Goddess of Cake


A Rite of Passage
December 21, 2009, 00:50
Filed under: Baking, Cakes | Tags: , , , , ,

Isn’t change always worth a celebration? For better or worse, change is the attribute of all life: matter evolves by the laws of entropy, towards more chaos, and the living things are constantly on their way towards death. No moment is static, transformation is inevitable. A rite of passage is something that prepares us for the change, makes it easier to accept, since we tend to cling to the past with a fierce devotion.

We celebrated the bachelorette party of my friend who was getting married. Marriage is one rite of passage to adulthood, though not as important as it used to be. The Finnish folk poetry describes in vivid detail the sadness of the bride, when she has to leave her sisters and brothers, the safety of her childhood home and most important of all, her dear mother, as sweet as honey or berries in the forest. Waterfalls of tears were shed when the young bride left her home to never return, to be owned by the family of her husband, and be as the daughter – in – law the lowest in the hierarchy of a household.

The ways of marriage have luckily changed quite a bit, and these days marriage is a sign of  mutual love and commitment, not a grim undertaking made in order to keep the human race existing. On this occasion it was indeed the bridegroom who left his sunny country to come to the cold and unhospitable Finland.

That weekend, we didn’t cry (except for me, a little bit), but drank pink sparkling wine, had a lush breakfast with beautiful live music at the cafe Villi Puutarha (” The Wild Garden”, which is one of the few places with vegan things to eat in Helsinki), acquired a pair of pink handcuffs at an adult shop, tried out pole dancing and sung  at the top of our voices in a karaoke taxi. Finally we adorned ourselves with corsettes, beads, plenty of sparkle and make – up and headed for a burlesque party. Our beautiful, not so shy bride won the tassel twirling competition (don’t know what that means? Well find out, I won’t tell you), and the gorgeous bridegroom impressed everyone by an improvised Brazilian street – capoeira – dance show.

The night was ours. We partied and danced with the intensity of people taking part in a transition rite, submerged in a brazilian – burlesque fantasy world. But what does a frilly, mask – wearing, tasseled, lace – and gold – adorned foxy lady or gentleman eat before she or he hits the party? Of course a rosewater – strawberry – chocolate mousse cake, decorated with fresh cherries, figs  and pitahaya..

Rosewater – Strawberry – Chocolate Mousse Cake

Crust:

150 g gluten free vegan cookies ( I used a spanish brand called gullòn)

75 g vegetable margarine

Mousse:

200 g soy cream cheese

6 dl whippable soy cream

500 g soy yogurt

5 tbsp rose water

1 jar Sonnentor Rose Jam

3 dl frozen strawberries

1,5 dl powdered sugar (icing sugar)

2 tsp bourbon vanilla powder

2 dl agar – agar

3 dl water

Chocolate Ganache

100 g dark chocolate

1 dl soy milk or other non – dairy milk

I started the day before by draining the soy yogurt in a sieve that was lined with coffee filters.

The following day I made the crust: I crumbled up the cookies, and melted the margarine. Then I mixed both and patted the mixture at the bottom of a springform pan (diameter 26 cm), which was covered with a piece of baking parchment.

Then I made the chocolate ganache. I heated up the milk in and added the chocolate, mixing until it was melted. I spread this evenly on the crust.

Then I made the mousse. First I blended the strawberries, the vanilla, the icing sugar, the soy cream cheese, the drained yogurt,the rose jam and the soy cream with a handheld blender until it was nice and fluffy. Then I heated up the water and the rose water in a pan, and added the agar – agar. I boiled the mixture, mixing it constantly for a few minutes, until the agar – agar was diluted. Then I hastily poured it into the mousse – mixture, through a sieve and mixing carefully with the blender. Then I poured the mousse onto the crust, and put the cake in the fridge.

Some tips about agar:

– agar is a better gelling agent for mousses than gelatin, even if most people don’t know this. The mousse produced by agar is always fluffy, and never dry like the gelatin mousses sometimes are. And yes, it will set, but you’ll have to use enough agar!

– when diluting the agar it is often easier to start with a bit more liquid and let it evaporate by boiling the mixture a little bit longer, than to start with a tiny amount of liquid, like often is instructed.

– you can dilute agar to other liquids than water, but something like  cream is already too thick for this purpose.

– the agar starts to set right away when you remove the pan from heat, so you have to be fast. Allow it to cool maximum a minute!

– use a sieve when you pour the agar – agar liquid into the mixture you want to make a gelee of. There are anyway always  some lumps in it.

– You will see right away, if there is enough agar in your mousse, because it will start to set immediately. The following day, if there appears some liquid around the cake that probably means that something went wrong, and the mousse has not set.

– This cake that you can see in this picture that was taken in great hurry, hasn’t got enough agar, but the recipe should be allright. I was thinking about other things…

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Rosie Halva
June 21, 2009, 16:28
Filed under: Sweets | Tags: , , , , ,

First, in order to avoid confusion, there are two types of halva: Indian halva, which is kind of a pudding made of semolina, and Arabian halva, which is a sweet made of sesame seeds. Indian halva is one of my all time favourites, when I’m cooking in a hurry for big crowds. It can quite easily be made for like a hundred people in a 10 liter pan. Besides, hippies love it! The idea of halva was presented to me by an ex – Krishna devotee when I was working in an ecovillage in Central Finland.

This particular recipe I invented last summer for a hippie – festival catering. For the hippies I shaped balls of the halva, since it was easy to serve like that, and hippies generally love to eat anything that is in a form of a ball (why that is so I cannot tell). Though, it can also be made a so that the consistency is a bit runnier and then served with a spoon. Rosewater can be obtained in Asian stores and at the chemist’s, but I have sometimes used a brand of organic rosewater (Julia Lawless Aqua Oleum), which was definetely the best, since it smells most like real roses.

Rose is an edible flower, and a very decorative one too! Though it’s good to remember to take out the white part of the petals, since it is bitter. I usually collect the petals of Japanese rose or rosa rugosa which grows very all over the place in Finland, and blooms from June to August.

rose halva

Halva with Rosewater and Strawberries

4 dl semolina

1,5 dl grated coconut

1 tsp cardamom

1/2 tsp bourbon vanilla powder

3 dl brown sugar

2,5 dl oil (anything that doesn’t have a very distinguished taste, I used canola)

3 dl oat milk

2 tbsp rose water

250 g frozen strawberries

This halva is made in a cooking pan. I started by toasting the semolina on dry pan for about ten minutes, stirring it all the time, in order to avoid burning. When the semolina was very slightly yellow – brownish, I added the coconut, spices and sugar, stirred hastily and then quickly added the oil, milk and strawberries and the rose water. Then I turned down the heat and covered the pan with a lid, and let it simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes. I was using frozen strawberries, so I guess it would go faster, if you used fresh ones. I shaped the halva by pressing it to tiny bowl and then turning it over on a plate, kind of in the same way children make sandcakes. I decorated the halva with rose petals, grated coconut and freeze – dried strawberries. It could also be sprinkled with rose water, to enhance the taste and smell.