Very soon we will be travelling across the world to visit our family and friends. Now that we are so close to packing and leaving I can’t stop thinking about all the important and maybe not so important but inevitable things that I need to organise before the departure. Who is going to water our plants? The Christmas tree needs to survive because we will be back by then and we are going to need it and the blinds need to be fixed…but I better stop before you lose all interest.
Instead, let’s talk about things that we like to do or make, for people we love. Lately I am more for doing and making as opposed to buying, when it comes to showing emotions or gratitude. Maybe that is because I am in a very creative phase of my life but I have grown to like the idea so much that I might stick with it for a while. Creating a gift for someone is like giving away a bundle of feelings, more that anything else, and I find that absolutely precious. Raising a child has actually helped quite a bit with developing this idea. For example, Maksim’s last birthday party was done exactly the way he wanted, I just followed all his steps. Interestingly enough that didn’t include any presents from our side, instead he wanted us to make a 7 layered cake (most wedding cakes that I’ve seen would have been smaller) and we needed to add all the decorations he wanted and mostly, created himself. So we rolled up our sleeves, baked together, got dusty with flour and sugar, ended up covered in food colouring and most importantly, had heaps of fun. We had a special time for ourselves, created something magical and gave it away to the people who joined us at the party. I call that – a circle of happiness!
Look, there is a biscotti. Let’s buy some. The one with almonds look nice. Or, I could bake some. Wait, have I ever baked a biscotti? Hm, I can’t remember. Could it be possible that I never baked a biscotti? Noo… but I still can’t remember. This is crazy, let’s just bake some biscotti!
So I did bake them. They turned out wonderfully perfect in their simplicity. Also, I didn’t have the recipe in my recipe book so I had to do research and after some time and quite a few different ones, I decided to go with Delia’s Almond Biscotti recipe. We all know that biscotti stands for twice-baked biscuits but in Italian. The word “biscuit” comes from the word biscotti, but that is the version in English and we know that too. So the only thing that is new here is that in this recipe, plain flour is replaced with wholemeal spelt but I believe that might not be a surprise as well.
When my son tasted the biscotti and he liked them I was pleased because by now we all know that spelt flour is the most liked but when he asked biscotti to be packed into his lunch box – well that is what I call a compliment around this house! Biscotti are staying the way they are!
This is a rather small batch so you might want to double the recipe straight away to not end up mixing it twice on the same day – like I did!
There have been endless days of illness around here. It seems to be almost inevitable when the seasons are changing, so I have to admit that as much as I love the idea of warm weather coming up, I don’t like the difficulties my body has to go through in order to adjust to a change. To make things even more difficult we were all ill at the same time, one more than another, but still – difficult. I was the last one to fail without noticing myself – I had to be “sent home” from the job I was working on, because no one wants to be around ill people and I was definitely one of those!
So, what is it that you do when you are not feeling well? Wrap yourself in a favourite blanket (still a bit cold around here), make your favourite tea (mix of peppermint and chamomile tea with a large spoon of honey, same quantity of bee pollen and a generous squeeze of lemon juice) … but something is still missing? Of course it is! How about some comfort food? So, I had to unwrap myself from my blanket, instead to wrap around an apron, and without thinking for a second, I baked these scones. They have been on the menu for some time now and we have them mostly for breakfast or a snack during the day. But that is just not enough, not after an obvious need for them in such an emotional and susceptible situation, so officially from today I will call them – super comfort food for this family. If I can’t make my body feel better – instantly, I can work on my spirit and anyone would feel better in such good company! It took me two days to recover, so what can I thank for this? A good tea mix or healthy spelt flour scones?
Rhubarb is one of my favourite ingredients to cook/bake with. It is as simple as that. If you want to make me smile, bake me a cake with rhubarb. I do that to myself quite often but feel free to indulge me more. Once the rhubarb was discovered, no other fruit/vegetable could compete with this one. I am not talking just about me here, at one point in its history rhubarb was more expensive than other valuable herbs, like saffron, for example.
Rhubarb wasn’t one of the vegetables I grew up with. It was discovered later in my life and since then it is constantly present in my baking and cooking. There is a sour flavour I love, the texture and the colour, which are the winning attributes that keeps rhubarb on the list of top ingredients to work with. But the actual upside down cake is definitely something that was part of my childhood and something that will bring up precious memories. You see, my mum didn’t bake much and as far as I can remember my older sister was in charge of baking wonderful cakes. Except, there was one sweet that mum would always bake for us especially on lazy Sundays, reserved for long and slow family lunches – and that was the upside down cake. She used to say – “it’s easy to remember”, almost as an excuse for not being a keen baker in the house. She needn’t have said that, however, because that cake will forever remain special to me, even when I create something so different, that only has the same name. My mother used green apples for the cake and that is a wonderful combination and certainly one of those that can inspire a person to create other sweet goodies.
If I am to be a cake, I choose to be this one. That is all I have to say.
It looks like my admiration exceeds my words, which, I have to admit doesn’t happen very often; Just when I am in the presence of perfection. This, coming from the person who has declared her whole life, that there is nothing better than a chocolate cake, is a great compliment. So by now I guess everyone understands that I am in love with this creation called “Bundt cake”.
I grew up knowing this cake as a Kuglof ( a famous European fruit cake, also known as Gugelhupf, Kouglof, Wacker etc ). Here I am not talking about classic kuglof. My cake and traditional version have only the shape in common. This characteristic circular cake shape has been somewhere in the recesses of my mind for a very long time – years probably. As has the beautiful ceramic baking mould that has been sitting in a dark corner of my kitchen, waiting for some fresh ideas. And then one day, the idea came: my own mixture of ingredients baked in my long forgotten bundt cake pan. The result is a delicious spelt cake that tastes amazing and looks simply divine. This cake is just a confirmation to me that there is rarely a single thing that can cause good or not so good kismet. Yo have to have at least two good things, preferably matching nicely together, to have a good outcome. So I had this shape of cake in my head for a long time and only one flour was present the whole time; spelt flour. I believe that is a good combination and thus Spelt Bundt cake was created.
We’ve just moved to a new apartment. The hustle of packing and unpacking lasted for a few days or maybe a week, although at one point seemed like it was never going to end, it did. Now we are surrounded again with our furniture, books, paintings and most importantly – toys. Ok maybe there is a random unpacked box that may remain unpacked for the next move, but hey, no one is perfect, even the ones who have a history of moving around the World every few years.
On the scale of stress moving stands quite high and knowing that I try to find some beauty in it as well. Well maybe not particularly in the packing and unpacking part but for example, arranging well known pieces of our household into a completely new space is the part that I fully enjoy. That kept me awake until very late the other night, unpacking paintings and finding the perfect spot for each and every one, incorporating our own history onto our new blank walls. I decided a while ago that home is where we are, but parts of our houshold that fly across the world a few times with us and have their own story to tell and bring memories every time I look at them – help a lot as well.
We rush – almost run through our lives. We have daily lists of things that need to be done and most of them can’t be transferred to the next day – because a new day has a new list! Sometimes weeks can pass by without pressing pause! To stop for a moment, to think, to wish – to daydream. I am completely aware of this and I don’t waste time when I see an opportunity.
Today I pressed pause in the middle of the day and – I wished for a cake. A nourishing, glorious cake! that will make me stop for a moment, sum up my thoughts and my whole day…and I baked one – just for me!
It was the late afternoon when I realised that I have to capture this moment. We had just passed the shortest day in the year and daylight disappears quickly…so I managed to take just a few photos and I want to share them with you and the recipe as well. It is a very comforting cake and I am sure it’ll come in handy during the winter time ahead of us. Continue reading
When it comes to a choice of flour I would always choose dark or wholegrain. I find their unique flavour and texture more inspiring. I have just realised and it’s actually quite satisfying, that, when it comes to baking, the choice of ingredients are entirely up to me. But, as I said before, I made my preferences years ago. At first, I was slightly obsessed with Rye flour. And I baked a lot. Mainly bread at that stage. (Luckily there wasn’t a need for bread more then a couple of times per week). Then along came Buckwheat flour. Bread, pastry you name it, all made with Buckwheat flour. Lately my flour of choice is – Spelt! Wholemeal more often then white spelt flour but equally loved in our household.
Now, as I type this I am thinking all that is wrong! These words should be accompanied by pictures of chocolate chips cookies, made with spelt flour. As you can see, spelt flour has found its way into many delicious treats we enjoy in our home. Chocolate chips cookies are the ultimate treat for my son. The only problem I am facing here is that they disappear way too fast! so you can imagine how hard it is to take the photos. As a matter of fact I made these cookies the same evening as this gorgeous tart (the words came almost out of guilt, because I am giving way too much space to a different sweet – forgive me) but having another two kids over for dinner, all the cookies were gone in the blink of an eye while this spelt flour and quince jam tart was patiently waiting, through out the entire dinner, to be served to the adults. The chocolate chips cookies would have to wait for their turn… Soon, I promise.