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.

Fatherchristmas

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.

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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.

Gingerbreads

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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The best Chocolate Brownies recipe – Timo 10

I will write this post before it’s too late as Timo’s birthday was more than 2 weeks ago and I wanted to write down few things about my youngest. I can’t believe it has been already 10 years of being mum for 2 wonderful children, who sometimes drive me insane, but most of the time they are pleasure to be around, especially last couple of years they have really grown up and I can’t remember many cases I had to raise my voice.

Timo has always been mature for his age and very independent. You wouldn’t believe that few month old baby can be stubborn, but he definitely showed his strong will already then. I bottle fed him from very early age and he was always wriggling around and didn’t settle down on my arms – as soon I put him to his bed and placed the bottle on the pillow next to him, he calmed down and enjoyed his meal. So you can imagine he fed himself more-less when he was a year old.

We admired his determination to learn things. He must have been 7-8 month old and we had lovely time at my hometown beach, but Timo wouldn’t settle to play with sand or his toys, he was spending nearly an hour working out, how his pushchair clips work and he succeeded.

He chased his football around our courtyard in Parnu, when he was 1 and half  and he learned to kick amazingly and now at age of 10 his ball control is great and he has been asked to join local football club, but unfortunately he loves to do lots of things and there is only so many hours in a day so he had to give a miss to this one for time being.

He was on his bike being just 3 years old, with no stabilisers, whizzing long the beach. People were amazed and asked us how old he was.

And that how it been all his life, he always tries to learn things he interested of. At the moment he’s big passion is guitar, so his wish for his birthday was electric guitar and amplifier – I added some headphones, for us really :). He has been learning guitar rifts from You Tube.

Electric guitar

He can be handful and I can’t really teach him a lot as it seems in his head he thinks that you have to have qualification to teach someone. I can’t teach him maths, but he’s fine to take all the tips from his tutor. I can show him how to cook, daddy can show some motorbike stuff and his lovely sister aloud to explain some things only big sisters know.

Birthday boy

He is our lovely boy and we love him dearly.

Another things he loves – Chocolate cakes. He’s quite fussy about the cakes and traditional birthday cake might be good look at but he has no interest to eat it (it doesn’t always mean that you can have his piece of cake :))

Birthday Cake

His birthday cake was made after my favourite brownie recipe, it’s  the one thing he likes and it’s one I use when I need something quickly and I’m not sure what people would like. the browniw will be moist and plate empties quickly. I made kind of birthday cake out of it this time but usually it goes well just as a tray bake brownie. It’s probably one of my most used sweet recipe

You’ll need

225g butter

100 g cocoa powder

4 free range eggs

450 g caster sugar

vanilla extract

150 g self rising flour or 150g flour + 1tsp baking powder

Icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas 4.

Grease one 4cm deep, 28cm x 19cm baking tray and line with baking paper.

Melt the butter, remove it from the heat and stir the cocoa in, leave for 10 minutes.

Whisk the eggs and sugar and vanilla essence together until light an foamy. Stir in the cocoa mixture and flour and poor in to the baking tray.

Bake 35 minutes. If the top is firm, but middle is still on soft side, you done take it  out of the oven and leave it cool for 10 minutes. Turn over to the wire rack and peel of the paper. Leave it cool completely. When cool, cut to squares, dust with the icing sugar and enjoy.

If you want your brownies firmer, not so gooey, just add 50 grams of flour more. I did so, when I wanted it to use for a base of the cake.

Choclate Browniw Birthday Cake

Recipe 3. Oat-Chocolate Biscuits with Chocolate Buttons.

Here comes the recipe of the biscuits, which was approved by my son and this is a big thing, I tell you. Usually my children have just ice-creams for the puddings and they turn they nose up if I make traditional Estonian puddings or even tempt English favourites. So hearing my son to run my mother in law and the first words were how wonderful those biscuits were, really made my day and as the 20 biscuits disappeared from the plate within hour before I managed take any photos, I had to make another batch today.

Also, some self-rising flour got used up as well!

Oat-Chocolate Biscuits with Chocolate Buttons

150 grams soft butter

1,5 dl sugar

2tsp vanilla sugar

1 egg

2 dl jumbo oats

2,5 dl self-rising flour

1tsp baking powder

100 g chocolate (break in small pieces)

glazed chocolate buttons

Heat the oven to Gas mark 4/175 c.

Cream the soft butter with sugars until pale and then add egg, while keep beating the mixture.

Mix together all dry ingredients and add it to the egg mixture. Roll between your hands small balls and flatten them a bit. Put them on the baking sheets which are covered with the baking paper. Sprinkle with chocolate buttons and bake 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Cool them on the cooling rack

Bon appetite! Your children will be hooked (and your husband 🙂 )

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