August 07, 2012

Balcony Make-Over, Korvapuusti and Some Changes


Last weekend I finally had time to get our balcony sorted. When we moved into this apartment 8 months ago, we were already busy planning our wedding, so most of the home-improvements had to be put on hold. I am not usually a very patient person, but this year has gone past so quickly that I have hardly had time to stop and whinge about not having a finished balcony.

I had already ordered a three piece dining set for the balcony and when it arrived last week, I decided that the coming weekend was a perfect time to put everything else in place as well. On Friday I drove to a near-by nursery to pick up plants, several bags of potting mix and a few new pots. Those large fibreglass pots you see in these photos are a left-over from the previous balcony make-over we did in our old apartment.

  

Picking up the right kinds of plants was quite easy. I wanted to go for easy-to-maintain shrubs that would stay green throughout the year, so I bought a few white agapanthus and a couple of lavenders to go with my existing plants. I've given up trying to grow veggies for now as I've had real problems with whiteflies and aphids. Hopefully these plants are a little more stress-free yet still give the balcony that green outlook I wanted.



Although I'm sure I'll still be adding bits and bobs on the balcony, I'm really happy with the outcome. When I had finally finished re-potting the plants and cleaning up the mess, it was such a nice treat to sit down with a cup of tea and enjoy the sun. I even made some korvapuusti* to celebrate our new balcony!

While I'm at it, I guess this is as good as opportunity as any to tell you about some changes I've planned for this blog. After almost three solid years of blogging, I've decided to mix things up a bit and also start doing posts on decorating and craft so technically this won't be solely a food blog anymore. I will be sharing more traditional Finnish recipes (like the one today) and I have also been planning a name change, but that might have to wait a little longer. I hope you will still continue to enjoy my posts and as always I'd love to hear your feedback!

 


Korvapuusti

500ml (organic) milk
50g fresh yeast or 4 teaspoons dry yeast
120g raw caster sugar + a few tablespoons for filling and topping
1/2 teaspoons salt 
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
1 (free-range, organic) egg + 1 egg for brushing
800-1000g (organic) plain flour
150g (organic) butter + 50g for filling
ground cinnamon for filling

1. Heat milk to 'hand-warm' or to about 42 C if using dry yeast (which is a little warmer than if using fresh yeast). Add yeast and stir until it dissolves. Add sugar, salt and cardamom and stir well to dissolve. Add one egg and whisk lightly to blend it in.

2. Start adding the flour, bit by bit, first stirring with a wooden fork, then kneading by hand. Add melted and cooled-down butter, knead and add more flour until the dough feels soft and doesn't stick to your hand.

3. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place (a sink filled with warm water is ideal if it's a cool day) to double in size.

4. Gently punch down the dough to get rid of any air trapped inside. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for a further 10 minutes.

5. Roll the dough into a flat, 2cm thick square. It is probably easier to roll the dough if you do it in two batches. Spread softened butter thinly and evenly on the square, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and roll into a (very) thick cigar. Cut the roll into even sized pieces (this amount should make about 30 pieces). Press a fold in each piece with your little fingers to create the traditional korvapuusti shape. Arrange the buns on baking trays lined with baking paper (leave plenty of room between each bun), cover the trays with tea towels and leave to rise for another 30 minutes. 

6. Preheat the oven to 225C.

7. Just before baking, brush the buns with a lightly whisked egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in the preheated oven for about 10-12 minutes or until evenly browned. Leave to cool on a wired rack and cover with a tea towel. These freeze really well, as long as you let them cool completely, use thick freezer bags and empty out all the air from the bags so they won't dry out.

* Yes, I still follow a plant-based diet so these were actually just another hubby-treat in the M&M household.