Christmas 2015 and rum cakes aka “Vana Tallinn” cakes

I love the Christmas time. Once the decorations go up after continuous nagging from children, everything feels brighter and more festive.


And tidy rooms are the bonus as all the Collins family comes for our annual Christmas meal. I cooked 10 kg turkey from the Court Farm Butchers, my favorite place to buy meat, and of course all the trimmings to go with it. There was 17 of us – 5 families of Collins’s and the dog and 2 cats, most living souls we had together for the Christmas ever. 🙂 We even managed to get us all to stay still for the family photo.


I love this one best as I was trying to crab Lonni, who was chasing the cannon ball – yes, that was the present, my husband gave it to his dad. I love how relaxed everyone is and have a good laugh – this describes best our get together – laid back, laugh, food, wine, games.

I baked lot’s of gingerbreads.


I made the blood sausages  very first time with my new Kenwood.


and made quite a few “rum cakes” over the Christmas. The Rum cakes or “Vana Tallinn cakes have been real hit not only among Estonians and I have been asked recipe for the countless times so here it is. I must say I don’t follow the recipe for making them, so I’ll try to estimate quantities here.

Rum Cakes with White Chocolate filling


First you need a sponge. Originally those cakes were made in bakeries from the sponge leftovers to avoid a waste, but at home you hardly have any spare sponge so I will give my fool proof sponge recipe, which I got from my favorite Estonian cake makers Olga blog.

4 eggs

2dl sugar

1dl boiling water

3dl plain flour

1tsp baking powder

Put the eggs in the bowl with sugar and beat it 10 minutes until it’s almost tripled in size. I have until now (before I got my fantastic Kenwood) used hand mixer, while using my  another hand for the Facebook. 🙂

Before the 10 minutes are over I switch on the kettle and boil the water. I measure it to the measuring jug and then slowly add to the egg mixture while still beating it.

Mix the flour and the baking powder together and sift it to the egg mixture.

Fold carefully it with the spatula from the bottom of the bowl to up, until there is no lumps.

Line the baking tin with the baking paper – for cakes I use 24 cm diameter tin, but as  the shape is not important on this instance you can use any tin really.

Poor the mixture to the tin and bake on gas mark 5 for 30 minutes.

The sponge is ready, when the inserted skewer comes out clean. If the cake starts to get dark too quickly, cover it with baking paper.

Take it out from the oven and leave it cool for bit and then turn it to the cooling rack, remove the lining paper and leave it cool completely.


1 sponge

3-5 sp cacao powder

rum or “Vana Tallinn” (it’s Estonian liqueur, which everyone gives as a present but most people don’t like to drink but I use it lots in my cooking replacing brandy or rum) or any other liqueur which has more than 30% alcohol or if you prefer non alcoholic ones use the rum essence instead, quantity depends of your taste

150-200g soured cream

100g white chocolate

150g cream cheese

For making rum cakes, crumble the sponge in to the bowl and take a little out for rolling cakes in it later.

Add cacao powder, I like it darker so I’ll add 4 or more spoonful’s but you can use less of it.

Now add the soured cream, start adding about 100 grams and mix it with your hand squeezing mixture together

Add the alcohol or essence, here you need to do quite a bit of tasting to make it, how you like it, but not too much or you don’t have anything left for the balls 🙂

If you achieved desired taste you might need to add more soured cream to get the consistency suitable for the rolling the balls.

Now, I’m using scale to get all the balls same size – 30g for small bite, 40 g bit bigger and 50g for the proper sized one, but if you not fussed just take the mixture with the spoon and roll the balls with your palms.

Roll them on the saved crumbs.

Then I’m using the scissors to make the lines, cut softly on 3 angles and then press down with your dumb on the middle of the ball so it becomes like a flower shape ball.

For the white chocolate and cream cheese filling. melt the white chocolate in the sauce pan or in the microwave. If it’s too hot , let it cool a bit. Then mix it with the cream cheese.

If the mixture becomes too runny leave it to the fridge for a while.

Now pipe the filling to the middle of the cakes and decorate as desired.

Start to prepare for new sponge as those cakes don’t last long.



Cinema Sunday

My lovely son was born on Friday the 13th of January and like every child, he loves his birthday parties, mostly because of the presents – you see, he’s very materialistic 🙂 So usually we have a cake and presents from us on actual day and as it usually school day we go to cinema and have lovely meal before.

Then, there have to be party with his friends and school mates. This year we had skiing party at Chatham, which was lovely as it was sunny day – finally, so fed up with this endless rain. We would love to go skiing holiday, my last one was before we had children, at Finland and it was brilliant, but it’s bloody expensive and can’t really afford it at the moment.

Then we needed party with family, so I came up with the idea of the family cinema party. It ended up as winter birthday party and there are 6 of us in our family with birthdays from December to February. I had great plans to choose the films,  I had vintage Coke bottles with colourful paper straws, proper homemade popcorn, cupcakes and pick and mix sweets. I had brilliant ideas for great photo-shoot. I had lovely bunting up, but I managed to take only few lousy photos, because I was so busy to serve the food and organise everything, so finally, when I got around to take some photos it was dark and the momentum was gone.

So my question is , how you all wonderful bloggers manage to take those fantastic pictures of your parties and everything looks so perfect? Makes me feel absolute failure.

Look at this picture from


My parties never look on photos like this, even when they feel like this.

Examples of our party and only photos I actually managed to take:




So where the bunting, Coke bottles and pop corn?

Anyway I will add recipe for muffins, mu daughter made. They fruity and moist. We made them heart shape, as it was Valentines and covered them with icing but you can skip the icing and they taste as lovely.



 Berry and Cinnamon muffins

 115 g plain flour

1 tbsp. baking powder


65 g light brown sugar ( we used light muscavado sugar)

1 egg

175ml milk

45 ml vegetable oil

1 -2 tbsp. cinnamon

115g  frozen berries ( we used mixture of rasberries, blackberries, redcurrants and black currants)

Mix all ingridients but berries with electric mixer, but as we had power cut, we used wooden spoon and hand power. Mix carefully the berries in, not to ahrd as this will break berries and fill greased muffin cases with mixture. It makes about 8  muffins. Bake at Gas  Mark 5/ 190C.

Let the muffins cool and you can decorate them with icing, We used 1 egg white, 230 g icing sugar, bit lemon juice and glycerine.

But they are lovely without icing as well, very moist and melting in your mouth.

Anyway they cheered me up despite my rubbish photos.

Happy late Valentines everyone! My husband bought me those.


 … an listen U2-Ordinary Love.