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Baking Finnish ‘Korvapuustit’ (smacked ears) pastries… or how to avoid working.

December 11, 2010

In 12 hours time I am doing a 20 minute presentation worth 50% of a 15 credit module. It is in dire straights,  half the slides are done, its not amazingly structured, and I haven’t even begun to think about what I am going to say in it… But anyway!  There are more important things on my mind, like baking pastries!

Korvapuusti and coffee are pretty much synonymous in Finland. The light sugary softness and gentle exotic spice flavors of the former perfectly compliment the rich darkness of  a well made filter coffee. They are part of a group of Finnish desert breads known as ‘Pulla’, or ‘Nisu’ (translates as wheat) if you are a Finnish-American from the great lakes area.

I used to have Korvapuustit every couple of weeks at a Finnish Saturday school near my parents old house, and always seek them out every time I visit Finland. But in the U.K. the nearest substitute is Danish Pastries, and they just don’t hit the same spot at all! I got this recipe from the back of a pack of Finnish bread-flour, it took me ages to translate, which just made this venture an even better way to avoid doing coursework.

– Recipe –

Makes somewhere in the region of 15-25 pastries


500 mls Milk, 1 Egg, 200 mls Sugar, 1 heaped tablespoon ground Cardamom, 1 teaspoon Salt, 2 packs Dried Yeast, 1300 – 1500 mls Strong Bread Flour, 200 mls Margerine (room temperature)


75 mls Margarine, 100 mls Sugar,100 mls Cinnamon


1 Egg, Nib Sugar or any other coarse grained Sugar

  1. Heat the milk till it  ‘becomes warm to the hand’ (Kädenlämpöiseksi, great word), transfer to a bowl and add the eggs, sugar, cardamom and salt. Mix the yeast with a little bit of flour and then mix it into the bowl. Keep warm. Slowly add flour until the dough is kneedable, then thoroughly mix in the margarine, and then continue to kneed the dough till it is soft and elastic but not sticky.
  2. Let it rise, covered with a damp cloth, until it has doubled, then punch it down and kneed more. Take a rolling pin and roll it out on the table until you have a fairly thin 30cm x 60cm sheet. Mix the margarine and sugar kept for the filling and then rub them on top of the entire sheet, making sure to cover the whole surface with it. Sieve cinnamon evenly on top of this. Very tightly roll the sheet along the longer side and then pinch the seam to make an even tube. Then take a very sharp knife and make diagonal cuts across the tube, so one side of each pastry is 5 cm, and the other is 2 cm. (see the images below to help if you get confused)
  3. Place the pastries on a baking tray and then roll them so the narrow side is now the upper surface and the broad side is the lower surface. Take a thumb and press down the top of the pastry. Let rise for 30 minutes.
  4. Glaze with the egg, sprinkle with sugar and then cook at Gas mark 7  (220 C, 425 F) for 10-15 minutes.

Eat and enjoy with good coffee!


From → Baking, Desserts, Finnish

  1. Pedro permalink

    You sure are organized when cooking…Have you tried placing some codfish on them?…hihi

  2. An interested observer. permalink

    Is that an empty 35cl vodka bottle next to the pastry? If this recipe involves vodka in any way, I might just have to attempt my own replica of your patisserie endeavour.

  3. Tom permalink

    If you roll out a rectangle 60cm x 30 cm, then roll it up along the long side, you have a 60cm long roll. If each slice is on average 3.5cm wide (5cm on one side, 2cm on the other), that should give you 60/3.5 = 17.143 pastries, which is less than 25 – 35!

    Pedantry aside, I made some today. Very tasty, thanks for the recipe.

    • The recipe that I translated said 35, if I remember right, while also giving those instructions, which i straight away saw was way too much, so just reduced the number without much thought. I came out with about 27 the first time (I didn’t exactly measure, but mine were a bit thinner) and I think 22 when I made them yesterday ready for Christmas.
      But yeah, blatant logic error there.

      Glad you enjoyed!

  4. Oh, my… I got addicted to pulla while I was studying as Erasmus in Lahti, Finland. In the street right behind the Ammartikorkeakoulu (I am missing some ¨ somewhere, but it means Polytechnic) where I studied there was a huge bakery works… and sometimes the whole area was scented with the warm and tasty smell of freshly baked pullas by the dozen. Those were also sold at the Polytechnic cafeteria, and they were encapsulated in paper like muffins are. And inside there had a sticky mixture of something sweet that could be honey but that was not invasive in taste (I do not like honey) and maybe flaked almonds (not crunchy so it’s more than probable that they were natural or raw : non-fried, non-toasted). I have NEVER got across the like of them since, and that was back in 1996.
    One question that springs to my mind is “margarine”? Finnish are much more into butter.
    Anyway, I want to try your recipe!!!

    • Hey! I’d guess the filling was either a mix of beaten butter and sugar (maybe with vanilla) almond paste or something like the jam you get in Joulutorttut. Finns do love butter, and I was a bit surprised at that too, but the recipe is from straight from a Finnish flour packet and every time I asked my aunties for a Korvapuustit recipe they would always give me exactly this recipe for it. Even if they used different books or wrote it down from memory.
      For the filling you are looking for, try this recipe, it calls for 150g softened butter, 100ml of sugar and vanilla sugar (try just adding vanilla essence to the mix). Let me know how it goes!

  5. OMG, that recipe is completely in Finnish!!! My abilities are quite behind it… got only a 4 months Erasmus and I can only remember numbers, some ingredients and “another beer, boy!” kind of expressions!!!
    I plan to try your pulla recipe this Easter, will let you know – got cardammom (but already grounded).

    By the way… I am a great fan of Danish Pastries as well, I love the sugary glaze and the quite-but not quite-fluffy pastry texture. Do you happen to have any recipe?

    • Hahha, no es nada, mi madre es de Finlania y hablo sólo muy pocos palabras del idioma finlandesa! I don’t actually have any Danish pastry recipes as I have always bought them in the store, maybe one day I will have to try making some for myself. Let me know how it goes!

  6. diane permalink

    thanks so much ! this recipe is similar to what my finnish mother used to make us kids, but she used her own recipe that she kept in her head! for her 90th birthday party in sept. i’m going to make these along with a couple of other things. happy to have found you!

  7. Greg permalink

    The Handmade Bakery in Marsden, Yorkshire, England makes this pastry and it is so good that Thursdays (Market Day) are called “Pulla Day” as I get up early, go to the market, do the shopping and bring a couple of these back. I am visiting my daughter-in-law in Canada and we will be making this for my birthday, which this year happens to be on a Thursday and this will be my birthday present!

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