I have been planning to make these buns for almost 3 months. I made poppy paste buns before with this shape (recipe is here) and I loved it (this is generally Swedish cardamom bun’s shape). So I wanted to try something different this time, using the same shape.
My relationship with pumpkin is getting serious, ahem. Well, after baking cakes and cookies with pumpkin puree, I started to wonder how it would taste and look in a dough. This curiosity ended up with cinnamon and pecan rolls. But I’d like to talk more about the sauce now, more specifically, the brown cheese in the sauce.
Finnish cuisine is full of different kinds of delicious “pulla”s. These are basically buttery buns with cardamom, which is the most Nordic ingredient ever. Some also have cinnamon, some have more butter than the others, some have extra sugar on top, some have cream in between… Their common characteristic is that they are all extremely delicious and they all look very elegant.
When I was a kid, I used to think that some dishes could only be made by certain family members. For example, there was a black tea cake that I believed only my mother could bake. Turkish dumplings, I thought only my mother and aunt could make so delicious. And then there was this pastry which I believed could only be baked by my aunt, my father’s sister, as if there was something magical or that the trick was in her oven or something. Turns out, I was wrong. You just need to learn.
As I am writing this blogpost, I am eating one of these soft, puffy, melting-in-the-mouth buns and remembering my childhood. Most of my best memories back in Turkey involve food or are around food, and these buns bring out some of them.
The smell of butter inside a warm and cosy bakery in the middle of winter.. It reminds me so much of my childhood. When I was a kid, I didn’t like having breakfast at home before the school. So my mother would buy me one “pogaca”, a kind of flaky pastry that is similar brioche and I would eat that as breakfast, accompanied by that lovely butter smell all around me. Later on when I was a teenager, during high school years, we would go to the bakery behind the school building every morning with my friends sharing the same school bus. The bus would leave us outside the building, so we would first go to the bakery and eat a pogaca fresh out of the oven and then go inside the building..
The first and only time I ate poppy paste buns was when my sister-in-law’s mother Nafize baked them for us. I’ve loved them ever since and I’ve craved for them all this time in Helsinki – until one day, just by chance, I found poppy paste in Alanya Oriental Market in Itäkeskus in Helsinki!!!
When I was a kid, whenever I wanted, my mother would make this pastry for me. “Puf Böreği!” I’d say and she would not make me say twice. We call this pastry (börek) “puf” because it puffs like a little balloon when it is fried!
I don’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t know what a börek was. It has always been a natural part of my life, because it is the most common thing in Turkish cuisine. There are many, and I mean many, variations, with different kinds of fillings (cheese, potato, meat..), different kinds of making (fried, baked..), different kinds of dough (filo, puff..), but in the end, all of them are called, “börek”.
I came back from Turkey in such a weird, panicky way after all the coup attempt and whatnot, that the only thing I could bring with me happened to be a mezze cookbook that I bought at Istanbul Airport. This spinach pastry is inspired by a recipe from that book. The main difference: I didn’t put the freaking dill in my version!!