Karelian Pies; Soul searching deep into my Finnish heritage….

Karelian Pies… Food more Finnish, you have to search.Karelian pie, is small rice filled pirogi. Origins of them, are in Russia. Before second WW there were lots of Finns living in area called Karelia.These people took strong influence from Russian cooking.After they were evacuated to mainland Finland, their cooking style was integrated into mainstream Finnish cooking.

The oldest traditional pasties usually had a rye crust, but the North Karelian and Ladoga Karelian variants, also had wheat alongside of rye to improve the baking characteristics of the available rye breads. The common fillings of this era were barley and talkkuna. The 19th century first introduced potato and buckwheat as new fillings, and later due to trade, also rice and millet.

I have always been eating Karelian pies,mostly industrial made, but my Stepmother changed all that! She’s Karelian,(her parents came from Karelia as refugees after Karelia was annexed to Russia after Second WW was over.This part of the Finnish history is still quite touchy subject to discuss with elderly Finns..They lost something precious,their home and were never able to go back.),though me how to bake real thing!

Making pies, has always been social event in our family.Ladies in the kitchen,talking,baking and yep..Drinking sparkling wine.It has been something which brought generations together.


My son was half a year old, when he ate with gusto his first Karelian Pie.Sitting in his high chair, over grandmother’s house, surrounded by his family. Ladies baking Karelian pies and Kiddo in the middle.

Nowadays he bakes Karelian pies with me. I am trying to move tradition to him.

His pies are not pretty, but they taste good and with every single patch he makes, he is learning more. I love having him, cooking together with me.

This is a time-consuming recipe and can be frustrating for the beginner.A recipe, that many Finns themselves, are afraid of to try out.Don’t be afraid!  have done this with Austrians, in my cooking classes several times, and they really liked Karelian Pies. Also making them was fun! It is, even more, fun when you have a group of people together and you make a social event out of it.

They are actually really simple to make.Looks don’t matter, taste does! Ingredients are very simple.You will need rye flour, water, porridge rice (risotto or paella rice will do too),milk,salt and butter. Good nerves for the first time making pies.But I promise, these are worthy of making, and your family will ask you to bake them again!

I will attach at the end of this posting a video how to make Karelian pies.It is quite long and in Finnish but it explains very well how these lovely savory pies are made!

So let’s start baking! This is how it is done:

1.Roll the dough on a floured surface until about 2 mm thick.Using a cutter or cup, cut into circles of 8 cm in diameter.

2.Roll the circles into thin crusts, about 12cm of diameter. A pasta machine can also be used. Use some flour to help with the rolling.Keep on turning your crust while rolling it so that it will keep its round shape.Cut ALWAYS only the amount, which you are able to work at once.On my oven sheet, I can fit 12 pies for baking, so this is the number of rawlings, that I always make.

NOTE:Rye dough dries very fast, and when it is dry, it is nearly impossible to work with.Dried up dough is usually the reason why you Karelian Pies end up looking not so nice.I keep my spare dough in a bowl, covered with a towel and all rawlings under a tea towel while continuing rolling and filling them.

3.Fill the crusts with a thin layer of rice mixture.Use two spoons to lift the filling on your crust.The right amount of the filling is one soup spoon.

4.Use a wet knife to spread porridge from MIDDLE to the sides.Leave half centimeter free from the edge.

5.Turn 1 cm of the side to create an edge and pinch the edges.Use your thumb and forefinger to do this.Move along the pie ,pinching, till the middle and turn the pie around.Do the same thing starting from the end. Do not leave pitched edges too high because they will burn in the oven! Lift you pie on baking sheet and continue filling the rest.

6.Bake the pasties at 300°C  for 15-20 minutes.They are done when the bottom of your pie has browned a bit and your porridge has taken a little color. NOTE: Thicker your porridge filling is longer the Karelian Pies will take to bake!

7.Brush lightly with a butter from both sides and transfer to soften under the greaseproof paper and a tea towel.

Enjoy and eat with the egg butter spread!

By the way..These freeze very well..You can serve them with various toppings and Karelian Pies are perfect as snacks for kids!

Karelian rice pasties

Makes about 36

Rice porridge:

  • 5 dl water
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2,5 dl short-grain glutinous rice
  • 1 l milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

Rye dough:

  • 7 dl rye flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 dl water

To glaze:

  • 50 g butter

Egg and butter spread:

  • 100 g butter
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, mashed
  • 50 ml chopped parsley
The Porridge

Put the water and butter into a saucepan. Bring to the boil and stir in the rice. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the milk and stir until boiling .Be careful now! Porridge can burn easy !! What ever you do ,do not leave the porridge alone.Keep on stirring. Simmer for about 50 minutes, until the rice is done. Season with salt. Set aside to cool.When cooled down stir in one egg. If the porridge is too thick,add little milk so it will be easier to work with.

The dough

Mix both flour, salt and water together. Knead it into a dough.Use kitchen machine or mix it by hand. Always make amount of dough that you can use at once . The dough dries very fast,so keep it covered with plastic. Same goes for the rawlings.Only make amount of rawlings that you  able to fill. When the rawling dry,the edges will get hard and this will make pinching the pies together more difficult.

Egg and butter spread:

Boil 3-4 eggs hard.Let them cool and chop them fine. Mix the soft butter with eggs and parsley. Serve lukewarm.

How to make Karelian Pies,video…


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