Karelian Pastries

These curious looking little fellows are one of Finland’s oldest dishes, called Karelian pies (Karjalanpiirakat) – simple savoury rice pies in a rye crust.

karelianpastry4

Now, when it comes to pies, there is a lot of competition out there. Dozens of different cheeses, delicious vegetables and exotic and interesting spices to tempt the hungry. In such a competitive field, you might think that something that sounds as boring as “savoury rice pies” might not be a winner. But trust me on this one – I’ve had them in Finland and loved them, and the were equally delicious when I made them back home. Think of this as two types of carbs, baked with butter – now if you were in Finland and there was three feet of snow outside, you’d probably be in the mood for that sort of thing!

So what makes them so good? The fact they are delicious may or may not have something to do with the fact that the rye pastry is dipped in or brushed with melted salted butter just before baking, making it crisp and (unsurprisingly) buttery. The filling is a thick rice pudding, made with milk and a little salt, so it is both rich and satisfying savoury. The end result? These simple little rice pies are really rather addictive!

karelianpastry3 karelianpastry2

The good news is that these pies are very easy to make, and you’ve probably got everything that you need in the cupboard right now. If you want to omit the milk and/or butter, then that’s easy too, so they can be veganised or made lactose-free too. They’re nice warm, but equally good cold, so they are a great addition to a picnic. The only drawback is that it is very tempting to have just one more, and then just one more again. So if you do whip up a batch, make sure you have enough!

I also love how they look – they seem rather fancy and impressive, but shaping them is quite straightforward. Just roll out the dough, add the filling, then crimp the edges with you fingers. Make it complex or make it as simple as you like – every baker seems to have their own version, but I wanted to go for something that was small and could be munched in a couple of bites. You can easily adapt this recipe to make fewer larger pies, or double it to make more.

If you want to enjoy these the traditional Finnish way, top them with a spoonful of chopped hard-boiled egg mixed with (you guessed it) more butter.

karelianpastry1

Makes around 10:

For the filling

• 75g short grain rice (such as arborio or pudding rice)
• 130ml water
• 400ml milk

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the pastry:

• 125g rye flour
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
• 100ml water

To finish:

• 100g salted butter, melted

1. Start with the filling. Put the water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the rice and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the milk, and continue to cook over a low heat, uncovered, until you have a thick rice pudding texture (30-40 minutes). Add the salt, stir well, cover and put to one side to allow to cool.

2. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper, and preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F).

3. Make the pastry. Mix the rye flour and the salt. Add the oil and then add enough water to make a soft dough that is not sticky.

4. Roll the dough into a long sausage, and cut into 10 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then roll out on a floured worktop to make a circle of around 10-12cm diameter.

5. Divide the filling between the pastry circles – around 2 tablespoons each (tip: make sure the filling is cool – if it is warm, the dough can soften and make them harder to handle). Take each pie, and life the edges and press inwards to make an oval shape. Use your fingers to crimp the edges so that the pastry holds the filling in the pie.

6. Take each finished pie and dip the pastry into the melted butter. You can do this with your hands or a slotted spoon, or use a pastry brush to coat the pastry.

7. Arrange the pies on the baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden and the filling is just starting to colour.

25 Comments

Filed under Recipe, Savoury

25 responses to “Karelian Pastries

  1. Ooh they look and sound great. Really unusual, I think I’d enjoy these!

  2. filthynapkin

    so unusual yet intriguing!
    They look like little baked potatoes!

  3. Ooh they look good – I do like a tasty Karelian pie (thanks to visits to Finland!)

  4. Wow…unique little pies… I definitely going to give it a try.

  5. Reblogged this on freespiritfood and commented:
    I was introduced to these delicious traditional Finnish pies a few years ago when we enjoyed a traditional Finnish Christmas Eve feast at our friends’ Ulla and Kurt’s home in Canberra. They are just as yummy cold as they are warm and especially good with the chopped hard boiled egg butter. Now thanks to our Finnish connections we get to enjoy these Karelian pastries at least once or twice a year but I haven’t had the recipe until now. And so now I know that it’s the involvement of a lot of butter that makes them so delicious, Thanks http://www.londoneats.wordpress.com

  6. I’ve never seen anything exactly like these. Thanks for the interesting introduction.

  7. So unusual! Great to see something different, will have to give them a try!

  8. Yummy little killers!!🙂 Will definitely try and share my experience. London Eats do take a look into my food blog and give your valuable feedback, TIA🙂
    Here’s the link :
    https://hungerbook.wordpress.com/

  9. so happy to have found your blog. These pastries look amazing, have never seen anything like them.

  10. Wow! Its great to see karjalanpiirakat being made in London. My girlfriend (from Croatia) and I (from Finland) love cooking international food, and this really stood out, nice job with exploring different cultures!

  11. Sounds is tasty , I will try to make a Korelian pies!

  12. Such a fresh an interesting blog you have here🙂
    Do you think spelt flour could be a suitable substite?

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