For those of you who are wondering “Where the hell is Finland?”, I can tell you that after you try these recipes, you won’t be wondering anymore! My family owned a bakery in Southern Finland, a nation lodged between the ‘charming’ neighbours of Sweden and Russia. It’s a quiet place, with lots of saunas, alcohol, coffee, and fish. I thought that I’d share these two delightful recipes with you from our family’s bakery, just recently sold, so that everyone can enjoy the unique deliciousness of Finnish delights!
Pulla Pitko (Finnish Coffee Bread)
Pulla is a central part of the Finnish dining experience. And let me tell you, it’s called coffee bread for a reason. In Finland, you are served at least 3 cups of coffee in one sitting, and a 7-cup day is not unusual, especially in the sun-less winter days. Since this is an old family recipe, it’s, well, a little vague. My mother, a non-Finn, tried to specify everything a bit, but she still suggests using Finnish measuring cups. It’s definitely worth the hassle!
1 and 1/2 eggs
2 and 1/2 cups milk, room temperature
1 and 1/2 tsp cardamom (5 ml size tsps)
1 pckg dry yeast
1 and 1/2 tsp salt
1 and 1/2 sticks melted butter
1/2 cup sugar
17 Dl flour
1 egg, beaten
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, adding the flour in last, until it forms a soft dough. Mix only with your hands. It will fail to stick once it is ready.
Put the mixture in a greased bowl, turn once, then cover it with a towel and let it rise in a warm place until doubled. This will take about 1 hour.
Punch down and knead a little to get the air bubbles out.
Cover baking sheet with parchment paper, and prepare toppings.
Cut the dough in half, then cut in half again. Roll each section into a rope, then braid. It should make 2 pitkot, or loaves.
Brush with the egg and apply toppings.
Let sit for 10-20 minutes while oven warms, then bake at 400 degrees Farenheit for 25 minutes. Do not overbake to avoid dry pulla.
Serve with coffee.
Hyvät Piparkakut (Finnish Pepper Cookies)
Crisp, spicy pepper cookies! Everyone’s favourite every time. You’ll never go back to ginger snaps again! Give them a try to bring exotic Scandinavian goodness to your next bake sale, because this makes 8 dozen!
1 cup dark corn syrup
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp ginger
2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup heavy cream
4 tsp baking soda
9 cups flour
Preheat to 375 degrees Farenheit.
Combine syrup, spices, butter, and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil.
Remove from heat and pour into a mixing bowl. Cool.
Stir in egg, heavy cream, baking soda, and flour. Chill overnight.
Roll out very thin, using about 1/2 cup dough at a time, and cut into various shapes.
Place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 Farenheit for 12-15 minutes, until cookies are crisp but not overly browned. Makes 8 dozen 2 inch cookies.
Ok, let me make this clear: unless you put arsenic into any of these recipes, you shouldn’t actually die. No promises though, because these are 3 recipes from the lovely Martha Stewart Food magazine that will leave you wondering if you’re having an out of body experience. I might be blowing my own horn a bit much, but really. These recipes, try them.
Double Chocolate Pudding
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa (spooned and leveled)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped, plus shavings
Place a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl; set aside. In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually whisk in milk, taking care to dissolve cornstarch. Whisk in egg yolks.
Whisking constantly, heat over medium until the first large bubble sputters, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low; cook, whisking, 1 minute. Remove from heat; immediately pour through sieve into bowl. Add butter, vanilla, and chocolate; stir until smooth.
Place plastic wrap on surface of pudding (to prevent a skin from forming); chill at least 3 hours (or up to 3 days). To serve, whisk until smooth; divide among serving cups, and garnish with shavings.
Dark Chocolate Espresso Cookies
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; mix in vanilla. Combine espresso powder and melted chocolate; beat into butter mixture. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; mix just until combined. Fold in chopped chocolate.
Drop dough by two heaping tablespoons, 3 inches apart, onto two baking sheets. Bake until edges are dry, 14 to 15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries with Pistachios
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 pound large strawberries (about 20), washed and dried well
1/3 cup finely chopped pistachios (optional)
Place chocolate in a bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water. Stir occasionally, until melted, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. One at a time, dip each strawberry in chocolate, twirling to coat; then sprinkle chocolate-covered portion with pistachios, if using, and place on waxed paper.
Chill chocolate-dipped strawberries at least 15 minutes to set chocolate. (Strawberries should not be stored in refrigerator longer than 1 hour as condensation drops may collect on the chocolate.)