“Karelian pasty (karjalanpiirakka) is a traditional Finnish dish made from a thin rye crust with a filling of rice. Butter, often mixed with boiled egg (eggbutter or munavoi), is spread over the hot pastries before eating.” – Wikipedia.
When I first tried a Karelian pasty in a hotel in Vantaa (the Bonus Inn), upon arriving in Finland, I honestly didn’t know what it was. I didn’t realize that it would be topped with anything, so I just ate it on it’s own. In our hotel buffet, the pasty was slightly warm, which definitely made it better than the cold version I tried later on (also unaware of how it should be eaten…)
It struck me as a labour-intensive item, and everywhere I saw it, it appeared to look identical (just more or less browned) so I presumed it was a mass-produced item.
Although there are plenty of recipes available for making Karelian pasties, they’re also available ready-made from companies like Vuohelan Herkku Oy. They offer the pasties fresh and frozen, with both rice and potato fillings. They offer gluten-free, egg-free, lactose-free and soy-free alternatives for customers looking for a taste of Finland. You can also connect with Vuohelan Herkku Oy on Facebook (in Finnish).
The pasties were really chewy, and the rye flour made them really dry. As they were, I didn’t really care for them – but now that I know how they’re supposed to be eaten, I think I’d try them again the RIGHT way if given a chance. (You know, on my one-day return trip to Finland!)
The Vantaa Bonus Inn was actually really nice, although we only spent one night there between the airport and other travels. The room was clean and efficient (efficient means small compared to American/Canadian hotels), the lobby was nice (although the front entrance would be difficult for anyone with mobility concerns – but the back entrance would be fine) and the buffet was great. I had hoped to check out the sauna while I was there, but with only one night and a fairly early departure the next morning, I didn’t get the chance.
I don’t know if I’d try to make these at home, but if you are more confident in the kitchen than I am, here’s the recipe:
Karelian pasties (Karjalanpiirakat)
1 decilitre water
½ – 1 tsp salt
2½ decilitre rye flour
2,5 decilitre water
1 litre milk
2,5 decilitre rice
1 tsp salt
Rinse the rice and place it in boiling water. Simmer until most of the water is absorbed. Add the milk, lower the heat to a minimum, and partially cover the pot. Simmer until the milk has been absorbed and the rice has turned into a thick porridge. Season with salt and leave to cool.
Add the flour and salt to the water and mix into a solid, compact dough.
Form the dough into a strip and divide into 12 pieces.
Roll the pieces into flat thin ovals.
Spread some filling on each oval. Then fold the sides towards the center, pinching and making neat pleats along the edge.
Bake at 300 ºC for about 10 minutes.
Brush them well with melted butter or a butter and water mixture.
Place the pasties, separated with baking paper, in a bowl and cover with a towel to soften the crusts.
Serve warm with butter or egg butter which is made by mixing equal parts of butter, (cottage cheese) and chopped hard-boiled egg.
Taken directly from ThisIsFINLAND. Note, a decilitre is approximately half a cup.
I thought that the pasties looked very time-consuming to make, and this video illustrates how to make them, in case you are up for it. Don’t worry, there isn’t any real sound so you don’t have to understand Finnish!