Europe is truly the most diverse and one of the most important food regions in the world. The diversity and the wide variety of cuisines available on this magnificent continent are simply amazing. One can take a short train ride and find themselves in a drastically different culture with unique cuisine. However, when we think of the European cuisine as a whole, most people likely imagine eating pasta in the south of Italy or a delicious croissant in the center of Paris with a view over the Eiffel Tower. Nevertheless, very few people both within and outside of the continent are aware that there are many countries in this region with amazing food traditions.
Nordic countries are well-known for many things, including being highly-developed with vast forests, exquisite natural scenarios and weird traditions, like the sauna. However, not many people are familiar with nordic cuisine. Finland in particular is an absolutely amazing country. Nevertheless, the Finnish people and culture are globally recognized as the happiest on earth, while enjoying cultural activities that many beyond the nation itself do not get. From sitting in a boiling room regularly with other people to jumping into the frozen lake, the Finns are unique and interesting.
Yet, very little is known about Finnish cuisine. The nation is located in the very north-east of Europe, bordering the Russian federation to east and Sweden to the west. Weather conditions in this region are far from tropical with long winters and quite brief summers. Even in the south of the country, where the vast majority of the population is concentrated, temperatures are almost constantly below zero during the entire winter. Therefore, agricultural development and the establishment of the Finnish cuisine has been different from what one might see in other European countries with more direct sunlight and warmer temperatures.
The hero of today’s article is Karjalanpiirakka or the Karelian pie. This exquisite looking flavorful pie is one of the most prominent examples of Finnish cuisine. It is a delicious delicacy that is widely eaten across Finland and in some parts of Northern Russia, as well as in parts of Sweden that are close to the Finnish border. It is crunchy, tasty and quite practical. The Karelian pie is not one of those dishes that should be eaten during the particular period of the day in a certain situation. Rather, it has wide use and is extremely versatile in terms of its use.
Let’s talk about history now! For every cuisine globally and particular dishes that we love, the historical context is important. We often find out that posh and luxury food that we only eat rarely have not as fortunate past. The Karelian pie was introduced somewhere in the 17th or the 18th century. Originally, the pie became extremely popular in the eastern parts of Finland, later reaching Russia and Sweden. The first official records of the pie date back to 1686.
The traditional and the most basic Karela pie is made with rye flour. This simple ingredient is also the most important in the entire recipe. Whatever the modified recipe is, every authentic karela pie should have its base consisted of at least 50% rye flour. Nevertheless, in many regions where the recipe has changed throughout the time, rye flour is often mixed with wheat or other curb flours.
Today, the rye flour base remains crucial in the recipe along with the rice filling along with Munavoi egg butter, characteristic to the region. It also is one of the biggest key parts of Finnish cuisine. Essentially, Munavoi is a mix of some regular butter and chopped hard-boiled eggs.
The pie is so popular, that it is used by pretty much everyone across Finland. The most widespread use is to have it for breakfast. However, many put it on the plate as a side dish for dinner or lunch. It is so versatile that even some luxury businesses use them on a regular basis. Surprisingly, Karelian pie is extremely popular in the gambling industry. Luxury casinos all across Finland serve them as a complimentary dish. It is seen as a way for casinos to greet overseas guests visiting their venues. Representatives of Spinia.com Finland, the country’s leading gambling services provider say that Karelian pie is always present at their business meetings. They stated that the flexibility, simplicity and high nutritional value of the dish make it the perfect choice for such occasions.
In this recipe, we will offer you a traditional, authentic version of Karjalanpiirakka (Karelian pie). The recipe can be modified and adapted to the taste and the needs of anyone quite easily. We have already discussed some modifications above in the article and should you feel like making one of those instead, go ahead by all means! However, if you are preparing Karjalanpiirakka for the first time, make sure to stick with the original recipe to avoid any complications. This recipe includes ingredients for 8-10 pieces, considered one serving portion for roughly 4 people.
The rice stuffing:
- 150g of short grain rice
- 50g of unsalted, soft milk butter. It can as well be substituted with vegan butter
- 300g of plain room-temperature water
- 1 liter of milk. Again, plant-based milk can be used instead. However, keep in mind that some versions of plant-based milk, like oat milk, are not great in the bakery department.
- Some salt to taste
The egg butter, or as traditionally called, Munavoi
- 4 large, hard-boiled eggs
- 120g of unsalted butter, seated at room temperature
- Salt and pepper both to taste. Other seasonings can be used as well, but too much of it can ruin the egg butter.
- 100g whole rye
- 15g of completely melted butter along with 50g for brushing
- 70-90g of water
- 3g salt
- 50g of spelt flour or wheat flour in case the first is inaccessible
Making of the rice filling
- Pour water into the pan, put it on medium heat and wait for it to boil.
- Add rice to the boiling water and keep it in for 5 minutes. The Rice will boil and absorb practically all the water.
- Now, it is time to add butter and milk to the mixture altogether. Do so and reduce the heat to low. Cook the mixture for roughly 40-50 minutes whilst stirring from time to time. Eventually, it should have a smooth and quite a thick texture.
- In the end, salt it to taste and let it cool before filling the pies.
Making of the egg butter (Munavoi)
- Cut the boiled eggs into small pieces that would be easy to mix.
- Mix it with butter and set it aside.
Making of the dough
- Add the wheat flour and the rye flour together into the bowl. Add salt, water and melted butter as well.
- Keep mixing it until the mixture is firm, manageable and smooth.
- Shape a cylinder with it, approximately 5cm in diameter.
- Cut the cylinder into 8-10 pieces.
- Start stretching the individual discs with the roller. Remember, the thinner the dough, the crispier the pie will be.
Put it all together
- Preheat the oven to 260 C. Prepare two baking trays with baking paper.
- Stuff the dough with the rice filling. Approximately two teaspoons for each. Leave some space at the edges.
- To form the authentic shape of the pie, start forming waves near the edges of the dough. Fold the edge of the dough over to the filling and with the use of your fingers, shape small waves.
- Bake for around 15 minutes. They should get a golden color.
- Take them out of the oven and brush them with the egg butter. Now they are ready to be consumed!