Karjalanpiirakka (Karelian vegetable pie)

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Karjalanpiirakka

APT Karjalanpiirakka is a vegetable pie from Finnish Karelia which is started by cooking the filling. The filling is usually a purée of barley or rice or mashed potato. Instead of these, cooked mashed vegetables (e.g. swede, carrot, turnip or stewed cabbage or mushrooms) may also be used. The dough that will hold this filling is prepared from water, salt and rye- or wheat flour. The dough is rolled into as thin, round, almost translucent ‘piirakka’ dough shapes as possible. The thinness of the shape ensures the karjalanpiirakka's crispiness. The edges of the shape are brought up over the filling and crimped. The pirrakka is then baked in a hot oven (about 250-300 °C) for 15-20 minutes. The rapid baking and high heat are necessary to preserve the product's succulence.

The filling is prepared by bringing 1 litre of milk or water to the boil and then mixing in 2 decilitres (80 g) of hulled grain rice or barley. A rice purée is cooked for a half to one hour; a barley purée is cooked for longer. Approximately 275-350 g of flour and 200 g of water are used in the dough.

The cooked piirakka is often coated immediately after baking or when being heated up. The coating can be butter, oil or a water/milk mixture of the two; egg is also sometimes used.

Traditional character:

Karjalanpiirakka is prepared using a traditional method of preparing and combining the raw ingredients. Data on traditional piirakka-style pasties, comprising an outer crust and a filling, can be found across an area extending as far as Siberia and China. Karelia forms the northwestern boundary of this piirakka zone. Of the various forms of piirakka produced in Karelia, the elliptical, open type came to be called the karjalanpiirakka as its use spread beyond Karelia. The karjalanpiirakka spread in the 1600-1700s throughout what is now southern Finland, from where migrating Karelians then brought it to the rest of Finland and even into Sweden. The first written reference to karjalanpiirakka dates from 1686.

Description of the product:

The karjalanpiirakka is a small, open, flat pasty, comprising a thin crust and a filling. It is usually between 7-20 cm long. The karjalanpiirakka is mainly elliptical, but can also be round. The crust is open on top. The sides of the crust are drawn up over the filling and crimped. The karjalanpiirakka has a crispy crust. The crust usually makes up about a third of the entire product and the filling accounts for about two-thirds.

Minimum requirements and inspection procedures to which specific character is subject:

The production facility makes sure during the preparation stage that the dough is rolled out, as stated above, into round or elliptical shapes that are as thin as possible and have a diameter of between 10-24 cm. The filling is then placed on top, about 1-2 cm from the edges, which are then drawn up over the filling so that the piirakka remains open in the middle. These are the determining factors for the traditional production method. The production facility also makes sure during preparation that the piirakka is baked at 250-300 °C, for 15-20 minutes, so that the high temperature and rapid baking time produce a crispy crust, thereby influencing the karjalanpiirakka's taste.

Reference: The European Commission