After almost two months on foot, we were looking forward to this weekend to finally buy our bicycles! price searches, high expectations, etc, after all they say it’s spring and summer’s just around the corner: prices will probably increase, since the summer rule here is never to stay home – sun is not something you can see every day of the year (literally!).
But it happens that – what is actually very good – the working week in Norway is one of the shortest in the world, and commerce in Ålesund closes its doors at about 3pm! Malls can be found open up to 6pm. Sundays? Don’t even try! On Sundays you take your bike and go on a family ride (if you’re lucky enough to have already bought one). It gets clear that family here is always first on the list. You see that on maternity and paternity leaves, on being cool to leave the office if your kid has a special event at school and also in this short working week: it is expected from the worker that he enjoys the life he gets by working, and it seems human to me.
Despite that – or would it also be because of that?, here you see one of the highest wages in the world, among the 5 top. Norwegians even have time to make the most of what they earn!
But we knew about all this short hours thing and arrived at the mall to buy the bikes a little before 4pm. Buuuuuuut a surprise: tomorrow is holiday! And so is Monday! E because all that (?!) EVERYTHING today, a full let’s-buy-our-bikes-Saturday, closed its doors at 4pm, and we only got to know about that a minute before, when the supermarket attendant came telling us. Supermarket that, is worth mentioning, was crowded since all the city was there with the objective of, now we know, stock up on food until Tuesday, when stores will open again. Who didn’t….
By the way May must be a very loved month! The whole May is a holiday in this country (yes, it has FIVE holidays!). But the Norwegians are forgiven, since the next holiday after May is Christmas (I miss Brazil here)! Tomorrow’s holiday is Whitsunday, a christian holiday, 50th day after Easter (it’s been 50 days I got married! yay!), that may have a pagan Scandinavian origin on pagan rituals of welcoming the cooler weather, favorable to the crop. And Monday’s holiday is also Whit-something: Whitmonday! Go figure…
So once more by bus we came home and drowned in the best apple cake this one who writes has ever eaten (thanks God we had apples!). There is a lot with apples around here, and what inspired me to create this cake was one I ate here. After some frustrated attempts of a perfect one, voi-lá:
– 1 peeled apple in cubes
– 1 peeled apple grated (or 1/2 cup)
– 1/2 apple to decorate (eat the other half)
– 1-2 tsp lemon juice*
– 1 egg
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 50ml milk
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 2 tbsp unsalted butter – melted
– 1/2 cup flour
– 2 tsp baking powder
– pinch of salt
– 1/4 tsp cinnamon
– powdered cinnamon and nutmeg to decorate
0. Pre heat the oven to 370F and prepare 4 ramekins (or a 500ml ovenproof dish – in this case lower the oven temperature to 340F and increase baking time): losely scatter the cubed apple on the bottom, without worring on covering every little space. *If you toss them on the lemon juice, it will help to avoid browning
1. Cut 12 half-moon thin slices of the half apple and set aside, to decorate. You can use lemon juice here too.
2. Whisk the egg and sugar together until very light and fluffy.
3. Add in the milk, vanilla, butter and grated apple and delicately blend together. Sift in the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and delicately fold in not to lose volume.
4. Pour the batter equally into the ramekins on the cubed apples and top with 3 slices of apple each. Pepper cinnamon and nutmeg to top it off.
5. Bake for about 20 min, or until golden.
Take out of the oven and let cool a little, but to get the most of it, serve warm. If it cools completely you can return it to the oven for some minutes, being careful not to dry it.
The apple bottom prevents it from burning or even from drying – apples have a lot of water! and it makes the cake very moist and with a wonderful texture variation (I love textures!), one even better than the next, and almost creamy on the bottom. The result should be light and matches nicely with the end of the day and some tea.