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Karjalanpiirakka – Finnish Karelian Pies

Finns are big fans of bread and dough-like treats and we’ve long indulged in bread and pastries in our family. In keeping with tradition, I decided to give a favourite Finnish savoury dish known as Karjalanpiirakka, or Karelian Pies, a shot.
Karjalanpiirakka are traditional pasties from the region of Karelia, but ask any Finn and they will know what they are and most likely love to indulge in them. Karjalanpiirakka are essentially rye crust with a filling of rice porridge. You can also fill them with mashed potato. You can eat them as is with a brush of butter on top or with a creamed butter and egg mix known as munavoi. I remember eating these as a kid and still enjoy them.
This recipe was handed down by my Mum. Makes 24 pieces and is suitable to freeze. As with any homemade pasty or pie these are best eaten fresh out the oven however can be eaten the next day. Simply heat or pop into the toaster for a few seconds and smother with butter.
1 litre milk (I use full fat)
1 ¾ cups water
1 cup short grain rice
Salt to taste
Place milk, water, rice and salt into a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Be sure to stir regularly and when it starts to thicken stir continuously so it does not stick to the bottom. It is ready once thickened and all the liquid is absorbed. It will resemble porridge.
1 cup cold water
2 ¼ cups plain flour
1 ½ cups rye flour
1 tsp salt
Mix cold water, salt, rye flour and plain flour into a hard dough.  Roll the dough out into a log and cut it into 24 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and press into a flat round cake on a floured board.  Using a rolling pin, roll each cake into a paper thin round shape. Use flour sparingly to ensure surface and dough do not stick. Stack up the rolled out circles with a sprinkle of rye flour in between each sheet. 
Once the filling has cooled down brush off excess flour and spread about 2 tablespoons of rice porridge in the middle of the dough in an oval shape.  Ensure the filling reaches the top and bottom of the circle but leave the sides empty. Start to shape the piirakka by pinching the top end into a point, then with hands on either side of the circle pinch the sides from the top end to the bottom. As you pinch the dough will drag in, pinch the bottom end to a point (like the top).
Place finished piirakat onto a baking tray and bake in the oven at 240oC for approx 20 – 25 minutes until the crust is crispy and lightly browned. After you remove from the oven brush the top with butter while hot, and EAT!
To make the egg topping mix boiled eggs with creamed butter (6 eggs to 1/2 cup butter) and salt, then smother on top.
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  • Anonymous - I'm so proud of you for carrying the old Finnish tradition to our young generation. These piirakkas originate from Pappa's birth place. Pappa would be so proud of you too!ReplyCancel

  • Peggy - Thanks Mum. I took some to a dinner party tonight, sharing the Finnish love around piirakka style! Thanks for sharing the recipe with me.

    Pappa would love some with a good cup of Nespresso!ReplyCancel

  • Kaisla - Oh, have to try them one day too! Looks great, well done! xxReplyCancel

  • Peggy - Thanks Kaisla, they were very delicious! I enjoyed making them, the technique is quite simple. xxReplyCancel

  • Dina - i had never heard of this before. thanks for sharing. i’d love to try it. it’s so interesting with the rice mixture and then the egg mixture on top.ReplyCancel

    • Peggy Saas - You’re welcome Dina, I love sharing the yummy stuff! The egg on top actually makes it in my opinion. I often eat them without the egg but I love them more with it.ReplyCancel

  • Katarina - Karjalanpiirakka is one of my favorite pies and I’m a Finn, so I have been brought up with these :) Yours look great! Have a nice day!ReplyCancel

    • Peggy Saas - Thank you Katarina, that’s some compliment coming from a Finn! They’re definitely one of my favourite pies too.

      Thanks so much for saying hello :)ReplyCancel

  • Moomins Cook Book | bananamondaes - [...] If you’re in the mood for more Finnish fare…try Karelian pies from Cakecrumbsbeachsand. [...]ReplyCancel

  • On Becoming Finnish | Thinking from here to there - [...] left on Caswell you will come to Leinala’s Bakery, where you can buy a freshly made munkki or Karjalan piirakka, or even–which made me quite homesick when I first arrived in Sudbury from Finland– [...]ReplyCancel

  • Reporters Without Borders drops U.S. ranking in press freedom | The Journalism Advisor - [...] all else fails, maybe we can all move to Finland.  I hear their Karelian pasties are the best in the [...]ReplyCancel

  • Casey - Finding this recipe has made my day. THANK YOU!ReplyCancel

    • Peggy Saas - You’re welcome Casey. I hope you made some and ate them all!ReplyCancel

  • amy - Kiitos from Israel ! <3 been looking for this receipe , thanks ! :)ReplyCancel

    • Peggy Saas - You’re welcome Amy. Thanks for stopping by and saying hello. :)ReplyCancel

  • Finally here! – Fulbright Finland - […] history, dinner at the home of a diplomat at the US Embassy, and a Finnish lesson, as well as cake, karjalanpiirakkat, and pulla. Fortunately there was also plenty of coffee to aid me in fighting jet […]ReplyCancel

  • Laura - Thanks for the recipe and photos to illustrate how to make these yummy piirakka!ReplyCancel

    • Peggy Saas - You’re welcome Laura. It’s a lot easier with illustrations to explain how to fold them, unless you’ve seen them being made it’d be very hard to imagine. I hope you get to make them sometime.ReplyCancel

  • Antony - Just back from visiting friends in Finland where I had piirakkas for the first time. I loved them so much I brought some back with me but now I’ve found your recipe I will be making them myself. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe.ReplyCancel

  • Finnish Foods to Try in Helsinki | helsinkisite - […] This is rice porridge stuffed inside a rye crust. Photo from […]ReplyCancel

  • Moomins Cook Book – bananamondaes - […] If you’re in the mood for more Finnish fare…try Karelian pies from Cakecrumbsbeachsand. […]ReplyCancel

  • elisabeth - I love piirakka! been missing it since i moved from away from home. I’ve made this recipe two now, its a huge hit with my 4 year old, thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Finland: Karjalanpiirakka – Baking Around - […] and got this recipe from her mother. I love a good family recipe! You can find her lovely post HERE,. I’ll post the recipe with my halved amounts. I only got 10 out of it, instead of […]ReplyCancel

  • Casey - Any idea where you can get rye flour in Perth Peggy?ReplyCancel

  • Moilaska - Thank you a lot for the recipe od my favourite Finnish food. I am making them for Christmas morning. And Finnish Joulukinkku for lunch :)ReplyCancel

  • Hernando - I’ve been looking for this recipe for ages, I tried these while I stayed at a friend’s house in Finland and I miss these a lot, so thank you so much for sharing the recipe!ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - My grandma, who grew up in Karelia, turned 86 today. I made these for her, and she exclaimed, “The last time I had one of these was when I was a girl!” Needless to said, this recipe was a major success!ReplyCancel

  • SuomiScot - My Mum Was born Suojärvi in Karelia. We had these when we went back to Finland (Kajaani) in 1989. I loved them and am looking forward to recreating them. Hopefully even someone with my limited baking skills can manage to make them! Thanks for sharing the recipes. Brings back so many memories.ReplyCancel

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