Easy Dead Sea Salt Scrub

During the wintertime Tiia always has had problems with atopic skin, especially on her hands. Depending on the weather it can be quite tolerable or awful in a few days change. Also she noticed that it gets worse if she has to use hand disinfectant and commercial liquid soap at work (plus stress and lack of sleep is a big factor). A while ago she had bought a quite pricey Dead Sea salt scrub which helped her quite well but didn’t have the best ingredients. Dead Sea salt is full of minerals and great for eczema in cosmetics and baths but of course you don’t have to suffer from atopic skin to enjoy it.

2women2cats: Diy Dead Sea Salt Scrub

I wouldn’t recommend using a scrub if your skin is already damaged so much that it has open wounds. For Tiia the scrub has prevented the skin to get that to that stage and she didn’t find the peeling effect too harsh on her skin. I bought a whole kilo of unprocessed Dead Sea salt at the eco market for around 10€. Way cheaper than the store bought ready made scrubs! You’ll mostly find the pure salt labeled as bath salt since it’s not edible. A kilo is a lot so I’d recommend also using it for the bathtub, if you have one, or for a relaxing foot or hand bath.

2women2cats: Diy Dead Sea Salt Scrub

Ingredients

Pure Dead Sea salt
Cold pressed oil of your choice – in this case I used sesame and macadamia

The salt is quite coarse (probably differs depending on the brand) so you need to break it down in a food processor first. You don’t want the peeling to be too harsh, so make sure the salt is quite small. I didn’t add any amounts because the recipe is really simple and you can start out making only a small batch to test it or a big jar.

2women2cats: Diy Dead Sea Salt Scrub

The only other thing you need to add to the scrub is oil. Whereas store bought peelings often use the cheapest processed oils, I would recommend using cold pressed oils only. Best would be if you already have experience in which oil your skin likes and which not. Sesame is a really great and mild oil that I also use for my face, while macadamia is a bit heavier and therefore I only added a small amount of.

Mix the salt with one or two oils of your choice in a bowl. Make sure everything is covered properly and there is a small layer of oil on top of the mixture. Then transfer into a jar or tin and your scrub is ready to use! You can keep it for a long time since there aren’t any perishable ingredients in it. Selfmade scrubs are also a great gift!

Stef

2women2cats: Diy Dead Sea Salt Scrub

2women2cats: Diy Dead Sea Salt Scrub

Finnish Runeberg’s Cakes

Runeberg's Cakes - 2women2cats

This is one of the Finnish desserts that probably every single Finn has had in their life. It is eaten on Runeberg’s Day on the 5th of February. Usually these cakes start to appear in the stores in January. The bought cakes are nice, but naturally nowhere near as good as self made ones. First of all they rarely have rum in them!

Runeberg's Cakes - 2women2cats

If you don’t like the flavour of rum, you can as well leave it out and replace it with lemon or orange juice. The Finn Crisps used in the recipe are a type of thin rye crispbread that is found everywhere in Finland. I’m not sure how common it is in other countries, but I know it is found at least in Germany. If you can’t get it anywhere, you can also replace it with gingerbread, speculoos or dark breadcrumbs.

Traditionally the cakes are baked in special Runeberg’s cake tins (cylinder shaped) but you can use a muffin silicone form or dessert rings. As you can see on the pictures I used different shapes for my cakes but I think the cylindrical ones looked the best.

Runeberg's Cakes - 2women2cats

The cakes should be really moist despite the amount of different crumbly ingredients. This is why they are moisturized with a water/sugar/rum mixture, and if you’re not eating the cakes on the day of the making, you should give them a small bath before serving.

Runeberg's Cakes - 2women2cats

Runeberg's Cakes - 2women2cats

Runeberg’s Cakes (6 pieces)

Ingredients

50 g almonds
45 g Finn Crisps
45 g breadcrumbs
90 g plain white flour
100 g butter (room temperature)
90 g sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 egg
100 ml heavy cream
2 drops bitter almond aroma

100 ml water
25 g brown cane sugar
1 tbsp rum

raspberry jam
powder sugar and water

Crush the almonds into a rough crumble with a food processor. Do the same with the Thin Crisps, but process them into a fine flour. Set them aside for later use.

Runeberg's Cakes - 2women2cats

Runeberg's Cakes - 2women2cats

Whip the butter and sugar into a foam and add the egg while whisking.
Mix the dry ingredients together and add them to the batter. Pour in the cream, add two drops of bitter almond and whisk just until everything is evenly incorporated.

Runeberg's Cakes - 2women2cats

Runeberg's Cakes - 2women2cats

Pour the batter into a muffin pan or your desired tins. Bake at 200°C for 20-25 minutes. While the cakes are in the oven, make the rum/water/sugar mixture. Heat up the water in a pan, dissolve the sugar in it and add the rum.

When you take the cakes out of the oven, pour some of the water mixture on them immediately and let them cool down in the pan. You can smooth out the tops with your fingers to give them a flatter look.

To make the sugar ring take a few spoons of powder sugar and add just enough water to make a paste. Don’t let it get too thin! Pour into a piping bag and decorate each cake with a sugar ring. Add a spoonful of raspberry jam in the middle.

Enjoy!

Tiia

Runeberg's Cakes - 2women2cats

Runeberg's Cakes - 2women2cats

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Well, here in Finland Valentine’s Day is not only for lovers, as it is called ystävänpäivä –  Friend’s Day. Children give cards and hugs to their friends, and adults post statuses on Facebook wishing everybody a happy Friend’s Day. And of course some tell everybody who is willing to listen, how this day is corporate bullshit.

Happy Valetine's Day -- 2 women 2 cats

I think life needs as many celebrations as possible, so I have obviously nothing against Valentine’s Day. Every excuse to eat cake, buy flowers and have a good time is appreciated!

So I wish everybody would switch their grumpy button off and have a great day with their loved ones – be that their friends of family, their romantic partner or partners or just their very special selves.

Tiia

Happy Valetine's Day -- 2 women 2 cats

My third cat Narri who lives at my parents' - she's a beauty
My third cat Narri who lives at my parents’ – she’s a beauty

Happy Valetine's Day -- 2 women 2 cats

 

Saaristolaisleipä – A Traditional Finnish Bread

I have been making our own bread for quite a while. If I have enough time on my hands I usually make sourdough bread but it is not as failproof as normal yeast dough and really time consuming. For a few weeks now I have tried to master an Estonian sourdough rye bread but I keep on failing miserably. I can tell you that nothing is worse than having to throw a fresh loaf into the trash!

I decided to have a break from Estonian bread making, so next on my agenda was a traditional Finnish bread – saaristolaisleipä. Often translated as Islander or Archipelago bread, it consists of rye and wheat flour with rye malt and dark syrup. The malt gives the bread the dark look that is typical for this bread and the syrup a soft and sticky consistency and a slight sweet flavour. And the best thing: it isn’t a sourdough bread and therefore easier to make (at least for me).

Saaristolaisleipä - A traditional Finnish Bread

The recipe I used was originally for three breads but in case I would fail again I only made two. I also converted the measurements into grams since Finnish recipes mostly use deciliters for measuring and it tends to confuse people too much.

Ingredients

665 ml buttermilk, 2,5% fat
50 g fresh yeast
200 ml dark bread syrup (contains malt) or other dark syrup/treacle
150 g malt flour (I used rye malt)
60 g spelt bran (or wheat/rye bran)
130 g rye flour
400 g wheat flour
3/4 tbsp sea salt

For the glaze

1tbsp dark syrup
3 tbsp water

Spices (optional)

bread spices like coriander, fennel, cumin 
hemp seeds

Take a saucepan and heat the buttermilk on the stove until it’s lukewarm. Crumble the yeast into it and let is dissolve slightly, then add the syrup.

In a big bowl mix all the dry ingredients (including spices if you like) and then slowly add the buttermilk/yeast mixture while stirring with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula. You don’t have to mix it for long but make sure everything is properly incorporated. The dough will be quite liquid, unlike wheat dough. Cover with a towel and let it rise for around 1,5 hours in room or above room temperature. I put it on our bathroom floor which has floorheating. Make sure to check the dough every once in a while because how fast it will rise depends a lot on the temperature and also texture of the dough. The dough is ready when it has doubled in size.

Make sure to preheat the oven to 175°C before the rising time is up. Grease two loaf tins with butter and divide the dough into two parts. Distribute it equally between the tins and smooth out with wet hands. You can then add hemp seeds on top of the breads if you like. Bake them on the lowest rack for 2 hours. Spray a bit of water into the oven or keep a little bowl with water underneath the breads to keep them moist. Depending on your oven you might need to cover them with tinfoil after an hour to prevent the top from burning.

For the sticky glaze mix the syrup with the water and brush the breads with it 15 – 30 minutes before they are done. When the time is up, take the breads out of the tins immediately and brush the rest of the syrupy water on them. Then wrap each in parchment paper and wrap firmly with two towels. Let them  cool down like this completely or best overnight so they are well rested in the morning. Now it is time to taste your bread! Enjoy!

Stef

Saaristolaisleipä - A traditional Finnish Bread

Saaristolaisleipä - A traditional Finnish Bread

Saaristolaisleipä - A traditional Finnish Bread

 

Happy Runeberg’s Day!

On 5th of February Finland celebrates Runeberg day, the birthday of national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg who lived in the 19th century. Although he wrote in Swedish, part of his most popular work became the National Anthem of Finland. It is said that his wife, who was a writer herself, invented the Runeberg cake which her husband loved to eat for breakfast. The pastry is flavoured with almonds, cardamom and is topped with raspberry jam in the middle of a sugar ring. Traditionally it is eaten on Runeberg’s birthday.

2women2cats: Runeberg Cake (Finnish pastry)

Tiia usually makes Runeberg’s cakes herself but this week was so busy that she didn’t quite have the time for it so far. Fortunately Kanniston Leipomo, a bakery nearby, sells freshly made ones, so I got two pieces for the afternoon. On the weekend she’ll hopefully get around to make some of her own and put the recipe on the blog, so everybody who is not able to buy these great pastries in their country can make their own.

Happy Runeberg’s Day or hyvää Runebergin päivää!

Stef