Arctic Iced Coffee

Arctic Iced Coffee :: The Scandinavian Baker

Whoever said drinking hot drinks when it’s hot outside cools you down was an idiot. I’m looking at you Grandma!

I’ve heard this tale many times but am yet to accept that it actually works – and there’s nothing quite as unappealing as getting my sweat moustache on before breakfast.

Arctic Iced Coffee :: The Scandinavian Baker

So I’m taking back iced coffee. Forget the TV ads of twenty-something blokes in SUVs, fighter jets or tornadoes slamming-it-down-fast and think of a perfectly balanced espresso with a refreshing Scandinavian twist.

It’s less like a slap i the face and more like a gentle caress… from a snowman/lady.

Arctic Iced Coffee :: The Scandinavian Baker

The Pantry
One double shot of espresso
250 mls of cold, full-fat milk (see if you can’t get that one with the cream still on top – yum!)
1/4 of a teaspoon of cinnamon, plus extra for dusting
3-4 crushed cardamom seeds
Sugar to taste
5-6 cubes of ice
Cocktail shaker, (and signature shaking technique)

Espresso :: The Scandinavian Baker

Gently crush the cardamom seeds with the back of a spoon and brush the crumbs into a jug. Add the cinnamon and sugar. Pour over the freshly made espresso and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the cold milk and transfer to a waiting cocktail shaker filled with the ice cubes.

Shake until the shaker becomes too cold and frosted to hold. Pour into a tall glass and dust with a few shakes of cinnamon.

Shake it :: The Scandinavian Baker

See you later boiling-hot coffee on an equally hot Summer’s morning and hello frosty new friend!

For an added delight, place a scoop of your favourite vanilla or coffee flavoured ice cream in the bottom of the glass and pour over the chilled coffee. Take that, day!

Arctic Iced Coffee :: The Scandinavian Baker

Most Delicious, Sir

Lemon & Mint :: The Scandinavian Baker

The start of a new year is the perfect time to look back at some of the favourite recipes here at The Scandinavian Baker.

Finnish Cinnamon and Cardamom Buns
The ultimate in Finnish baking.

There’s nothing quite like a slapped ear in Finland, I’ll be honest. They’re everywhere. Old people with slapped ears, children, students, and tourists… the Finns are dishing them out to anyone who asks and some who don’t. It’s a national pass time.

Korvapuusti :: The Scandinavian Baker

Jam drops
The perfect go-to recipe for a sweet fix.

Preserving food is big in Scandinavia, and it’s easy to understand why. The seemingly endless frost-gripped winter, devoid of light and anything fresh in the garden lends itself to storing delicious preserves made from the sun-drenched summer harvest and roadside foraging.

Jam Drops :: The Scandinavian Baker

Danish Pastries
My all time favourite treat.

Danish pastries are my weakness. I love them, always have. My Dad and I used to frequent our local Hot Bread store on Saturday mornings to buy said hot bread; usually a Vienna loaf or similar, scorched a little on the crust. We’d eat it piled high with paper thin slices of pastrami from the deli next door and I couldn’t imagine a better lunch at the age of eight. Pastries would also be bought for afternoon tea (or the ride home) – always apricot for me.

Sour Cherry Danish Pastry :: The Scandinavian Baker

Finnish Oven Pancake
No more flipping for you with this take on a breakfast favourite.

If you love pancakes for breakfast, but can’t be bothered with the pouring, flipping and repeating while your hungry relatives eye-ball you from the table, then this one is for you. It’s a one pan wonder and while its form may be unfamiliar it packs a punch of heart-warming pancakey comfort food flavour that will have you adding it to your regular repertoire.

Finnish Baked Pancake :: The Scandinavian Baker

Thanks so much for reading, sharing, baking and eating your way through the blog this last year.
Here’s to another year ahead of delicious and surprising treats from far off lands and those a little closer to home.

Enjoy, TSB x

Bowls :: The Scandinavian Baker

Homage Orange Breakfast Muffin

Homage Orange Breakfast Muffins :: The Scandinavian Baker

I’ve always been the kind of baker who’s drawn to the hand-made, rough-around-the-edges, but still thoughtfully crafted pudding, cake or loaf. For me, it’s the story behind the recipe that drives me to recreate much-loved recipes in my own kitchen and, in turn, add my own few sentences to the chapter.

When it comes to more-famous-than-me type bakers and cooks, I adore those who can slap together a delightful treat without too much pomp and don’t shy away from licking the beaters fervently while no one else is looking – or if you are the ever-delightful Nigella Lawson, while the whole world is looking and falling in love with you just a little bit more – swoon.

Homage Orange Breakfast Muffins :: The Scandinavian Baker

Plus, let’s be honest – who doesn’t love a super easy, no fuss recipe that’s sure to please? Especially when you can eat cupcakes for breakfast – (everybody cheer) – alright they’re muffins and there is certainly a difference, but let’s not beat around the bush. It’s the Christmas season, friends are inviting themselves around for brunch like nobody’s business – so let them eat cake.

Fresh Oranges :: The Scandinavian Baker

So, today I pay homage to a great influence of mine – Nigella Lawson. This is her recipe that has got me out of tight nothing-to-serve spots on more than a few occasions and satisfied cravings for cake at breakfast time on a few other occasions.  Ms Lawson, to you I tip my hat.

The Homage Orange Breakfast Muffin

Homage Orange Breakfast Muffins :: The Scandinavian Baker

The Pantry

75g unsalted butter – melted and cooled
250 grams of self-raising flour
25 grams of ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
75 grams golden caster sugar
Zest of 1 orange
100ml freshly squeezed orange juice
100ml full-fat milk
1 egg
12 hole muffin tray lined with paper cases

Orange Zest :: The Scandinavian Baker

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Combine the flour, ground almonds, bicarb, baking powder, sugar and orange zest in a large bowl. Combine the orange juice and milk into a jug and whisk in the egg and the cooled, melted butter. This mixture will split and look curdled as the milk and orange juice combine, but never fear, this concoction has extraordinary powers.

Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing with a fork as you go. The batter will be beautifully. Mix until only barely combined and never over mix – the odd lump is perfectly fine.

Homage Orange Breakfast Muffins :: The Scandinavian Baker

Enter the much talked about powers – When I first made this recipe I marvelled at the instant reaction between the acid from the juice and the raising agents. In the time takes to set out your muffin cases the mixture begins to transform into a cloud-like fluffy delight.

Spoon out the mixture equally into the muffin cases and cook for 18-20 minutes until lightly golden. Remove, in their paper cases, to a wire rack and let cool slightly (but not completely) before devouring – with butter, or clotted cream, or jam or a little of each. Makes 12

Homage Orange Breakfast Muffins :: The Scandinavian Baker

 

Recipe adapted from Nigella Bites, by Nigella Lawson

 

You had me at Swedish Apple Dumpling Cake

Swedish Apple Dumpling Cake :: The Scandinavian Baker

One word fills me with joy when it comes to reading a menu or recipe book – dumpling. Sweet, savoury – it doesn’t matter; dumpling is king.

This is a recipe I love, adapted from Beatrice Ojakangas’s ultimate guide to all things Scandinavian and baked.  It’s a cross between a cake and a desert, with a texture not dissimilar to the steamed puddings I loved as a child; and still whip up on a cold night when nothing else but the dense, comforting embrace of a pudding will do.

Swedish Apple Dumpling Cake :: The Scandinavian Baker

Originally designed to be baked in a square unassuming cake tin and served in generous chunks, I prefer to lift it the next level and present it as an upside down cake that will definitely impress your afternoon tea guests. But by all means – go where the afternoon takes you.

Swedish apple dumpling cake or Appelkäka

Ingredients for Swedish Apple Dumpling Cake :: The Scandinavian Baker

The Pantry

5 medium, tart cooking apples, peeled and halved (I chose Pink Lady, originally an Australian cultivar grown as a cross between a Lady William and a Golden Delicious)
10 walnut halves
1/2 cup of sugar
2 cups of water
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

Vanilla wafer crumbs, or fine dry breadcrumbs – I used Panko crumbs in a pinch.
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup of softened butter
2/3 cup of caster sugar
1/2 cup of ground almonds
2/3 cup of plain flour
2 of teaspoons lemon juice

Walnuts :: The Scandinavian Baker

The Icing
1/2 cup of icing sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons single cream
1 teaspoon almond extract

Peel and cut apples into halves lengthwise. Cut off the core and stem ends and scoop out the seeds using a melon baller.

In a saucepan, combine the 1/2 of cup sugar, water, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and the apples. Bring to a boil, lower heat to simmering, and cook 8 minutes until the apples are just barely tender. Be careful not to overcook, as some apples will suddenly transform from hard to collapsed in seconds.

Swedish Apple Dumpling Cake :: The Scandinavian Baker

Preheat oven to 180C.

Butter a 20 cm round spring form cake pan and dust it heavily the vanilla wafer crumbs, or breadcrumbs.

Drain the apples and place them with their cut sides down into the cake pan, carefully placing a walnut half underneath each hollow.

Separate the eggs and, with a hand mixer, beat the whites until stiff. Set aside.

In another bowl cream the butter and 2/3 cup of sugar. Add the egg yolks, ground almonds, flour, and 2 teaspoons lemon juice. Mixture will be stiff. Blend in the egg whites gently to maintain the lift until well combined.

Spread mixture over the apples in the pan. Bake for 30 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and mix the icing ingredients. If you following the upside down method, allow the cake to cool slightly and gently release from the cake tin. Place a place over the top of the cake and flip to reveal the apple halves underneath. Drizzle the hot cake with the icing and arrange the lavender flowers.  If not, leave the cake in the square tin and drizzle with the icing – serve straight from the pan.

Swedish Apple Dumpling Cake :: The Scandinavian Baker

This cake is delicious served warm with some thick cream on the side and a piping hot pot of tea.

Enjoy.

Pink Lady Apples :: The Scandinavian Baker

Everybody Loves a Doughnut

IMG_8308

Everybody loves a doughnut. And you just have to love something called a Munkki! These delights are one of the first things I seek out on a trip back to Finland. Sweet but not cloying, moist and light with the familiar Finnish bite from cardamom – an absolutely perfect adaptation of the fair-ground-hot cinnamon doughnut we loved as children; and still love today.

I admit I’m not a big deep fryer. I’ve always been a little nervous around the open flame of the stove at HQ combined with large pots of highly flammable liquids. I’ve often brushed off the occasional thought of buying a dedicated bench top deep fryer – own it and they will fry kind of mentality – you know what I mean. So I’ve not dabbled too much in the way of deep-fried delights.

To my surprise these treats have gone some way towards allaying my fears of the home-fry. In fact it was quite enjoyable to watch the little fluffy balls of dough burnish up to a delightful gold. Plus, it brought us one step closer to having bona fide munkki within reach sans 24 hour plane flight. Win!

Ingredients for Munkki :: The Scandinavian Baker 

The Pantry

14 grams of dried yeast (25 grams if using fresh yeast)

1 egg, lightly beaten

500 ml of warmed milk

250 grams of caster sugar

2 teaspoons of ground cardamom

1 teaspoon of cardamom seeds roughly crushed

100 grams of melted butter

800 grams of plain flour

250 grams of quark (substitute with smooth ricotta if quark is hard to locate)

2 heaped teaspoons of sea salt flakes

1.5 – 2 litres of canola oil for frying

Coating

200grams of caster sugar

1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon

Makes approximately 50. If you don’t need 50 doughnuts, (can’t imagine why) then halve the recipe, but keep the whole egg.

Munkki :: The Scandinavian Baker

Rahka Munkki

In your mixer, with the dough hook attached, combine the yeast, milk, sugar, salt and cardamom. Combine the quark, egg and melted butter and add to the mixture. Sift the flour and add to the mix in 4 – 5 lots allowing the flour to incorporate between each addition. Beat for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. The dough will be very soft.

Allow to rise for 30 minutes. If it’s a cool day, below 20 degrees, give the dough another 15 minutes.

Once risen, take tablespoon-fulls of the dough and roll into small balls. The task is made much easier by coating the spoon and your hands with a little oil. Leave the balls to rise for another 15 minutes.

Munkki :: The Scandinavian Baker

Heat your oil to 180 degrees Celsius. Test the heat by dropping some stale bread into the oil. If the bread crisps up nicely, without scorching to a crisp, you’re ready to fry!

Gently place each ball into the oil and allow to cook, part way through a gentle nudge will flip them over to cook on the other side. Once ready remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and allow to drain for a moment. Immediately place the doughnuts into a mixture of sugar and cinnamon and coat well. Move to a plate to cool. And repeat.

The result is something you have to taste to believe. The addition of the quark gives these doughnuts a moist springiness that leaves you wanting more.

Freshly ground cardamom :: The Scandinavian Baker

What more could you want form a doughnut; except another doughnut, or possibly this totally delicious variation.

Munkki filled with orange curd :: The Scandinavian Baker

Blood Orange Curd Filled Doughnuts

Proceed as above with the Munkki. Once cooked, don’t roll in the sugar and allow to cool completely.

The Pantry

 4 egg yolks

75 grams of unsalted butter

1/2 cup of caster sugar

Juice and rind of three blood oranges (100 mls)

Icing sugar for dusting

Combine the sugar, egg yolks, butter and the juice and rind of the blood oranges in a small saucepan. Stir over a gentle heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is combined. Bring to a simmer while stirring and cook for a few minutes until think and the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. And there you have it. Allow the curd to cool and transfer to a piping bag.

Back to the Munkki. Using a piping bag with a small nozzle attachment pipe a small amount of the curd into each doughnut.

Roll each doughnut in icing sugar and prepare to be mobbed by hungry fans desperate to have just one more.

Hauki print by Marimekko :: The Scandinavian Baker

The Taste of Picnics: Coconut and Raspberry Jam (Iced VoVo) Cake

Iced VoVo Cake :: The Scandinavian Baker

When you’re travelling abroad the strangest things pop into your mind. A fragrance or flavour sends you right back home on a one way ticket to nostalgia-ville without a moment’s warning.

I’m a big fan of taking home grown treats with me as travel presents; and biscuits from my childhood weigh heavily in my suitcase.

Enter the Iced VoVo. Tooth-achingly sweet pink-fluffy-delight that still stands proud amongst the increasing competition of the biscuit aisle. What better treat to combine into cake!?

Iced Vo Vo :: The Scandinavian Baker

Coconut and Raspberry Jam (Iced VoVo) Cake.

The greatest thing about a French butter cake is its diversity and ability to hold its own against any flavouring you’d care to throw at it. Dense, yellow and buttery it’s a favourite staple for me and always goes down a treat at a picnic.

This version combines punchy raspberry jam, coconut, malted milk and pink in a homage to the much loved but rarely admitted to Iced VoVo – a total stand-out Aussie classic.

The Pantry

225 grams of unsalted butter

350 grams of golden caster sugar

350 grams of plain flour, sifted

1 tablespoon of baking powder

225 ml of milk

2 tablespoons of malted milk powder

4 large eggs

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/2 a cup of raspberry jam

Shredded coconut

Iced Vo Vo :: The Scandinavian Baker

Preheat oven to 180c.

Grease and line three 20 cm tins. (Definitely take the extra time to line the tins for this one)

Combine the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until very pale and light. Reduce the speed of the beater and add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each. If the mixture looks like it is splitting add a little flour to help bind it back together. Sift together the salt, flour and baking powder and add to the batter alternately with the milk. Once combined add the vanilla and mix well.

Spilt the batter between you cake tins and smooth the tops. Bake for 20-25 minutes. You may need to adjust the time if you are using on y two cake tins. The cakes are ready when risen and golden and slightly shrinking away from the edges of the tin.

Allow the cakes to cool for 15 minutes in their tins before removing. In the meantime prepare the icing.

Iced VoVo Cake :: The Scandinavian Baker

Icing

500 grams of icing mixture (mixture, not pure sugar for this one – trust me)

250 grams of unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

Two teaspoons of salt flakes (not a typo – it’s the salt that really brings this together)

2-3 drops of pink food colouring

Place the butter and salt into a mixing bowl and beat on a slow speed until smooth. Gradually add the sifted icing mixture, a quarter at a time until combined. Increase the speed and beat on medium high for 5-7 minutes until very pale and fluffy. Add the food colouring one drop at a time until you have the desired colour. I use food grade gel colours. The result is intense and they won’t water down the mixture too much like liquid food colour can.

Once ready place the first cake layer on to a cake stand, securing with a dab of icing beneath to stop it from slipping. Spread a generous layer of the jam on top of the first cake. Place the next layer on top and repeat. To avoid huge chunks of cake and crumbs coming loose when you ice it, spread a thin layer of icing on the cake and place in the fridge for half an hour to set. This creates a base coat to better take the icing.

Once set slather with the rest of the pink fluffy icing, smoothing the top and sides. Once complete gently coat with the coconut and return to the fridge for half an hour to set.

When you’re ready to take that trip down memory lane and dive in to the nostalgia of an Iced VoVo, take out of the fridge and serve at room temperature. And try to resist more than one slice.

Iced VoVo Cake :: The Scandinavian Baker

A Moment’s Notice and Cherry Clafoutis

Sour Cherry Clafoutis :: The Scandinavian Baker

There comes a time in the evenings, particularly on the cooler nights where your mind drifts to thoughts of warm baked puddings – but it’s a Wednesday and already too late to contemplate pie.

We’ve all been there. I’m there often.

When time is short and only pie will do, there’s no need to compromise with this delightful French classic that will make you feel at home – even if you’re in a far off land.

Fancy in name and connotations, this desert will impress your pyjama clad companion and satisfy the urge for pudding with one bite. The best part is, it’s made from on-hand ingredients you’re likely to have just lying about in the pantry. (I mean who doesn’t have sour cherries in the pantry – right?) Win!

Sour Cherries :: The Scandinavian Baker

Sour Cherry Clafoutis

The Pantry

1 jar of sour cherries, drained

6 eggs

250 ml of milk

100 grams of flour

Pinch of salt flakes

75 grams of caster or brown sugar (I used panela because it was handy and gives a great caramel flavour)

Butter to grease a 23cm pie dish – don’t be shy, this is pudding, not diet food.

Sour Cherry Clafoutis :: The Scandinavian Baker

Preheat your oven to 200c.

Combine the flour, salt, eggs and a little milk in a large bowl and gently mix until combined. Gradually add more milk and whisk well until very smooth – the consistency of crepe batter. Set aside.

Generously grease your pie dish – and I mean generously, leaving a few thick smears of the butter here and there.

Pour the drained cherries into the pie dish and cover with the batter. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the batter and place into the oven.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until risen, and golden. The custard should be firm with a slight wobble in the middle. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving with a little too much vanilla custard or thick double cream.

Retire back to the sofa and flick on the next episode of Orange is the New Black and be grateful you can whip up a deeply satisfying pudding with a moment’s notice.

Note: This recipe is very versatile and can be combined with a variety of different fruit. Dried apricots make for a surprising treat. Simply soak a cup full of dried apricots in freshly boiled water for an hour and proceed as above for a fresh take on a baked apricot Danish – sans pastry.

Sour Cherry Clafoutis :: The Scandinavian Baker

Traversing the Spice Routes

 

It’s been a whirlwind tour for us so far.

From the arctic north in Finland to the hot summer sun of Istanbul – across to the Swiss/German borderlands and back to the capital of Scandinavian food, Stockholm; all the while searching for the best ingredients, recipes and inspiration to share on The Scandinavian Baker.

Freshly baked bread :: The Scandinavian Baker

We’ve been lucky to share in the preparation of food for celebrations and long-anticipated reunions with old friends and family. And even luckier to sample the extraordinary flavours of five destinations so far.

From traditional home-made baking and contemporary takes on family favourites to vibrant street food this tour has so far proved a student-exchange for the tastebuds.

While I’m tasting rather than baking, please share the journey with me and the Finn and visit me on the official The Scandinavian Baker Facebook page and Instagram feed #thescandinavianbakerabroad to stay up to date on our fresh and delicious discoveries along the way.

Sweet Turkish street food :: The Scandinavian Baker Sweet Turkish street food :: The Scandinavian Baker Fresh redcurrants :: The Scandinavian Baker Plums for Zwetchgenkuchen :: The Scandinavian Baker

And stay tuned for The Scandinavian Baker’s food lover’s guide to Stockholm. Oh the wonders they will see…

The Baker Abroad – Scandinavian Summer

Finnair in Flight :: The Scandinavian Baker
We’re on the road. We’ve packed up the rolling pin and apron and are travelling around Scandinavia soaking in as much of the midnight sun as we can. While there hasn’t been much time for baking there has been plenty of time for tasting the traditional and delicious baked treats that are served up from cafes to kitchen tables right across Finland.
Korvapuusti :: The Scandinavian Baker

 

First stop Helsinki, one of my all-time favourite cities. From the moment you step off the plane, with its accents of Marimekko design, all number of Finnish delights are waiting.

 

Helsinki :: The Scandinavian Baker

 

You cant beat the tastes and smells of the market stalls overloaded with fresh berries, open air grills serving hot smoked salmon and tiny buttery summer potatoes and bakers windows filled with more varieties of bread and pastries than you can count. It’s a vibrant city that celebrates its local flavours, all with a dash of bright Marimekko colour.

 

Marimekko & Unikko :: The Scandinavian Baker

 

This past week marked Midsummer and we celebrated in Oulu (the capital of northern Scandinavia) with a birthday, surprise wedding and of course some delicious baking under the endless light of the midnight sun. One of the things I love most about returning to Finland during the holiday season is the crowded houses filled with family, stories and so much food. All this paired with late evening walks in the forest and foraging for berries and birch leaves for the sauna. We were treated with home-made pulla, karjalan piiraka and the show-stopper, Summer Sitruuna Tortuu.

 

Summer Sitruuna Torttu :: The Scandinavian Baker

 

When it’s time to celebrate in Finland, nothing beats the sponge cake. Often overlooked for something showier, it’s the perfect base to showcase the flavours of summer on a lighter than air cake. This particular version has been making an appearance and family gatherings and my brother-in-law’s birthday for years and holds a special place in the hearts of the family, and now in mine. It’s beautiful in it’s simplicity, dressed with creamy lemon icing, praline and foraged summer flowers.

 

The Pantry

3 large eggs

75 grams of caster sugar

3 heaped tablespoons of flour, sifted

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

 

The rules are simple with a sponge. Treat it kindly and it will reward you. Also resist the urge to open the oven to peek at your creation. The eggs are the raising agent, but if you’re worried you can add a teaspoon of baking powder to help it along.

 

The Icing

150grams of quark or cream cheese

75 grams of icing sugar (or more to taste)

Rind of one lemon 1 tablespoon of lemon juice

 

The Praline

75 grams of caster sugar

35 grams of toasted hazelnuts

 

Summer Sitruuna Tortuu

Preheat the over to 175c. Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together until very light and fluffy, and considerably larger. The batter should be quite thick.

Gently fold in the sifted flour and baking powder (if using) by hand with a whisk or spatula, trying to keep as much air in as possible. Gently scrape the mixture into a greased and lined cake tin and bake 30-40 minutes. You can safely check at 30 minutes, but not before or the cake will fall. Once cooked and cooled slightly, remove to a rack to cool completely before icing.

 

The Icing

Beat the quark, lemon zest and juice and sugar together until light and creamy.

This cake is meant to be served in layers. Gently slice the cake horizontally into the three layers and spread the icing mixture onto each layer, reserving half for the top and sides.

 

The Praline

Sprinkle the nuts onto a lined baking tray. Gently heat the sugar in a heavy saucepan until it melts and begins to turn a deep golden colour. Avoid stirring too much as crystals will form. Once golden like the midnight sun pour over the nuts and allow to cool. Once cool and hard, shatter the praline and sprinkle over the iced cake.

 

Decorate with foraged edible flowers, we used viola petals, and it’s ready to kick off the celebration.

Happy birthday, happy holidays and Hauska Juhanuusta!

 

Summer flowers :: The Scandinavian Baker

The Baker & Merchant

Poppy Seed Celebration Cake :: The Scandinavian Baker

A year or so ago, months of dreaming, planning, talking and tinkering all came together and  a bunch of us set out to make our mark in the big wide world with the help of the interwebs.

It’s been an amazing romp so far, so what better reason to throw a party and celebrate The Scandinavian Baker’s first birthday (hooray) and the anniversary of the local hand-made homewares venture Maker & Merchant. Happy birthday team! It’s The Baker & Merchant mash-up. (Sheer brilliance)

Maker and Merchant

It’s also the 50th anniversary of the iconic and instantly recognisable Finnish design classic, Marimekko’s Unikko – the poppy flower.

In 1964, the story goes that Marimekko designer Maija Isola defied founder Armi Ratia’s decree that never again would Marimekko produce a floral pattern. (That went well) On the back of that red- rag-to-a-bull moment Isola gave life to the design that would forever define the style of the company by painting the famous Unikko pattern in bold pink, red and black on white. The pattern has been in production ever since. What a way to arrive!

Marimekko Unikko Fabric :: The Scandinavian Baker

So it’s been a month of celebrations with even more to come. With a few milestones reached and in honour of the poppy it’s the perfect time to bake a celebration cake that’s close to my heart and pair it with a drink that tastes like it’s your birthday!

So make yourself comfy on your Maker and Merchant cushion and give three cheers to captains of industry!

Poppy Seed Celebration Cake

When I was a child there were no Women’s Weekly birthday cakes in the shape of a glistening pool or furry yellow bear for me. My Mum was never the willing baker; driven more by necessity than desire. And while at times I longed for the brightly-coloured butter-cream-whipped delights that graced my friends’ birthday parties, nothing ever beat the Poppy Seed Cake sitting pride of place at the centre of the table – wide-eyed children waiting patiently for a slice twice the size of anyone’s hand.

Blue Poppy Seeds :: The Scandinavian Baker

I cut my bakers teeth on this cake and it’s been there for every celebration throughout my life. It’s travelled with me and been baked in kitchens far and wide. It’s comfort, fond memory and tradition rolled into one extraordinary looking cake.  Now the blackened tin from my childhood (strictly reserved for this cake only) and the recipe committed to memory lives with me and I couldn’t be happier.

The Pantry

2 cups of raw sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups of canola oil
3 cups plain flour
1½ teaspoons of bi-carbonate of soda
1 can of evaporated milk (375 mls)
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
Poppy seeds (approx  ¾ cups)
One Angel Food cake tin with the narrow spout in the centre. (This part is essential. The cake won’t work in a regular round cake tin.)

Ingredients for Poppy Seed Celebration Cake :: The Scandinavian Baker

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Into your mixer place the sugar and eggs and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes until well combined, lighter and doubled in size. Gradually add the oil in a steady stream and beat until well blended.

Sift the flour and bi-carb soda together. Add to the mixture, alternating with the evaporated milk, (at least four intervals). Folding together gently with a wooden spoon until combined.  Add the vanilla essence and mix in gently.

Add the poppy seeds, and mix well into the mixture until well dispersed.

Poppy Seed Celebration Cake :: The Scandinavian Baker

Pour into a well greased Angel Food tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 45- 60 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. The cake may burn a little on the top, but this is characteristic of the style of cake.

Allow to cool for about 15- 20 minutes in the tin and then remove.

This cake is spectacular to look at, and best made the day before. Something magical happens when it rests overnight, transforming the texture and flavour from ordinary cake into a rich and surprising delight. It will keep for up to one week, but that’s unlikely. It’s hard to stop at a single piece, so be warned.

Poppy Seed Celebration Cake :: The Scandinavian Baker

While you’re patiently waiting for the cake to bake, why not start the party early with this delightful treat; dedicated to the lovely ladies celebrating over at Maker and Merchant.

Pomegranate and Basil Fizz (makes 1 – although that seems mean, so make enough for at least 2)

Pomegranate and Basil Fizz

The Pantry

Half a fresh pomegranate
2 nips of gin or vodka
1 tablespoon of simple syrup (or a teaspoon golden syrup if you’re too lazy to make the simple syrup yourself)
5 purple basil leaves (although green will also work splendidly)
Dash of soda water
Squeeze of lemon
Ice

Pomegranate & Basil Fizz

Cut the pomegranate in half and over a bowl using the end of a wooden spoon beat the skin to remove the seeds. With any luck the ruby jewels will fall into the bowl and not all over the floor.

If you’re making the simple syrup, place equal amounts of sugar and water into a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar is dissolved. Voila! Keep it on hand in the fridge for instant cheer.

Place the seeds, ice, basil, gin, lemon juice and syrup into a cocktail shaker (Put on the soundtrack to 80s film classic Cocktail) Shake it like a Polaroid picture and you’re ready. Pour in to a glass of your choice and top with a dash of soda water, a slice of lemon and a couple of extra basil leaves.

Raise a glass and toast your achievements. Because everyone has something to celebrate.

Home Grown Pomegranate :: The Scandinavian Baker