Karelian Rice Pasties

I was lucky to visit Finland last year for a holiday.  It is a magnificant part of the world.  It is outdoorsy, rugged, scenic.  It is a country of contrast.  Extreme bitter terrain in winter.  Lush, fertile surroundings in summer.  It is small but vast.  It is quiet but friendly and warm.  Interestingly, I used to say my partner was full of contradictions.  Being Finnish, I suppose it is an intrinsic trait?

The Finnish landscape and scenery is quite arresting.  We travelled from Helsinki to Turku one day and past some beautiful countryside.  The photos below were taken wandering around Naantali.  For me, the wide open lake and the rich blooms greatly encapsulate southern Finland in the summer time.

These little rice pasties actually remind me of Finland.  For me, the rustic, earthiness make them quintessentially Finnish.  The pasties were actually requested by my partner to include in my Finnish baking month adventures.  He remembers them fondly.  Surprisingly, I never saw them when I was in Finland last year, but they must be popular because Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella also made a mention of them to me.  I am disappointed I did not come across them in my travels.  Admittedly, I think I was preoccupied not only with cardamom flavoured bread and buns, and all the fresh salmon on offer.  (I seriously think I ate salmon for every single meal during my time there.  It was sublime.)

I flicked through my trusty Scandinavian Baking book by Beatrice Ojakangas to find the recipe for these little rice pasties.  If they were popular, there was no question I would find them there.

The pastry was quite easy to make.  It literally mixed together by hand in less than 5 minutes.  The filling is the most time consuming part taking an hour to slowly simmer.  But I hit a snag.  I presume the rice needed to disintegrate, hence the 1 hour simmering time, but I have a bit of a problem.  I cook with gas and even my lowest setting produces a level of bubbling that could not constitute anything close to a simmer.  Never mind, I thought, I will cook it as well as I can.

After some quick assembly, these little pasties were made and baked.  Beatrice suggests serving with boiled eggs, which I actually do remember accompanying quite an amount of food in Finland.

So the verdict from my partner?  One star out of three.  Apparently the pastry was spot on (tick!), but overlapped the filling too much – should have been narrower (cross!), and the filling needed to be more cooked (cross!).  But despite that, they were still quickly consumed.  So all good in my eyes!

 NaantaliNaantali, Finland

 

{ Karelian Rice Pasties } by Beatrice Ojakangas

* Ingredients *

Pastry:
1 cup water
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cup rye flour
1 cup all purpose flour

Filling:
1 cup water
3 cups milk
¾ cup rice

Glaze:
1 cup milk, heated to boiling
¼ cup butter

* Directions *

Mix together the water, salt, rye flour and all purpose flour to make a smooth dough.  If necessary, add more water.  Shape the dough into a r0pe about the thickness of your wrist.  Cut into 16 equal portions.  Shape the pieces into flat round cakes and roll out to make a very thin circle about 6 to 8 inches / 15 to 20 cm in diameter.  Set aside.  To prepare the rice filling, combine the water, milk and rice in a heavy saucepan.  Simmer for 1 hour or until rice has absorbed all the liquid.  Taste and add salt and butter.  Cover baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease them.  Preheat oven to 550F or 290C.  Fill the centre of each circle with the cooked rice and fold over about ¾ inches or 2cm of the edges, pinching to crimp the edges, and shape an oval or round pie.  Place pies on prepared baking sheets.  Mix the boiling milk and butter to make a glaze.  Brush the pieces with the mixture.  Bake for 7 to 10 minutes.  Brush again with the butter-milk mixture.  Baked until tinged with gold.  Remove from the oven and brush again with the butter-milk mixture.  Serve cooled.  Pasties will soften as they cool.