Finnish Karelian pies

A few years ago while Rob and I were travelling around Finland, we were having breakfast in a quaint cafe around Tampere. I saw these little pies on the display counter and wondered what they were so decided to order one seen as a few people were nibbling on one with their coffee. I was mostly expecting them to be sweet, so was taken aback when they were savory and a little bit salty. I really loved them.

I haven’t really used rye flour before so I was really intrigued the first time I got to make these and try it out. Rye flour is used quite commonly in Scandinavian baking and I’m intending to use it quite a lot more as it has a very rich flavour and can be quite fruity also. Rye is quite a healthy grain and packed with nutrients, similar to wheat, wholegrain rye is also much better for you than refined. So I’m planning to experiment more with this grain, next will be to make a rich dark rye loaf…. I’ll put my findings up here when I get to experiment.

Commonly these little pies are topped with a mashed hard boiled egg with added butter etc, but I never really do that, not that it’s a bad combo but I just generally really like these as is, especially as something quick to grab for lunch when I’m busy. The dark rye flavour in these make a great crispy base and then with the creamy, salty filling you are going to find it hard not to enjoy these. They are surprisingly filling, and relatively easy to prepare and bake, they can just be a little fiddly sometimes.

Karelian Pies
*I will mention that I have used a large round cookie cutter so they are more round than oval. I am aware that this is not typically done but I just find it handier, so do whichever way you feel you want*

Recipe from adapted from The Nordic Bakery cookbook. (I love this book, its a great resource of tried and tested Scandinavian baking)
Makes approx 20 pies.

Ingredients

Pastry
250g dark rye flour

1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
plain flour (for dusting)
75g unsalted butter, melted

Filling
150g short grain rice
750ml milk
1 tsp sea salt

Method
Start by making the filling. In a saucepan bring 250ml water to the boil, add in the rice and simmer for almost 10mins. Add in the milk and keep simmering over a low heat for about 35/40mins or until the rice seems cooked and it looks like rice pudding. Season with the salt (taste to see if you feel it needs more) Leave to the side to cool while you get cracking on the pastry.

Preheat the oven to 220°C or 425°F

Put the rye flour and salt in a mixing bowl, add the oil and gradually add in 200ml of water. You may not need all of the water so just keep an eye on the consistency of the dough when adding in water. With your hands mix until you have a dough, then place on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out into a sausage shape and divide as evenly as possible into 20 pieces. Using a rolling pin, roll out each piece as thinly as possible to approx 10cm, Sometimes, I use a round cutter to cut away the rough edges, this for me is a little handier but its in no means essential and I’m pretty sure this isnt the way its traditionally done, but whatever floats your boat.

Spoon 2 tbsp of the filling into the centre of each round and using your hands or the spoon, spread the rice mixture out leaving about 2cm around the edge clean. Pinch the edges of the pastry all around the pastry to secure the filling inside. Pour the melted butter into a shallow bowl, and place each pastry, one at a time, into the bowl of butter. Then using your hands or a spoon, place onto a prepared baking sheet.

Bake in the oven for 15-20mins until golden and crispy.

You can eat these straight away or let cool for later, I did find that they don’t keep great. The next day the pastry tends to get quite soft, which is fine but just not as good a texture as when crispy.

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