Karjalanpiirakka, an amazing Finnish pastry

It’s raining here in Tampere. I wonder if the summer will ever come to Finland. I’m here to visit my parents for the weekend, but for now the best option is to stay on the sofa and read a book.

I’m home alone, because my father just went to bake 500 Karelian pies to be sold tomorrow morning at the market place – they really are a big hit! “We’ll sell them in 5 minutes”, he’s boosting.

My father’s origins are in the Eastern part of Karelia, a region that Russia invaded during the Second World War. All the Finns were “thrown out”, they were given about 24 hours to leave their homes, collect all the belongings they could and escape to what is now Finland. The Karelians were relocated all around Finland, the family of my dad in a town near Tampere, where she met my mother… So there’s something positive in the tragedy.

My dad travels a lot to Russian Karelia. Some people still speak Finnish there and he loves to revisit the familiar places – even if he was very small, when they had to go.

Because of the harsh history, Carelians feel very strong about their culture. Also my father belongs to a Karelian friendship association.

Karelians have a fame to be very hospitable. When we go to visit my Karelian aunt, she always fills the table with an amazing amount of food. So, it’s easy to understand why they have brought many delicacies to the Finnish gastronomy. The most famous food is probably the Karelian pasty or Karelian pie, which are now very popular around Finland.

There are many variations of the recipe depending on the region, village or even the house. Once, when I was taught how to bake these pies by some grandmothers, they almost almost got into a fight on which is the correct way to make the pie.

Anyway, the common recipe includes a thin rye crust with a filling of rice. You normally eat the hot pasties with munavoi, butter mixed with boiled egg. However, the pies can be eaten with almost anything: cheese, ham, salmon, vegetables…


This is how it looks like! Or should look like. Some delicious, fresh Karelian pies.


Karelian pies can also be made with mashed potatoes, like here, or with carrot. Credit: Ilta-Sanomat.


This pie is called “Sultsina”. It’s a fine pie that used to be eaten with special guests. It’s normally filled with rice or semolina porridge. Credit: Yle.

I’ve visited Karelia a couple of times. It feels very special, as part of my roots are there. Here come some photos I took during my trip in 2005 – to get in the Karelian mood. As you can observe, nowadays the region is very poor.


This is Aunus, a Karelian town on the Russian side. A very typical village path with a very typical grandmother walking on it.


The Aunus river on a hot summer day. In the winter living here is completely different, very hard.


The grandmothers in Russia are really something! Strong, wise women who take care of the household and especially of their boys and husbands, who in many cases like vodka a bit too much…


A typical Karelian wooden house in Aunus region. 

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4 thoughts on “Karjalanpiirakka, an amazing Finnish pastry

  1. Msanhle says:

    Hi, is it possible to buy sultsina somewhere or just homemade? I’ve never heard of it before. Kinda wanna try 🙂
    Btw, like for grandmother picture. Looks really authentic! Is that the typical dressing of women there?

  2. annsofia says:

    Hi! I think you can find “sultsina” mostly in Eastern Finland, but maybe it’s also sold in some Karelian markets in Helsinki… Or maybe you can try making it at home? There are recipes in Internet. 🙂

    The grandmothers looked all quite the same, so I would say this is the typical way to dress in Karelia. The scarf around the head is a must, like in Finland in the old times…

  3. Charlotta Andersson says:

    Hi, I’ m writing on behalf of a I am writing to you on behalf of a travel documentary TV series for the Swedish network Kanal 5 (www.kanal5.se). The TV program is a travel program filmed in documentary style about the two friends and I would love to ask you som questions. I couldn’t find your e-mail address, so it would be really if you could send me an e-mail and then we could discusss this further! I’d really appreciate your help!
    Charlotta Andersson, charlotta@fromwood.se

    • annsofia says:

      Dear Charlotta,

      First of all, sorry for a very slow answer! I’ve had a (too) long summer break from blogging and before that quite a crazy spring with a new job, travelling and lots of projects going on… But now I’m back in business and full of ideas on what to write about!

      So if it’s not too late, I’d be very happy to answer your questions. My email is annasofia0@hotmail.com so please be in touch if you still need any info!

      All the best to your summer,

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