The other day a friend asked for the recipe for Carelian Pasties.
The Carelian Pasty , also called pierogie or pie, is a traditional Finnish dish. It’s a single serve oval shaped pie crust made of rye, filled with a porridge or mash. Traditionally the filling was made of barley, and later on from buckwheat or potatoes. Today the filling is usually made of rice, but mashed potatoes are common, as is a filling containing mashed carrots. The pasties are served with Egg Butter.
They’re called Karjalanpiirakka in Finnish and Karelska Piroger in Swedish.
I’ve only made these pasties a few times before. We like them, but in Finland you can get them ready made everywhere so I haven’t bothered to make them myself. But now I had to find a good recipe. And I didn’t find a single one that would explain the process properly. Among my own recipes I found three different ones and online I found so many; everyone a bit different but not really explaining to a novice how it is done. I made one batch, and then another and here is my conclusion:
They are easy to make when you know what you’re doing!
The most time consuming part is to wait for the porridge to cook and cool down. The next is for the oven to get hot.
Gather all your ingredients. First you need to make the filling. I’ve chosen rice porridge. Next time I’d like to try barley porridge from whole grains.
These recipes have metric measures. Most glass measuring cups in the US are also marked with the metric measures. 1 deciliter, or dl, is the same amount as 100 milliliters, or ml. 1 liter is 10 dl, or 1000 ml.
2 dl water (less than 1 cup, but more than 3/4 cup)
2 dl sticky rice (also called glutinous rice)
1 liter milk (a bit less than a quart)
1 tsp salt
Add rice to boiling water. Lower the temperature of the burner. Let boil while stirring until the water has been absorbed. Add milk. Stir and bring to a boil while watching it and stirring frequently, scraping the bottom of the pot. Milk burns easily, therefore you need to stir frequently until the heat has gone down to lower than simmering. Reduce the temperature even more to the lowest setting and cover the pot with a lid. Stir every five minutes or so. It’s done in one hour from start to finish. Add salt.
This porridge is a traditional Scandinavian winter treat. Especially during Christmas time it is served with cinnamon, sugar and milk. Very good! Better than rice pudding! You can easily double the recipe.
You could also cook the porridge in a crockpot or a double boiler.
While the porridge is cooking it’s time to boil eggs for the Egg Butter and to make the rye dough.
Hard boiled eggs, about 8 min from when the water starts boiling
2 – 4 tbsp butter per egg
salt and white pepper to taste
parsley, chives or other greens
Mix soft, almost melted butter and chopped eggs. Add salt and pepper. Garnish with greens. I like to melt the butter directly in the serving bowl in the microwave. Then I cut the eggs with an egg slicer directly into the butter and mash them up with a fork. This way there’s less mess to clean up.
2 dl water
1 ½ tsp salt
3 dl organic rye flour
2 dl all-purpose wheat flour
Turn on your oven to the hottest setting, 275°C or 527°F. Yes, that’s right, 527°F! If your oven doesn’t get that hot, just try the hottest setting.
You want to use organic rye flour! The normal rye in the US does not have enough rye flavor!
Mix all ingredients with your hand and knead it into a firm dough. Form it into a long log and divide it into 24 pieces.
Pour a small mound of rye flour on the counter next to where you’re going to roll the pieces. Take a piece of dough and flatten it against the counter and roll it into a circular shape, about 7”/12 cm across.
I’m using a special roller that makes the dough thinner in the middle, but a normal roller works fine too. Keep moving the crust as you roll, turn a few times, and dip it in more flour if it gets sticky. It will be very thin, but it’s elastic and won’t break easily. Roll out the other pieces and stack them with a good helping of rye flour in between. If you’re not baking them right away, cover them with plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out.
Next, fill a glass with cold water and place a tablespoon in it. Place the pot with the filling next to your work area. Place one rye crust on the counter and with the spoon take out some of the filling. Place it in the middle of the crust and spread it around, but not all the way to the edge.
Place the spoon back in the water. The water prevents the filling from sticking to the spoon.
To achieve the oval shape start by folding both sides of the crust towards the middle, leaving a bit of the filling uncovered, and start ruffling by pinching the dough between your thumb and index finger at the middle toward the ends.
Then turn the ends over to prevent them from burning. This is not difficult, so just keep going. You’ll get the hang of it eventually. And who says they have to look like machine made masterpieces?
Place them on a cookie sheet, covered with baking paper or slightly greased. You can place them right next to each other because they do not rise or swell during baking. Bake for about 10-14 minutes.
Boil about 4 dl water and add about 50 g butter (3,5 tbsp).
Boil the Butter Glaze. After removing the pasties from the oven, take a tool like a spatula or metal tongs and dip each one in the hot butter glaze. Place on a rack and cover with a towel.
Serve with Egg Butter and enjoy!
For a quick snack you can heat one in the microwave or toaster, and spread it with butter and maybe egg slices. But you do not need eggs to enjoy it. We like to spread the pasties with butter, top them with ham and cheese and bake them in the oven until the cheese has melted.
Leftover pasties stay good in the refrigerator for a couple of days and they can be frozen.
Using two pieces of dough I made a big “hungry boy” pasty by rolling it out to about 8”/20 cm across. Then I made small round pierogies by cutting one piece of dough into two and rolling them out to about 3”/8 cm across. They’re excellent as appetizers and hors d’oeuvres. Just spruce them up with goodies. A dollop of egg butter or mayo based egg salad, smoked salmon and fresh dill or salami or ham and parsley or whatever you like. Maybe some caviar and shrimp on the egg salad garnished with one or two sprigs of chive?
The possibilities are endless!