Ear Buns ‒ Korvapuustit

Random facts about Finnish coffee culture #2:Though coffee table is the main event of any regular family visit and everyone knows it, you shouldn't seem too eager about it. When the hostess first asks guests to come to the table, no one seems to hear. After the second invitation they already start to look at each other, wondering who's the bold one to go first. If no one else is willing to appear as if they came only for the food, the oldest lady (or some other guest of honour) might get offered a chair because it's more comfortable than standing
The second day of MoFo and I still haven't really checked the other blogs. Think tomorrow I'll write you (and myself) a small list of interisting themes I'm especially looking forward to read.

Korvapuusti is easily one of the biggest classics to have with coffee and I must admit there is a reason to it. Its closest cousin is cinnamon roll which I've heard being called both American and Danish invention. If anyone has any further knowledge, do let me know! Korvapuusti's name literally means ear bun because of the cute "ears" it has. The word has also come to mean a slap on a person's ear, probably because someone thought it sounded humorous. There are different versions with different fillings, but this one's the classic. It makes about 16 big ones or 32 small ones.

- 1 portion of pulla dough
- 100 g margarine
- 1 dl farine sugar (stickier and more aromatic than regular)
- 2 tbsp cinnamon
(almond flour, cardamom)

Prepare the dough as normally. When it's ready to be shaped, take half of it and let the other half rest. Roll it into a large rectangle with one long shape and the other somewhat shorter, perhaps 60x30 centimeters or so.

Melt the margarine and use half of it to butter the rectangle. Sprinkle with cinnamon and farine sugar (and if you wish, almond flour and cardamom too). Then roll the rectangle as if you were making a swiss roll and leave the seam under the roll. Cut it into pieces but make the cuts diagonally like this / \ / \ / \ / \ / \ so all the pieces have one long side and one pointy side so they're almost triangles. Flip the pointy side up. Press your finger or a spoon gently but firmly in the middle of the roll so the middle part goes to the table and it's ears flop out. (Here's a helpful diagram). Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Place the big-eared fellows on a baking sheet and cover with a towel. Let them rise for about half an hour. Butter with well sugared coffee and sprinkle with coarse sugar if you wish. Bake in a 225°C oven for 8-10 minutes. Enjoy hot with coffee.

Nutritional values / 1 pulla / 126 g:
energy 390 kcal
fat 13 g
protein 10 g
carbohydrates 58 g
fiber 2 g


Quark Pulla ‒ Rahkapulla

Random facts about Finnish coffee culture #1: Finns consume the largest amount of coffee per capita, 12 kg a year while the world's average is only 1,3 kg. Other Nordic countries follow close behind.

Vegan Month of Food is upon us again! Renovating our apartment and watching after a soon year old child have kept me too busy to blog this summer, but luckily a post per day for a whole month should make up for it.

This year I decided to take a real challenge and post with the theme "Finnish coffee table". That means I'll be busy baking all sorts of sweet things, or at least fail miserably, since confectionery definitely isn't my strongest kitchen area. I only have a vague list of what I might be posting so far, but at least I'm going to start with some recipes taking advantage of the basic pulla dough. Unlike last year, they are going to be mostly from the classic end of the spectrum and not so much my own or otherwise highly modern ideas. And since few foods are known in one country only, it's often quite hard to say what is truly a Finnish speciality, but I'll draw the line to those which are clearly associated with some other country even though they might be common in Finland as well, for example pavlova (Russia, though it's actually invented in New Zealand) or princess cake (Sweden). Also, I'll leave sweetnesses associated with certain holidays to their respective seasons.

My purpose was to first say a word or two about the coffee table culture in general but then I decided it's more fun to tell about it little by little as random facts included in every post. Right now all you need to know is that we're talking about a more humble weeknight occasion, in contrast to the standing coffee table you see at weddings and funerals. It's a culture already disappearing from cities but alive and well in more rural areas like South Ostrobothnia where I grew up. When people go to visit their friends or relatives in the evening, they dress up a bit tidier than they normally do but not too dressy. The hosting family (or usually, the hostess alone) serves them coffee and little snacks on the table while everyone discusses about the latest gossip. And of course, there is an extensive amount of small but expected rituals that no one even thinks as such until some poor foreigner comes along and starts acting funnily. So I hope this month worth of posts will also act as a guide in case one of you finds themselves in the middle of this weird but hospitable occasion.

I'm only going to post about the sweet stuff here, but in case you'd like to repeat something like this at your own home, remember that generally only one savory item is enough. It might be vatruskas, a pie or just your average open-faced sandwiches. Sandwich cake on the other hand might be a bit too fancy.

- 1 portion of pulla dough
- 5 dl soy yogurt (drained)
- 1 dl sugar
- 1 tl vanilla sugar
- 1 dl bilberries, black currants or raisins for decoration

First prepare the filling. Drain your yogurt in a coffee filter overnight to make it firmer. Then mix with the sugar and vanilla sugar. Refrigerate.

Start the baking process as normally. After you've rolled the dough into buns, take a drinking glass with an even bottom. Flour it and press firmly but gently on the ball. It should squeeze and leave a nest in the middle, but the bottom shouldn't have holes in it. Repeat with all the pullas.

Fill the nests with couple of spoonfuls of the filling. Crown by placing some berries or raisins into the filling part. Bake 10-15 minutes in a 200°C oven, until the quark has curdled. You don't necessaily need to butter them as it's ok if they look a bit fair skinned compared to regular pullas.

Nutritional values / 1 pulla / 208 g:
energy 597 kcal
fat 14 g
protein 16 g
carbohydrates 96 g
fiber 4 g 


Rutabaga Spaghetti with Peas and Pistachios ‒ Lanttuspagetti herneillä ja pistaaseilla

The spring has been early this year, after practically no winter. I saw catkins already in February, caltsfeet flowers in March and right now finding some leftover snow is a matter of some serious search. Yesterday there were, pushing out of the ground, something green which I am almost certain was ground elder. It's definitely the time to get rid of the last root vegetables, berries in the freezer and dried nettles to make room for the fresh stuff.

This pasta dish was something I came up with one night when I came home late and hungry, from the ingredients I happened to have. This time we tried it with a bit more special twist, using a "pasta" famous among so-called paleo eaters and low carbers. By hand, it required some work, but the idea seems so great I'm seriously considering to buy a new kitchen gadget just to make sure I'll prepare this more often from now on.

- 1 large rutabaga (the bigger you can find the easier this gets)
- 2 tbsp canola oil

- 200 g frozen peas
- 1 dl roasted and salted pistachios, peeled
- 1 orange
- black pepper

Peel the rutabaga. Then take your peeler, a cheese slicer or a dedicated kitchen gadget. Try to carve out as long stripes out of the rutabaga as you can. When the whole of the yellow root is spaghettisized, steam the stripes a few minutes to get them half done. (If you prefer your spaghetti a little al dente, you can skip this step.) Then fry them on a pan with oil just enough to get some delicious browning on the edges.

You can finish the spaghetti with any of your favourite pasta sauce, but for this version, simply peel and cut the orange and then add the pieces into the pot, together with peas and pistachios. Stir. The dinner is ready when the peas have fully melted.

Nutritional values / 1387 g:
energy 987 kcal
fat 59 g
protein 35 g
carbohydrates 76 g
fiber 32 g



Pulla (also nisu or vehnänen) is one of the most wide-spread baked sweets in Finland and the base for many, many others. It's one of the things I've been asked to post and no wonder, since if traveling in Finland you're likely to meet it on every second coffee table. It's so important culturally in fact, that Finns like to describe a family doing well by saying their home smells like freshly baked pulla. It's basically just a bread roll with added sugar, but it's one of those treats so simple I felt surprised to learn that like salmiakki or dish draining closet, it's almost unknown outside Scandinavia. Then again, there are quite many other bun types around the world.

The amounts here are straight from Insanity's recipe:

- wheat flour (about 1 kg or less)
- 5 dl soy milk
- 150 g margarine
- 2 dl sugar
- 50 g yeast
- 1 tbsp cardamom
- 2 tsp vanilla sugar
- 1 tsp salt

Warm up the milk to about 42°C (feels warm to your hand but doesn't make you scream if you stick your hand into it). Dissolve the yeast in it as well as the spices and the sugar. Keep sifting in the flour and kneading the dough until it starts to let go from from your hands and the bowl it's in.

Melt the margarine and add it into the bowl as well. Keep kneading for at least another ten minutes. Cover with a towel and come back after an hour when your dough is trying to crawl out of the bowl.

Divide in about ten pieces. Roll them round between your hands and put on an oven shelf. Let them rise for another half an hour. At this point you can also butter the pullas with well sugared coffee before oven and sprinkle some sugar on them. Bake 10-15 minutes in a 200°C oven. Enjoy with coffee, tea or berry juice.

You can also add raisins into the mix to make rusinapulla; stick your finger on top of the bun, put a clump of margarine in it and sprinkle with sugar before the oven to achieve voisilmäpulla; or sprinkle almond flakes on top instead of sugar for mantelipulla.

Nutritional values / 1 pulla / 183 g:
energy 534 kcal
fat 13,9 g
protein 15,3 g
carbohydrates 86,5 g
fiber 3,8 g


Salmiakki Sauce for Seitan and Beet ‒ Salmiakkikastike seitanille ja punajuurelle

When I dine at a restaurant I find it very pleasant if the menu clearly states what's in a given dish, for example "Chili rubbed seitan steak, raspberry vinegar marinated beets and salmiakki sauce". It gives me as a customer much better idea of what to order if the name isn't just some fancy French word I don't know how to pronounce. But when I see this elsewhere, peculiarly in recipes, for some reason I find it annoying and just trying to sound fancy, for example "engine oil rubbed Tavastian soap with small stones and slowly caramellized rubber". It's really a combination of the different ingredients or even separate dishes, and guess my logic goes that this means that any given part of that plate isn't really worth repeating or at least the recipe writer doesn't believe it is. Guess I'm only annoyed because this has becme some sort of a fad among Finnish celebrity chefs. Anyway, I try to avoid that happening in my recipes, although I realize I might just have an attitude problem. Sometimes the combination of tastes truly is the more important thing than any given part of it. Taste pairing might just be the single most important part of kitchen art.

This is the case of this recipe too. Although the part needing a recipe is really just for the sauce, I couldn't help but putting a suggestion of what comes under the sauce in the headline. These three tastes are just fine on their own, but they work especially well together, so I thought to highlight the combo. The idea came from a salmiakki marinated beet starter dish, created by a salmiakki making company, but I thought to turn it into an entrée. For the seitan, I used chili in the dough and fried them well in oil. For the beets, I sliced them thin, drizzled with oil and raspberry vinegar, as well as spiced with salt and thyme before roasting them in the oven long just long enough to still have them crunchy. The portion is crowned by the sauce which has a lot subtler aroma than you might think.

- 150 g salmiakki candy (hard ones are best in this, I used Turkinpippuri) + 1 dl water
 - 4 dl strong vegetable bouillon
- 1 dl white wine
- 2 tbsp margarine
- 2 tbsp wheat flour
- black pepper
- salt

Prepare a salmiakki syrup by putting the candies in a small bowl and pouring water on them just enough to get them covered. Turn around with a spoon when you walk by. Dissolving only takes a few hours, so if you start in the previous evening, you can be sure they'll make it in time.

Melt the margarine in a sauce pan. Shift the flour on the melted stuff and stir. Pour in the stock before the roux start to turn brown (unlike in basic brown sauce). Let the sauce thicken on a low heat, stirring occasionally. Add the salmiakki syrup and the wine. Let the sauce reduce until the consistency is thick enough to stay on the seitan. Spice with salt and pepper according to your taste buds.

Nutritional values / 798 g:
energy 882 kcal
fat 22 g
protein 2 g
carbohydrates 144 g
fiber 1 g


Roasted Garlic Soup ‒ Paahdettu valkosipulikeitto

I recently noticed my whipped porridge in a Buzzfeed post about Finnish foods. It was an interesting listing altogether, featured many things you can find from this blog as well, like pea soup or cabbage casserole, and also reminded me of some dishes I'm yet to post, like korvapuusti or Karelian stew. But one item there didn't feel quite right. Garlic soup. Is that supposed to be some Finnish speciality? Yes, many Finns love garlic and there's even a garlic restaurant in Helsinki which serves garlic icecream, but I wouldn't call it any countryside stable. This soup I'd locate somewhere around Spain or perhaps even France.

Still, this is a perfect winter time soup to keep away flu, vampires and small-minded people. The modest outlooks don't really do justice to the wonderful complexity of the taste. Even if garlic isn't usually your cup of tea, you might still want to try this pleasantly smooth and sweet twist of it. Similarly to best of beers, the thing tastes like many things at once. You shouldn't start the cooking when your already hungry though, because it needs some time to develop all that symphony. Notice it's more of a starter than an entrée soup, though we enjoyed it paired with oven sandwiches consisting of rye bread, sun-dried tomatoes, smoked tofu, vegan sour cream and basil. The only important things in the soup are naturally the garlic roasting and onion caramelizing, but we based our version to a recipe which uses some beer as well, since hey, didn't someone just mention how good it tastes like?

- 7 whole garlics
- 4 onions
- 1 l vegetable broth
- 4 dl oat cream
- 2 dl strong tasting beer (or apple cider)
- 1 dl canola oil
- 2 tbsp farin sugar
- thyme
- black pepper
- salt

Cut the garlics in half breadth-wise. No need to remove the now halved cloves from their place, just put them in an oven casserole open side above and drizzle some oil on them. Roast in a 125°C oven for 1.5 hours. Now the cloves should be quite easy to peel.

Peel and chop the onions coarsely. Pour rest of the oil in a pan and heat up. Put the onions and garlics in the pan, turn down the heat to a mild temperature. This part takes a lot of patience as it may take up to 45 minutes. You shouldn't fry the onion but let it caramelize in time. Turn them occasionally and keep a low heat to prevent them from burning. They're ready when they look golden and taste sweet, just like the garlics when they came out of the oven.

Add the sugar and the beer with the onions. Let the mixture come in to a boil and then quickly add the broth. Put the lid on and let the soup simmer for half an hour or so. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cook for a few minutes more, smooth down with a hand blender and cure your flu.

Nutritional values / 2635 g:
energy 2136 kcal
fat 133 g
protein 44 g
carbohydrates 170 g
fiber 21 g


Black Trumpet Sausage ‒ Mustatorvisienimakkara

Mustamakkara, literally "black sausage" is very likely the most famous speciality of my home city Tampere. It's basically a groat sausage which gets its Gothic colour from blood and is usually served with lingonberry sauce. For years I've had this weird urge to make a vegan version out of it (Hey why not? Edinbourgh is full of pubs serving vegan haggis.) but had absolutely no idea what I could use in it.

As I've mentioned before, there are several traditional Finnish sausage types with no meat in them. I was especially delighted to find a recipe for a mushroom sausage that is otherwise vegetarian but uses real intestines as mold. I wouldn't know how to get those even if I wanted to, but this gave me an idea of using black trumpets when mushrooms are called for. They should naturally make a black sausage, so this might be an idea in line with the name. My version is a bit different though, containing gluten flour for added firmness and fillingness.

I've never actually tasted the blood version so I did some questioning among my friends who had. Apparently some versions do taste like blood while others don't. That sounded like a relief. While you could easily add an effervescent tablet to bring the iron taste into this, it doesn't sound like something I'd really like my sausage to taste like. Especially when black trumpets have such a discreet taste on their own.

- 300 g salt-pickled black trumpets
- 5 dl water
- 4 dl gluten flour
- 2 dl oat cream
- 1.5 dl whole barley grains
- 100 g fresh soy cheese
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- white pepper

Cook the barley in salted water. Mince the garlic. Rinse and drain the mushrooms couple of times, then cut them into smaller pieces. Mix all the ingredients except the gluten flour. Start kneading the flour into the rest by your hand, a small amount at a time, to get it evenly mixed with the rest of the sausage. If there seems to be too much of the dry stuff, add a dollop of water, but carefully, since you don't them to become too soggy.

Take a fistful of the mass and roll into a bar. Wrap into folio and roll some more. Repeat for the rest of the mass. I got myself six large sausages from this amount. Bake in a 175°C oven for an hour. Enjoy as a snack or on the dinner, preferably with lingonberry or cranberry sauce.

Nutritional values / 1 sausage / 242 g:
energy 308,5 kcal
fat 11,5 g
protein 29,3 g
carbohydrates 22,5 g
fiber 4,5 g
Teekauppa.fi - laadukasta teetä netistä
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