Continuing on my Finnish journey, I arrived in the beautiful shipping port of Raahe after a few weeks, having just experienced the explosion of Spring a week earlier in Ylivieska. Raahe was non-stop blue skies and warm days – we even experienced a sweltering t-shirt weather day of 27°C which was most unexpected for all involved!
It was here in Raahe that I experienced more culinary delights, such as the beautiful barbequed whole marinated salmon with Savu (a Finnish smoked beer), and quite a few other various extravagant Finnish feasts, served up by Helena and Timo, our hosts. Helena was also quite delighted about my Finnish culinary leanings, and was eager to teach me many things about local food, including how to make Korvapuusti, a Finnish cinnamon bun often served with cool drinks or tea.
Baking with Helena was a real treat, as she got quite into being photographed by me about a hundred times, and would pose at various points of baking for me, which was fabulous! She was delightfully, quintessentially Finnish. She owned about 5 or 10 different Marimekko aprons, baked with a kerchief over her head, and her cupboards were stocked full of Arabia everything! She was just about one of the sweetest, cheekiest and joyous people I met on my trip – although, you could say the same of so many of the Finns!
She had so many stories to tell about everything, and was able to tell me, in excellent English, the significance of the cross-mark that I had seen on many foods prior to arriving in Raahe (you might remember seeing one earlier on the cheese hoop in this post). Unsurprisingly, it’s a kind of blessing made by Finnish cooks that the food you were cooking would be a success. The one below is the mark we made in our korvapuustit dough prior to leaving it to rise.
Now, whilst we’re on the subject of Finnish baking education, I’ll let you know that korvapuustit and pulla are actually made from the same recipe. “Pulla” in Finnish means “bun” (the large bun, shown immediately below), and “puusti” means “little bun” (”puustit” is the plural, “buns”), which are the ones we’re making in this recipe. Most entertainingly, though, “korva” means “ear”, which is the shape that the dough that the korvapuustit take when rolled up prior to baking, as you’ll see below. So “korvapuustit” literally means, “ear buns”. Soooooo cute!
- 2 Eggs
- 500 ml milk
- 22g dry yeast
- 1 tbsp ground cardamom seeds
- 100g sugar
- pinch salt
- 1.3 – 1.5kg plain flour
- 150-200g butter, cut into large cubes
- roughly 20g each of cinnamon and sugar, for bun filling
- Large granulated sugar, or “Pearl Sugar” (”Kova Raesokeri” in Finnish) – it’s not an Australian product. You might be able to get this from Ikea, otherwise, this article suggests roughly crushing sugar cubes for the same effect. It also seems you can buy Pearl Sugar here in Australia, but they’re presently on a mid-year break! Fun fact: “raesokeri” literally translates as hailstone sugar – hence the appearance
In a large, heavy bowl, mix milk, egg, sugar, cardamom and salt. In a separate bowl, sift flour and yeast.
Sprinkle half the flour mix onto the milk mix, and mix on low with a hand beater or kitchenaid until combined. Add more of the flour mix and mix with a spoon. Gradually add more and more of the flour mix, switching to knead with your hands when the mix is too sticky for the spoon.
Add the butter in a few parts, kneading the whole thing in the bowl until the butter in incorporated. Add extra flour as required if the mixture is too “wet” after incorporating all the butter.
Continue to knead the dough, moving it around the bowl with your hands until it is quite elastic. The dough should be springy, but not sticky, so add a teensy bit more flour along the way as needed. Kneading should take about 10-15 minutes.
When kneading is finished, form the dough into a ball in the bowl, and sprinkle the top lightly with flour. Use your hands to make a cross with the tips of your fingers to bless it. Cover the bowl with a teatowel and allow to rest in a warmish place for about 40 minutes. It should rise to be about double the size, and will spring back when touched.
Split the dough into two equal balls. Working on a large, lightly floured surface, use a dimpled rolling pin to roll out the dough into a rectangular shape to about 1-2cm thick. Use a breadknife to butter the surface of the dough, leaving about 1 inch around the edge. Combine equal parts (say, 1 tbsp each) of cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl, and sprinkle evenly over the surface of the dough. Make more of the cinnamon sugar mix as needed.
Roll the sugared dough into long log. Cut along the length of the log, making triangles (see photo).
Take each triangle, and turn it so that the largest edge is flat on the board, the tip is on top, and you have a cinnamon spiral on each side of the triangle. Push the tip down, and then pull the tip out in both directions (you are pulling to the top and the bottom of your work surface at the same time), so the whole thing forms a long, ear shape with the swirl of cinnamon on either side (see photo). Phew!
Place the korvapuusti on a tray lined with baking paper. You should be able to fit the whole of that dough portion onto one large baking tray, but space them out if you prefer. Repeat for the rest of the triangles, and then repeat the whole process for the second ball of dough. Rest the korvapuustit for half an hour, covered with teatowels.
Remove the teatowels and brush each korvapuusti with a lightly beaten egg. Sprinkle the tops of each with Pearl Sugar.
Makes approx 36 korvapuustit
Total prep and cooking time is about 3 hours
Now, as mine were so nicely “browned” due to Helena and I gossiping enthusiastically, I have found an image from Vaasan.com, showing you what your korvapuustit SHOULD look like!
Also, don’t forget about our “Win a Case of Punt Road Cider” competition, running until the end of July!