Kardemummainen Rahka-Mustikkapiiras (Finnish Blueberry Tart)

Now be honest – have you ever made a recipe from a tea towel? Well, today that is what served as my inspiration for this post. Sometimes it is travel, sometimes it is a mystery ingredient I bought on impulse, but today, it is a tea towel.

In fairness, this is not just any random tea towel. I got them as a gift from my friend Anne who was on holiday in Helsinki and St Petersburg over the summer. The theme is blueberries – one featuring two big black bears who have come across a woody glade filled with fruit, and the other has a rather full bear (complete with a blue tongue) and a recipe for a blueberry and sour cream tart – the Rahka-Mustikkapiiras in the title of this post.

These tea towels are from a Finnish company called Finlayson, a textile maker founded by a Scottish engineer called James Finlayson in 1820, who decided to set up a cotton mill in Tampere on Finland’s west coast. I like the idea of a brave pioneer decided to set out and live in one of the few places that is colder and darker than his native Scotland…but I’ve experienced the mosquitoes in Finland, so I’m sure they served as a reminder of the Scottish midges to cure any homesickness.

teatowel1

teatowel2

Now, before I could even dream of using these cloths to dry things, I just had to try this recipe. The problem was that it is in Finnish, a language that I have no real idea about. A few trips to Finland have left me with the most limited of limited vocabulary extending as far as (and I am not making this up): yksi (one), kaksi (two), moi (hi), tervetuloa (welcome), kipis (cheers), glöggi (mulled wine), kiitos (thank you) and joulupukki (literally “Christmas Goat” but now closer to Father Christmas). So if I met two festive boks in the street, I would be able to count them, welcome them, toast with a glass of mulled wine and say thanks, which is clearly a very useful life skill indeed.

So…I had a recipe in a language I had not a hope of understanding. I could have looked online for a similar recipe and made that instead, but that felt a bit like cheating. Instead, I typed each and every strange word into a translation website, and got a rough approximation of a recipe. At least I knew what the ingredients were, how much I needed, and roughly what I should be doing with them. I say “roughly” because the method was a bit rough and ready. But still, this felt like quite an achievement!

So what is this mysterious tart? It is rather like a simple blueberry cheesecake with a cardamom-flavoured biscuit crust. During baking, the berries release some of their juice, and the surface of the tart takes on a lovely mottled purple pattern. The whole thing probably took me about 20 minutes to make, so it really is a very, very easy recipe to have a go at.

finnishblueberrytart

Traditionally this tart is made with a thick yoghurt-like fermented milk called viili. Lacking easy access to Finnish produce in London, I just swapped it out for some tangy cream cheese, but I think you could equally easily use yoghurt, or crème fraîche.

So – how was the recipe? I had to admit, I had a couple of wobbles and made a few changes to the flavours. First off, my translation of the recipe suggested that I melt the butter, then pour into the rest of the pastry ingredients. My head was telling me that this would produce an oily pastry, and I was right. However, it was fairly easy to press into place and the end result was fine. However, if I was making this again, I would use softened butter (rather than melted) and cream everything together, which would also make the dough easier to work with. The recipe also calls for a teaspoon of ground cardamom, but I found that this was a bit too much when the tart was at room temperature. I would go for half a teaspoon for a milder flavour, but bizarrely, the flavour was less intense when the tart was chilled. I’ve suggested half a teaspoon below, but if you love the flavour of cardamom, then go crazy. In terms of the filling, I added more berries than the recipe called for (who doesn’t love more berries?), and used only half of the suggested teaspoon of vanilla extract. This final change was a good call, so that there was a hint of flavour rather than anything too overpowering.

All in all – this was a success. The tart is easy, looks great and it does plug into those fashionable Nordic flavours of blueberries and cardamom. This is lovely with a cup of coffee as the days of autumn get increasingly nippy. Maybe we should all be using tea towels to inspire our baking once in a while?

To make Finnish Blueberry Tart

Pastry

• 100g butter, softened
• 50ml sugar
• 1 egg, beaten
• 200g plain flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2
teaspoon ground cardamom

Filling

• 400g blueberries (fresh or frozen)
• 50ml milk
• 200ml sour cream or 200g cream cheese (full fat versions!)
• 50g sugar
• 1 egg
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).

2. Make the pastry – cream everything into a smooth dough. Press over the bottom and sides of pie dish – don’t worry about it being a little rough, the rustic look is part of the charm.

3. Sprinkle the blueberries into the pie dish. Mix the milk, sour cream/cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. Pour slowly over the berries.

4. Bake for 30 minutes or until the filling is set (it should wobble, but not look runny). Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Serve cold.

Worth making? Yes! Who knew a tea towel recipe could be so good?

17 Comments

Filed under Recipe, Sweet Things

17 responses to “Kardemummainen Rahka-Mustikkapiiras (Finnish Blueberry Tart)

  1. Anything with cardamom gets my vote. This looks delicious. Kiitos for sharing

  2. I love this!
    Thanks for the link also, their prints are fab!

  3. I love the bear with the belly full of blueberries, how sweet! I’ve often been tempted to make a pavlova off the back of a two dollar shop tea towel, but I never have!

  4. Love the teatowel and the tart looks super pretty. The idea of cardamom and blueberries is intriguing. I have baked a pavlova recipe from a fabulous New Zealand teatowel numerous times.

  5. I love that tea towel! The bears are adorable. And this tart sounds delicious.

    My favorite dessert as a child was blueberry sour cream pie at a restaurant that is now closed, and I’ve never been able to find a recipe for it. This doesn’t look exactly the same, but I bet the flavors are similar! I will have to try it.

  6. I can’t wait to try this! I LOVE anything blueberry!

  7. Ina

    I’ve been enjoying your wonderful, informative and entertaining blog and decided I had to comment, finally, as a Finnish blueberry tart is one of my favourite desserts. My mother, who is Finnish, makes a version as a summer treat (when the berries are fresh) and serves it at room temperature. I can’t wait to try your recipe. I found your blog when I was looking for a recipe for Finnish mushroom salad and yours appeared to be the best — and received rave reviews at my dinner party! I love your international and Nordic emphasis and careful thinking about what you are making. I have never made anything from a tea towel but our family recipe for mushroom soup comes from a recipe printed on a mug.

  8. Thanks for the translation. I’m going to try swapping the cream cheese for thick yogurt and see how it turns out!

  9. Susan

    Do you think greek yogurt would work for this? Would the flavor be too tangy? I would like to think it would complement the blueberries well🙂 Thanks for sharing this recipe, love the tea towel!

  10. How cool is this😛 Lovely tea towel and the result looks great!

  11. Ooh this looks utterly delicious, a shame that only my son & I eat blueberries!

    • Hi Camilla – thanks, glad you like the look of it. I don’t see it as a shame – it means you can eat more of the tart if not everyone at home likes them😉 However, I think this tart would also work in a smaller version – just adjust the baking time.

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