It was about 2 weeks before I came to Helsinki in 2010. I realised that I had absolutely no idea on how Finnish cuisine was. I made so much research about many aspects of my new home, but forgot the food part! I guess I thought that food ought not be a hard topic, that I could find something to eat after all. Of course I had in my mind the regular stereotypes, like, “oh, they eat reindeer there..”. But then, I checked wikipedia.
If you ever read about Finnish cuisine on Wikipedia, you’ll see that at the top of the article the first thing you see is a photo of the famous Karjalanpiirakka, aka Karelian pie. Then it continues with berries, mushrooms, fish blah blah, (luckily there is no photo of Mämmi..), but the beautiful shape of Karjalanpiirakka is a striking image that gives you great hopes on exotic Finnish tastes.
Then, on 3 August 2010, I arrived at Helsinki. My lovely friend of 10 years now, dear Minni, met me at the airport and I went to her parents’ place to stay the first few days. It was about 2 hours already since I came, and Minni’s father took something out of the fridge: oh my god!!! it was Karjalanpiirakka!!! I could not believe how accurate the article on Wikipedia was!!! Of course they also prepared egg & butter combination, and oh my, it was a fantastic taste in my mouth, very buttery, nutritious and quite filling already with only 1 pie.
It’s been more than 3 years since I saw that photo. Last year, some time in the summer, Minni’s aunt came from Eastern Finland and taught us (me, Minni and Tuula – Minni’s mother) how to make this pie. But it was in Finnish and surely Minni translated bits and pieces of it but I actually did not get much, I was just happy to be there. But I definitely learned how to fold the pie that day, well actually that was the only thing that I learned. Then, 2 weeks ago, one night I decided to bake Karjalanpiirakka the next day suddenly. I got so excited by the idea that I could not sleep!!! I wanted the morning to come ASAP!! And next day, my dear Karelian pies really turned out extremely delicious! With my flatmate Anja, us the two foreigners (she is German), enjoyed the freshly baked traditional Finnish taste.
So, here is my take on this beautiful pie. I found that the hardest part was preparing the rice porridge – I am not at all a fan of porridge, ahhh, it was quite disgusting for me to prepare it! But in the pie it tasted well… Enjoy the pie with egg & butter combination, which I also explain below at the end. And just to give some more info: this pie is also made with mashed potato and (I guess mashed??) carrot fillings. And my favourite is actually mashed potato version, but I wanted to bake the most basic one for the first time.
4 dl rice for porridge (puuroriisi)
1.5 lt milk (I used full-fat milk, täysmaito)
5 dl water
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
2 dl water
4 dl rye flour (ruisjauho)
1 dl plain flour
1 tsp salt
Egg & butter:
3 hard boiled eggs
50 gr butter
1/2 tsp salt
1. But water in a pan. When it boils, add rice, stir once or twice and leave it to cook until all the water is absorbed. Then add milk and cook it for about 30-40 minutes, occasionally stirring. When it is fully cooked, add salt and butter and stir it well. Transfer the cooked porridge into a bowl and leave it to cool.
3. In another big bowl, put rye flour, plain flour and salt, mix them a little with your hand or a whisk, spoon etc.
5. Spread a lot of flour onto your table or kitchen counter. Put your solid dough on the counter, and make a bar out of it (or two bars as in the picture, I had a little space so I had to cut it in 2).
7. Take one piece and roll it into an oval shaped dough, as thin as possible. Put 2 tablespoons of rice porridge on the rolled piece and spread it onto the whole surface of the dough piece, with just a little space left without porridge on the edges.
12. While you are waiting for the pies to rest, boil the eggs. Take them out into a plate when they are hard boiled and crush them with a fork (after peeling the shell of course…). Add salt and butter and continue mixing with the fork, until you get a well mixture. When you are ready to eat your pies, just put a bit egg&butter spread..
And here’s me and my pie!