In Finland, we have a day for a significant Finnish poet, Johan Ludvig Runeberg. You might think he would be best known for his poets, but actually nowadays the first thing that pops into our minds after hearing his name, is his signature pastry. And there’s a story behind it. Once Runeberg asked his wife to bake something sweet and she had to create something with only the ingredients found from their pantry. There wasn’t much but she had gingerbreads (I dare to claim, they were leftovers from Christmas). And then the pastry was born. And now, years and years later, we all eat it once a year. Tall pastry topped with a little spoonful of raspberry jam and thin circle of icing around it. I remember that as a little girl I usually liked to eat just the top part (including the jam and icing sugar glaze of course!).
I really like this pastry that has been named after a famous poet. But here in Finland we’re very stuck to that idea to eat it on one day, once a year. No more. But I love the spicy cardamom and gingerbread taste, so I refuse to leave it to just that one time. So I don’t say I bake Runeberg’s pastry, I bake my own version which doesn’t include bitter almond (oh I don’t like that at all!) or alcohol (it’s usually used for making the cake moist). And it doesn’t even look like the traditional one – I like to bake mine in pretty cake tins! I also might leave the raspberry jam off if I want a lighter version. But in spite of the details, it’s delicious and you should try it – no matter what month it is, or where you live. If you like moist bundt cakes, you’ll love this!
Tiny gingerbread cakes
About 80 g of gingerbreads (perfect for using your leftovers from Christmas!)
250 ml almond flour
150 ml crushed almonds
210 g (4 dl) all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting)
4 tsp of ground cardamom
1 tbsp of vanilla sugar
2 tsp of baking powder
250 g of butter (plus extra for greasing)
255 g (3 dl) of sugar
200 ml cream
3 tbsp of sugar
300 ml of water
Icing sugar glaze
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Crush the gingerbreads in blender (or by hand) to get even texture and mix them with almond flour, crushed almonds, flour, ground cardamom, vanilla sugar and baking powder in a bowl.
Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy and pale. Beat in the eggs one by one.
Keep whisking and add the flour mixture and cream in turns, in small portions.
Grease the tins you want to use and dust the sides with flour. I used mini bundt cake tins, but you can use almost any shape and size you want – just keep in mind the size effects the baking time. This batter makes enough for one big cake or 8–12 smaller ones.
Divide the batter between the tins and spread out evenly. Leave a couple of centimeters space on the top. Bake for 30 minutes, or until browned and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10-20 minutes.
At this point you can already eat the cake. But we can make it even better now – let’s moisten the cakes! Boil the water and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Spoon some syrup over the cakes – you don’t need to use it all. Then finish the cakes with icing sugar glaze.
As Finnish, we could add some raspberry jam too – then we would call it Runeberg’s pastry which we enjoy once a year in every February.