Basic Karelian Piirakka

Rye crusted, filled with creamy rice or a savory potato filling, these thin, oval-shaped pies are served with soup or with cold cuts and cheese for lunch. Karelians who carry lunchboxes eat piirakkaa in place of sandwiches.


1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter, shortening, or salad oil
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 1/2 cups rye flour

Basting Sauce:

1/2 cup hot milk
2 tablespoons melted butter

To make the crust, mix the water, salt, and liquid shortening in a large bowl and stir in the white flour. beat until smooth. Add the rye flour and mix until well blended. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead until smooth (about 2 or 3 minutes). Shape the dough into a roll about 2 inches in diameter, divide into 12 equal portions, and dust with flour. Pat each into a small round cake, then roll out into a circle about 6 to 8 inches in diameter, keeping the shape as round as possible.

To fill, place 3 o 4 tablespoons of filling (see rice or potato recipe) on each round of dough amd spread to within an inch of the edge. Fold two sides of the dough onto the filling, forming an oval shape, but leave an inch-wide strip of the filling exposed. Crimp the edges of the dough. Place the piirakkaa on a greased baking sheet. Bake in a very hot oven (450 degrees) for 15 minutes or until lightly browned, basting twice during the baking with the milk-and-butter mixture. Baste once again upon removal of the piirakkaa from the oven. Cover the pies, while they are still hot, with a clean towel to soften the crusts, or wrap the entire batch in foil, in one package.

Serve hot or cold.

Contributed by Brent Timothy

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