Korvapuustit: How to Bake Finnish Cinnamon Rolls
Korvapuusti is the name of one of the most popular Finnish pastries: the cinnamon roll. It’s so popular that most flour packages that you buy in Finland will have a recipe for the traditional cinnamon rolls printed on them. Salla Paajanen, head of Metrohm Nordic in Finland, invited me to celebrate midsummer in their lakeside cottage with her and her family, and korvapuustit are a must at the celebration. Salla’s sister Lotta and Salla’s 14-year-old daugther Pieta showed me how to make them. Here’s the recipe for everyone who would like to get a sweet taste of Finland at home!
The Finnish cinnamon roll is actually a Swedish import, as many local staples. Finland didn’t become independent until the early 19th century—in the previous centuries, it was alternatingly reigned by it’s neighbors in the east and west: Russia and Sweden. Both countries have left their marks on Finnish culture and cuisine.
Korvapuusti literally translates to «a slap on the ear». My theory is that the name describes what Finnish people feel when they are reminded that they didn’t invent the delicious pastry themselves. Here’s the recipe!
For the dough:
- 5 dl milk
- 2 dl sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp cardamom
- 1 tsp salt
- 42 g fresh yeast
- 13–15 dl flour
- 150–200 g soft butter
For the filling:
- 100 g soft butter
- 1 dl sugar
- 2 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 egg
To top off:
- coarse sugar
Add the milk to a large pot and heat it on the stove until its lukewarm. Remove the pot from the stove and crumble the yeast into it. Mix until the yeast is completely dissolved. Add the egg, the sugar, and the cardamom one after another, mixing in between until everything is combined. Lotta and Pieta recommend to use more cardamom than the recipe says—the more, the better! Maybe start by using two tablespoons instead of one and, if you can’t get enough after your first batch of korvapuustit, increase the amount until it’s right for you.
Next add the flour step by step and combine. Then add the soft (or partially melted butter). Combine and knead the dough well. Cover the dough with some flour and cover the pot with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rest in a warm place for half an hour to an hour until it has doubled its size.
Roll out the dough into a rectangle of about 30 cm × 60 cm and 5 mm thickness. Spread the soft butter on it and then cover it with sugar and cinnamon. Again, you can be a little more generous with the cinnamon than the recipe says.
Starting with the long side, roll up the dough. Now there are two possibilities. For a regular cinnamon roll shape, cut the roll into pieces of about 2 cm and place them on a lined baking sheet with a cut surface facing up. Then brush the top with egg and decorate with coarse sugar.
For the advanced (original Finnish) shape, cut in an angle so that each piece of the roll is ca. 5 cm on one side and ca. 2 cm on the opposite side. Place the rolls on a lined baking sheet with the short side facing up (the cut surfaces point to the sides). Now press the roll down in the middle with you two pinkies and the press the sides of the uppermost layer together. Now brush the roll with egg and decorate with coarse sugar.
Cover the rolls with a kitchen towel and let them rise for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 225 °C. Bake the korvapuustit for about 10–15 minutes.
Pro tip: The scent of cinnamon will attract hungry mouths—save some rolls for yourself to make sure you’re not left empty-handed!