Monday, 1 June 2009

Karelian pastries

These are pastries very popular in Finland. This recipe is for those with the most common filling, the one with rice (other types of fillings for them include potato or carrot). Karelian pastries are part of the food tradition of the Eastern Finnish region Karelia that Finland ceded to the Soviet Union in WW2. Karelian refugees spread the tradition of their cuisine, including this pastry, to the rest of Finland in the post-war period. Besides Finland it is eaten also in Northern Russia. They are usually served with egg butter.

Ingredients (20 pastries):

Rye crust
3 dl water
1 teaspoon salt
2 dl wheat flour
around 4 dl rye flour (you're lucky if you find it outside Finland)

Rice porridge filling
1 l milk
3 dl porridge rice
2 dl water
2 teaspoons salt
optionally, a pat of butter

Egg butter (which you apply on the ready pastries)
3-4 eggs


Prepare the rice filling first: Boil water, add salt and the porridge rice. Add the milk and cook for an hour on rather low heat. In case the rice you use requires less time, add less milk respectively.

Then, prepare the dough: First mix water, salt and wheat flour. Then add into them the rye flour. The dough can remain pretty humid, as long as you can work with it.

Cut pieces of the dough and start rolling them out. In Finland we use a special kind of rolling pin for this (pictured above), doing a circular motion with it. You can however even do with a normal roll, as long as the crust for each separate pastry will be around 2-3mm thin and of a round or oval shape. Place a tablespoonful of rice porridge on each of the flat crusts. Once you've done that, start closing the pastries with the edges of the crust, using your index and thumb of both hands on respective sides of the pastry. This will give the pastries their final shape.

Bake the pastries in an oven heated to 210 c for around 15 minutes. Once you have taken them out of the oven, apply some milk on them with a brush. It is good to let them rest for a few minutes before eating.

(The crust of my pastries got thicker in the oven because we didn't find plain rye flour here in Holland, only a "bread mix" with a lot of yeast. Better than nothing, but yeast really does not belong to karjalanpiirakat.)

Prepare the egg butter: Cook the eggs for 10 minutes. Peel the eggs and add a couple of tablespoons of butter on them. Crush it all together with a fork. Add the egg butter on the pastries.


We had a pretty Finnish night, since all the evening I had been feeling psyched about that I was going to make karjalanpiirakat, and as I made them and as we ate them, we watched Pasila with English subtitles (a cartoon for adults about a police station and all the great personalities around it)

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