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Finnish Karjalan Piirakka from My Mom

By 12/04/2011March 31st, 201920 Comments

This morning all three of my nephews were at breakfast with Santa at the local community center. Earlier in the week when William found out  this was our Saturday event he was really impressed that Santa was coming to their village just to see the kids!

Photos by Maria Killam

Okay, the reason I posted this photo (below) is because of the look on Markus’ face (left). Priceless! Also my sister still will not cut his hair (because then he won’t have baby wisps anymore) so he’s starting to really look like a rock star.

Karjalan Piirakka, which we have affectionally dubbed “rice boats” are not just for Christmas but that’s usually when my mom makes them. They are soooo good!

Recipe for Crust

2 cups (course) rye flour

3/4 cup whole wheat  or spelt flour

1 cup water

1 tsp salt

Combine flour and salt and then add water, stir until it looks like the above mixture. My mom usually grinds the flour herself because it’s better when it’s grainy and course. And let it sit for a few hours, that always makes it better as well.

Recipe for Rice Porridge

2 cups uncooked short grain brown rice

1 litre of whole milk

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp butter


Cover brown rice with water, bring to a boil and simmer for five minutes. Then add milk and while stirring to make sure the milk doesn’t burn, bring to a boil and then simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally. Then add salt and butter. If the whole mixture is too thick add more milk. Then let it cool down before you make the rice boats.

Take some dough and shape into a roll about two inches thick. Then cut about a one inch piece to make each individual crust.

Pat it out first using lots of flour (because the dough is very sticky)

Use a rolling pin adding flour each time you turn it to make it into an oval shape.

Spread a thin, even layer of rice porridge leaving an inch in the perimeter.

Fold over in the center and pinch along to each end.

These are what they should look like and trust me, this takes experience. Mine would not look like this if I tried this at home alone.

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Make sure they are brown, crispy and well done before you pull them out of the oven.

Final step, take 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup water and bring to a boil so that it’s completely melted (then you can turn off the heat). Dip each individually  into the butter mixture immediately upon taking out of the oven.

Karjalan Piirakka is usually served with egg salad on top but we like to drizzle honey and top it with cheese! Yum.

In between Breakfast with Santa and making rice boats we went to the park for a swing.

Okay, I know you’re shocked, I have never posted a recipe before (you can tell I am not a cook), but this is a Finnish tradition and if you get inspired to make them you are in for a treat!

Hope you are having a lovely, sparkly weekend my lovelies! xoxo Maria

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My Mom’s Fresh Carriage House

Christmas in New York

Garden Fresh Holiday Decorating

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  • Sari M says:

    Are you kidding me? Nobody knows about Karjalan Piirakkas. I posted a photo on Facebook of the potatoe ones I made a while back. I could seriously live on them. I’m guessing you’re Finn, I knew we had a connection when I met you at Blend 2011, I was the photographer. Great recipe, thanks for sharing.

    • Susie says:

      I make these every Christmas too! We have our big meal with rib roast, etc. on Christmas Eve and open a few gifts. Then on Christmas Day I make a french toast casserole (super easy) and then the centerpiece of our late afternoon Christmas Day meal is Piirakka with egg butter. I used to pair them with ham, but no one really cared about the ham, and I’m a vegetarian, so we gave that up. I started this years ago when our kids were little — I wanted them to always remember their Finnish roots. The last couple of years I started looking for variations on the dough (mine is similar to yours) and found one that uses all white flour (not as good) and two that add a couole of tablespoons of melted butter to the dough, which I think does make it a little easier to mix and roll, and not as crumbly a crust. Yours popped right up today when I googled. Happy Christmas to you!

  • Maria…I’m totally impressed. And I love a I’m just gonna have to make some of these. I’ll send you the photos. lol! :o)

    Your photos are perfect for helping someone actually make these. Can’t wait to try this out after my company is gone.

    What sweet photos of your nephews! This post made me smile. :o)


  • Claire says:

    Oh my, such beautiful children!

    Karjalan Piirakka is something totally new to me… I am going to try my hand at making some over the holidays. Thank you, Maria, for the recipe and descriptive photos (I’ll be able to tell how far “off” my attempts are, lol)!

  • Wow. Totally cool. I love learning about other peoples traditions. I can tell I would love them. Perhaps this is a project for the week between Christmas and New Years! Have a great week.

  • These look very interesting, Maria. My ex’s family is Swedish so there was always rice pudding around at the holidays. But we’ve never had these little pastries. Thanks

  • JoyceBinAtlanta says:

    I always love it when you give us family pictures and stories. These really put me in the Christmas spirit.

  • Annette says:

    What a pleasure to see a recipe for something that I’m totally unfamiliar with (and I do cook and read a lot about food and recipes). Thanks so much for sharing it. Happy holidays!

  • Cat Hackman says:

    I really should try making these. Every year I go to the Scandinavian Bazaar in November hoping to get some Karjalan Piirakka, but they always sell out as not many are made… They are labour intensive. Yesterday I made pullaa….setting the Xmas mood in the house. Maybe Karjalan Piirakka is next….
    Joulu on Jo ovella! (Christmas is at the door…I love Joulu).
    Cat in Calgary

  • Paula Van Hoogen says:

    Maria, This is soo amazing….I was cooking a rice dish this week and the thought occurred to me to send you the recipe!!! ( I will later). This one your Mom makes sounds & looks so yummy. Christmas brings these kinds of traditions back to life! I love that you posted it! Your heart is as warm as those rice boats look!
    Mmmmm good!
    Love, Paula.

  • Maggie says:

    I love hearing about the traditions that continue to be treasured in the generations that are now living in Canada. It’s so wonderful to have this connection to our heritage, and part of what makes this country, and its people, so interesting. Thanks for sharing!

  • Cathy says:

    That sounds so yummy…. thank you for sharing it with us. I love family traditions. We have created a few over the years and keep some. That is what makes Christmas, Easter….. times to remember.

  • Maria,

    That’s the great thing about blogging we can share our tradtional yummies, benefit from the challange ourselves while trying something new right at home…thanks! Your nephews are adorable too!


  • Emily Moen says:

    Maria, I am so glad I came across your web site. It is so appropriately named – ‘Happy’ comes through every time! I read your e-mail last so I can keep all the positive energy continuing. I belong to a Scandinavian group in Alberta so did recognize that food! Keep the good times rolling! And Thanks!

  • Barbara says:

    I have never tasted these little gems, but anything dipped in butter has got to be good!

  • L M says:

    Wow, I have not seen these outside of Finland.

    Kiitos and Hyvää Joulua!

  • Ellen Rush says:

    Hi Maria, thanks for sharing these little Finnish delights, I am going to pass them along to my daughters and see if they’d like to bake them as they as very interested in their Finnish heritage…..ellen

  • Linda Todsen says:

    You have once again made me happy! I have enjoyed your various mentions in your blog of being Finnish as I too have a Finnish heritage – just seeing your photo with the tea cups and food on the simple table runner brought back memories of time with my Finnish grandparents. The Karjalan Pirakka look and sound delicious – I may just have to try making those – thank you Maria. Your little nephews are sweet as can be – have a fun Christmas season with them!

  • My Mom is finnish. I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Finland when I was 18. Pirakka was my favorite lunch, with cheese on top. But I have never tried to make it, I think I will now. I always make pulla at Christmas, that will be happening next week. Do you have the Finnish Gingerbread recipe? Again, a favorite of ours. Kiitos Maria!

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