Thanks to Food&Wine’s November issue and Miss Elmlid’s sourdough exchange blog, I’ve decided to jump on the naturally-leavened bandwagon. I recently discovered this lovely online community of (mostly Australian) sourdough bakers and have been studying up on sourdough theory for weeks now. It’s part addict support group, part training ground for those of us not used to keeping magical baking pets alive in jars.
I baked up my first two loaves last night with mixed results, but man is it fun! Kneading dough is one of the most satisfying (and exfoliating!) things I’ve done in a while, and I’ve already been known to liken yeast and bacteria collection/cultivation to a kind of manky and exciting game of Pokemon.
We christened my yeast products over a bottle of wine last night, and my coworkers finished off one of the loaves in the blink of an eye today. The second loaf seems destined for both some hungry college girls in town and some gamer dudes at DnD game tonight.
PS. Did I mention I bought myself this flame red vintage Descoware cast iron pot for my birthday? I’m so excited! Descoware is a brand that was bought out by LeCreuset in the 70′s and is therefore… kind of the same :p Anyway, stew!
Bebe are my go-to impulse buy and guilty pleasure dessert when I’m in Finland. It’s pretty bad. I may have on occasion even taken a taxi straight from the airport to the nearest K-Supermarket to pick some up before doing anything else. One of those nostalgic and conveniently also delicious childhood relics. Continue reading
We ended up coming home with about nine pumpkins from the patch this weekend; apparently we really love Halloween in my household (I use the term “we” rather loosely, I just smile and nod). One of these pumpkins happened to be of the smaller baking variety, and I decided on a whim to make some pumpkin bread for a late-night date. Continue reading
Anyone for täytekakku? “Filled cake” in Finnish that is, the basic cream-covered jam/berry-filled layer cake for all occasions, especially for birthdays. It just happens to be my birthday this week, and this year I’m doing a little variation on the usual filled cake by making it into the traditional Swedish “Princess Cake“(you’ve probably seen these at IKEA). Really as far as I can tell (or care to tell) the only difference between Finnish cake and Swedish Princess cake is the layer of marzipan that the Swedes put over the top of the cake after it’s been frosted. I’m not a rabid fan of marzipan, so I thought I’d give it a go with some very-American chocolate fondant. Continue reading
I happen to have a weakness for well-designed, super tactile books- especially cookbooks. I think most of us graphic designers carry a soft spot in our blackened hearts for the odd well-crafted book, but I’m not sure everyone goes to such lengths for them as I. Herein comes what I like to call book hunting.
My most recent triumph was a French pastry/cake cookbook by Hidemi Sugino that I saw recipes from on Køkken69‘s blog. I think she even wrote an entry about how much she loves this book, it has extensive directions on correct technique, and some ridiculously (complicated looking) awesome recipes. Of course the entire book is in Japanese, and can only be ordered on Japanese Amazon for about $50 + international shipping, but luckily such trivialities don’t stop me.
I spent a few days trying to laboriously translate the Japanese Amazon shipping policy, until I realized Google Chrome does a pretty decent job of translating websites :p Needless to say that made things much easier(my Japanese is understandably rusty), and after about a 2 week shipping time I had my lovely new cookbook!
Of course I’ve had it for probably four months now and haven’t baked a single thing from it yet, but you know I do most things in life just for the challenge. And if it counts for anything, I did take a day at the pool to translate the introduction :p
On my vacation in Iceland I dragged my freezing ass into a bookstore in hopes of a cup of coffee, and was pleasantly surprised by their cookbook isle! I found their pricing a bit prohibitive so I didn’t buy anything, but I took some surreptitious photos so I’d remember to look them up later (ironically I still have a 5,000 Icelandic krona bill burning a hole in my pocket that would have bought like 2 of those books).
My favorite in terms of layout and overall book design was Maturinn Hennar Nönnu by Nanna Rögnvaldardottir. Who knows what that title means, buying an Icelandic cookbook may be a bit of a stretch even for me… but what the hell, I think it’s about baking.
There was also a really interesting looking set of baking books (from Britain?) that I might look up later. They had some really nice foil embossing on the covers and good layouts inside, but the recipes didn’t exactly tickle my fancy (maybe because I can read them?). Go figure.
In the states I’m Laura (pronounced “Lora”), on vacation I’m Laura (pronounced “Laura”), and on vacation in the countryside I’m just “aua,” courtesy of Juho who doesn’t quite grasp consonants yet.
And here I am in the country. I’ve been spending the last few days with my cousin Anne and her family, babysitting little Juho and soaking up the quiet like a sponge. Maybe it’s too quiet, I can hear my thoughts a little too well.
Today we’re celebrating harjakaiset, aka the building of their new house.
Juho and I baked some muffins yesterday without any notable kitchen fires or emergency room visits, and today I decorated Anne’s very American chocolate cheesecake.
Now for the ensuing spiked punch and munchies in the new house.