Today is a flagging day for the honour of Finland's national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg. These little cakes are just as much named after his wife Fredrika Runeberg who is nowadays also a highly respected writer but was left in the shadow of her husband at the time. The recipe she had probably adapted from a confectioner called Lars Astenius was found recently and naturally has very little to do with the numerous versions we now know as Runeberg's Tarts.
At this point I have to confess the only work I've ever heard or read from either of them is Johan's poem Vårt Land (Maamme in Finnish, Our Land in English) that became Finland's national anthem ‒ and I don't even like the song. The Runebergs were a part of the Swedish-speaking elite whom I can hardly relate to. The reason I find this couple so important is that they were key figures among the Fennomans who created the idea of Finnish people as we now understand it. Thanks to them, I can now get academic education in the language of my ancestors and read the most massive poem collection of the whole world: the Finnish Folklore Archives, mostly written in the magical ancient poem form Kalevala metre. In a way I even feel me and my spouse are following their large footsteps, trying to get Finnish cultural heritage better known in our humble ways. Perhaps I really should read some of their writings.
The tarts of today typically feature almonds and gingerbread crumbs. They're decorated with raspberry jam and powdered sugar plus water icing. I used arctic raspberry, possibly the most decadent tasting berry on the face of the planet, but apple sauce fits here as well. Store-bought tarts are usually cylinder-shaped though you could also make small muffins or just one big cake. A major part of the taste comes from the moisturizing and it's hard to spread it evenly so make sure to choose something you love. (I strongly recommend my Finnish-speaking readers to read this story about making a cut brandy version.)
- 150 g margarine
- 1 dl sugar
- 2 dl almonds
- 2 dl bread crumbs (preferably consisting of gingerbread and rye crisps)
- 1 dl wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon flax seeds
- 1 dl water
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- rum or arrack punsch for moisturizing (about 1 dl)
Heat up the water and leave the flax seeds soak in it. Beat the margarine and the sugar together so they form a fluffy mixture. Grind the almonds. Add everything except the moisturizer into the batter. If you're using baking tins (or four oven-proof coffee mugs like I did) oil and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Be careful not to overfill your tins or paper cups since the tarts will rise in the oven. Even the surfaces and put them into a 175°C oven for about half an hour.
Let the tarts cool down. Moisture and wait a few hours before flipping them out of the tins. Add more rum onto the other end and decorate if you wish.
If you have the patience, refrigerate them overnight. I didn't. Eating half of these after only couple of hours was the only way to save the pecan chocolate cheese cake my spouse made for his mum.
Nutritional values / 1 mug-size tart:
energy 707 kcal
fat 48 g
protein 13 g
carbohydrates 42 g
fiber 6 g