Spending time

I have now successfully spent a month(!) in Queensland, doing things that are mostly just-for-fun productive. My biggest accomplishments have been making pulla and pulla 2.0 (with macadamia and chocolate spread, also with raspberry jam), and also baking gingerbread cookies aka Ultimate Christmas Food. I have felt relaxed and happy to just unwind, but also occasionally stressed and pressed about the things that I should be doing and how to move and do and create and develop and earn money and and and…but this is all good. I am here, playing with the dogs (first wrote gods, oops), going to the weekend markets, eating vegetarian sausage rolls, reading and breathing and learning about all of that. So much learning sometimes my brain starts buzzing!

Some days you feel like  wreck on land - but then comes high tide and it's all good
Some days you feel like wreck on land – but then comes high tide and it’s all good.

I am re-creating my website, and thinking about life from now. I have studied a lot about professional this and that and how to make 5-number salary online. While this kind of information can be inspiring to one that has no profession and a severe case of wanderlust, I realised that the more I read about creating revenue and email lists and online courses and how anyone can do it and it takes only a bit of dedication and just only these programs to do, I got very anxious and it has pulled me away from the joy of writing, of creating and sharing. We went to Fraser Island the other week, and I wanted to write about that but it never somehow happened. My writing has never been aimed to create revenue or to get as many people to read my posts; I have been writing for myself or like I would write to a friend who lives halfway across the world, not having to give a rats ass about making the post SEO friendly and having 5 sentence paragraphs and bullet lists and all the other things that make blogs read-worthy.

Lady on le beach
Lady on le beach.

Anyhow, in the near future this blog will probably move to the new site, and I will continue writing as I feel like, not abiding to the rules of all the people who want as much dough as possible.

Things I enjoy learning right now: Patience. Things will come in their right time. This life is precious, and everything is more than alright. I have the chance to just be and enjoy being, I’d be crazy to not make the most of it when I can. Who knows where I’ll be in 6 months, how hectic life will be. Now that everything is good and I can just pick a pair of boxers and ski around wearing them all day, why not enjoy that to the fullest. I’ll have time to work and run around like a maniac later. Until then… smoothie bowls and hugs and kisses for days.

Someone climbed to a fire tower for pictures. Someone else has no spiderman skills
Someone climbed to a fire tower for pictures. Someone else has no faith in their spiderman skills.
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How To Make: Pulla

I am more of an advocate for clean treats, but pulla is so tightly in my DNA that in the name of giving others the ability to enjoy the essence of Finnish coffee table staple is something that I am willing to compromise on. I have made the Finnish national pastry, pulla, 4 times this past year, and now I decided that it is time for me to share my dear grandma’s wisdom with you.

When I heard the words “But you haven’t even made pulla yet!” yesterday, the inner housewife in me was devastated. And so today I decided that “it is too hot” is merely a poor excuse for not allowing the lovely scent of cardamom and cinnamon to fill the house. All I have is time, so why not sweat for a good cause?

Pulla is essentially cinnamon bun, but then again it has some unique characteristics making it very Finnish/Swedish, depending on which side of the gulf you’re standing. Sure, you can get kanelbulle/kanelipulla/cinnamon buns from Ikea, but trust me, these are way worth the proofing, kneading and baking yourself.

In Auckland I experimented with making gluten free pulla, and ended up gobbling them all down like I would never have the chance to get them again, so it is proven you can also make allergy friendly version of these, it just won’t be quite the same.

Epic Finnish Cinnamon Buns

5 dl/ 2C + 2 tbsp milk (heated to body temperature aka 37C)
50 g yeast or 16 g instant dry active yeast
2 eggs
2 dl/180 g caster sugar
2 tsp fine salt
1-2 tbsp cardamom (use less if whole pods, way more if ground)
1 tsp vanilla (or 2 tsp vanilla sugar)
15 dl all purpose flour (don’t use self rising or other similar wild stuff) and some for dusting
200 g butter or shortening, melted

Filling:
caster sugar
cinnamon
butter

1 egg for brushing

A whisk, mixing bowl at least twice as big as the dough, rolling pin, sharp kitchen knife

Mix the luke warm milk, sugar, salt, cardamom, and vanilla together in a huge bowl. If you use fresh yeast, mix that in with the milk first, otherwise just hang on and mix the dry yeast with a bit of flour. Whisk the milk and other ingredients before gradually adding about 2/3 of the flour. Knead the dough, add butter and the rest of the flour gradually, all the while kneading so that the dough comes off the sides of your bowl and doesn’t stick to your hand. Cover with a tea towel and put the dough bowl in a warm place (ie sink filled with hot water) to incubate for a good while, until the size has about doubled – something around 1/2-2 hours.

Ready to roll
Ready to roll

When the dough is good to go, turn your oven up to 220C. Gently knead the dough for a bit, dust your baking surface with flour, and get your rolling pin ready. Grb a nice big chunk of the dough and roll it into thin rectangular shape. Use flour to prevent the dough from sticking. Once nice and somewhat even, lather the dough with a layer of butter, a layer of sprinkled sugar, and a layer of cinnamon.

Rolled dough ready for cutting
Rolled dough ready for cutting

Start rolling the dough in from the long side like a sushi, making it nice and tight. After you have a roll, turn the edge to face downwards, and it is time to cut! Get your knife, and cut the roll in an angle, like you were making triangles with blunt tops. The size of these blunt triangles depends on the size of your dough roll and how big buns you like. Once you’ve cut all the triangles, turn them so that the blunt part is facing upwards, and use the nail side of your middle fingers to press firmly down lengthwise. This should pop the middle parts out a bit. If not, that’s totally cool as well.

Pulla triangles in a row
Pulla triangles in a row
Neat triangles
Neat triangles

After all the tops are pressed down, whisk an egg in a mug, brush the buns, and sprinkle them with some coarse sugar, also known as pearl sugar. If you can’t find that, no worries, just use normal sugar and almond flakes or coconut flakes or whatever comes to mind. These guys need some more time proofing, so let them be under a tea towel on top of the oven for about 10-15 minutes before baking. Pop the buns in the oven and bake until the smell is divine and the buns are brown – approx. 7-10 minutes, or if your oven is uneven and weird, maybe closer to half an hour.

Ready for brushing and oven
Ready for brushing and oven

Notes: You can also make normal pulla with no cinnamon sugar filling, just by rolling the dough into balls. If you want to make it more interesting, press a hole on the top, and fill it with butter, finish off with a sprinkle of sugar. Raisins are a popular addition in the dough, but personally I like to stick with the cinnamon version.

Pile o' pulla
Pile o’ pulla

The dough is tasty, but with 20 years of pulla making experience, you will feel gross and bloated and get yeast burps if you eat too much of it. I have learned that the hard way, trust me.

Cuppa and pulla
Cuppa and pulla

Enjoy your pulla with coffee, but have cold milk on the side. Best enjoyed warm and fresh from the oven, but also edible the next few days and delicious when popped in the oven for a bit before eating.

Housewifing

What does one do in the sticks, when the temperature is soaring 30+ degrees? I am not in charge of gardening, and there is no one to cook for (after making a banana blueberry bred and eating it pretty much alone I decided to stay away from baking). Every single morning of this past week I have slept in, and by that I mean indulged in more bed time that I could have imagined possible – I can’t remember the last time I could have slept until 9am, let alone 10.30 or 11!

The friendliest dude
The friendliest dude

Here I have granted myself the permission to sleep as late as I desire, and as it has become my afternoon routine to grab my Kindle and read Michael Pollan on the patio, I have dozed off until the sun starts to set, the weather cools down and I get a tad chilly. To those interested in food, sociology and cooking, I can highly recommend Michael Pollan’s Cooked. The Netflix documentary of Cooked, albeit stylish like Chef’s Table, has nothing compared to this work of wisdom. I am glad I have finally started to take advantage of this little machine I bought waaaaay back in Hong Kong, and haven’t really used since. After this book I need to come up with something else to read! In a weird way, reading something informative as opposed to Fifty Shades Of Grey makes me feel like I am doing something constructive with my time.

The bread that somehow lasted 2 whole days
The bread that somehow lasted 2 whole days

Besides Cooked and cooking (I also made a frittata, and today kale pesto, but that’s about it), I have immersed myself with studying online and wrecking my brain with design and ideas almost good enough to be gone through. Maybe soon I will actually grasp something, instead of thinking.

All this passiveness in addition to few sneaky episodes of The Vikings would have driven me completely nuts, had I not had the help of Fitnessblender Youtube account to help me move like I mean it. The first Tabata session of the week resulted in horrible pain in my calves that just won’t disappear, so the rest of the week has been a bit more moderate. Who needs pilates studios, when you can do it at home (on a towel if you happened to leave your yoga mat in the last place you lived)?

Pretty flowers on the patio
Pretty flowers on the patio

Funny thing I have experienced for the first time ever this week: the housewife-feeling of waiting the hubby to return home from work. I do things every day that I feel like doing, and time goes by quite pleasantly (did I mention I sleep in and sometimes take a nap too?), but as the hours tick by, I look at the clock more often in anticipation of the human contact that will come as the sun has set and the work for the day has finished.

If I had mouths to feed I reckon I’d do this housewife thing pretty well.