A Message from Chef Anna

With this blog post I’m very deep into my Finnish heritage. Remember, that some time ago I posted about rye bread and wrote about rye being a superfood and the many health benefits of incorporating it into your diet.

Well today, I’m writing about another traditional way in Finland to eat rye.

Being one-quarter Karelian myself, I felt I need to start practicing making Karelian pasties! My grandmother was from Karelia and she always filled the table with enormous amounts of food. Everything looked as amazing as it tasted! When I was a little girl, I often watched her bake these delicious Karelian pies! Only sometimes she would let me help, too…maybe she worried that they would be too hard for me to bake! These pasties are known for being particularly hard to master.

To offer some background, I should mention that Karelia is a historical region now divided between Finland and Russia. Much of it was lost to Russia during the Second World War, which let to many Karelians fleeing to other parts of Finland and thus bringing with them their delicious cuisine. Karelian pasties — or pies as some people call them — have become one of the most popular dishes that has originated from Karelia.

Long before the war, however, the first Finnish written reference to Karelian pies — Karjalanpiirakka — dates back to 1686. It is said that this dish spread to southern Finland and even into Sweden through Karelian migrants during the1600s and 1700s.

Originally, these pasties were stuffed with barley porridge (which was cheaper at the time) but since then, rice has become the most popular choice. Some people choose to make them with mashed potatoes and some even with mashed carrots!

Today these pasties are available at every single grocery store in Finland. They can be enjoyed with almost anything! I just love them with butter or with creamed butter-egg mix known to Finns as munavoi!

America, here comes Karjalanpiirakka!

– Chef Anna –

Laskiaispulla

Karelian Pies

Makes 16 Pieces

Ingredients

Rice Filling

  • 7 ½ dl / 3 cups whole milk
  • 2dl / 1 cup Arborio rice (uncooked)
  • 1-2tsp salt

Crust

  • 2 ½ dl / 1 cup rye flour
  • 1 dl / ½ cup all-purpose white flour or “00” flour (used often when making pasties and pizza)
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ dl/ 0.8 cup water
  • (1 tbsp. oil)

Directions

To Make the Rice Filling

Bring milk to a boil in a saucepan with a thick bottom. Add the rice whilst frequently stirring. Simmer at a low heat for approximately 30 – 40 minutes, until cooked. Season the rice porridge with salt and butter and set aside to cool.

TIP! When rice filling has been cooled add 1 egg! It makes the filling shiny and it’s easier to spread on the crust!

To Make the Crust

Stir the flours and salt into water and knead into a solid dough. Form the dough into a bar on a well-floured baking board, and cut the bar into 20 pieces. Form little balls from the pieces and then flatten them.

Sprinkle some rye flour onto the baking board, and with a rolling pin, roll a piece of the dough into as thin a round crust as possible.

When all the crusts are ready, fill the center of each crust with a thin layer of rice porridge. Fold the edges of the crusts and pinch tightly with your fingers forming oval shaped pies. (Turn the tips of the pies inwards to prevent them from burning during baking).

Sprinkle little bit flour on baking tray and place the pies onto a tray (do not use parchment paper, there is a risk to get it on fire) and bake at 275 – 300 degrees Celsius / 475 -550 Fahrenheits for 10 – 15 minutes, until golden brown.

When the pies are removed from the oven, DIP them into a butter and hot water mixture (1l /4 cups water and 100g / 3,5oz butter).

Place the pies onto a greaseproof paper and cover with a kitchen towel to soften.

See pictures and instructions below.

#1 Making RICE FILLING! TIP: when little bit cooler add 1 egg and mix!

#2 Note! Special rolling pin makes the dough easier to handle and roll THIN! (Can be found from special kitchen supply stores)

#3 ROLL them THIN! But not too thin, make sure dough doesn’t break and have holes!

#4 Fill! Leave some space to the edges. TIP! If dough doesn’t look round or it has uneven edges, CUT with scissors to make it look more even, which makes it easier when moving to the next task!

#5 Fold the edges

#6 Start pinching from the middle and go up until you reach the top and close the crust by folding it towards yourself. When pinching push down firmly and pull lightly towards yourself, it makes the crust fold nicely and gives it to its oval shape.

#7 Turn the pie over and do the same to the other half. NOTE! Fingers in this picture! Towards yourself!

#8 Sprinkle flour onto the baking tray and place pies onto a tray. Bake as mentioned in the recipe, DIP into a hot water-butter mix, let them settle for a little bit and ENJOY with pretty much ANYTHING! It’s your choice!

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