goddess of Cake


Harvest Party
October 14, 2010, 22:43
Filed under: autumn seasonal food, Baking, urban gardening | Tags: , , ,

I recently heard a quote from somebody (thanks, Tanja!) that in every project 1/4 of the money and energy invested in the project should be used to celebrate together. I think that is so true! In the Finnish culture celebration is easily undervalued: we don’t even have a really good word for it. A celebration can be a party or a carnival, but it can also be any kind of a gathering or ritual that values the work done and the people involved. In a celebration we are together, equal and sharing a mutual satisfaction in our community and what was experienced. A celebration turns inward, toward the center, a party turns outward, showing off.  Celebrations create social value and strenghten communities, and make people happy!

A harvest party is of course double important since it also the time to thank the abundance of the earth as well as for human people’s efforts. Being an urban gardener it does sound a bit dodgy to say: thank you Mother Earth. Should I say thank you Sister City instead? But I guess whether rural or urban, it is the same life – force manifesting itself in the beautiful vegetables.

There was a harvest party at the urban garden of Vallila, with grammophone – music, a fleamarket and of course pumpkin soup. A drizzling autumn rain finished the party, but there was just enough time to greet everybody and share the last of the huge marrows and pumpkins. It is wonderful to start gardens on empty lots: the neighbours learn to know each other and a public space becomes meaningful, a hub of interaction between the people of the neighbourhood as well as place to grow local food in a city. Present at the party was also the Editor in Chief of the fanciest foodie magazine in Finland, Glorian ruoka ja viini, since she lives in the neighbourhood.  Today, in the new issue of the magazine they nominate “urban gardening” as the Food Phenomenon of the Year, and my organisation and our projects are specially mentioned. I felt as if I’d been awarded an Oscar! Me, doing the Food Phenomenon of the year? Who would have thought? I was very happy that the culinary aspects of urban gardening are now formally recognised!

To honor that, an apple pie recipe:

Apple Pie with Calvados and Almond

Crust:

3 dl whole wheat flour

125 g vegetable margarine

1tbsp oat milk

1 tbsp sugar

a pinch of salt

On top:

4 dl sliced apple

2 tbsp calvados

cinnamon

Top crust:

100 g marzipan

100 g vegetable margarine

1 tbsp muscovado sugar

1 dl wheat flour

Mix the ingredients for the crust quickly in a bowl. Set the crust in the fridge. Slice the apples, and grate the marzipan, and mix it with the other ingredients of the top crust.  Cover a baking pan with a diameter of 24 cm with the rolled out crust, and place it in the freezer for 10 minutes. Then bake the crust in a 200°C oven for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the crust with the apple slices, calvados and cinnamon. Crumble the top crust on top of that. Lower the temperature down to 175ºC and bake the pie in the oven 35 – 40 minutes.

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A Day as a Princess
June 30, 2010, 23:02
Filed under: Baking, Cakes | Tags: , , ,

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.

The Cake

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:

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.