February is the month of snow and cold -and sometimes, like today, of rain! The above was the view from my living room window this morning, but luckily February is also the month for two very special baked goodies here in Finland: shrove buns and Runeberg's cakes. Last year I shared with you a recipe for shrove buns. So, let's talk about Johan Ludvig Runeberg and Runeberg's cakes this time.
Johan Ludvig Runeberg was born in February 5th 1804 in Pietarsaari, and he died in Porvoo May 6th 1877. He was a poet, a novelist, a journalist and a teacher. He was a Swedish speaking Finn, who wrote all his works in Swedish. His poem Vårt land or Maamme in Finnish (Our Land in English) is his most well known piece of work as is was used as lyrics for the Finnish national anthem. Runeberg is considered the national poet of Finland. His poetry has been compared to that of Keats, Shelley and Lermontov among others. His birthday is an official flag-raising day. For most of us the most common way to celebrate Runeberg's day is to eat Runeberg's cakes.
These lovely, moist, almondy cakes topped with a dollop of raspberry jam circled with some white or pink icing are a hit in every bakery or food store from January to February 5th, and in Runeberg's home town Porvoo there is a cafe in which it is possible to buy Runeberg's cakes all year round.
It is said that Runeberg himself was very fond of these cakes. His wife Fredrika had written a recipe for the cakes in her recipe book in the 1850s. Her recipe was propably an adaptation of a recipe by pastry-cook Lars Astenius. He had created a similar cake in the 1840s.
For a proper Runeberg's cake you need a special tin, as the cakes should be quite tall with straight sides, but if you don't own a Runeberg's cake tin it is also possible to bake them in a muffin tin.
Below you will find a picture of a Runeberg's cake I bought in a bakery. And did it taste good? Oh, yes! Pure edible poetry!:) If you are wondering of the right way to eat this cake, I'll give you two options:
1. The civilized way - use a teaspoon or a dessert fork
2. Cinnamonda's way - crab the cake with your fingers, start munching from the bottom and leave the best (that is the top with icing and jam) for last. :)
In case you want to try and bake some Runeberg's cakes there is a recipe on the Nordic Recipe Archive. The same recipe is quoted on Nigella's page.
More on J. L. Runeberg in English can be found here.