Archive for ‘baking’

September 5, 2013

Blackberry cock – An Irish twist of an east Finnish classic

by Ciaran Burke
The baked pie... anybody for some blackberry cock?

The baked pie… anybody for some blackberry cock?

When I was first offered a fish cock in Kuopio, the capital of the eastern Finnish province of Savo, I did not know how to respond. One does not wish to be rude and impolite to the natives, but the prospect did not sound too promising. The look on my face must have betrayed my fear, it was explained to me that the fish cock was indeed a fish pie. Mustikkakukko, blueberry cock, is a blue berry pie made with a delicious rye pastry. Such pies are also called rättänä in Savo, Finland. The Finnish blueberry is Vaccinium myrtillus, what we call bilberry or froachan. The bilberry season has passed us, it is now prime blackberry season. Along the hedgerows and roads the black fruits of Rubus fruticosus, hang inviting us to pick them, and so the blackberry cock was created!


Blackberry Cock (pie made with rye pastry)


For the pastry

  • 250ml Rye flour
  • 125g butter
  • 125g light muscavado sugar, sieved
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

For the filling

  • 700ml blackberries (about 0.5kg)
  • 50ml sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon corn flour
Crumbling the butter with the rye flour

Crumbling the butter with the rye flour


  1. Mix together the rye flour with sieved sugar and baking powder
  2. Crumble in the butter
  3. Wrap in greaseproof paper and put in the fridge for at least an hour
  4. Mix the blackberries, sugar and corn flour
  5. Line a ceramic dish with a little more than half of the rye pastry, saving some for the top
  6. Fill in the blackberry mix and then top off with the rye pastry. Working with rye pastry is more difficult than wheat or spelt pastry, it is very difficult to roll. So don’t worry if it does not hold together.
  7. Place in a pre-heated oven to 200 degrees Celcius and bake for 30 minutes.

The soft texture of the sweet rye pastry is delicious with blackberries. In Finland the blueberry cock is often served with vanilla custard, that would also be perfect for the blackberry version. Serve the pie warm or cold.

A delicious slice of black berry cock.. yum!

A delicious slice of black berry cock.. yum!

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December 2, 2012

Deck the halls with boughs of Holly – Christmas Wreath Workshop

by Ciaran Burke


Not just holly! Laurel, redwood, ferns, hawthorn, spruce, cotton lavender, ivy, heather, artichokes, alder, willow, spruce and many, many more.

Getting it just right....

Getting it just right….

Take a sprig of laurel, no ordinary laurel, Otto Luyken’s low growing one. Add a spray of a bronze  leaved conifer wearing its winter clothes, darkened from summer green, Microbiota decussata from Vladivostok. A spruce shoot or two from the felled trees from behind the house and a plump bunch of creamy green flower buds from the fragrant spring flowering Skimmia x confusa ‘Kew Green’. Tied with tender care and lovingly crafted into a Christmas wreath. Take a break, sip some hot glögi, a Finnish Christmas punch, have a nibble on a mince pie or Tunisian orange cake and back to work. Creativity filled the air, mingling with the warm chatter and yummy smell of home baked cakes. Just the way a Christmas Wreath workshop should be.

A finished wreath

A finished wreath

This was the first workshop to take place in our newly built classroom. Over the last two weeks my Dad and myself have been busy hammering and sawing. The wooden building had been installed, it was our job to insulate the structure, wire it for electricity and finish off the inside with tounged and grooved wood panelling. We had a deadline to meet. 1st of December and Hanna’s Christmas wreath workshop.  We finished on time, ahead of time, last Thursday we had our first class, the RHS Level 2 course took place there, and on Friday a Christmas tree was added, decorated with lights and Hanna’s advent wreath was placed on the table. We were ready.

Sequoia sempervirens 'Adpressa'

Sequoia sempervirens ‘Adpressa’

The workshop was about making Christmas wreaths, using plant material from the garden and hedgerow, there were also cakes and Christmas punch, glögi a Finnish spiced grape drink. Homemade mince pies started the day with tea and coffee, later there was cranberry and orange tart, Tunisian orange cake and Finnish style Christmas pastries filled with delicious prune jam. Our classroom was filled with happiness, a vibrant buzz and by the end of the day everybody had created a beautiful Christmas wreath to bring home with them. Thank you to all the wreath makers for making this a memorable 1st of December and bringing good cheer to our classroom.

Links to recipes for cakes and glögi

Cakes for the workshop

Cakes for the workshop


In the gallery below are photos from our christmas wreath workshop and also some photos of some of the plants that were used in the making of the wreaths.







December 2, 2012

Joulutortut (Finnish Christmas Tarts) – Recipe

by Ciaran Burke
Joulutortut (Finnish Christmas tarts)This is a traditional Advent and Christmas bake. When prepared the pastry needs to stand overnight before rolling. Here is Hanna’s recipe for these delicious pastries. This is one of the lovely cakes that we enjoyed during our Christmas Wreath Workshop on 1st December in The Garden School.
Here is a link to the Christmas Wreath Workshop

  • 200g butter
  • 200ml whip cream
  • about 2cups (European cup=250ml) flour (I use white spelt, but mostly people use wheat of course)
  • 1/2tsp. baking powder


  1. For the pastry: mix by hand the room temperature butter with 1,5 cup of flours and baking powder until even.
  2. Whip the cream thick and add into the flour mix. Fold together.
  3. Sieve in the rest of the flour. Mix and form the pastry into a ball.
  4. Wrap with baking paper and leave overnight in the fridge.



  • about 200g stoneless prunes
  • piece of cinnamon stick
  • some orange grind slices
  • 2-3tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 egg for brushing


  1. To prepare the filling, put the prunes into a pot with some water and the sugar and spices. Cook until soft, and the water has boiled away.
  2. Take out the cinnamon stick and orange grind slices.
  3. Mix smooth with mixer.

Baking the pastries

  1. Take the cooled pastry from the fridge and roll it with some flour on the table to the thickness of ¼ of an inch or so. Fold back together with three or four folds and roll flat again. Repeat this three or four times.
  2. Then roll the pastry as square as possible again to the thickness of ¼ of an inch or little less. Cut with pastry cutter (or pizza cutter of knife) into even squares about 4X4inches.
  3. Cut all the corners open in diagonal to the centre IMG_0451
  4. Put about 1tsp. of the filling into the middle of each square. Fold every right half of the corner up to the centre onto the top of the filling. (It should look like a 4-armed star). The folded corners hold better together if you keep tipping your fingers into the water while folding, so that the pastry is always moist where it comes together.

Place the stars onto a buttered and floured baking tray, and brush well with slightly whisked egg. Bake for 10-15min. in 200°C. Before serving sprinkle with icing sugar.


December 2, 2012

Cranberry and Orange Tart – Recipe

by Ciaran Burke
Cranberry and orange tart

Cranberry and orange tart

Cranberry and Orange Tart Recipe

This is one of the lovely cakes that we enjoyed during our Christmas Wreath Workshop on 1st December in The Garden School.

Here is a link to the Christmas Wreath Workshop



  • 2 cups of porridge oat flakes
  • 2 cups of whole grain spelt flour
  • 100g butter
  • 4 rounded dessert spoons of light brown sugar
  • Water


  1. Place oat flakes in a food processor and blend until they are like a coarse flour
  2. Add spelt flour and sugar to the oat flour in the processor and process for a minute to mix well
  3. Add the butter a little at a time while processing until the mixture becomes crumbly and slightly moist to touch
  4. Add a couple of dessert spoons of water and process for a minute
  5. Remove pastry from processor and wrap with grease proof paper , leave the pastry for an hour in the fridge.
  6. Roll out to fit a 20cm buttered tart tin.
  7. Press the rolled pastry into the tin and trim away the excess from the edges
  8. Place and fit some grease proof paper onto the pastry in the tin and pour some rice or dried peas onto to the paper to weigh it down.
  9. Bake in the oven at 180° Celcius for about 25 minutes or until the pastry is properly cooked
  10. Then remove the paper and let cool
Cranberry and orange tart

Cranberry and orange tart



  • 500g cranberries
  • 350g sugar
  • 250ml water
  • grated zest and juice of two organic oranges


  1. Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan
  2. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 15 – 20 minutes
  3. The jam will be sticking to a wooden spoon
  4. Allow the jam to cool a bit, a skin will form on top
  5. give the jam a stir and then fill in to the pastry base
  6. Allow to cool at room temperature  until the jam is set
December 2, 2012

Tunisian Orange Cake Recipe

by Ciaran Burke
Tunisian Orange Cake

Tunisian Orange Cake

Tunisian Orange Cake – Recipe

This is one of the lovely cakes that we enjoyed during our Christmas Wreath Workshop on 1st December in The Garden School.

Here is a link to the Christmas Wreath Workshop


  • 200g light brown sugar
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 50 g white spelt flour ( or wheat flour)
  • 1.5 tbsp baking powder
  • 5 eggs
  • 50ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 150ml sunflower oil
  • zest of two organic oranges
  • zest of one organic lemon

for syrup

  • juice of one lemon
  • juice of 2 oranges
  • 75 g light brown sugar
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 6 whole cloves


  1. Mix well the ground almonds, flour, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl
  2. In another bowl whisk together the eggs and oils
  3. Add the almond and flour mix to the egg mixture and mix well
  4. Add orange and lemon zest and stir in
  5. Pour the mixture to a buttered and floured cake tin
  6. Put the cake into a COLD oven
  7. Turn the oven on to 180 degree Celcius
  8. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes
  9. WHile the cake is baking make the syrup; add the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to boil and then let simmer for 30 minutes
  10. When the cakes is baked, remove from the tin, then pierce it a few times with a fork
  11. Spoon the syrup over the cake while the cake is still hot
  12. Let it too cool before serving, the wait is the hardest part!


The method and ingredients are the same except:

For the cake mixture:

  • Use the zest of two lemons and leave out orange entirely
  • Add 1 teaspoon of ground cardamon seeds and a pinch of salt

For the syrup:

  • Instead of orange juice use the juice of 3 lemons
  • Replace cinnamon and cloves with 6 cardamon pods
  • Sugar quantity is the same

The wait is just as hard!

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