battenberg cake

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Autumn is starting to be one of my favourites seasons. The changes in colours, weather and even our moods are very generous in their spectrum. A little bit of everything. Unpredictable both ways, good or bad can surprise us at any time.  It’s the weather – many would say. I would add – it’s Autumn! I see everything in layers and colours.  A bit of green, a little bit of glorious gold and reddish lines and spots everywhere and brown of course – the inevitable colour of soil. If I was born on this side of planet, I would be an Autumn person with all the layers in between. Continue reading

plum jam

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A broken oven is never good news. For someone who is so into baking, it is a disaster. But things are looking brighter because the oven repair man is coming today! Lucky for me, just a few days ago I got these gorgeous plums (from a friend’s backyard) and since I can cook jam, I didn’t waste a minute. So, I cooked the jam, sterilised the jars and packed all in the same day! Even decorated and wrapped the jars nicely so I could give them away as presents. An act of a nervous woman I’d say. I kept myself busy…

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sutlijas aka rice pudding

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Sutlijas is one of the first desserts I remember as a child. It is a simple dessert, easy to make and I assume our working mums, who were also  good housewives had to come up with a handy solution. Sutlijas was certainly one of those. A rice cooked in milk, sweetened with sugar, but not too much, and dusted with cinnamon on the top – that is Sutlijas. It’s made like this or similarly, around the world and quite often it’s just the name that is different.

It wasn’t always my favourite dessert but I never said no to it. I guess I learned to appreciate it later in my life more than when I was little. Some things take time but not this dessert. That is another beauty that comes with age as well; you learn to appreciate time as well. Don’t get me wrong, I am one of those people who can wait for hours for the dough to rise but when you are in a hurry and you still want to finish your dinner with a nice dessert – Sutlijas is the way to go.

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kiflice – yeast rolls

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I felt almost guilty for having a fabulous day, doing everything I wanted and all in the  company of 5 year old. We bought a brooch that I had wanted to buy for some time (M got to choose which one from the choice of few though), I had a coffee in one of the cafes I wanted to visit and by the end of the day I got to bake one of my favourite sweets. Luckily Maksim loves buying new things, he is becoming a fan of  hot chocolate and baking is one of his favourite things to do (not a surprise really) actually we bake together so often that I should have called this space – baking with my son, that would be so true. So maybe I should feel less guilty?! Because after all I made sure we filled a few rolls with chocolate – just to be on the safe side because although sesame seeds are one of his favourite, I doubted tahini filling would make Maksim’s day as much as it made mine.

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buckwheat chocolate tart

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Baking with buckwheat flour is such a natural thing to do in my baking world. Adding  chocolate to any recipe with buckwheat flour, again, makes perfect sense to me but this time sadly, something went wrong. The most confusing and stressful part was that I couldn’t even say what. It looked like the tart refused to talk to me. No response whatsoever just a silence and deep chocolate darkness. Food is a reflection of our soul, mine is in need of a decadent combination of buckwheat and chocolate and I don’t give up easily. The tart, which was mercilessly falling apart on me, needed to be made again and once the matter was settled I started all over again. One of the obvious problems, which I can see now, is that when I make something constantly and I think  I am in no need of a recipe, mysterious and sometimes unsolvable problems can occur. Once I realised that I really do need to rely on figures,  and not just on my sometimes volatile emotions, I decided to make a firm promise to myself to use pen and paper in the kitchen as much as any other tool !

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magic mix of rhubarb and strawberry

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I grew up in a house with a back yard and a small veggie garden and orchard as well. We grew strawberries, tomatoes and carrots and had the most beautiful apricot and cherry trees. It was an absolute heaven for all of us (the neighbours kids included). It was so thrilling playing in nature which went wild with different flowers during Spring and rich with fruits and vegetables during Summer. I still remember how I loved eating carrots straight from the earth but I also remember how I hated picking strawberries. I thought it wasn’t fair that that was especially my job, but being the youngest in the family made me pretty much in charge of it on a daily basis, during the strawberry season. I know that this isn’t a post about strawberry jam but every time strawberries are involved in any of my recipes I go back in time and see all this happening all over again.

This is to what I go back…It’s late May, beginning of June, the end of Spring almost beginning of Summer. The weather is just right to spend a whole day playing outside as often as we can. It’s the end of school as well, hurray! lets go to the gardens (yes we used to jump the gates and use all our garden as a play ground) and play until the inevitable call from the kitchen window will make us all rush back home to dinner. Those were the days of absolute freedom. Enjoying the sun, wind, play and laughter is all we did and it was magical. Being in contact with the soil, quite often with our bare feet and having our own duties was part of our days as well. One of mine was picking the strawberries. Being a very busy child (playing), I saw that almost as a punishment. I had to stop what I was doing and go back to the house for a dish (all a waste of time in my little head) and fill up the whole bowl with fresh strawberries. Oh, if I could only go back in time…

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quince jam

Quince jam

Quinces are in season! It’s Autumn in this part of the world and besides the wonderful changes in nature, especially its colours, quinces would be one of the first signs that the seasons are changing. Next is Winter in its white clothes but that is another story to tell. Old habits are hard to change. Speaking as a true continental climate adorer – I know.

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In my opinion quinces are slightly neglected, compared to other fruits. Back in time, when my mum was a little girl, they used to keep them in their pantries or kitchens through the whole winter, just for the sake of the wonderful aroma. Somehow they used to stay fresh for a long time. What memories and what a special place they had back then.

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So quinces are popular – where I come from. You can find them hanging from beautiful quince trees in many backyards, back home. My in-laws have a few of them in the beautiful orchard, surrounding their holiday house. We ate many unique cakes made with this golden fruit and I will share some of them, but what I really want to do this time is the jam. Quince jam! Continue reading