88. The Tram Museum

On the walk between Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium and Sibelius Park, I saw a strange looking building with huge doors. Just as I was standing there pondering what could be going on inside, a tram came rolling along, and the huge doors slowly swung open. It was the tram depot! A huge grin spread across my face as the Thomas The Tank Engine Theme was all of a sudden in my head. With a musical skip in my step and plenty of nostalgia (I’m beginning to think I’ll never grow up) I carried on towards the park.

A few hundred metres down the road I noticed a sign that had the words ‘free’ and ‘gallery.’ Having had great success in galleries in the Design District I thought I’d check it out. Turns out it was actually a Tram Museum. I couldn’t help but laugh as I recalled a most hilarious (but only retrospectively) moment in Geoghegan family history. My father is probably responsible for my love of museums. He seems to not be able to get enough of them either. Being an engineer, the day we drove past the Train Museum on a family road trip, he couldn’t resist stopping to check it out. I think it was somewhere near the Waiuru Army base, and we were halfway through a ten hour road trip from Coromandel to Wellington on a stinking hot day. The absolute last thing anyone wanted to do was extend the trip for an extra hour, let alone inside a building that not only wasn’t air conditioned, but had a multitude of steam engines going at full boar. It was like being in a sauna with a jet engine.

So we have this hilarious photo of the most disappointed, angry, unimpressed facials, as we sat outside roasting whilst waiting for Dad to stop oooh-ing and aaaah-ing over train engines at the most boring and uncomfortable museum ever. I believe he still gets reminded every time anyone else in the family wants to go somewhere he doesn’t “Remember the train museum? We’re going to that art gallery.” “You’re taking us shoe shopping to make up for that time you took us to the train museum.”

And there I found myself in a tram museum cracking up laughing! Dad would have loved checking out the old trams of Helsinki, learning about the transition from horse-drawn trams to electric ones. In amongst the old carriages there was a big huge description of how people were annoyed at ticket prices, like it was the only place in the world where people complain about public transport pricing or something. It was actually pretty interesting and had a really nice cafe, and a big stage in the middle where they were setting up for some kind of gig later on. Unlike train museums in New Zealand, I would definitely recommend the Tram Museum in Helsinki, and maybe even take my Dad there and lose him for the next four hours.

85. Sibelius Park

Sibelius Park is named after Finish Composer Johan Sibelius. I was particularly interested by this spot as the minute I read about it I was flooded with memories of my Year 11 music class. There were only 5 of us in the class, and all of us had been learning musical instruments since we were very young, so the school curriculum was a bit of a joke. The teacher knew it too. He’d swan in halfway through class with a Latte permanently attached to his hand, have a chat, make sure we were having fun and otherwise leave us to our own devices. It was part gossip session, part having a little jam and playing the odd song and part Facebooking. Actually back then I think it was Bebo, but close enough. Suited us just fine and a month before the Dean needed internal exam results from him, our teacher he gave us our final deadline warning and we whipped out a year’s worth of internal assignments. Some of them were composing assignments and we used a computer program called Sibelius (and a frustratingly slow version at that), so the walk there was full of fond memories music ‘classes’ – i.e. scheduled social time with my friends and a bit of music on the side!

Sibelius park is famous for a large sculpture that sings magnificently in the wind, and it was a reasonable (though lovely) walk from the city centre. Unfortunately, the one time I would have appreciated some wind there wasn’t any, but it was still a nice spot to see. There was also a tonne of snow to frolic around in too!

79. Home Made Hot Cross Buns

I woke up this morning to a drizzly view out the window, and a fine realisation that it was Good Friday, everyone was home and I had absolutely no plans. And with that I suddenly had an overwhelming desire to make hot cross buns. I’ve never actually made them myself, but last time I was at home for Easter mum made a tonne of them, and the weather was exactly like today. A perfect day to stay inside all day, bake and be nostalgic!

The first hurdle, however, was whether or not we had all the ingredients in the cupboard for a somewhat ambitious impromptu baking session. After a few different translation attemps it was established we didn’t have any raisins in the house, and the look of horror on my host mother’s face at the thought of getting the kids to eat them lead to a quick change in plans. Inspired by good old Quality Bakers (even though home made hot cross buns are in a delicious league of their own) and I whipped up some child-friendly hot cross buns. So here’s my version of the traditional Good Friday treat. I must say, I felt awful grown up preferring raisins to chocolate, but although hot cross buns have had quite the contentious history themselves*, they’ve always been difficult to introduce to kids, so the compromise version was fine by me!

While some might consider the method laborious, I think it is ideal for a relaxing day off, and slowly making them over the course of the day is a great way to enjoy being inside with the family, or motivate myself to study with scheduled breaks in the hot cross bun process! Perhaps it was festivity and familiarity, but they smelled amazing, even the dough. also enjoyed the lovely baking soundtrack that was Hungry Kids of Hungary while I made them. So here’s my version of the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (240 ml) milk
  • 7 grams active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 500g all purpose flour
  • 55 grams light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 70 grams butter, melted
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 C chopped dark chocolate

In a small saucepan, heat the milk using a very low heat until lukewarm. Add the yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar and stir to combine. Set aside for about 10 minutes or until the yeast is foamy.

Combine the flour, sugar, spices, and salt. Once the yeast is foamy, gradually add to the flour mixture and beat until the dry ingredients are moistened. Add the melted butter and egg and beat until incorporated. At this point I really would have liked to have had my mother’s Kenwood Cake mixer, which is older than me and wouldn’t surprise me if it had its own specific mention in the will, but alas, some intense elbow grease was applied.

Gradually add the chocolate peices and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Add more flour if it is sticky, until it makes a good dough-y consistency.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning the dough once, so the top is lightly greased. Cover with plastic wrap or a teatowell and place in a warm spot to rise until it has almost doubled in size (about 1 1/2 – 2 hours).

When the dough has doubled in size, gently punch it down to release the air, and divide into 12 equal pieces. Form each piece into a small round ball and place on a tray lined with baking paper. The buns should be spaced so they have enough room to double in size. Brush with a glaze made of one beaten egg mixed with 1 tablesoon of milk. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm spot until they have almost doubled in size (about 60 minutes).

While they are rising, mix up the “crosses” by combining 1/2 cup plain flour and 4 to 5 tablespoons water. Pour in to either a piping bag, or snip the corner off a snaplock bag.

Preheat oven to 205 degrees C. Brush the tops of the buns with the glaze again cut a ‘cross’ in the top of each bun. Pipe a cross in to the gap on each bun and pop in to the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the buns are nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool completely before glazing.

Makes 12 delicious buns.

*Hot Cross buns were at one stage banned in Protestent England as they were thought to be propogating a few too many Catholic values, but Queen Elizabeth passed a specific law allowing bakeries to sell them at Easter and Christmas. Good to see deliciousness took precedence over politics.