There was no question in my mind as to next Scandinavian country I would cross off this food list. I have always had a soft spot for Finland, even as a kid. I guess I identified this nation that was grouped with the others, but was still very much an outsider in terms of language, culture and history. This soft spot developed further when I visited Helsinki a few years ago and have since vowed to return to Finland in order to take advantage of the Midnight Sun film festival. One day, when I have a job that forbids taking time off in that time period, I plan to have my mind blown.
The big thing that I think bout when it comes to Finnish cuisine is leipäjuusto, or squeaky cheese. Sadly you just can’t get this in the UK. It is also hard to get things like smoked reindeer, which is another bit of a blow. However, Finnish cuisine is more than that. This is a cuisine that likes rye bread, native berries and mushrooms and so many different types of sweetbreads. I was actually spoilt for choice when it came to desserts, but instead opted to remake something that didn’t quite succeed a few years ago. Then for my main, I just wanted to make something I enjoyed in a small cafe on a Finnish island.
Karelian pasties are something that you see in many Finnish cafes and bakeries. This is a small past with a thin rye crust and a filling typically made of some sort of rice porridge. You can then top this with a number of different things, but egg-butter is the version I had in Finland. When warm, they make for a delightful snack – I just wish they weren’t such a bugger to make.
I don’t know if it’s the recipe (from Food) or a series of unfortunate events, but my making of these pasties was eventful. The rice porridge filling didn’t thicken up, so I strained it and then toppled up the finished product with extra liquid. The dough jaws beyond sticky and it was a trial to just get it unstuck from the mixing bowl, let alone roll into discs that could hold the porridge.
And yet, these were absolutely gorgeous. As a topping I went traditional with some egg-butter, but I also got some smoked ham because I figured that would work in addition. It really did. The recipe ended up making 16 of these, which made for a hearty lunch and a great pre-dinner snack. I also, gave some away to my mum too – which’ll teach me for gloating on WhatsApp. One day I might give this another go, but I might consult some other recipes first.
A few years ago, I made a version of this Finnish Easter bread and it didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped. The interior was still a bit raw and the rest was just dry. However, I knew there had to be a better recipe out there and I found it thanks to Bakers & Best. This is not he right time of year to make an Easter bread, seeing how it’s early February, but the local supermarket has been selling Easter eggs for nearly two months so I feel like seasonality doesn’t really matter.
This remake worked perfectly, even if it did take me 5-6 hours before I could get a chance to eat some. The smell of the cardamom alone as it cooked made me so incredibly hungry. The bread itself is an enriched dough with a lot of the same flavours that you find in a hot cross bun, but with added almonds and a closer crumb. I wish I had some emmental to eat with this, but butter was more than good enough. So glad that I have plenty of this to eat over the next day or two.
This was lunch, dinner is my next country. I managed to find a quicker recipe for Oceania, so I figured why not try to two countries in a weekend.