Filed under: Baking, Cakes | Tags: chocolate, green peas, pesto, sandwich cake, sea buckthorn, sun dried tomato
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
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.
Well, a sandwich cake made out of a breadloaf is a must have in Finnish graduation party. Somehow wierdly I really like these cakes, even if they aren’t exactly the hottest trend in high cuisine.. For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, a sandwich cake is kind of giant sandwich, made out of a breadloaf, filled with different kind of spreads and mayos and moistened with milk. Wild decoration with roses made of rolled ham and flowers cut out of tomatoes are also quite common, with lots of piped cream cheese as icing.
My friend Linda wanted to have a sandwich cake for her graduation party, in exchange of fixing some handles for my new kitchen. I was in a hurry and made this cake very fast, without thinking too much. That’s why I don’t have any pictures that would make it clearer how it actually is made.. The cake got a good reception at this Finnish – Swedish party where I brought it, and disappeared in twenty minutes. No one complained for it not having any meat in it!
Sandwich Cake with Avocado and Beetroot
Two loafs of bread
2,5 dl oat milk for moistening
juice of one lemon
salt to taste
2 cloves of garlic
a pinch of black pepper
600 g cooked beetroots
1 dl cooked chickpeas
1 dl coconut milk
1/2 dl olive oil
salt to taste
2 tblsp rasberry vinegar
a small handful of fresh basil
750 g soy cream cheese, natural
Cooking water that was lef from the beets, enough to dye the cheese pink (about a desiliter).
I started with the bread. It’s good to have a breadloaf that’s fairly firm, and of that type that has been baked in a tin. I cut out all the crusts and sliced the bread diagonally in three layers, like with a cake. The I made the fillings, by blending the ingredients with a hand held mixer.
Then I assembled the cake. I moistened the layers readily with oat milk, since it’s important to moisten this type of cake enough. I put the avocado spread between the first and the second layer, and the beetroot spread between the second and the third. I had two loafs of bread, so I made the cake into a kind of cross shape, because this way it fitted in my cake container. You can see the picture. Then I put the cake in the fridge to wait for the following day. And I mean, you can not make a moistened cake the same day you are going to eat it, it won’t be any good. Always start the previous day! This stands for the sweet cakes as well.
The next day I had about an hour to decorate the cake: so in fast forward mode I mixed the soy cream cheese with the beet cooking water, so that I got a nice colour and so that the mixture had a good consistency for piping. Then I made a piping device out of a plastic bag, and hastily piped the cheese on the cake. I decorated the cake with stripes of cucumber cut with a cheese – slicer, some radishes cut to flowers and some spruce year growths and lemon.