Kainuun rönttönen (Kainuu potato pie)
SMM Kainuun rönttönen is a small, round, rye-crust, open pie filled with cooked mashed potatoes, rye flour and lingonberries. The filling is a sweet-tasting, reddish-brown mixture of mashed potatoes and lingonberries, glazed with melted butter.
The Kainuu Region, which is located in the Province of Oulu, consists of 8 municipalities and two cities. Kainuu has a population of 86 000 and a population density of 4 persons per square kilometre. The total surface area of Kainuu is 24 451 km2; of which 12 % is covered by water. There are more than 2 million hectares of forest, and the landscape is generally characterised by hills, forests, bodies of water and marshland.
Proof of origin
The products are made in accordance with current legislation, and product traceability is ensured by mentioning the name of the producer on the package, or on the product label which must be affixed to the package. Production must take place in the geographical area which has been defined for the production of Kainuun rönttönen.
Method of production
The Kainuun rönttönen pie is made in three stages: first you make the filling, then you prepare the crust, and finally the two are combined. Kainuun rönttönen are one hundred per cent handmade, starting with the measuring of the ingredients. Machines are used only to help knead and roll the dough and peel the potatoes.
Preparing the filling:
— Leave the mixture at room temperature for 2 or 3 hours to allow it to sweeten. Stir the mixture every now and then.
Preparing the crust:
— Roll out the dough to a thickness of 2 mm. Cut out circles of dough (diameter 50-130 mm) with a cutter. Fill the crusts with a thick layer of the filling, spreading the filling to within 1 cm of the edge. The correct ratio between the filling and crust is 1:1.
Folding, crimping and baking the Kainuun rönttönen pies:
— Fold the edges of the crust up over the filling, leaving the centre of the pie uncovered, and crimp the edges by pinching them evenly into smooth, rounded ridges. Place the pies on a baking tray.
— Bake the pies in a hot oven until they are crisp and their edges are golden brown. Remove them from the oven and brush their edges with melted butter.
Storing the Kainuun rönttönen pies:
— Crispy Kainuun rönttönen pies are most delicious when served slightly cooled.
— They can be stored at room temperature for a day or two, covered with a cloth or in a paper bag. They can be kept in the refrigerator for a week. Simply reheat before serving.
— Pies can be frozen either before or after baking to increase their shelf life. Pies that are frozen raw can be baked in the required amounts when needed.
Bread and pastries feature prominently in the cuisine of Kainuu. In their book Kainuun leipä (Bread in Kainuu), Götha and Reima Rannikko wrote: ‘While the same basic types of bread are baked throughout Kainuu, dozens of local specialities are found in different parts of the region. As a result of our five years of work, we have managed to identify approximately one hundred different types of basic breads and pastries in Kainuu. This number increases if all of the variations and nuances are taken into account. The diversity of the bread and pastry culture is at least partly due to Kainuu's geographical location at the crossroads of cultural influences from Northern Ostrobothnia, Savo and Russian Karelia’.
The story goes that, in bygone days, when food was scarce at the end of the winter and the men had to go logging, the women would scrape the last lingonberries from the bottom of the barrel, grab the last of the potatoes from the potato bin and bake the mixture on a rye crust. The result was a rönttönen, a large, rich pie. Nowadays they also make smaller, cocktail-size rönttönen.
Human beings can distinguish four primary tastes: salty, sweet, sour and bitter. In the olden days, when sugar was scarce or unobtainable, Kainuun rönttönen satisfied people's craving for something sweet, the sweetness coming from allowing the potatoes to sweeten. The leavening process produces the light crust and succulent taste. Oven-baked rönttönen are unique, crisp pastries.
The rönttönen pie is recognised as a product solely and specifically originating from Kainuu. It is a local speciality of Kuhmo. In textbooks and cookery books rönttönen pies are automatically associated with Kainuu. For example, the recipe for rönttönen published in a book called Baker's à la carte (by Manne Stenros) was provided by one of the Kainuu-based producers who is involved in this application. Several kinds of pies are produced in the Kainuu area, but only the particular open pie baked according to this recipe is called rönttönen.
The connection to the Kainuu region is documented, for example, in the recipe book: Suomalaisia leipäerikoisuuksia (‘Finnish bread specialities’) (Leipätoimikunta 1988). The common history of the region and the product is best described in Götha and Reima Rannikko's book Kainuun leipä (‘Kainuu's bread’) (Otava 1978). Kainuun rönttönen is cited as an example of baking in the Kainuu area in a book by the chef Jaakko Kolmonen: Suomen maakuntaleivät (‘Breads of Finland's Regions’), which contains recipes for almost 80 different types of Finnish bread. Literary works depicting life in the Kainuu area, such as Veikko Huovinen's Muina miehinä, specifically describe Kainuun rönttönen as a local product. Kainuun rönttönen pies are an essential part of Kainuu's cultural events, such as the annual traditional Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival, which brings together people from around the world and gives them the opportunity to try the local specialities. Kainuun rönttönen were presented at the Festival of Finnish Food Culture in Helsinki in 1998, the Helsinki Rural Markets in 1994 and the Stuttgart Confectionery and Bakery Fair in 1996. It has also featured prominently in Kainuu's display at the annual Tourism Fair in Helsinki.
Kainuun rönttönen used to be served with soup, and this tradition lives on. It makes a delicious, nutritious snack for both children and adults, and requires only the addition of a little butter, to taste. It goes well with coffee and is ideal to take on trips.
Reference: The European Commission