How to make the best korvapuustit (three treats with one dough)

I had a baking lesson on Sunday with my Finnish sister-in-law Ilona. She baked while I took notes before having a little sample at the end.

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This dough can be used to make various sweets. To make enough for korvapuustit, a few munkit (doughnuts) and rahkapiirakat (quark pies), follow these easy steps:

Heat 5 dcl (500ml) of milk until it is slightly warmer than body temperature. You can use water if you are lactose-free. Crumble in one packet of tuorehiiva (fresh yeast) and stir to dissolve.

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Add 1 dcl white sugar, 2 teaspoons cardamom, 2 eggs and mix. Stir in 9 dcl of plain flour (unsifted) and a pinch of salt. Once the mixture becomes thick and sticky use your hands to mix. You want a balance between the dough being thick enough to roll and loose enough so it has enough air in it to rise.

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Add 100g of melted butter and lightly mix with hands. Don’t knead too much as the dough needs to stretch.  Now it needs to double in size so cover with a tea towel and put aside. A 1950s tea towel printed with Australian birds is always best.

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Heat the oven to 200°c. Once the dough has doubled in size scrape it out onto a floured surface. When making korvapuustit you can be quite rough with the dough, it’s okay to push a bit of the air out of it. Divide the dough and put aside the amounts you would like for doughnuts and rahkapiirakat.

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Roll the dough into a 1cm thick rectangle and brush with 25g of melted butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and then roll lengthways.

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Cut the dough into triangles with the edge of a spatula. You can freeze uncooked dough at this stage to bake later.

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Place the triangles on a tray lined with baking paper. Put them on the bottom edge of the triangle and push down (like you are squashing a pyramid).

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Leave a bit of space between them as they will grow. Brush with egg and sprinkle with pearl sugar. Bake in oven for about 15 minutes or until golden.

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For rahkapiiraka: These are easier to make if the dough has come from the freezer. Shape dough into little dish shapes with a slight well in the middle. If the dough is fresh poke a couple of little holes in the bottom with a fork. Brush with egg and then mix one tub of rahka (quark) with the leftover raw egg and 1 teaspoon of white sugar.

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Spoon the mixture into the wells and press in raisins if you like and bake in oven for about 15 minutes.

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For the doughnuts: Shape dough into small rounds with the side of your hands. Don’t be too rough as you want air in this dough so they will rise.

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Take a round of dough and punch a hole in it with your finger. Then stretch a bit by spinning the ring on your fingers. This makes a sturdier doughnut shape than if you were to make a sausage and join two ends. You can freeze the raw dough circles at this stage for later use, or fry in oil and coat with sugar when cooled.

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Yum! All three of these sweet snacks are best served warm with coffee on the couch while you watch the Men’s 50km cross-country skiing final.

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Apologies to Ilona for not getting more photos that included her lovely face. I would have also included more photos of us eating these delicious snacks but some of us were still in our pyjamas… 

 

Hyvää Vappua!

The only May Day I’m familiar with is the distress call made by captains of marine vessels as they face disaster at sea. And by ‘familiar with‘ I mean I’ve watched them on TV from the comfort of my couch. So it was with pleasure that I experienced my first May Day and it wasn’t a disaster at all!  

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A sea of white caps converges on Esplanadi for the capping of Havis Amanda

Vapuu is a variation of the name ‘Walpurgis Night’ (Walpurgisnacht), a feast observed in Germany for Saint Walpurga since the 8th century. The celebrations being on 30 April and carry on into the 1 May which is a public holiday in Finland and signifies the start of Spring. It is one of the biggest holidays on the calendar, up there in significance with Christmas, New Years and Midsummer.

Students start celebrating from the week before and their area of study is identified by the colour of their overalls

Students start celebrating the week before and their area of study is identified by the colour of their overalls

On the 30th April, crowds converge on Market Square in white caps, identifying them as university preparation school alumni. The festivities really kick off at 6pm when a white cap is placed on the head of the statue of Havis Amanda by a group of students raised high in a cherry-picker. As her new ‘crown’ was placed on her head this year a large cheer went up from the crowd, a huge glitter bomb went off and the sound of many bottles of sparkling wine opening could be heard all around.

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Other statues don’t have to feel they’ve missed out on a cap either

As well as sparkling wine, people drink sima, an alcoholic drink similar to mead, although the honey used in production is now comonly replaced by sugar. The alcohol content is generally so low it is considered okay for children to drink and is usually accompanied by munkki (doughnuts) or  tippaleipä (funnel cake).

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Sima and tippaleipä

Helium balloons are common accessories and sellers can be seen on nearly every street corner from the morning of the 30th April. There doesn’t seem to be a particular theme; we saw champagne bottles, life-size superheroes and of course the ever-present Angry Birds characters.

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The next day it is customary to have a picnic in the park and we were lucky enough to watch the crowds in Kaivopuisto from the warmth of Ravintola Kaivohuone (Kaivohuone Restaurant) as the temperature dropped down into the low single-digits. We heard there was a sauna set up in the park but the rain drove us back from exploring further. After the company brunch we caught the tram back to our apartment with some friends who helped us drink sima, sparkling wine and eat doughnuts in true Finnish style into the early evening.

Lounasaikaan (lunch time) at Market Square

Miko and I had a few errands to do today and ended up at Market Square. The markets there are open Monday -Saturday and on Sunday too in summer. For sale is a variety of seasonal produce as well as gifts and souvenirs. In winter there is a heated tent that you can sit inside to have your kahvi (coffee).

Christmas comes early for those who like reindeer!

Christmas comes early for those who like reindeer!

The first stall we came across was selling food from Lapland. On offer were potatoes and vegetables in a garlic sauce and reindeer cooked a few different ways – sautéed reindeer, reindeer soup, reindeer sausage….right next to the stall selling reindeer soft toys.

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Kahvi and munkki (coffee & doughnuts) on offer for May Day Eve

It’s the Finnish Vappu festival (Spring Festival and May Day Eve ) and stalls were offering kahvi (coffee) and munkki (doughnuts traditionally eaten this time of year ) all around the square. Other stalls had on display mountains of new season strawberries, potatoes and beans.

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Finland is known as the land of a thousand lakes and fish provides an important source of protein to the national diet. Miko and I visited a woman on her boat to buy some salmon cakes and fried Baltic herring for our lunch.

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Baltic herring is sited as one of the most economically important species fished in Finland. Not only is it good for the economy but it contains much needed Omega-3 fatty acids, minerals and vitamin D. Each year in October, Market Square hosts a Baltic Herring Fair, a Finnish tradition dating back to the 18th century. 

Fried Baltic herring & a salmon cake

Fried Baltic herring & a salmon cake

We sat beside the water and enjoyed our lunch until some uninvited seagulls joined us. I was taken with their black faces and wing tips but they scared my dining companion and we had to leave.

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