Sunday, 24 November 2013

What is this old implement found in Finnish households?

I found this little metal tongs in my collection.

Can you guess what it is?

It was an implement used in Finnish households many tens of years ago. I remember using it as a little girl!

It is a sugar cone or loaf cutter.

In the old days we did not get sugar in pieces or even as refined powder. We had to buy a cone or a loaf of sugar.

Every house had one of these cutters to cut the cones into small piece.

Of late I have been using jaggery, which is much more healthy than refined sugar. The jaggery comes in blocks.

I tried this sugar cutter and I got some great small nice pieces of jaggery!

Friday, 22 November 2013

Cake Competitions: Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar Cakes

Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar was born on 24th April 1984, the same year as my youngest son, Mika. 

Mika was a cricket enthusiast when he was just 8 years old. He was strong and tall and wanted to be a fast bowler. I knew nothing about cricket. I watched him practice with great dedication. 

He practised incessantly, bowling at a single stump, entirely by himself. 

Jacob, who is a cricket fan, told me Mika could make the ball swing in the air both ways. Which was obviously good.

Mika had tremendous pace and direction. With no one coaching him, he developed his own beautiful style and rhythm. I could feel the energy in him when I watched him from our dining room window. 

Mika was crazy about cricket. His grandfather gave him a copy of the Wisden, so not only was a bowler in the making, he knew his Wisden by heart.

When he was just 10, I made him a birthday cake in Bangalore which complimented the enormous dedication and talent he had towards cricket. Probably the happiest day of his life.

With his very direct family connections to MRF, who had just started the MRF Pace Foundation under the guidance of Dennis Lilee, had Mika remained in India, he would have been, undoubtedly, a fast bowler of some standing. 

A family decision in 1984 to move to Finland shattered his dreams. 

When we moved to Finland, he refused to adjust and even make any effort to learn the language. His sister, just two years older than him, learnt the Finnish language just a couple of months.

This anarchist behaviour of Mika continued for a full year, till he discovered Chess. He joined the local Chess Club where his father was going. Within a year won the Oulu Junior Championship. He was second in the National Junior Chess Championships when he was just 14. 

Mika realised that there was a life outside cricket. He adjusted to life in Finland. He bought every book available on Chess and read all of them, cover to cover, till there was nothing he did not know about his new love. Cricket faded from his vocabulary. What was chess's gain was a loss to cricket. His was a fan of Vishwanathan Anand wh became a grandmaster in 1988.

Sachin has gone on to become the world’s greatest cricketer. Maybe he would have been a partner of Mika if the latter had stayed in a cricket loving nation!

As a tribute to Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar, I am holding two cake competitions here on Art By Annikki. 

To take part in the competition you have to abide by the rules and regulations which apply to both competitions.

Competition 1: Identify the Cakes

This is the cake that was made for Sachin on his 40th Birthday. It is an example of a designer cake. The cricket bat, ball and stumps, along with the photograph of sachin, and the edging which reflects great moments in his cricketing life are a good example of a designed cake.

Below are 11 other cakes that have been associated with Sachin. 

The competition, which is a test of both knowledge and skill, is that the entrant has to identify the year that each of these cakes were made AND also indicate for what occasions the cakes were made. 

The entry, along with the entry details specified in the rules and regulations, have to be sent by email to me before 24th December 2013. 

The email should indicate the Cake Number, as shown in the picture above, and the year and occasion associated with each cake.

There will be 3 prizes, valued each at £100, of the Coffee Table Book of Edible Art, signed by me, a Finnish Artist and primary author, Annikki Matthan. 

In case of a tie, lots will be drawn and prizes awarded to three contestants.

Competition 2: Design a Cake as  Tribute for Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar

This is a competition where Cake Designers can design and make an original cake in honour of Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar. 

The photograph of the cake 600 dpi resolution, with a list of materials used, along with the entry details specified in the rules and regulations has to be sent to me before 24th December 2013. All materials have to be edible. The cake will be judged on originality of design, the materials used and the use of light and other environment resources to create the effect and also honour Bhrat ratna Sachin Tendulkar.

The prize will be two tickets to attend the next Cricket World Cup in 2015. All costs of attending the World Cup will be the sole responsibility of the winners. (Travel and accommodation are not part of the prize.)

The eBook "Edible Art" can be obtained from The Paperback Version of the book, at a special 40% Christmas Discount and personally signed by me, can be obtained from

"The 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup will be the 11th ICC Cricket World Cup, and will be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand and is scheduled to take place from 14 February to 29 March 2015. 49 matches will be played in 14 venues with Australia staging 26 games at grounds in AdelaideBrisbaneCanberraHobartMelbournePerth and Sydney while New Zealandhosting 23 games in seven cities, including AucklandChristchurchDunedinHamiltonNapierNelson and Wellington. The final of the tournament will take place at the Melbourne Cricket Ground." (Wikipedia)

Cakes help keep Divorce at bay!

The divorce rates in the developed countries are abnormally high. (There are no official statistics available for India, which has several other male chauvinistic problems more severe than just divorce!)

Here is a look at countries which have divorce rates which are more than 45% the number of marriages!

I have listed these based on Column 4, which is the number of marriages that end in divorce to the number of marriages during the same period.

In my book "Edible Art" I talk of discovering that Jacob had a sweet tooth almost 46 years ago even before we even got married. There is also a cliché that says that the best way to a man's heart is through his stomach!

When you put these two facts together, you can become a good cook and keep your spouse close to your heart.

But, in my mind, that is in itself, is just not enough.  (Your spouse is not married to a restaurant chef!)

More important is that your spouse remembers you through specific milestones, just as you would do in a project planning outline.

These events must be something that makes your spouse remember you fondly and lovingly, year in and year out.

What better day to do that than on your spouse's birthday.

Create an unique birthday cake for your spouse. You can be certain that your spouse will remember you 365 days a year for what you did.

Similarly, do it whenever your child or grandchild has a birthday. Do it for them. 

Trust me, you will have a spouse at your side, like I have had mine for the last 46 years. He remembers every birthday cake I made for him. 

Each one, besides its design, had a special meaning that showed how much I loved and appreciated him.

This was a very ordinary birthday cake to look at, a pine stump with a ice candle burning atop it. But along with it, I had a very simple birthday card which had a drawing by me of logs of wood.

It was a special thank you to him for the work he was doing, 365 days a year, to cut logs of wood to feed our wood boiler (furnace) which gave us our daily running hot water and also heated our home in the depths of our cold cold Arctic winter. He worked by himself in the cellar, just like my father had done in the years before.

It was hard and time consuming work in the cold stone cellar. He did it daily, not as a chore, but with love and affection for his family.

I can say that through my designed cakes, like this very simple pine stump cake with a matching birthday card,  I have kept his devoted attention as my husband! 

Get your spouse a copy of my book as a special Christmas Gift for this year. Money well spent?

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Kota - Finnish Lappish Ginger Bread Wigwam Campsite

When one of my creations, seen on the left, won the first prize at the Oulu Rotuaari (Walking Street) Ginger Bread Competition, it was modelled on a Kota - A Finnish Lappish Wigwam campsite.

Rice paper was used to make the tent and coloured string sweet to tie the poles together.

Our grandson, Samu, loved this creation, so he asked me to make him a special one so that he could show it at the New Year's Party at his house where many of his friends would be present.

So I made him another version, which turned out to be even better than the one the won the prize. The scenery was slightly different.

The frozen ice I created in front of the Kota was larger in area and the candle reflection was very much more detailed. The happy snowman and his colourful broom, were really cute!

Inside the Kota the fireplace was more colourful. The yellow moon in the background was startling!

Finalised the Christmas Discount of 40%

You have seen the front cover, but this book was teamwork. So I give you the back cover!

I have been working very hard for the last two days so that you can get a copy of our book "Edible Art" with my message and signature on the first page and so you can get a special Christmas Discount of 40%.

Please go to my special private page at

and you will see the book at a 40% Discount.

You can flip through some of the Preview pages to help you decide to buy.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Choosing the environment

In yesterday's blog I showed one aspect of creating the right milieu for a cake. This one is far more emphatic.

After hearing my stories about our friendly and not so friendly (our son, Jaakko, mercifully survived a deadly snake bite of a krait) encounters with snakes in India, Samu asked for a snake as a birthday cake. 

I created it without a problem. 

It was a combination of my hill (mound) cake into which I created the snake grotto. The hill and grotto entrance can be seen in the first photo. More intricate details of what I created from sweets, as the butterflies, and other decorations can be seen in the pictures.

Snake grotto in a hill (mound)

Global view of the snake entering the grotto

As presented to the audience with the snake in the shrubbery.

However, the third picture shows how it was presented to the audience with the green shrubbery carefully placed in the vicinity to create a beautiful very natural appearance of a snake moving into its grotto.

The reception was one of awe when those present saw this snake in its very natural setting. A sight to be remembered for a lifetime.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Cake design milieu

When designing and presenting a cake, it is just not enough to make a good design. The design must suit the occasion and the character of the person it is designed for.

However, when all that is done, it has to put in front of the person with the right atmosphere.

Take for instance the wedding cake which I made for my niece, Suchi.

It was a chocolate sponge cake made by a well known baker in Chennai. The white chocolate, which Suchi wanted me to use, came through a cousin in Australia. Suchi wanted rose petals, and Jacob had to search Chennai high and low to get rose petals which had not been sprayed by pesticide.

The cake details were very simple. A three tier cake. Melting and applying the white chocolate in the heat of Chennai was a problem, but patience and care ensured this was done successfully! Decorating with rose petals was not a problem.

But the presentation had to be unique.

I had made snow candles for our garden every year and they have been used to light of the front gate every winter over Christmas. They were made by sticking a bucket of water into our sub-zero weather with an inserted inner piece and allowing th water to freeze. Take it out of the bucket and we have an ice piece into which you can place a candle and it looks really lovely. The burning candle is protected from the aid and burns for many hours.

This is a welcome sign in Finland that we are at home and you are free to drop in!

I thought of an idea if making a coloured ice candle by using coloured water.

This itself was unique, but then for Suchi's decoration I thought of making multi-colour ice candles.

Remember this is way back n 1999! 14 years ago!

Jacob poured different colours of fizzy drinks. He froze the first layer in the deep freeze, as in Chennai we do not have sub-zero temperatures. When the first layer was frozen, he poured a different coloured drink on top. So we had four layers of different colours, one on top of each other, and with the candle put in them, they looked glorious. Simple but ingenious!

In future blog entries I will show how you can create milieu in different ways, which makes the cake stand out to become an a thing to be remembered!

Testimonial Page for Annikki as an Artist

According to the guide for marketing a book, the first step is to set up a testimonial page.  

These testimonials are for my work as an Artist and for the book "Edible Art"

Out of the many tens of testimonials I have received (no negatives so far!), here are just a few. 

I am glad that my work has been reviewed by friends from around the world, and they like it.

Geordy George (Cochin, India):

"Heartful congrats for bringing out such a wonderful book.

I can definitely tell you that your Ginger cakes are really world class as an edible piece and an artwork. I appreciate the pain and patience behind each such wonders.”

Satish Abraham (Kottayam, India)

"Hello Annikki and thanks for the information on your book and congrats.

You have done a fantastic job in bringing out this work of art through cakes and using your imagination to the maximum.

I am circulating your email to all my circles.”

Ranjeet Jacob (Chennai, India):

"Really impressed about your Edible Art book."

Anuja Saxena (Gurgaon, India)

Toooooo good..... :) 

Aditya Sondhi (Bangalore, India):


Abinash Mahala (Tampere, Finland):

"Its really a great work and especially I liked that pond cakes, it looks so lively :)

I just bought an e-book from for my personal learning :) Am sure many of our O-Indians would buy it for their learning and help in spreading the news, so that we can see many more creative works from you in the future!!"

Mani Bhowmik (Oulu, Finland):

"You have all our support. I have seen few live demonstration of your art. May be it is time to have a bigger audience. A live demonstration would be nice.”

Aruna Somani (Oulu, Finland):


Ashwini Chitrapurisha (Oulu, Finland) 


This is a cake that did not make it into the book. It is called "Blueberry River".

Monday, 18 November 2013

Volcano errupts

Many years ago, a volcano erupted in the Philipines.

 I saw some amazing images on the TV of the crater and the molten lava. I thought it would be nice if I could crewe that scene as a cake.

I created one of my mountain cakes

I used my sugar formula to create the effect of lava running down the side of the volcano. I used some vivid colours to create the effect of molten lava.

I therm put some sparklers in the crater. When they were lit, I got the effect of the flames shooting up from the crater.

I was quite pleased with my effect.

I hope you are.

Snowman Cake

In the last blog I introduced you to the very first Mobile Snowman.

Living in Finland, making art out of snow is second nature. But to create a good snow creation, one must have what I call as Snowman's snow.

It must grip and be able to be fashioned.

But making a cake which is a snowman needs something quite different.

Once Grandson Samu asked for a snowman as his birthday cake, I had to think how to go about it.

I was glad to make a really good Snowman cake, and Samu and his friends loved it!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Mobile Snowman

I took up a challenge of my own a few years ago to create a Mobile Snowman. This was the first attempt to make a mobile snowman, and I am glad to say that it succeeded!

The first one was made in Annikki's mother's Oulu Kampitie home in 2006. The grandchildren loved the idea. I got a friend from Bangalore, Vishwa Mallabdi,  to do the filming.

I first constructed a short hill slope in the garden. I had to make it absolutely smooth. 

Then I created a snowman on top of a plastic snow platter which the kids in Finland use to slide down snow slopes.

It was a delicate operation to place this at the top of the slope.

Once I did this I carefully moved it to the edge of the slope so that it would slide down by itself using gravity. 

We tried it many times and it was hilarious. On one occasion the head of the snowman fell down at the foot of the photographer! Merriment all around!

Then, for Samu's birthday in 2008 at their Vesaisentie house in Oulu, I created another Mobile Snowman. It was made on a longer slope. We had slightly better cameras at our disposal. Watched by grandson Daniel and Samu's friends, Samu and I sent it on its way.  The children loved it.

It was another original challenge as an artist that I successfully completed.


When I reached 60, I thought I would have some fun, so I created a cake for my birthday, which I called "Ruins". I could obviously not make a birthday cake for anyone else with that name! :-)

It was the ruins of a courtyard with a wall with a red window and a cistern filled with water. The water flowed into the little pond in the courtyard.

In daylight it looked just like some biscuits.

But when placed against a window with light streaming in through the red window and water flowing from the cistern into the little pool, the whole cake just jumped to life.

Here are the pages of this from my book "Edible Art".

The book is available add an eBook from and as a Paperback from For those that write in to me, I can I've you a link to get the book at a special Christmas discount of 40% ad the books will be autographed by me.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Launch of eBook Version of EDIBLE ART

Finally we have been able to launch the eBook version of the book "Edible Art".

Radha (aka SRK, Sriradhakrishnan Polsetti) finished the editing of the photographs, working late into the night. Without his inputs this beautiful book would never have seen the light of day.   

Once this was done, Jacob inserted the text in English for most of the photographs and the details. This was edited by Annikki as she wanted to ensure the facts were correct. 

Memories fade over the years, but her intimate knowledge about the designing of each cake and the circumstances of their creation, never faded from her artist's mind.

We decided to use an image taken at the end of the Eighties for the cover.

This is a picture of our nephew, Samuli Reinikka, when he was a little boy and his spontaneous reaction to seeing this Ginger Bread Creation by Annikki. He certainly wanted to get his teeth into it.

Radha and Annikki created the cover by removing the background and the final result was the grand cover.

Every time Jacob completed the cover text, Radha would rearrange it so his name vanished. He gave lots of lame excuses! 

Annikki was adamant as she knew that without his dedicated input this project would never have seen the light of day. aAnnikki and Jacob have always believed that credit must always be given when credit is due.

After working a long day at the office, Radha would come home and work late into the night to ensure that every picture was good enough to earn a place in the book. 

He worked out a background picture strategy for most of the pages, where he embedded the main picture as a background on which he placed a filter on top of which we could put details and text.

 Both Annikki and Jacob liked this idea.

Radha had to return to Bangalore, so Jacob was left to complete the book.

The decision was to launch first the eBook. Again using Radha's input, Jacob decided to use and put the pdf format file on line.

Converting the Powerpoint presentation to the eBook format was not too difficult. 

Before we realised this was an eBook and it was on the Apple Apps Store.

We priced it at just $4.99, as Annikki was really keen to showcase her cake designs in front of the world.

Launch of Paperback English Version of "Edible Art"

Once the eBook version was launched, we decided to launch the smaller size A4 Landscape version of "Edible Art".

As Jacob was familiar with, as we have published Annikki's book about her last stages of her fascinating life in India, "...for the hour of His judgement is come:...",  our 1994 best-seller "Handbook for Survival in Finland" and also the 2009 Coffee Table Book, "Golden Reunion November 2009, Cathedral & John Connon School, Mumbai, India, Directory of 1959 Cathedralites", Jacob decided to stick with a known and tested service. There was an email from a company, Archway,  which worked with the international publisher Simon and Schuster, but they wanted us to buy a package which we already had, so that idea was thrown out.

Also there were no upfront fees to pay to We could pay for hatever services we int ennded to use.

Converting the Powerpoint presentation into a pdf file first seemed to be unsurmountable. Powerpoint did not offer the option to save as a pdf file. Also OpenOffice did not offer this alternative. But NeoOffice, the Mac Version of OpenOffice had an export feature and the document was saved as a pdf.

All the inside pages were uploaded onto and then the single front and back cover was created. The spine was a problem, and only after we receive the proof copy can we finalise it.

But we decided to launch the book and inform our friends about its availability.

The reaction was spontaneous and overwhelming. We will publish some of the comments we received in forthcoming posts.

Probably the most liked creation was Annikki's Pond Cake.

Whoever met Jacob was fascinated by this cake.

Now it has come to the process of marketing the book. We knew from our many relatives and friends that the book was excellent and would be well received. 
The first eBook, meanwhile, was sold to a nephew in Belgium who bought it as a present for his wife who loves cooking.

However, before the final marketing thrust, a proof copy has to be received and any final adjustments made.

Another waste recovery idea - Old Bulbs

 I was collecting used bulbs and turned them into pears and other Interior Decor ideas.

Have fun.

Turning waste into something artisistic

I will, in some of my blog entries, show you that everything can be made useful.

For many years I was saving the little aluminum cases in which the little candles came. Jacob wondered why I was saving ththese useless pieces of aluminium.

I planned to make these roses and little leaves from those little candle holders and they came out better than I expected. It was a lot of roses and leaves I could make and besides displaying them as above, I attached them to some of my home made greeting cards.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Special Christmas Offer

Annikki and I decided to make a special Christmas Offer of the Paperback version of our book "Edible Art". It would make a very special Christmas gift for your loved one.

We are working out a special discount price with the publisher and the first page will carry a signature of Annikki.

We are working out the shipping costs so that you can take advantage of this special offer. (Already people from Oulu have started to take up this offer.)

Watch this space as we release details here.

This picture is the most famous of Annikki's Ginger Bread creations. The stained glass windows were created by slicing sweets into thin slices. Based on the type of knife used, annikki created different effects! The small Christmas tree in the foreground took over two hours to decorate as Annikki threaded the decorations hanging on the tree through very tiny holes she created on the ginger bread tree! The doors were hinged so they could open and close. She used black liquorice hinged sweets to tet that feature.

It won the Oulu Rotuaari (Walking Street) Ginger Bread Competition prize in 1998. 

It lived for several years under a plastic wooden frame cover as no one wanted to destroy this creation.


This is a still life painting by Annikki, one of the many beautiful works of art by her.

The intention of the blog is to bring to light the art of Annikki. It will talk about her paintings, her interior decor expertise, her designs of cakes, gardens and snow creations. The blog is authored by her husband, Jacob, and herself.

We really would like your criticism and comments.