Goddess of Cake

A Plant’s Soul
May 9, 2010, 21:08
Filed under: Baking, Cakes | Tags: , , , , ,

Even more than sunny spring days, I enjoy those overcast days with a slowly drizzling spring rain. Does it mean that I have a plants’ soul?

The Finnish year – cycle is structured between the two inactive seasons:  the winter and the summer. After the long, dark lull of the winter the spring is a rushed burst of energy: in just a few short weeks the nature is turned from bare potential to a full blooming fertile beauty.  Each week you hear a new migrant bird, and the amount of light increases day by day, until the darkness is just a memory, easily forgotten. And then you reach summer, the lovely, lazy season of free time, when nothing much happens,  and the greatest newsline is a trout – bitten toe.

For a delicate mind spring can be depressing too, since it sets you face to face with the inevitability of all life: whether you catch the big rolling wheel or not, life will go on, with or without you.  Spring is usually rich with deadlines, whether at work or full moons for planting things or enjoying the newly reborn nature. The elder will  bloom only a day (did you collect the flowers for a juice? ) and the sprouting wild vegetables will turn bitter in couple of weeks (did you make the pesto?). The spring rolls on, and meanwhile you might struggle with a pollen allergy, unfixed bike and the continuous daylight that doesn’t let you sleep, and as the only thought have the idea of the summer holiday somewhere ahead, if you just manage a little bit longer.

Green Sandwich Cake

Springtime is also time of festivities of all sorts, and the Finnish traditional delicacy for a graduation party or other family festivity is a sandwich cake, which is a savoury cake made of a bread loaf (!). My friends insisted on having one at their house – warming party.

What happened was that on the Eve of First of May, which is a night of great many parties in Finland, I emptied my handbag on my doorstep at 3 am and figured that I’d left my keys inside. The cake was supposed to be ready the following day.  I ended up spending the night elsewhere, and in  the morning found a big kitchen full of jamming, singing and guitar – playing people. And even if the brunch was rather meagre, only one third of a shop bought pound cake, the music was such soul food that I just couldn’t leave the soaring voices and harmonies of the morning of First of May. So in the end  the sandwich cake was assembled of things that I found in my cupboard, in a haste.  But everyone loved it.


a loaf of bread, and 5 dl oat milk.

Green Pea Paste – for Icing

250 frozen green peas

1 tl grated horse radish

1 dl canola oil

1,5 dl sunflower seeds

3 tbsp lime juice

salt to taste

I threw the peas quickly to boiling water, strained them and blended everything with a hand held blender.

Pesto Rosso – for Filling

2 dl sun dried tomatoes in oil + the oil

1/2 dl sunflower seeds

1 garlic clove

I blended everything to a paste with a blender.

Lemongrass Mayo Paste – for Filling

1/2 dl lemongrass mayo (Plamil)

1/2  dl vegetable margarine

1 apple

salt to taste

I blended everything to a paste.

For a sandwich cake you need a tin – baked loaf of bread, and it should not be fresh, but dried out a bit.  Cut off all the crusts, and slice the bread diagonally into three layers. My loaf was too long to fit in my cake container, so a cut into half and made a square – shaped cake by putting the halves next to each other. Then I filled the cake, and moistened it using oat milk. I used about 5 dl of oat milk for moistening. It is good to start a day before, and let the cake stay in the fridge overnight.  The following day put on the icing and the other decorations.  My “icing” was a paste made of peas, and it turned out very well, sticky and not runny at all (must be the proteins in peas).

I decorated the cake with lime slices, very thin slices of radish, red peppercorns and pinches of black vegan caviar.

Sea – Buckthorn Chocolate Bites

This is another one of those let’s just bake something with whatever ingredients there happen to be at hand – kind of thing.  The sea –  buckthorns grow quite close to where I’m living and were a result of urban foraging last autumn (me and my Australian guest, in almost total darkness).  Sea – buckthorn is extremely rich in vitamin C, and a very challenging berry to pick because of the nasty thorns in the bushes.  It is also very, very sauer, almost bitter in taste, and does need a bit of sugar to be truly delicious.

4,5 dl flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tl bourbon vanilla powder

1 dl cocoa powder

2 dl sugar

100 g dark chocolate, chopped

0,5 dl oil

4 dl oat milk

1 tl vinegar

Mix the dry ingredients and then add the oat milk, oil and vinegar. Pour the batter into a greased and floured oven pan, size 20 cm x 15 cm. Bake in 200 °C about 4o minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let cool, and decorate with

Sea Buckthorn Icing

2 dl powdered sugar

1 dl frozen, thawed sea – buckthorn berries

Grind the berries through a sieve, to get rid of the seeds, and then mix the remaining paste with powdered sugar.  Sprinkle on top of the chocolate cake. I also used some silver cake pearls for a finishing touch.

Hunter – Gatherer Pesto

Now the Spring is finally here and the first green things have started to come up! I wanted to get off to the forest and look for some new shoots of ground – elder ( Aegopodium podagraria) which is one of the first edible wild plants showing up in the spring. Now it is also the best time to collect it, since later in the summer it becomes slightly bitter.

I went off to the woods and found the new ground – elder leaves excactly where I expected them to be. What a hunter – gatherer’s joy I experienced at this! And while collecting them, I felt a lightness of heart, and strangely at peace the way I haven’t felt in a long time… maybe it was the connection to Mother Earth, who knows.


After returning home with my bounty, I decided to make pesto out of it. I thought that it would feel really nice to eat them uncooked.

Ground Elder Pesto with Pumpkin Seed Oil

1 dl almonds

1 dl pumpkin seed oil

1 tsp salt

3 handfuls of young leaves of ground – elder

1 clove of garlic

1/2 dl water

2 tsp dried basil

I made this pesto simply by mixing all the ingredients with a handheld mixer. The colour of it was scarily dark, but the taste very lovely, strong and flavourful. As I had intented, the strong taste of the pumpkinseed oil went really well together with the taste of  ground elder.


Pink Beetroot Pasta for the Birthday Girl
March 12, 2009, 21:17
Filed under: Cooking | Tags: , , ,

Since today is my birthday, I thought I very well deserve a bit of comfort food, not that I would need it though!  So I made pasta with lovely pink beetroot pesto. It is a very slightly modified recipe from a previous issue of Glorian ruoka ja viini, a Finnish gourmet magazine. In this pasta I like especially the colour and how fast and easy it is to prepare.


Beetroot pesto (4 portions)


2 beetroots, chopped

½ an onion, chopped

water for cooking

1 clove of garlic

1 ½ tblsp of balsamic vinegar

2 tsp salt

1 potted basil plant, or 2 dl fresh basil leaves

½ dl pine kernels

1dl olive oil

First I boil the beetroot in a shallow amount of water until done (about 20 min), and fry the onion on a frying pan, with a little olive oil. Then I drain off the cooking water from the beets, and mix them with onions and other ingredients, using a hand held mixer. Then I boil a little whole wheat pasta and mix the pesto together with it. This time I was actually using strawberry vinegar instead of red wine balsamic vinegar, but I don’t think it contributed much in the end result.