I have an addiction. An addiction to holiday food. It’s no secret I adore a recipe that’s made year in year out to mark a season, holiday or celebration. I’ll scour the pre-Christmas supermarket shelves for brandy custard as soon as Halloween is over and I’ll eat a hot cross bun on January 1 and feel no shame about it.
Right across Finland in late January and early February delightful pink and white iced cakes begin to appear. Stirring the national spirit and proclaiming winter is almost over! (That last bit I made up for effect, in February in Finland winter is nowhere close to being over, that’s happens in May)
The cakes are actually heralding a lovely national flag day on February 5 celebrating Johan Runeberg, national poet and wordsmith of the Finnish national anthem Maamme.
How lovely to have a cake that celebrates a poet! Nice work Finland.
Made from almonds, eggs, butter and jam, these small cakes make for a delicious companion to a hot cup of tea and rousing discussion of the Fatherland while you watch the sun set… at 1pm.
175 grams of plain flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
150 grams of golden caster sugar
200 grams of soft unsalted butter
90 grams of ground almonds
125 grams of fine fresh breadcrumbs (these can be made from day old bread)
75 ml of amaretto or other nut based liqueur.
Jam (raspberry or redcurrant)
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
In a food processor blitz the stale bread until it resembles… well, fine breadcrumbs.
In your mixer beat the eggs and sugar until ribbony, pale and thick. Pour into a bowl and set aside. Wipe out the mixer and beat the butter until creamy. Add the almond meal and bread crumbs and beat until the mixture is well combined.
Re-incorporate the eggs and sugar mixture. Once combined gently stir in the flour and baking powder.
Scrape the mixture into a smallish 12 cup muffin pan or dariole moulds if you have them (who seriously has these) and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. Test with a skewer if needed. Allow the cakes to rest in their tins until cold.
Once cool, turn the cakes out of their pans and brush liberally with the amaretto. If you don’t have this, rum works brilliantly as well.
3 tablespoons of icing sugar
1 teaspoon of water
Rose food colouring
To make the icing place the icing sugar and water and colour in a small bowl and combine. You’re after quite a stiff icing that will hold its shape and set. If it’s too wet just top up with a few extra teaspoons of icing sugar.
Pipe or dollop the icing onto the tops of the cakes. Gently place a small amount of jam in the centre of the icing and before you can sing the first rousing line of the Finnish national anthem, they’re ready.
The only thing left to do is raise your flag, and a glass to the great Johan Runeberg and toast Finland, poetry and the eating of cake!
O our land Finland, our land of birth,
sound, the golden word!
There’s not a valley, not a hill
not a water, a shore more precious
than this northern homeland
the dear land of our fathers!
This recipe is based partly on one from The Food and Cooking of Finland by Anja Hill