If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-J.R.R Tolkien

15 February 2010

Finnish Food Icon : Laskiaispulla

Yesterday was Valentine's Day as everyone on this planet probably knows, but this year in Finland the winter festival of Laskiainen or Shrove Sunday fell on the same date. Both are celebrated, but I think Laskiainen is still more popular in Finland, and not least for the Finnish food icon I'm about to introduce. In a nutshell Laskiainen is an orthodox celebration before the lent season, and the idea is to eat lots of fat and sugar before the lent. In the UK it is known as the Pancake day, but the pancakes were far less visible in my opinion when I was living in the UK for three years. Laskiaispullat or Shrove buns are everywhere in Finland around this time of the year!

Laskiainen has been around since the 1800s, and was a joyful peasant holiday involving sledding down the snowy hills and making wishes for a good crops in the coming year. Sledding is still
very much involved in the celebration of Laskiainen, after all it is only healthy to burn off those bun calories somehow. I have to confess I haven't yet been sledding this year, but I hope I'll get a chance to make it to the hills! The snow doesn't seem to be going nowhere so I'm really not worried.

Laskiaispulla is basically a sweet bun, cut in half and filled with either jam or almond paste, but always with whipped cream. A heavenly creation combining all things bad for you, but oh still so good. Best enjoyed with a class of cold milk or alternatively with hot chocolate to bring the sweetness of the treat to a whole new level. Another traditional Shrove delicacy is pea and ham soup but I am saving that for Shrove Tuesday.

I got the recipe from Helsingin Sanomat (Helsinki newspaper) Food section, and it worked well for me. I just swapped the regular jam to a sugar free puree of strawberries and wild raspb
erries that I had available in my freezer. I know, it still doesn't make them one bit healthy but every little helps, right?


Makes 16 buns
2,5 dl Milk
25 g Fresh Yeast
100 g Butter
1 Egg
1 tsp Cardamom
1 dl sugar

7 dl All-purpose flour
Pinch of salt

To top:
1 egg
Flaked almond or sugar drops

Jam (or berry puree!)

Almond paste
Whipped cream

Warm the milk to body temperature, combine with fresh yeast.
Add egg, sugar, cardamom and salt. Start adding flour with a whisk, and when the dough thickens, knead with hands. Add the butter, which should be softened to room temperature.
Knead the dough until it's even and springy and comes off the bowl easily.

Allow to rise in a warm place for around 40 mins. - I have learned from my mother to fill the kitchen sink with warm water and place the bowl with the dough in the sink to rise. Works!

Once risen, tip the dough onto a floured surface and knead the air off. Form a long "sausage" (lol) shapeand cut into 16 pieces. Make little buns and place on baking paper on an oven tray. Let rise for another 30 mins under a tea towel in a warm place.

Break the egg in a small bowl and brush over the buns. Top with flaked almond or sugar drops. Bake in 225 degrees for 10- 15 minutes. Once ready and cooled, cut in half and fill with jam/ almond
paste and whipped cream and put the top back on. Then have a bun party and go sledding or skiing!

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