May 21, 2010


little niece had her birthday last weekend. i had promised to bake "something" for the party. here is what i started with, i think there were 5 eggs left when i was done...

i did the baking at my parents' apartment as my brother had house guests for the weekend. my mom uses the kitchen at the apartment next to never as they spent most of their time at the cottage. knowing this, i should have prepared better, like bring cup-measures and the likes with me...i'm no math-genius and converting american recipes and cups to deciliters is very exhausting, and you never get it right anyway.

there is a little shop in helsinki that i've been avoiding on purpose, it's called bake and party. they have almost anything you might need when baking. i wasn't going to buy "anything" but then...well, you all know how that happens. i got this, among other things, wilton cake pan that i thought would make a lovely cake for little niece's birthday

i rarely use this pan spray but this time it seemed like a good idea to do it...more on that later

strawberry cake

now, my sister-in-law had a recipe for a strawberry can find it here. i had doubts as to would that recipe be enough for the pan and decided to double it...besides mom had said that the pan would take an 8-egg batter.

i'm not going to bother you with all the messy details my oh-so-brilliant ideas. let's just say they didn't exactly work wonders on the first try at this cake. however, i didn't have to call the fire brigade and that's always a good sign, isn't it?

this baby here is the second try at the recipe, isn't it pretty? also, this time i used oldfashioned butter to grease the pan...

perfect, if i may say so

i thought that the filling in the recipe lacked something (taste and color). i added half a bag of blueberry-raspberry pudding-mix and got pretty pastel pink filling with berry taste, how clever of me! as i had messed up quite enough by this point, i tried to make sure that i got the filling right as it needed to settle overnight in the fridge (how fortunate that mom's fridge was almost empty).

i had to build the cake upside down in the pan as the recipe calls for using a springform pan. the whole pan was clingfilmed and placed in the frigde with a little payer to saint honorius

then on the big day, ta-daa! i made martha's swiss meringue buttercream and i won't tell you how much butter i needed to make enough frosting for this could have used a bit more as you can see on the next picture.

i took one third of the buttercream and crushed a handfull of dried strawberries (i happened to see them at the store and decided to try them in the frosting). they are very dry and crumble almost to powder, very handy, you get some color and taste.

now, you really don't need to take a closer look at the cake, i happen to think it looks rather cute, from a distance. it is quite obvious that i need to practice my piping

see what i meant? the sides could have used a bit more frosting. by the time this cake was all done, i had 30 mins to deliver to my brother's house (and there was still something baking in the oven) was rather hectic as i had been baking all day saturday and sunday until late afternoon...


that there is the biscotti recipe from jamer peterson's baking. i've made biscottia few times and there is always something that make me think they could be better. i wanted to try this recipe to see if the fault had been in the previous recipes or could (gasp!) it be me!

peterson's recipe called for hazelnuts and dried cranberries, i replaced those with a nut-mix

after the frist bake, looking good so far...

one of the logs sliced quite nicely, the other was all nuts and crumbles (that my dad seemed to enjoy nevertheless!)

will i bake biscotti again? hmm, i might, when it's winter, and dark and cold and you need something with your me, these just aren't very summery

ham and bell pepper rolls

saw the recipe for ham and bell pepper rolls in the latest issue of maku -magazine. decided to make a batch eventhough my sister-in-law said that she'd make another kind of savory bites for the party.

i used cream cheese with herbs instead of one with horse-radish in it, some of the gang are a bit gastronimically challenged...

minced ham, red bell peppers and parsley go on top

and then you roll it like you would when making cinnamon rolls

these got an egg-wash before baking in in 225C oven

these will most probably get another try, with a bit more cream cheese in the middle, i'm thinking of adding chili on top as well


for the last year or so everywhere you'd look you would have seen macaroons, in magazines, books, cafées. to me they are party bits and that's why i wanted to make some for little niece's party. and because they are pink, that is, if you make them pink, you could make them any color you choose.

these pictures are from the first batch when i still was a macaroon virgin and didn't know what i was doing. first mistake (or my bad...) was to choose macaroons recipe from peterson's baking, but more on that later...

half the egg whites were combined with almond flour, the other half were whipped to stiff peaks. the latter portion got some pink food coloring. the have warnings all over the place not to use too much coloring, that made a bit too cautious with, could have used quite a bit more to get the kind of pink i ws looking for

filling the pastry bag for piping the batter onto baking sheets

one thing i learned was this nifty trick to keep the parchment paper in place while piping, blob some batter between the paper and the baking sheet in the corners and paper won't move

so far peterson's recipe is working...

...but then, this is how they looked after i did everything the recipe said should be done, not pretty, not pretty at all! not sure if it was the oven (too hot) but all three sheets were off, if not too brown (macaroons shouldn't be brown!) then deflated. i was desperate.

also, by this time it was close to mid-night and i thought best to stop. the neighbours mightn't have enjoyed me using kitchen appliances at such a late hour

who else but martha to the rescue. before going to bed i had done some research and decided that the macaroon recipe in martha's baking handbook looked like it would work better than my previous attempt (martha's recipe here).

aren't these pretty? not as pink as i would have liked them to be 'cause i was still scared of the food coloring...

see, even the not-so-good ones looked better than...

...the miserable ones with peterson's recipe. these tasted kinda ok, at least the jar became empty as if my magic when i left on the counter...

some were filled with strawberry jam (not a good idea, made the macaroons wet and nasty), most were filled with the same swiss meringue buttercream that i used to frost the cake


i also baked some pulla. i used the trusty recipe on every flour package in finland. saveur magazine resently featured pulla on their pages, the recipe looks weird to me, sorry saveur, but i think your version of pulla is americanized. however, the magazine does have good instructions on how to braid the dough into a loaf (looks similar to challah).

anyways, made two different kinds, these with cinnamon & sugar

and these with vanilla pudding. my brother told me they both passed the test...(if his kids knew how pulla my brother eats when the kids are sleeping...)

shrimp asparagus tart

once i was on a roll nothing was stopping me, two hours to the party and i'm still starting something new...i must confess i cheated a bit here and used frozen pie crust that got shrimp, asparagus, minced bell pepper ('cause there was some left...)

and a mixture of 2 dl sour cream, one egg, 2 tbsp cream cheese with herbs and black pepper on top. the mixture was poured on the other fillings and topped off with grated mozzarella

this one wasn't a hit with the (gastronimically challeged) crowd so i got to take it home with me. it was so good, even cold.

i also made another tart with ham, mozzarella, tomatoes with a similar sour cream filling on (frozen) rye pie dough. this version was accepted by the above-mentioned picture of the ham version (no time, or maybe i forgot?)

by the time i got the ham tart out of the oven i had to dash to my brother's house to bring all the goodies there, barely made it in time. between the shower and changing i managed to whip up a card to the birthday girl. have a go at guessing which color we both love?

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