Learning and adapting to new things also makes you think more about where you come from. In certain moments, when for example lunching with Dutch colleagues and feeling really frustrated when your Dutch conversation skills are matching to a level of 3-year old, it is sometimes good to just do things you are familiar with. Or so I thought...
Finland is by no means a catholic country, but we do have our own carnival type of celebration this time of year. It is called 'Laskiainen' which means something like counting down but also freely interpreted as sledding downhill. It usually is around the skiing holidays in week 8, and as well as going outside and playing in the snow and doing lots of sledding, we also eat a special kind of sweet pastry, 'Laskiaispulla'.
I had the recipe, I had my imported baking bowls and cardamom, accompanied with yeast, flour, butter, milk and sugar from the Albert Heijn. Yes, the Dutch guy thought I was a bit loosing it when I came back from my last Finland trip with three pipes of cardamom, but it is different here! Really! :)
I was ready to go and amaze the Dutch guy with some nice pulla from Finland. As a modern day expat, instead of calling home to mom I googled the recipe and followed it very precisely. I was thinking, that I didn't realise they are so healthy as I needed really small amount of sugar and butter for the baking. The dough felt good, and I left it to rise. The pulla's went to the oven and everything was still fairly OK. During the 8 crucial minutes they were in there, something strange happened. I took out from the oven 8 mushroom looking little pulla's, which had a very hard outer shell, almost like bread. This is of course not at all how they are supposed to be.
I felt kind of sad, and said to the Dutch guy that basically these are now totally disastrous and maybe I just need to hand in my "I'm Finnish" card because even this goes wrong. We ate few with whipped cream, and indeed the looks can deceive, as they were not completely bad. Somehow they just didn't taste really sweet, but the Dutch guy claimed they are very nice. (He is a well raised Dutch person).
Today I called mom and complained also to her about failing miserably when making the pulla. When I told about the recipe I used, she said it sounds really strange and it turned out, it had 50 % too little butter and sugar. That sort of explains! Now I got a new real recipe to my email, and I will try with better luck in the coming weekend. Learning point, even though being separated by few thousand km's, call mom when in doubt :-)