And here’s a little more of a British Easter tradition

This is perhaps a little late for Easter 2012 but in good time for 2013. Again, I’ve not made these before but they turned out really well and we’re liked by all. This is a slightly modified recipe of the BBC original.

Hot Cross Buns

Ingredients

For the buns
  • 625 g strong white flour
  • 8 g salt
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 45 g butter
  • 85 g sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 10 g dried yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 275 ml warm milk
  • 150 g raisins
  • And for the topping
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup

Method

  1. Start by sieving the flour, salt and mixed spice into a large bowl. Rub the butter in the flour.
  2. In a separate smaller bowl, mix the milk, sugar, yeast and lemon zest. Leave it for 10 minutes or until you can see that the yeast has started.
  3. Combine above in the larger bowl and add your raisins at the same time.
  4. Once properly mixed, knead for 5-7 minutes.
  5. Leave it to rise for at least an hour or until doubled in size.
  6. Knock it back, divide into 16 equal size little balls and place them on a lightly buttered baking tray. (I do the division by splitting in twos.)
  7. Cover the baking tray with cling film and leave in a warm place for 30-60 minutes or until they’ve risen nicely. Mine took quite a while so be patient.
  8. Pre heat your oven to 240° Celsius or ‘rather high’ gas mark.
  9. While waiting for your oven to heat, mix 2 tablespoons of plain flour and a little bit of water in to a paste and spoon into a piping bag.
  10. Use the paste to draw a cross on the buns.
  11. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and ready.
  12. Once out of the oven, brush the buns with warmed up golden syrup for that distinctive glaze.
  13. Let them cool down for five minutes or enjoy straight away.

Preparation time: 2-3 hour(s)

Cooking time: 10-20 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 16

Easter treat from the East

Or well, east at least if you’re standing in the Western Europe. If I look back at my childhood and what I remember Easter for it has to be these two things; mämmi and paskha. Mämmi is a Finnish dessert that–how should I say this–doesn’t travel well because of its appearance. (Go ahead, click on the link and you’ll understand)

The second, paskha, traveled well into Finland from Russia back when we used to be part of the empire and get more influences from the Eastern Orthodox church.

Paskha or Pascha is a festal dish made in Eastern Orthodox countries of those foods which are forbidden during the fast of Great Lent. It is made during Holy Week and then brought to church on Great Saturday to be blessed after the Paschal Vigil. The name of the dish comes from Pascha, the Eastern Orthodox celebration of Easter.

Wikipedia

It’s been part of my family’s Easter celebrations for as long as I remember and probably my favourite thing about the season. Of course, as a Finn, I should pick mämmi but try both side by side and tell me this isn’t better.

Without further ado, here’s my mums recipe for paskha.

Paskha

Ingredients

  • 250 g formage frais or quark (try and find the full fat versions of these, really makes a big difference)
  • 70 g butter
  • 70 g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 75 ml whipping cream
  • 50 g raisins
  • 30 g crushed almonds
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 heaped tablespoon candied orange peel (or mixed peel)

Method

  1. Gently whip the cream for a minute or two. You’re not trying to make whipped cream, just to give a bit more body
  2. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together really well
  3. Pour in to a paskha mold (more on this later), cover and place in the fridge for at least 12 hours or over night

Notes

I don’t actually have a paskha mould and wasn’t able to get one for this Easter. I made mine in a coffee filter holder with the filter in the place. If you do this, remember to wet the filter before pouring in your mixture. Traditionally paskha is made in a wooden mould that gives it its distinctive shape (see below). You can of course use anything that’s suitable as a mould. One thing is that excess fluid must be able to strain away so muslin and a hole in the bottom is needed. Maybe try a flower pot? This recipe filled a regular sized coffee filter and there was a little bit extra.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 12 hour(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

Spiced Cake in a Pool of Chocolate Sauce

This is again one of my mums old recipes. I’ve made it time and a time again, always with great success. Only little addition I made this time is the pool of chocolate sauce it sits in. I’ve been off sweets and chocolate for almost two and a half months now so any reason to incorporate a bit of chocolate in a cake, I’ll take it.

Spiced Cake or Maustekakku as it’s called in Finnish

Hazzle free cake with chocolate sauce.

Ingredients

  • 450 ml plain flour
  • 300 ml soft brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 5 tsp mixed spice
  • 2-3 apples, grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 200 ml sour cream
  • 100 g melted butter

Method

  1. Gently mix all the ingredients
  2. Bake in the oven at 175°C for one hour
  3. Let it cool down for 30 minutes and pour chocolate sauce on top. Generously.

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Chocolate sauce

Ingredients

  • 200 g milk chocolate
  • 100 ml double cream
  • 1 knob of butter

Method

  1. Heat up the cream and butter
  2. Once they they’re almost at boil, turn of the heat and mix in the chocolate

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 1 hour(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8

Fresh and Sweet Pea Soup

Pea soup is a traditional Thursday food in Finland. The tradition goes back all the way to the 15th Century when Finland used to be Catholic. People used to fast on Fridays so it was important to eat something nutritious and filling the day before. Although Finland became Lutheran in the 16th Century, the tradition lived on. Today many schools and the Army serve pea soup on a Thursday. For the same reasons, pea soup is also eaten on Shrove Tuesday, day before the fast begins.

Most pea soup eaten in modern day Finland is made with dried peas and is sold in 400 gram tins. As my corner shop doesn’t carry any dried peas, I decided to make up the recipe with fresh ones. Better for it. The soup turned out lovely, fresh but also sweet and filling. I’ve not added any ham to keep this vegetarian but if you feel like it, throw in a couple of handfuls of diced ham about a minute before taking it off the heat.

Fresh Pea Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • 500 g fresh frozen peas
  • 500 ml vegetable stock
  • knob of butter
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • salt
  • 1/3 tsp white pepper
  • egg

Method

  1. Sauté the chopped onions with the butter for about four minutes
  2. Meanwhile, place the egg in boiling water for 10 minutes
  3. Add the stock, peas, a pinch of salt, white pepper and the mustard
  4. Bring it back to boil and once it does, leave it to simmer for another four minutes
  5. Blitz with a hand mixer until almost smooth
  6. Serve with half a hard boiled egg
  7. Garnish with small basil or mint leave but don’t use olive oil as I did. It just doesn’t go with it

Quick notes

I’ve tagged this as vegan which it obviously isn’t. But if you substitute butter with vegetable oil and leave the egg out, the pea soup suddenly become suitable for vegan diets. This recipe serves two as a main or four as a starter.

Preparation time: 2 minute(s)

Cooking time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

Thick Pizza Sauce

As most thing we do, my pizza sauce is going through a perpetual rebirth. 2011 draws to a close and this is now my favourite. This recipe makes for about 3-5 pizzas, depending on how long you let it simmer and how much you use. Worry not if you make too much, it makes a perfect pasta sauce the next day.

Pizza Sauce version: #6 // Dec 2011

Ingredients

  • Clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • Tin of plum tomatoes (400 g)
  • 30 g tomato pure
  • Olive oil
  • Chilli flakes
  • About 10 basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Method

  1. Fry the garlic in the oil for a few minutes on medium heat
  2. Mean while, pour the plum tomatoes in to bowl and properly crush them with your fingers
  3. Add chilli in with the garlic and then the tomatoes
  4. Mix well, add tomato pure and mix again
  5. Add sugar in small increments, tasting each time to make sure it doesn’t go too sweet
  6. Season
  7. Throw in your chopped up basil leaves and let it simmer till excess water has evaporated

Preparation time: 1 minute(s)

Cooking time: 10 minutes(s)

Number of servings (yield): 3-5

Gherkin Soup with Dill

Last summer, we had a lovely dinner at Fishers in the City, a very nice fish restaurant in Edinburgh. I can’t remember what I had but Darina’s starter was much more memorable; gherkin soup. I had never heard of such soup before and apart from few recipes online, it’s not well know. Perhaps that’s because gherkins aren’t as popular in much of English speaking world as they are in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.

This recipe is a sort of a combination of the few I could find, taking the best bits and keeping it very simple. Unlike many vegetarian soups I think the gherkins bring a bit more body and distinct flavour.

We had this as the soup course on our Christmas meal this year. It’s great as it’s easy to make, I’ll make mine in the morning and heat it up for serving.

Polish Gherkin Soup with Dill

Ingredients

  • 120 g diced onions
  • 150 g diced potatoes
  • 150 g diced carrots
  • 150 g gherkin, sliced into strips
  • 5 tbsp cream
  • 1 tsp vegetable stock powder
  • gherkin brine
  • 1/2 tbsp dill
  • Flour
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Method

  1. Heat butter in a small sauce pan and lightly fry the onions in it for 3 minutes or until soft. Be careful not to brown them
  2. Add potatoes and carrots, and generously cover with water
  3. Bring to boil and let it simmer till carrots are almost cooked
  4. In a small bowl, dust the sliced gherkins with flour so they’re covered and then add to the pan
  5. Add cream, stock and seasoning to taste. Omit dill if gherkins are preserved with it. You can also use a splash of gherkin brine to enhance the flavour
  6. You can also add a little bit of finely chopped red chillies to add warmth
  7. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 4

Carrot and Swede Casseroles – Finnish Christmas Classics

These two casserole dishes are must-haves in Finnish Christmas table. They’re side dishes to the main but especially carrot casserole would make a great vegetarian main anytime of the year.

Carrot Casserole

Ingredients

  • 75 ml rice
  • 200 ml water (or water carrots were boiled in)
  • 350 ml milk
  • 500 g carrors, sliced and boiled
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pinch of white pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 tbsp syrup
  • 1 egg
  • breadcrumbs and butter for crusting

Method

  1. Start by boiling the carrots in barely enough water.
  2. Keep the water and use it to boil your rice. Once rice has absorbed all the water, add milk and simmer on lowest heat for 45 minutes.
  3. Mash your carrots and add other ingredients. I usually add rice last, little by little, and make sure there’s not too much of it. You can make this as little or much ‘carroty’ as you want.
  4. Divide in batter into two, buttered, tin foil trays. This will make two roughly 400 gram trays. Level the tray and sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Bake for 45 minutes in 200°C with a knob of butter on top.

Preparation time: 1 hour

Cooking time: 50 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6 as a side

Swede (or Rutabaga) Casserole

Ingredients

  • 650 g swede, diced
  • 120 ml cream
  • 40 ml breadcrumbs (plus extra for topping)
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of white pepper
  • butter

Method

  1. Boil your swede and mash when ready
  2. Add other ingredients and mix well
  3. (Sometimes swedes (and Swedes) can be a bit bitter, if so add more syrup)
  4. Divide into two buttered tin foil trays. This should make two 400 gram trays
  5. Level the tray and sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Bake for 45 minutes in 200°C with a knob of butter on top.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8 as a side

Vegetarian Mushroom Pâté

Want that special vegetarian friend or wife to love you even more? Try this excellently simple and pretty quick mushroom pâté. You can serve it hot straight off the pan or keep it in the fridge for a fair few days. Excellent on top of some toasted French bread.

Vegetarian Mushroom Pâté

Ingredients

  • 150 g oyster mushrooms
  • 150 g button mushrooms
  • Basil
  • 3 Spring onions
  • 2 shallots
  • Garlic
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Coarse mustard

Method

  1. Fry chopped mushrooms, spring onion, garlic and shallots in a bit of butter and on low heat until they stop giving moisture. Be careful not to let them get brown.
  2. Half way through above, add basil, thyme and seasoning.
  3. Mix in mustard and sour cream.
  4. Take off the heat after about a minute or so
  5. Divide into ramekins and garnish with a sprig of thyme.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 4

Near Perfect Pizza Dough

Every pizza has to start with the dough. No dough, no pizza. Obviously.

I started making pizzas about year and a bit ago. With ‘started’, I mean that before that I’d only make them occasionally, couple of times a year. It turns out that there’s a lot to it if you’re critical of what you’re doing and aim to make better pizzas than 95 % of pizzerias offer.

Back home, in Finland, a home made pizza used to consist of flattened bread dough with ketchup working as the sauce and fried mince, tinned pineapple, tomatoes and mild edam as toppings. That’s how my grandma used to make them. Today, I think people also have some olives on top.

I know that’s a bit harsh and that’s not everybody’s experience of home pizzas but I think that experience is what made me try harder. Try to make pizzas that actually kick ass and you would hesitate ordering another pizza in a restaurant as you know that you can make better ones at home. It’s a bit like with steaks. Most restaurant steaks are pretty average as it’s not hard to learn how to grill ‘the perfect steak’.

This is why we’re starting Month of Pizza with the dough. With a bit of trial and error, anyone can make a kick-ass pizza dough that’ll rival anything you can whack ten quid on in a restaurant.

Pizza Dough

Ingredients

  • 500 g of Type ’00’ flour – available in most supermarkets. Use strong bread flour if not available
  • 300 ml luke warm water
  • 8 g dry yeast
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 25 g (2 tbsp) caster sugar
  • 10 g (2 tsp) salt

Method

  1. Mix salt into the flour in a large mixing bowl
  2. Mix water, yeast, sugar and 2/3 of oil together in another bowl
  3. Make a well in the middle of the flour, pour water in that and let it sit for 10-20 minutes until the yeast start working
  4. If you’re using a kitchen mixer such as a Kenwood Chef, mix the dough on low speed for 10 minutes.
  5. While the doing is being mixed, add remaining oil to keep dough from sticking too much.
  6. If you’re hand kneeding, mix the dough by hand in the bowl and pour on your kitchen surface. You should kneed the dough for about 15 minutes and no less to ensure right kind of consistency. There’s plenty of good videos on YouTube to show you how.
  7. (personally, I really like my 1970s Kenwood Chef I got of off eBay.)

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 1 hour(s)

Number of servings (yield): 3-6

Proving

If there’s two important stages to making dough, first is kneeding, second is proving. When the dough is rising, yeast eats and burns sugars from the flour to alcohol and carbon dioxide. The CO2 expands the dough and stretches the gluten, thus making it stronger.

There’s two proving methods I use. First one is quick, just leave it in a mixing bowl and let it rise , covered with cling film or towel, for an hour or until it’s doubled in size.

Cold proving pizza dough

The second is to divide the dough into smaller portions, about four or five, place them into containers with enough room to grow and put them in the fridge. This is called cold proving. I’m not sure of the science and and mechanics of it but it seems like the slow pace the fought tales to rise, it adds to the texture and flavour of the final product. You’ll need to leave it in the fridge for at least 12-24 hours. Many pizzerias that use this method leave the dough to cold proof for up 36-48 hours.

Yes, it’s a lot slow process but results are worth it.

If kneading and rising is done properly, you’ll end up with a dough that can be stretched till it resembles graphene in its thinness. (Your mileage may and will vary.)

Once the dough’s been proven, you need to knock it back. In other words, drop it back on the surface and gently kneed it until most of the air bubbles are gone.

Now it’s ready for rolling, pushing, tossing and stretching into the best pizzas you’ve ever made. These days, I use this amount of dough to make four pizzas but it’s possible to carefully roll up to 8 very very thin pizzas out of this. Once rolled to size, you can leave the base to rest for 10-15 minutes until adding toppings and baking.

If you do end up using this method, please leave a comment and perhaps even a photo on our Facebook page or below!

Lemon Drizzle Cake with Gin

This is one the cakes made for Oskari’s naming party. I’ve since made it a few more times and done some changes to the original recipe. As with most things in life, you can make them better by adding a drop of alcohol. With the lemon drizzle cake, the natural companion is gin.

To prepare the lemon gin liqueur, squeeze juice from one lemon in to a medium size jam jar, mix in 50 g sugar and place to halves of lemon on top. Then fill up to the brim with gin. Close the lid, shake for 30 seconds and leave for at least a week. This will make for an incredibly bitter sweet ‘juice’ to use for moistening the cake.

Now, on with rest of the recipe.

Kristian’s Lemon Drizzle with Lemon Gin Liqueur

Ingredients

  • 225 g soft butter
  • 255 g sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 255 g self raising (or plain flour and 2 tsp baking powder)
  • grated zest of a lemon

Topping and moisten

  • grated zest of a lemon
  • 15-20 cl lemon gin liqueur
  • 50 g sugar
  • 15 cl icing sugar

Method

  1. Pre heat your oven to 180°C
  2. Mix the sugar and butter until fluffy and creamy.
  3. Continue mixing while adding eggs one at a time.
  4. Add lemon zest and then flour.
  5. Pour and spread dough into a cake tin and bake for 40-55 minutes depending on how deep the tin is. Use skewer to find out if it’s ready.
  6. Take the cake out of the tin and on to a cake base
  7. After about ten minutes out of the oven, use a dessert spoon to slowly infuse the cake with the lemon gin mixed with 50 g of sugar.
  8. Make a runny icing and mix in the remaining lemon zest
  9. Generously, spread the icing over the cake while letting it drip over the edges

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: up to 50 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 12-16