A Coffee Bundt Cake from the North for a Fertile Season, And an Award Nomination

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I. The Girl from the North and Her Secret Ingredient

On a warm Spring day, a girl with mousy hair worn in two long braids, walked down the stairs of an airplane in Rimini, in north east Italy. The hot sun kissed her pale skin, and the humid air filled her nose thrills with the smell of the sea. As she took her first steps on the Italian soil —that couldn’t be more unlike her cold, dark and quiete country— she felt as though she had finally come home. She was glowing with that light of those who have found something they had long lost when she met the dark-haired, dark-skinned, fascinating young Roman who stole her young heart away. He happened to be in Rimini by pure chance, substituting a fellow tour driver who had fallen ill at the last moment. He could hardly understand a single word she said, but he fell in love with the Fin girl nonetheless. 

More than a year later, she gave birth to a baby boy that decades later I shared a significant amount of my life with. Although our paths later drifted apart and we didn’t get the dolce vita happily-ever-after of his parents, I am eternally grateful for the numerous ways this encounter enriched my life. She evoked the love for great north in me. For a magical Finland that glows in the aurea borealis, that is home to Santa Claus and its breakfasts always smells like big coffees and freshly baked cinnamon rolls.

Although back in the seventies that handsome Roman would bring his own pasta and tomato sauce whenever they travelled to Finland, it warms my heart to say that years later we shared many Christmas and Easter meals (untouchable staples of the Italian cooking tradition) with bountiful spreads of Italian, Finnish and Iranian dishes. If this is not one those marvelous immigrant food stories, I don’t know what is.

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One of the Finnish treats that she often baked is this incredible coffee bundt cake. Traditionally the cake is baked around Christmas time, but it’s so good that you’d want to eat it all year round. The cake is dark, moist and sweet just to the right point. There is something of a mystery to the taste of this cake, if you don’t know what the ingredients are. Coffee arrives first of course, but right after that a caramely, nutty note sneaks in, sometimes so stealthily, as if it was disguised in chocolate.  There is no chocolate, rest assured. The secret ingredient that together with coffee creates the unnamed flavor, is dates. You know that feeling when you were having a nice dream, yet you can’t quite remember what you were dreaming about? That’s how the combination of coffee and dates tastes like. 

Dates are the heart of a Finnish Christmas cake! Isn’t that mesmerizing? Think of the snow, the North Pole, the berries, and dates? There must be another immigrant food story about it that we just don’t know. I also add a good dose of cardamom powder, first because the cardamom-coffee match is made in heaven in North, second because the cardamom and dates match is made in the heavens in the middle east

II. New Season, New Projects & an Award Nomination

We’re nowhere near Christmas of course, but my I have no few reasons to be celebrating. First, Norouz, the Persian new year on the first day of Spring is just upon us (annual Norouz post coming super soon). I will be moving to a new apartment at the end of April and I have many plans and projects for the new place to share with you in person,  and last but definitely not least, I am among the finalists of the first edition of Cucina Blog Award, run by Italian daily paper, Corriere della Sera. Angela Frenda —the food editor of Corriere and cookbook author— has been working hard in the past years to raise the level of the food communication to the top measures of the world. I am honored beyond words to be in the group of 18 talented bloggers, most of whom have been of incredible influence and inspiration to my work.

If you like Lab Noon, you can show your support and vote for my blog in the Best Social Blog category. 

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The award is part of the yearly food conference called Cibo a Regola d’Arte, organized by Corriere and held in Milan from March 21st to April 2nd. I also have the pleasure to hold a Persian cooking lesson during the very same event on April 1st, that you can subscribe to here. The award ceremony is on the same night where the one and only Honey & Co from London will hold a pop-up restaurant. I can’t wait to meet them and taste their food, and I am thrilled to meet and reunite with other amazing finalist bloggers such as Fotogrammi di zucchero, Two for The Bar, Betty Liu, Il Gambero Russo, Miss Foodwise (Remember my post about her book? I am taking it with me to get it signed!), Juls’ Kitchen, Con le Mani in Pasta, Gnam Box, Valdirose, Hortus Cuisine, Naturalmente Buono, Kraut Kopf and others. Continue reading

One year of Lab Noon, the Virtual Birthday Party, Friuty Birthday Cake for Summer & a GIVE-AWAY!

Lab Noon's Fruity Birthday Cake | Torta di Compleanno di Lab Noon -3Lab Noon officially turned one on June 19th. I remember how very confused, extremely tired and incredibly excited I was to launch the blog after many months of work. The blog was supposed to be written three languages, English, Italian and Persian. I decided to omit Persian after a short while. My first ever recipe quickly became an all time hit! Though now looking back I see many things that I would’ve done differently. Lab Noon's Fruity Birthday Cake | Torta di Compleanno di Lab Noon -9

It’s been an amazing year. I have said long thanks to all supporters in the invitation to this virtual birthday party. Here I want to thank all these lovely and talented food bloggers, who have accepted my invitation and prepared lovely cakes/dessert to share with you for #LabNoonsBirthdayParty. Some of these bloggers have been inspirational to me even before I started blogging and some I discovered in this one of year blogging. Some of them I have met in person or know them more personally in some way, some were pure strangers that reached me and joined the party. I am so glad I’ve known you all. Big, acclaimed ones, and new comers. I wish I could hug you one by one, and taste your cakes. Thank you everyone, really. 

Lab Noon's Fruity Birthday Cake | Torta di Compleanno di Lab Noon -11Bellow you will find a list of all the food bloggers who have taken part in Lab Noon’s vitual birthday party and their recipes. (I have tried my best to be organized and get the right link to everyone, but if you get a error please let me know and I’ll fix it). Lab Noon's (virtual) Birthday Party-1-2

Secondly, I want to thank once more Paola from Pauta Pot who generously gives these two beautiful, handmade, birdy cups as a give-away for our party. You can win these cups simply by writing a comment under this post, about the recipes and Lab Noon’s birthday. Then I will extract a name randomly and we will send you those cups! Please remember that  free shipping is available only in Europe.

The Recipes of the Guest Food Bloggers for Lab Noon’s Birthday Party (in alphabetical order)

Lab Noon’s Fruity Birthday Cake for Summer

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My idea of home made cake is something simple and rustic. Of course I would love a proper, nice & fancy cake (like many of the recipes above really put me to shame for how beautiful and perfect they are). But cakes that I like to make are simple, and very homy, filled with nutrient ingredient, so that with a sweet treat you can more than just empty calories. Recently I am always using more fruit in the batter and on topping of cakes that I make. Inspired by some natural jams and confections that use apples or apple juice as sweeteners, I have reduced the amount of sugar in my cakes dramatically and I have substitute it with apples! Both apple puree or grated apple work. Apple puree is cooked (so more time need), more smooth, but can also be much more watery. Grated apples brown easily (no matter how much lemon juice you add), some pieces could be bigger than others, but it gives a very nice texture and moistness to the cake. Continue reading