Finnish cuisine is strongly dependent on wholemeal products such as rye, barley and oats. These are used to make for instance bread, pasties and pies. Finnish pasties like karjalanpiirakka or Karelian pasties are very popular in the country and originate from Russia. The pasties consist of rye-dough filled with semolina-porridge. The karjalanpiirakkas is often served with melted butter or “egg-butter” which is boiled eggs mashed together with butter and seasoned with salt and pepper. Further on there is the lihapiirakka, a pasty which is filled with minced meat and onion. These are either baked in the oven or deep fried and then served with ketchup, mustard and sometimes raw onion.
Finns are big fans of bread and dough-like treats. Karjalanpiirakka, or Karelian Pies, are traditional pasties from the region of Karelia but ask any Finn and they will know what they are, and most likely love to indulge in them! Karjalanpiirakka are essentially rye crust with a filling of rice porridge. They can also come with mashed potato filling. You can eat them as is with a brush of butter on top or with boiled egg. I remember eating these as a kid and still enjoy them.
- 1 litre milk
- 1 ¾ cups water
- 1 cup short grain rice
- Salt to taste
- 1 cup cold water
- 2 ¼ cups plain flour
- 1 ½ cups rye flour
- 1 tsp salt
- To make the filling put the milk, water, rice and salt into a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Be sure to stir regularly and when it starts to thicken stir continuously so it does not stick to the bottom. It is ready once thickened and all the liquid is absorbed. It will resemble porridge.
- To make the crust mix cold water, salt, rye flour and plain flour into a hard dough. Roll the dough out into a log and cut it into 24 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and press into a flat round cake on a floured board. Using a rolling pin, roll each cake into a paper thin round shape. Use flour sparingly to ensure surface and dough do not stick. Stack up the rolled out circles with a sprinkle of rye flour in between each sheet.
- Once the filling has cooled down brush excess flour off the dough and spread about 2 tablespoons of rice porridge in the middle of the dough in an oval shape. Ensure the filling reaches the top and bottom of the circle but leave the sides empty. Start to shape the piirakka by pinching the top end into a point, then with hands on either side of the circle start pinching the sides from the top end to the bottom. As you pinch the dough will drag in, pinch the bottom end to a point (like the top).
- Place finished piirakat onto a baking tray and bake in the oven at 240oC for approx 10 – 15 minutes until the crust is crispy and lightly browned. After you remove from the oven brush the top with butter while hot, and EAT!