an ode to seasonal pastries, finnish style

[Note from foodie:  I’ve been a bit swamped trying to balance family and a part-time job.  And although I am still feeding my tribe, photos and blogging are luxuries at this point. Thanks to my best friend Cyndi for torturing us with these amazing looking pastries and filling in with a delectable guest post!]

You know that Christmas song that says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”? Well for me, it’s not Christmas that I eagerly look forward to each year. Yes, Christmas is nice and there is plenty of good food, but ever since moving to Finland I have come to the realization that I actually look forward to the period of time around the end of January/beginning of February. Why, you ask? Feast your eyes on these:

What you’re looking at are two of the reasons why I always eagerly anticipate what would otherwise be a dull, dreary time of year: Runebergstårtor (Runeberg’s Cakes) and Fastlagsbullar (literally translated as “Fat Tuesday Buns”). These two pastries only appear for a short time—blink, and they’re gone. These are good enough to make me thank my lucky stars that I have had the opportunity to live in Finland and discover them. Yes. They’re that good.  [Note the frozen outdoor landscape below.]

There is a lot of information online about who Runeberg was and why this somewhat unusual looking cake is named after him, etc.  Below is one recipe, but there are plenty of others online and Finns young and old all have their favorite. I’ll admit that because there are numerous bakeries near my house, I almost never bake them myself; half of the fun is trying out the five different local “secret” recipes. It’s a serious job, and someone must shoulder the responsibility. If I can still fit in front of my computer by next week, I just might type up and share the recipe for fastlagsbullar…

Runebergstårtor

from foodie friend Cyndi

  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup bread or cake crumbs (some should be gingerbread cookie crumbs)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • raspberry jam

For the topping:

  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon water

For “wet” cakes:

  • almond extract
  • water
  • sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream butter with sugar.  Add eggs one at a time and mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients.  Add dry mix and cream to the butter mixture. Mix quickly until you have a smooth batter.
  4. Pour batter into prepared muffin tin, filling the cups only to 2/3  (in Finland, special tall cylinder-shaped forms are used). Create indentions in the middle of each cake: dip your thumb into flour and create a small divot in each cake. Fill the indention with jam. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 15 minutes.
  5. When the cakes have cooled, decorate. Mix the confectioner’s sugar with water until it becomes a thick paste. Pour or pipe a ring around the jam indention in each cake. “Top up” the raspberry jam as desired.
  6. If you prefer a drier cake, then you are done. If not, dip the cakes quickly into a small amount of almond extract mixed with water and sugar.
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