This Finnish “pie” is one of those foods I’ve had to learn how to make myself because of living abroad, to ensure availability when I would like some. It’s right up there with one of my all time favourites, salmon soup. These days, only the pies from the actual Karelia area can officially be called as Karelian pies, but to me they are all called this. When Gordon Ramsay tasted it and thought it was awful, he must’ve hurt every Finnish person’s feelings. To be honest, I do have to wonder if his comment was for the sake of the cameras. Everyone must’ve been thinking what version of this food was he served, as I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Karelian pies.
Even though the name says ‘pie’, it’s not really one. I was trying to think how to translate it (with the help from my British husband), but nothing seemed to fit. We went through pasty, pie, pastry etc and concluded that pie was still the best option.
Basically, this pie is something with very thin rye (and wheat) flour dough base, with cooked, savoury pudding rice in the centre. Very often, it’s enjoyed with butter that has hard boiled, crushed egg mixed in.
3 dl pudding rice
3 dl water
12 dl milk
2 tsp salt
4 1/2 dl rye flour
1 dl plain wheat flour
2 tsp salt
2 dl cold water
1. Put the rice, salt and water in a pan. Cook until the rice has absorbed all the water. Add the milk, and cook for half an hour. Once cooked, cool.
2. Whilst the rice is cooking, mix all the dough ingredients together. You don’t want it to be dry, but not sticky either.
3. Roll the dough into a tube, and cut in half. Repeat twice, then cut each piece in three equal sizes. After these steps, you should end up with 24 fairly equal size pieces.
4. Roll each piece into a ball. Cover the balls with cling film to stop them from drying. One by one, flatten each ball by hand, then using a rolling pin roll into very thin, oval shapes.
5. Put rice filling on the centre of the dough, from one end to another, leaving unfilled dough on the sides.
6. Turn the furthest end of the dough from you over the filling, then the sides. Pinch the dough between your fingers as you’re moving towards the closer end to you (picture is of a cooked pie, as I forgot to take a picture before putting them in the oven, but it should still give you an idea).
7. Cook in oven 250°C (fan) / 480°F for 15 minutes.
8. Put some milk and butter (25g-50g) into a pan, and warm until the butter has melted. After you take the pies out of the oven, bathe each pie in the milk-butter mix, turning it so that both sides are fully submerged during the process.