I spent much of mid-Twenties in Finland. These tasty little pies were available in every supermarket and from street vendors, and there was little better than a hot Karjalanpiirakka clutched in your hands when it was -20 degrees C, well possibly beaten only by the deeply satisfying “lihapirrakka” (meat pasties) served by the vendor in Helsinki Harbour – where the steam condensing in the freezing air from the little “kioski” was all but irresistible (I wonder if that stand is still there?). More of that another time.
Anyway, Karelian Pasties were generally stuffed with a rice or potato mix, simple but so delicious. I recently acquired the fantastic “Mamushka” by Olias Hercules, and this inspired me to dig out my ancient Finnish Cookbook and have a go at recreating the pasties of my memories. There are regional variations in this traditional recipe, my version is posted in the recipe section. I don’t want to wish away this delightful Nottinghamshire spring, but the only thing missing from the recipe was the addition of a foot of snow and a temperature of about -15C.
Recipe – makes about 15
Pre-heat Oven to 180C (Fan)
Dough – 500ml rye flour, Half a teaspoon of salt, 200ml water, 1-2 tablespoon oil
Filling – 700g potatoes (reserve some of the cooking liquid), approx 60ml single cream (and perhaps some full fat milk), 2 eggs, knob of butter, pinch of salt.
Finishing Off – whole milk with melted butter (about a tablespoon) for brushing
For the filling – Boil the potatoes until soft – make a mash with butter, salt and pepper, cream and milk to taste until the mash is smooth but stiff, leave to cool
For the pastry – Combine flour and salt and water until the dough becomes stiff but not sticky. Roll out into a log shape and slice into rounds (approx 15). On a lightly floured surface, roll out the rounds to a flat circle about the size of a saucer (about 6 inches?). Place about 3 tablespoons of filling the in centre of the rounds and then fold in the edges and crimp them with your fingers (as in the picture above). Place on a greased baking tray, brush the pastry with the melted butter and milk mix and then bake for around 15 mins until the edges are golden, allow to cool, baste with the milk and butter mix once again before eating warm