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
- Slivered almonds
- Crushed sugar
- Raisins (optional)
- 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 egg
- 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.
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