February 28, 2013

Tiger Cake (Marble Cake)

I had a chance to bake some traditional cakes (knowing they'd get eaten) whilst my parents were visiting us the other week. Tiger cake, as it is known in Finland, didn't used to be my favourite growing up, but I've finally discovered the joy of these simple 'coffee cakes' Finns love so much.
It's these traditional recipes I'm most fond of: basic ingredients and no fancy machinery needed.

 Tiger Cake

200g butter (organic)
160g raw caster sugar
3 eggs (large, free-range, organic)
1/4 teaspoon pure ground vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
190g plain flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons milk (full cream, organic)

1. Beat soft butter and sugar in a bowl. Add eggs beating well after each addition. 

2. Mix vanilla, baking powder and flour in a separate bowl. Sieve this mixture into the same bowl with butter/eggs/sugar and fold carefully to combine. 

3. Take 1/3 of the mixture into another bowl. Add cocoa powder and milk and stir to combine. 

4. Pour 1/3 of the white mixture into a greased cake tin, add a layer of cocoa mixture in between and top with the rest of the dough. 'Prick' the dough with a fork to create the marbling. 

5. Bake in preheated oven (175C) for about 45-50 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before serving.

February 24, 2013

Barbecued Tofu and Portobello Salad

During summer, I mainly survive on salads, fruit and other cold, light meals without even craving for anything heartier. This summer we finally bought a little barbecue for our balcony and have used it a couple of times to mix things up a bit. This marinated tofu and portobello salad is one of my favourites; it's hearty enough to suffice for a proper meal, but light enough for even a hot summer's day.

Barbecued Tofu and Portobello Salad
(serves 2-4)

350g extra-firm tofu
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon tamari
pepper, to taste

a few large portobello mushrooms, sliced
mixed salad leaves
cucumber, sliced
cherry tomatoes, halved
avocado, diced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1-2 carrots, coarsely grated

 extra-virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil, to serve
toasted sesame seeds, to serve

 1. Cut the tofu to about 1-2 cm slices and put in a shallow bowl. Mix the marinade ingredients in a separate bowl and pour over the tofu. Leave to marinade for about half an hour.

2. Prepare the rest of salad while the tofu is marinating. Barbecue (or pan-fry) the tofu first, then use the left-over marinade to brush over the mushroom slices before barbecuing. Mix tofu and mushrooms with the rest of the ingredients, drizzle with extra oil if necessary, extra pepper and scatter with toasted sesame seeds.

February 20, 2013

Karelian Pies ... and a winner!

I have been spoiled rotten for the past few days with gifts and treats from back home. My parents are in town and I have spend some quality time with them: doing DIY home-improvement with dad, baking with mum, and taking numerous coffee breaks in between. This kind of time with my parents is scarcer than hens teeth so I make sure to enjoy it while it lasts.

I told mum I had a hankering for traditional Karelian pies; those rye crusted pies filled with rice porridge and topped with a mixture of egg and butter. We decided to make them one morning and even though they mightn't be the prettiest, they were certainly as tasty as I remembered!


 Karelian Pies
(makes about 20)

300ml water
170g short-grain rice, rinsed
1 litre full-cream milk
pinch of salt

300ml water
about 250g rye flour
pinch of salt

50g butter
dash of milk
300ml water

3-4 hard-boiled eggs
100g soft butter

1. Start by making the porridge. Add water to a large pan and bring to boil. Add rice and cook for a couple of minutes. Add milk and bring to a soft boil. Let simmer for about 45 minutes. Add salt and let cool completely.

2. Combine water, salt and rye flour in a bowl. Knead lightly to make a smooth dough. Divide the dough in equal portions and flatten each portion to make a round disk. Cover the disks with cling to avoid drying. Roll one disk at a time into a thin (2-3mm thick) oval, spread a tablespoon of porridge onto the disk, then 'crinkle' the sides in the middle, using your thumb and index finger. Place the pies on baking trays lined with baking paper and bake in a preheated oven (225C) for about 15 minutes or until the tops are slightly browned.

3. Heat butter, milk and water in a saucepan. Dip each pie in the hot mixture and place in a large casserole (or similar) to soften. Use a fork to mix the eggs with soft butter and serve the pies topped with this mixture. These pies can be frozen (without the topping).

One final note: A big thank you for all those who entered the giveaway for Sarah's new book! I would have loved to give a copy for each one of you and it was simply too difficult to pick a winner just based on your comments so I ended up picking one randomly.

Congratulations Sarah! Here's her winning comment:

I really enjoyed reading your sugar-free journey and although I haven't been able to quite bite the bullet (yet!), I think this book would be a great guide and make the prospect a little less daunting. Our family has always enjoyed fresh, local and healthy food but we all have major sweet tooths, (cakes, biscuits, slices - our Achilles heal!). I think this book will prove to us that food, especially desserts, can still taste great without the white stuff, your rhubarb macaroon slice is already a regular rotation in our house. I also think quitting sugar will really help to clear my mind, recalibrate my palate and hopefully get rid of the horrible headaches I get.

Sarah, please email me your contact details at scandifoodie [at] gmail.com and I will post you the book!

February 17, 2013


Gardening, knitting, crocheting and some general house maintenance of recent.

Hope you are all enjoying your weekend!



February 14, 2013

Happy Friendship Day!

We'll be friends forever, won't we Pooh? Asked Piglet.
Even longer, answered Pooh.

(Valentine's Day is known as "ystävänpäivä" (Friend's Day/Friendship Day) in Finland.)

February 12, 2013

Laskiaispullat - Shrove Tuesday Buns

Happy Shrove Tuesday!

Shrove Tuesday (Laskiaistiistai) buns filled with jam (or marzipan) and whipped cream are a traditional treat in Finland and all over Scandinavia. These buns used to be my favourite as a child and they still taste pretty good! I love the smell of freshly baked pulla (Finnish for bun) - it always reminds me of home where mum used to bake fresh pulla on most Saturday mornings.

Wish you all a delicious Shrove Tuesday!


500ml milk (organic, full cream), heated to about 42C
50g fresh yeast or 22g (about 4 teaspoons) dry active yeast
1 egg (large, free-range, organic)
a small pinch of salt
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
160g raw caster sugar
1 tablespoon raw vanilla sugar (with pure vanilla)
about 700g-800g plain flour
200g melted, cooled butter (organic)

1 egg (free-range, organic), for brushing
pearl sugar, for sprinkling

300ml heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla sugar
raspberry jam or marzipan

* Healthier, modernised version here.

1. If using dry yeast, mix it with a tablespoon of flour and add to warm milk. Stir until dissolved. 

2. Using a wooden fork or spoon, whisk in the egg, sugar and spices. 

3. Start adding flour bit by bit, whisking well the whole time. Knead using your hand after the dough gets thicker. Add melted butter and knead well until you have a soft, smooth dough that doesn't stick to your hand. Leave to rest, covered with a tea towel, until doubled in size.

4. Bake the dough into small round buns and arrange on baking sheets lined with baking paper. Be careful not to crowd the sheets (I spread mine on four baking trays). Cover the buns with tea towels and leave to rest for a further 30 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 200-225C.

6. Just before baking, brush the buns with egg (whisked in a bowl beforehand) and sprinkle with pearl sugar. Bake the buns in the middle rack, one tray at a time. Cool on a wire rack covered with a tea towel.

7. Whip the cream until pretty thick. Flavour with vanilla sugar. Cut the top of the buns with a serrated knife and spoon jam and cream on bottom part of the buns. Top with the "lid" and enjoy. 

8. Store the remaining buns in thick freezer bags in the freezer. Please note that this amount will make about 30 buns (depending on the size you make), but the filling will only make enough for about 10 buns.

February 08, 2013

Pancake Tower

It has become something of a tradition that once (or twice) a summer I need to make my own version of the traditional, Scandinavian pancake tower. Thin, crispy edged crepes layered with thick yoghurt (or cream, if you fancy) and berries is all there is to this easy summer treat. You can make the pancakes on a frying pan, but for a truly Scandinavian effect, you would need a cast iron pan on a camp fire (or on BBQ!).

Pancake Tower

2 eggs (large, free-range, organic)
500ml milk (organic, full cream)
about 150g plain flour 
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon olive oil (or other vegetable oil)
butter, for frying

200-300ml thick yoghurt (natural, full cream, organic)
about 100g berries (fresh or thawed)
honey, to taste
1/4 teaspoon pure ground vanilla

1. Make the batter by whisking the eggs in a bowl. Add half the milk, flour salt and oil and whisk until smooth. Add rest of the milk and stir to combine. Leave to rest for half an hour.

2. Heat small amount of butter in a frying pan and fry the pancakes one by one. Let cool before layering.

3. Sweeten the yoghurt with honey and vanilla and stir in the berries leaving some for topping. Spoon the yoghurt between each pancake and top the tower with the extra berries. Enjoy immediately.

February 05, 2013

Runeberg's Torte

Happy Runeberg's Day!

Runeberg's torte are traditionally served only once a year, on Runeberg's Day, to celebrate Finland's national poet. These cakes are flavoured with almond meal and gingerbread cookies (and rum, which I didn't have) and topped with raspberry jam and icing. They are such a special treat and I was so happy to serve these to my Finnish friend visiting yesterday. What a perfect start for the new month!

Runeberg's Torte
(makes 10-12)

150g butter (organic)
150ml (about 120g) (raw) sugar
2 eggs (free-range, organic)
100ml (organic, unsweetened) apple sauce
150ml (about 100g) plain flour
100ml (about 50g) almond meal
150ml (about 90g) gingerbread crumbs
1 teaspoon baking powder

raspberry jam
60g icing sugar
1/2 tablespoon hot water

1. Beat soft butter and sugar in a bowl. Add eggs beating well after each one.

2. Add apple sauce and fold in the dry ingredients (mixed together first in a separate bowl).

3. Spoon the batter into cupcake molds and bake in 190C for about 15-20 minutes. Let cool.

4. Mix icing sugar and hot water in a bowl until you have a smooth, thick paste. Press a small dent in the middle of each cake and top with jam. Pipe a thin layer of icing sugar around the centre.


February 02, 2013

WIN a Copy of Sarah Wilson's I Quit Sugar Cookbook!

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while may remember my sugar-free journey. I was inspired by Sarah's e-book to do an 8 week program to quit sugar. 8 weeks turned into many more and although I now enjoy an occasional treat, I still don't get cravings for sweet things. Sarah's new hard-cover book is out now and I am so happy to have one of my recipes featured in this book.

I have one copy to give away and for your chance to win, simply leave a comment below telling why you should read this book.

Please note that this giveaway is available for Australian entries only. Entries close February 16. 2013

Good Luck!

To read more about my sugar-free journey, please visit these posts:

8 Sugar-Free Weeks http://scandifoodie.blogspot.com.au/2011/11/8-sugar-free-weeks-and-still-going.html

21-Day Sugar-Free Vegan Challenge

Week 1 http://scandifoodie.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/21-day-sugar-free-vegan-challenge-week.html

Week 2  http://scandifoodie.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/21-day-sugar-free-vegan-challenge-week_17.html

Week 3 http://scandifoodie.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/21-day-sugar-free-vegan-challenge-week_25.html

My Sugar-Free Journey http://scandifoodie.blogspot.com.au/2012/05/my-sugar-free-journey-giveaway.html