Ladies and gentlemen, Its majesty: the Pastiera.

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I have always been a very unconventional person. To me, personally, traditions have always meant doing something just because someone else was used to do it, long before me; repeating gestures and actions that other people have set and established for me. I never managed to follow traditions with heart and soul, if I did it was only because I felt I had to, and exactly for that reason I didn’t like it. But, at the same time I am perfectly aware that traditions embody past, history and culture. I have always felt fascinated by other people traditions, and admired those people who embraced them and keep them alive.
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Lemon Crème Brulee – Or of a 9-month sugar strike

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And so, a week ago, I completed my sugar strike. Giving up sweets, especially for someone who writes a baking blog, might seem a strange move, but I have never been happier of my choice. Well, yes, the fact that now it’s done probably helps! I did it because I needed to change something in my eating habits, regain control of them; so, to me, more than deprivation, it was a discipline exercise, a challenge between my love for sweets and my will power, something I wanted to prove to myself.

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Mini-muffins: baking as a gift

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Two weeks ago, I started a 42 weeks long sugar-strike: no added sugar or sweets of any kind until the 26th of February. I don’t want to bother you with the details and the “whys” and the “hows” of this decision, but one thing I was a bit worried taking this step was my blog. Not being able to taste and try and eat what I make will be surely a big challenge, but then I thought: well, OK, baking is more like Science, so the really important thing is not to taste but to follow the recipe. And in all truth, if I want to develop something new or make my own adaptations and try new things there will always be a number of people willing to make the “sacrifice” of tasting my concoctions on my behalf, my husband, for example, has already signed up very happily.

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Pistachio, Orange e chocolate Runeberg Cakes, or Dante’s Peaks

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Last week on Friday Finland celebrated Johan Runeberg, national poet and namesake of one the most popular and loved sweets, the Runeber Cake. As most things in Finland people stick to the traditional recipe in q almost religious way: a tall tower of almonds and breadcrumbs sponge and a shiny topping of raspberry jam glaze surrounded by a layer of sweet icing.

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Hazelnut and orange cake: it’s time for celebration.

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Last week it was my husband’s birthday. As a tradition, I asked what kind of cake he would have liked to celebrate his special day and for the first time in 10 years I was given free rein to make whatever I felt like. I could have gone for some wacky flavours or some strange ingredients but I guessed that my conservative audience would have appreciated a more traditional, albeit new (at least for my kitchen), combination.

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Lemon Tart: Spring in a dessert, whatever the weather.

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One thing I learned since moving to Finland is that there’s no point in making projects and plans around weather and seasons, as there’s a quite good chance one might end up never do anything at all. If you live in Finland and you are waiting for a scorching hot Sunday to have a barbeque with friends or a sunny day without a drop of rain on sight to go for a walk by the lake, you might as well not even waste your time and just find yourself a nice book to read in the comfort of your home.

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