Finnish Christmas Date Bundt Cake with Whiskey

Finnish Christmas Date Bundt Cake with Whiskey :: my blue&white kitchen

Do you know Mr. Stress? That little guy who messes around with your head? Makes you forget things and appointments, makes you anxious, and well, drives you crazy. When I walk along the city streets and look around I notice that Mr. Stress has invited himself into many heads. Short tempers, nervous tapping with feets, checking the smartphone every 30 seconds, where's that damn to-do list!?!, and I wonder what my credit limit is?

Finnish Christmas Date Bundt Cake with Whiskey :: my blue&white kitchen

Relax, everyone. Please. I may not be the best one to tell people to relax as I often am the one finding herself under massive pressure. Need to do this, need to remember that. Oh, I don't have my planner with me so basically I'm screwed.

But hey, isn't Christmas supposed to be a time to relax and find your inner peace? I don't think Mr. Stress should be a part of it.

Finnish Christmas Date Bundt Cake with Whiskey :: my blue&white kitchen
Finnish Christmas Date Bundt Cake with Whiskey :: my blue&white kitchen
Finnish Christmas Date Bundt Cake with Whiskey :: my blue&white kitchen

So let's calm down. Breathe. Take a cup of tea (or coffee). Eat that cookie. Listen to good music. And if you feel like it make this bundt cake.

Date Bundt Cake with Whiskey

makes one regular bundt cake or two small ones
slightly adapted from Juhana Paturi, AL 05.12.2013

This is a slightly more modern version of the traditional Finnish Christmas treat. A date bunt cake can be found in almost any Finnish family during the Christmas holidays. It's served with mulled wine or a cup of strong coffee. It has to be made in advance so its flavors develop properly. Therefore, it's the ideal no-stress cake. The cake is at its best after one week but can easily be stored for longer.

200 g (7 oz) fresh dates, pitted & quartered
50 g (2 oz) raisins

150 g (5.3 oz) salted butter, at room temperature
2 dl (175 g; 0.8 cups; 6.2 oz) granulated sugar 
1 dl (90 g; 0.4 cups; 3.2 oz) packed brown sugar (farinsocker)
3 eggs (M)
2,5 dl (170 g; 1 cup; 6 oz) almonds, finely chopped
4,5 dl (270 g; 1.9 cups; 9.5 oz) all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla sugar (I always use homemade)
2 tsp baking powder
2 dl (0.8 cups) heavy cream

powdered sugar, for decorating

In a small bowl, soak the dates and raisins in whiskey for at least 6 hours or overnight. Make sure that they are fully covered by the whiskey.

Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F). Grease and flour the bundt cake pan(s).

In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Set aside. Drain the soaked dates and raisins, reserving the soaking whiskey for later. Set both aside.

In a bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Stir in about half of the dry ingredients. Then stir in the remaining dry ingredients alternating with the cream. Add the soaked dates and raisins.

Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan(s). Bake on the middle oven rack for 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for a few minutes before releasing.

Measure your soaking whiskey. You should end up with 1 dl (0.4 cups) of it. Add hot honey water if needed. I added 0,25 dl hot water with 1 tsp honey.

Pour the whiskey over the still warm cake(s).

Let the cake(s) cool down before wrapping them in aluminium foil. Store in a cool place ideally for at least one week.

Before serving, dust with powdered sugar.

Finnish Christmas Date Bundt Cake :: my blue&white kitchen

Saint Lucia's Day – Swedish Saffron Buns

Swedish Saffron Buns :: my blue&white kitchen

I should be writing my Master's thesis but instead I want to talk about Saint Lucia's Day and saffron buns. They are just too luscious not to blog about.

Swedish Saffron Buns :: my blue&white kitchen
Swedish Saffron Buns :: my blue&white kitchen

Saint Lucia's Day is celebrated in Scandinavia on December 13. In Finland, it's mostly celebrated among the Swedish-speaking Finns. Although we have never really celebrated Saint Lucia's at home, I've always loved this church feast day.

Swedish Saffron Buns :: my blue&white kitchen

Every year on Saint Lucia's Day pupils from my city's Swedish school came to our school. A girl, Lucia, led the beautiful procession of young girls dressed in white gowns holding a single candle each. She wore a white cotton gown and a red sash was tied around her waist. On her head, she wore a crown of candles and in her hands she held a single candle. And all along they sang this beautiful song, luciasången.

"Natten går tunga fjät,
runt gård och stuva,
Kring jord som sol'n förlät,
skuggorna ruva.
Då i vårt mörka hus,
stiger med tända ljus,
Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia"

"The night treads heavily
around yards and dwellings
In places unreached by sun,
the shadows brood
Into our dark house she comes,
bearing lighted candles,
Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia."

According to the Julian calendar this was the longest night of the year. Lucia was believed to bring the light into the winter darkness.

Swedish Saffron Buns :: my blue&white kitchen

The other reason why I loved this day was, and still is, food. Saffron buns to be exact. Luscious with a gorgeous yellow color coming in many different traditional shapes. They are rich and sweet, spiced with saffron. Let me warn you – if you don't like saffron then these buns aren't for you. They are best enjoyed with a cup of coffee, mulled wine, or a big glass of cold milk. So good.

So next Friday, it's Saint Lucia's Day. Will you bake saffron buns with me?

Swedish Saffron Buns :: my blue&white kitchen

Swedish Saffron Buns – 'Lussekatter'

makes about 20 lussekatter
adapted from Monikas Jul by Monika Ahlgren, p. 155

I made lussekatter, buns formed into a S-shape, but as I already mentioned there are many different shapes for these traditional buns. This is the first time I made buns using this two-dough-method. I read about it in Monika Ahlgren's cookbook and was eager to try it. Don't be afraid to make two doughs! It's neither more work nor does it take more time to make. Thanks to this method the buns rose especially well!

Dough 1
50 g (
~ 3.5 tbsp) unsalted butter
5 dl (
2 cups; 17 fl oz) whole milk
50 g (1.7 oz) fresh yeast
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp fine sea salt
12–13 dl (
760–825 g; 5–5 ½ cups; 27–29 oz) bread flour (for us Scandinavians vetemjöl special)

Dough 2
1 g saffron
1 tsp granulated sugar
125 g (4
½ oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 dl (170 g; 0.8 cups; 6 oz) granulated sugar
1 egg (M) 
5 dl (320 g; 2 cups; 11 oz) bread flour (for us Scandinavians vetemjöl special

1 egg, lightly beaten, to brush
small handful of raisins, for decorating

Dough 1
In a small bowl, combine the sugar, salt, and flour. Set aside. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and add the milk. Wait until the milk mixture is lukewarm and add the crumbled yeast. With a spoon, stir until the yeast is completely dissolved.

Transfer the milk mixture into a large mixing bowl (you can make the dough by hand, like me, or in a stand mixer). Gradually add the dry ingredients and knead the dough until it comes clean off the sides of the bowl. Don't overwork the dough! Shape into a ball and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour.


Dough 2
In a mortar, grind the saffron threads to a fine powder with one teaspoon of sugar. This will make the grinding easier. However, if you use grinded saffron, which I don't recommend, you can skip this step. In a bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and grinded saffron.

Combine the two doughs. Gradually add the flour while kneading. First it will look like a big mess but will come together eventually. Knead until well combined and the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Shaping the buns
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll the dough into 40 x 1,5 cm ropes. To shape the lussekatter: roll both ends of each rope tight in opposite directions into a S-shape. Place the buns on the baking sheets. Remember to leave enough space between the buns to allow for them to expand. Cover the shaped buns with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 20 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 225°C (435°F).

Brush the buns with a lightly beaten egg and place one raisin in each circle. Bake the buns for 7 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown in color. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

The buns are best enjoyed the same day!

I think this short video from the official sites of Sweden is quite informative and fun to watch.


DIY Sunday – Christmas Cards

Christmas cards :: my blue&white kitchen

To make these Christmas cards you need:

  • an embroidery needle
  • golden and/or silver embroidery thread
  • card stock in different colors (fold it in half length-wise)
  • a ruler
  • a pencil

With the pencil and the help of a ruler, draw the pattern you want to stitch. You can stitch almost any pattern imaginable. Later on today, I'm going to try to stitch a himmeli, a traditional Finnish Christmas mobile, pattern. With the needle, poke holes into the paper – this makes it much easier to sew through the paper. Knot your thread and start stitching! Don't forget to write your holiday greetings :)

Be Grateful – Mulled Cider with Calvados

crocheting :: my blue&white kitchen

Sorry for the silence. I've been dealing with death. Loss and grief. Crying at night while trying to keep myself together during the day. Long, stressful days. Lack of sleep.

But don't worry, I'm getting better. Day by day.

crocheting :: my blue&white kitchen
yarn :: my blue&white kitchen
yarn :: my blue&white kitchen

Although I've been visiting the dark places more often than usual, I've been cooking and baking a lot during these past two weeks. Whether I'm sad or happy, anxious or feeling glorious – in the end, it all comes down to standing in the kitchen. Chopping, stirring, braising, kneading. Creating food and sharing it with the ones I love. That's who I am. That's what keeps me going. Through the good times and the bad times.

I created a mulled cider recipe for the holiday season that lies ahead of us. Something to warm you up from the inside. A mug of comfort. I served it at a get-together last weekend and saw people getting second servings. The next day, they asked for the recipe. One friend even told me she was gonna serve it on Christmas Eve. Yes, this recipe is a winner.

Make this and share with your loved ones. Be grateful for the time you have together. It's worth more than gold.

mulled cider :: my blue&white kitchen

Mulled Cider with Calvados

serves 2 – 3  (but the recipe can easily be doubled or tripled)

500 ml (~2 cups; 17 fl oz) unfiltered, unsweetened apple juice 
zest of ½ an orange
1 cinnamon stick
½ a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled & sliced
2 whole allspice berries
pinch of ground cloves
130 g (1 ½ dl, packed; 4.6 oz) light muscovado sugar

optional: 2 tbsp calvados

Combine all the ingredients, except the calvados, in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard the spices (you can leave some for garnish, if you wish). Add the calvados for an even more delicious mug of comfort. Serve hot.

mulled cider with calvados :: my blue&white kitchen