Tag Archives: Nordic food

Karjalanpiirakka – Finnish rye pastries with swiss chard rice filling

20 Dec

Continuing on this Nordic theme for no apparent reason whatsoever, here we  present to you karjalanpiirakka. Or Karelian pies, if you don’t speak Finnish. I don’t profess to speak Finnish, but I have accrued a somewhat surprisingly large Finnish vocabulary in foodstuffs.

These little pastries are often part of a picnic spread or table of breads and snacks. We’re not going to lie here. It’s heavy on the old carbohydrates. But it still isn’t too stodgy – unless you want to follow the traditional recipe which uses a lot more butter in the pastry, in the rice and then dips the whole buggers in butter-water then tops it with a mixture of munavoi – which is a mixture of equal parts egg and butter. Butter.

We served this as a starter with beetroot carpaccio, and it’s likely that we’ll make a bunch for Christmas, chucking a few in the freezer to pull out for when guests come around and we’re too bloated from the previous day’s excess to actually cook anything else.

This rye pastry, though, is quite versatile. We’ve used it as a base for pies, it has a really lovely flavour and texture when rolled out very thin. We used it in a broccoli, cheddar and dill pie which worked really rather brilliantly.

Thin rye pastry (makes enough for about 14 pastries and a small pie)

  • 50g white flour
  • 200g rye flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 50g butter chopped
  • 125g fromage frais
  • 85ml water (add more accordingly)

Mix all dry ingredients together, then add the butter, fromage frais and water. Knead, leaving some chunks of butter in the dough, wrap with cling film and  let rest in the fridge for a little while (this can be left for up to 2 nights in the fridge and still be good, according to our experience).

Remove from fridge and roll out. There will be butter pieces still in this, but laminate the dough – so continuously fold over, then roll out, fold over and roll out until the flattened pastry is even in consistency.

Roll to about 2mm thickness, or as thin as you can get it.

Filling (enough to fill about 14 pastries – or half the above pastry mix as above)

  • 1C pudding rice
  • 1C milk
  • 1C water
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 4 leaves (not ends of stalks) Swiss chard
  • salt to taste

Cook as though making rice pudding. Once the rice is soft and the liquid as been absorbed, add the chopped Swiss chard and stir through.

Dill yoghurt
  • 60ml yoghurt
  • 1 TBSP chopped dill
  • 2 tsp chopped chives
  • salt to taste

Just mix. That’s it.


Use a small saucer or cup (ours was about 8cm in diameter) to cut circles of pastry. In the centre of each circle dob about 2.5 TBSP of rice mix.

To fold the sides in, start at the edge of the circle furthest from you. Using both hands pinch the pastry around the rice mix, fitting tightly.

Cook in the oven at 200C for about 15 minutes, it should be obvious when it’s cooked.

Serve as a snack, as a starter with beetroot carpaccio or salad (one pie per person suffices in our experience) or – if you want to go really Nordic – some munavoi.

Estimated cost:

Musical accompaniment: Spiritualized, Songs from A&E


Pulla (Finnish cinnamon scroll bread)

12 Jun

Apparently Nordic cuisine is totally a big thing now. How uncool and mean does Woman now feel for her past, unreceptive attitude to some of the Finnish fare that Man has previously touted as delicious.  Bring on the pickled herring and shrimp paste in a tube! It’s all cool now.

One thing that has always been wholeheartedly loved (and feared – despite the fact that this is less sugary and buttery than other versions, this is NOT healthy food) is pulla – pron. bull-la. The pillowy soft bread and lemony cardamon swirled up in a frenzy of cinnamon sugar – it’s just very good.

This recipe is a combination of Man’s mum’s traditional recipe and a cookbook one. We’ve added egg in this incarnation, but you can make it without and happily substitute vegan dairy alternatives – although I wouldn’t tell Finland you did that.

Pulla/korvapuusti/sweet Finnish cinnamon bread (makes 18 small scrolls and one plaited loaf)

  • 30g fresh yeast (or 15g dried active yeast)
  • AT LEAST 1 tsp ground cardamon
  • 80g sugar
  • 80g butter
  • 500g flour
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • Touch of salt
  • Cinnamon for sprinkling
  • Sugar for sprinkling
  • Melted butter for the above sprinkling

If using dried yeast, slightly warm the milk and then add to yeast. Let sit for a couple of minutes until a little frothy. Melt the butter over low heat.

Mix all the dried ingredients (except the salt), then add butter, milk and egg and knead. Once combined, add a pinch of salt, then knead for a further 5 minutes.

Put the dough in a greased bowl or tray, cover with a clean cloth and set aside – wait for it to double in size.

Once doubled, knock the dough back. This is now when you get to shaping. You can do mino-scrolls, large scrolls, a plaited log or just a bread loaf. We decided to do those first three.

The easiest way to make mini scrolls is to roll out a long sausage of dough. With a rolling pin, flatten it ’til it’s about 1cm thick. Brush this with melted butter and dust with cinnamon and sugar. Dust generously. Really. Then roll into a firm scroll and cut cross sections about 3cm thick.

To make bigger rolls, do the same but with a narrower, thicker piece of dough.

To make the plaited loaf you need 3 thick ‘sausages’ of dough. Begin at one end by squeezing the ends together. Then plait. It’s easier just to do trial and error. You don’t have to really brush this with sugar and cinnamon, but go for it if you want to.

Now leave whatever you’ve rolled or plaited again to rise until doubled.

Pre-heat the oven to about 220C. Once the bread has doubled, perhaps brush with an egg wash or just milk or butter. Bake for about 30 minutes. This’ll vary according to what you’ve made/your oven/etc so do check on it. You want a golden crush, but no browning.

Eat as soon as possible. These also freeze rather well – this recipe makes a ridiculous amount.

Estimated cost: £2.50

Musical accompaniment: Tune-Yards

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