Nobody really knows the history of baklava, but apparently its current most famous form was developed in the kitchens of the palace of the Ottoman sultans. It’s a tasty sweet dessert and there are a ton of variations to how to make it. We think our version follows mostly the Iranian tradition of baklava, although omits almonds in the filling and ours are square-shaped. For a quick overview of the regional variations, see Wikipedia.


Recipe from Soheila Kimberly’s Cooking Around The World. Middle Eastern.


5 dl sugar
3 dl water
2 tbsp rose water

350 g ground pistachios
3 dl icing sugar
1 tbsp ground cardamom
150 g margarine, melted
450 g (1 package) filo pastry

Make the syrup first: Mix sugar and water in a saucepan, bring to boil and simmer about 10 minutes. The syrup will get thicker when it cools down, so don’t simmer too long. Stir in rose water and allow to cool.

Grind the pistachios. Mix them with icing sugar and cardamom. Brush a rectangular baking tin with a little melted margarine. Take first filo sheet and put it in the tin and brush with margarine. Put another filo sheet on it, brush with margarine and continue until you’ve used 1/3 of the filo pastry. Sprinkle half of the pistachio mixture on it. Take another filo sheet, put it on the nut mixture, brush with margarine and continue until you’ve used another 1/3 of the filo package. Sprinkle the remaining pistachios on them. Top with remaining 1/3 of filo pastry, brushing with margarine between layers.

Use a sharp knife to cut the pastry to squares or whatever shapes you prefer. If you have margarine left, pour it on top. Bake 20 minutes in 160 Celsius degrees. Then increase the heat to 200 Celsius degrees and bake 15 minutes more or until the colour is nice and golden.

Remove from the oven and drizzle about 3/4 of the syrup over the pastry. Serve with the remaining syrup.


Hungarian Apple Cake

It’s apple season, so this was a natural choice for the sweet recipe. This is another recipe from Linda Majzlik’s book A Vegan Taste of Eastern Europe.  A minus side in the book is that nearly everything is measured in grams. I prefer measuring in dl/cups, and we’ve converted grams to desilitres here, and we used fresh yeast instead of dry. Our cake looks a bit silly, because we baked it in star shaped tin. The cake would be even better with bigger amount of apples.


Hungarian Apple Cake

3,5 dl wheat flour
50 g margarine, melted
0,75 dl brown sugar
2 apples (we recommend using more!)
1/4 package (12g) yeast
0,75 dl soy milk
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix the flour and 0,75 dl brown sugar in a bowl. Peel, core and grate one apple and add it with margarine to the pot. Combine well. Warm the soy milk to lukewarm and dissolve yeast in it. Add it to the bowl and knead to form a nice soft dough. Cover with a towel and allow to rise an hour. Knead again and put in a greased cake tin, pressing it out to fill the tin. Cover with a towel and let rise 40 minutes. Peel, core and slice the other apple. Arrange the slices on the cake and press them lightly. Mix 1 tsp brown sugar with 1 tsp cinnamon and sprinkle on top. Cover with a foil and bake 20 minutes in 200 Celsius degrees. Remove the foil and bake 10 more minutes. Carefully remove from the tin onto a wire rack to cool before slicing.


Sweet Cake with Lingonberries

Russian candy (kinuski in Finnish, kola in Swedish) is a common dessert sauce or cake frosting here. It’s made by simmering cream and brown sugar until they reach desired thickness. Sauce is usually eaten with ice cream and/or berries. Acid of the berries is a nice contrast to the sweetness of Russian candy.

I’ve also made a gluten free version of this cake by using gluten free flour mix (Semper Fin Mix) instead of wheat flour and substituting bread crumbs with gluten free bread crumbs, coconut flakes or crushed almonds. If you have a teflon tin, greasing is probably enough and you can omit bread crumbs.


Russian Candy and Lingonberry Cake

3,5 dl wheat flour
2 dl sugar
2,5 tsp baking powder
1 dl rhubarb jam*
1 dl oil
2 dl mineral water or other sparkling drink

for the cake tin:
margarine and dry bread crumbs

Mix wheat flour, sugar and baking powder in a bowl. Add rhubarb jam and oil and stir. Last add the mineral water. Grease a cake tin with margarine and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Pour the batter to the tin and bake in 200 Celsius degrees for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

lingonberry jam**
vegan whipping cream (+ sugar)

russian candy:
1,5 dl oat (or soy) cream
1,5 dl brown sugar

Cut the cooled cake in two or three layers. Whip the cream and season with sugar if necessary. Fill the cake with lingonberry jam and whipped vegan cream.

Mix the oat cream and brown sugar in a sauce pan. Heat on medium heat, constantly stirring, until it starts bubbling. Simmer constantly stirring until it’s thick enough. Usually it takes 10-15 minutes. How do you know it’s thick enough? Take a glass of cold water and add a drop of Russian candy. If it dissolves into the water, it’s not ready. If you can take it in your hand and it’s like soft plasticine, it’s ready. Quickly pour the Russian candy on top of the cake and spread with a spatula. Allow to set in refrigerator. Decorate the sides with whipped cream.

*You can also use apple jam or mashed banana instead of rhubarb jam.
**Other berries, like cloudberries, raspberries or cranberries go well with Russian candy too.


Swedish Movie Night

On Saturday we had a Swedish movie night with our friends. The Russian movie night couple of months ago was in our home, and this time we went to their home. First we drank snaps, Akvavit of course. But we didn’t sing any Swedish snap songs. Akvavit was very good, it tasted like fennel with a hint of caraway seeds.


After the snaps, we had awesome pea soup. Seriously, it must have been the best pea soup I’ve ever had. Our friend had simmered it 5-6 hours, maybe that’s the secret of her soup. We couldn’t find any mellanöl or other Swedish beer, so we had porter instead.


We also had crisp bread and new Alpro soy margarine.


When we had finished our soup and bread, we watched the movie. Our friends had chosen Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries. If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend buying/renting/borrowing a copy. Or if you have already seen it, you can watch it again.

After the film we had the main course. It was pyttipanna made with potatoes, onion, habanero and soy sausages. As a side dish we had cucumbers, which were similar to these Vinegar cucumbers, but they were made only with water, salt and dill.

For the dessert we had coffee and vanilla buns made with a recipe by The Vegan Swedes.


We had great time eating and watching the movie. Now we’ll have to decide which country we choose next. Finnish cuisine is strongly influenced by Russian and Swedish cuisines and all the food we’ve made for our movie nights are commonly eaten in Finland too. Maybe next time we’ll have a country that is not so close to us.

Where west and east meet

Today is independence day in Finland. It’s quite common for families to eat someting fancy in celebration of this, and even though any level of nationalism is far removed from us, we decided to make something nice today as well. To celebrate the history of modern Finland, we took a bit from Sweden, a bit from Russia and added something indigenous to Finland. Sums the story of our nation quite nicely and makes a wonderful meal.

The main dish is from Sweden, it’s called pitepalt, a filled dumpling. The recipe was borrowed from our western friends, the great Cooking vegan food up north blog. We ate the pitepalt with Italian salad, which is actually a Russian salad, and lingonberries.

The dessert was more Finnish. Bilberry kukko is like a bilberry pie, but it has crust on top and berries under it. It’s originally from Savo, but nowadays it’s eaten all over Finland.

Bilberry Kukko

2-2,5 l bilberries or blueberries
0,75 dl sugar
2 tbsp potato flour

250 g margarine
1,75 dl sugar
5,25 dl rye flour
2 tsp baking powder

vegan vanilla ice cream for serving

Mix the filling ingredients together. Grease an oven proof dish and put the filling in it. Beat the margarine and sugar in a bowl. Add the flour and baking powder and mix together. Cover the dish with the crust. I use my hands to make it flat, but you can also roll it on the table and then put on top of the dish. Bake in 200 Celsius degrees 40 minutes or until it’s nicely browned. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

The End of The VeganMoFo 2011

We did it! We posted every day during VeganMoFo. This was the third time we participated and previous years we have skipped some days. Having a theme helped a lot, especially with planning. I’m sure we’ll have a theme next year too.

Yule is getting nearer. I have already started glögg season and today I made first Yule Pastries. They’re usually filled with plum jam, but any jam or marmalade can be used. I used apple jam today.

Yule Pastries

puff pastry
jam or marmalade
optional: icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 225 Celsius degrees. Cut the thawed puff pastry sheets in half to make squares and then cut slits according to the shape you want your pastries be. See the picture below: The ones on the top row are very similar, the finished pastry will look like the pastry on the right in the photo. Bottom left makes the other pastry in the left in the photo. The last one is star shaped like the ones on the top row, but I don’t recommend cutting your pastries this way, because the points of the star will be long and sharp and they burn easily.

After cutting fold the parts marked with red circle in the middle of the square. Put some jam on top. Bake 15 minutes or until nicely browned. Sift some icing sugar on cooled pastries. Serve with coffee, glögg or tea.

Finnish Pancake

As I’ve mentioned before, American style pancakes aren’t usually eaten here in Finland. We prefer crepes if we fry them on pan. We do have a dessert called pancake, but it’s baked in the oven. I have made a lacto-ovo pancake over ten years ago and recently I wanted to try to make vegan pancake recipe. After a little experimenting I succeeded to create this recipe. Yesterday we had some pancake with bilberry jam for dessert.

Finnish Pancake

5 dl soy milk
1,5 dl barley flour
1,5 dl wheat flour
1 tsp cardamom
scant 0,5 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp oil
2 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
margarine for greasing the dish
jam for serving

Whisk soy milk and both flour together and let sit 15-30 minutes. Add rest of the ingredients and whisk until mixed. Grease a 20 x 30 cm dish with margarine. Pour the pancake batter in it. Bake about 40 minutes in 200 Celsius degrees or until nicely browned. Serve with jam.

Berries For Dessert

Many fruits can’t be grow in Finland, but instead we have a lot of berries. Raspberries, currants, cranberries, bilberries, lingonberries etc. Couple of weeks ago I found out that what I had called blueberry is in fact bilberry in English. So if I’ve written anything about blueberries earlier I’ve meant bilberries. From now on I promise to use correct names.

Kissel (kiisseli in Finnish) is a common dessert made of juice and fruits or berries, especially bilberries are popular. Kissel can be served with whipped cream, but usually it’s eaten plain. There are also other kissel variations that are made of rhubarb or milk. Thinner kissel is called soup and it can also be made only from juice. Berry soups are often served with porridge, and some people like to drink them. I made bilberry and red currant soup today (2 dl red currants, 4 dl bilberries) and I like it much more than regular bilberry soup/kissel. Bilberried and raspberries is a great combination too.


1 l juice (from concentrate)
1 (or 2) dl sugar
5-6 tbsp potato flour (for kissel)
OR 2-3 tbsp potato flour (for soup)
6-7 dl fresh or frozen berries or diced fruits

Put the berries into a bowl. Mix all the other ingredients in a pot and heat constantly stirring. When you see the first bubble, pour the juice mixture on the berries. Sprinkle a little sugar to prevent the surface forming a skin. Allow to cool and serve.

Pink Porridge

Whipped lingonberry porridge is commonly eaten as dessert, but it can also be served for breakfast or as a snack. And it’s vegan. Similar porridge can also be made of red currants or other berries or fruits, but lingonberry is the most popular. The recipe below is for 2 or 3, but you can make a bigger batch, it stays good in refrigerator for days.

Lingonberry Porridge 

5 dl water
0,75 dl wheat semolina
0,5 dl sugar
1 dl crushed lingonberries

optional: soy or oat milk and sugar for serving

Bring the water to boil. Whip in the semolina and cook about 10 minutes. Add sugar and lingonberries, mix well and allow to cool. Whip (with electric mixer) until soft and light pink.

Porridge without berry skins: use 2 dl whole lingonberries instead of 1 dl crushed. Bring the water to boil, add the lingonberries and slowly boil them 20-30 minutes or until the juice comes out of them. Sift the skins out, bring the juice to boil again and make the porridge as described above. My mum uses this method, but I don’t mind about berry skins so I use the easier method.

The End of Vegan MoFo 2010

In the beginning of this month I planned to post everyday. It didn’t happen, but there were only few days without posting. Better than last year.

Here’s one more recipe for all our readers. The crust recipe is mine, the filling recipe is from a leaflet we got from supermarket ages ago. I still don’t know what’s the difference between pies, quiches etc. Maybe this is tart?

Lingonberry and Coconut Tart

125g margarine + little more for greasing the dish
3 dl wheat flour
0,5 dl sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cold water

margarine for greasing the dish
coconut flakes or bread crumbs (optional)

85g margarine
1,5 dl coconut flakes
0,75dl + 2 tbsp sugar
4 dl lingonberries (whole or partially crushed)

Heat the oven to 175 Celsius degrees. Crumble margarine, flour, sugar and baking powder in a bowl with your hands. Add water and mix together to form a dough. Grease a pie dish (25-28cm diameter), sprinkle with coconut flakes or bread crumbs and spread the dough in it. Bake 10 minutes.

Melt the margarine in a pot. Remove from the heat and stir in coconut flakes and 0,75 dl sugar. Spread the lingonberries on the prebaked crust and sprinkle 2 tbsp sugar on them. Spoon coconut mixture on top as small lumps. Bake 20 minutes more. Allow to cool a bit before serving.