Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Food in Finland

So, what are you eating during Eastertime? Hot cross buns? (Oh how I miss those!) The options here are a little different.. and I thought I'd share them with you.

The word for Easter in Finnish is "Pääsiäinen" and it literally translates as "the ending of Lent fasting". It originates from the verb päästää - which means 'release'.

Paschal lamb, which symbolizes the Lamb of God is the main choice for Easter here apparently. I am sure my husband would love it, but even the smell of Lamb cooking throws me into a horrid frenzy for finding the nearest toilet and being sick! (sorry!)

Normally the Lamb is eaten with a mint sauce, boiled eggs, sweet bread, Mämmi, Pasha and coffee. (Finns love their coffee and have no idea what 'real' tea is..LOL - not that I myself like Tea, but the men of my house do and my poor mother has to post Tetley out frequently to accommodate their love of it!)

We are having Turkey this year. That said, a Turkey in Finland is SMALL! It's not a lot bigger than a large Chicken is in the UK! (and you should see the size of Chickens here!!...more like Sparrows!) Our 3.4kg Lidls Turkey is a treat to 17 euros! (How much is the same thing in the UK these days?) I miss Icelands buy one get one free 17 euros seems an awful lot to me!

So what is this Mämmi and Pasha you may be asking? They are actually desserts. The first looks like something most people would not want to eat. Indeed most people when they see it for the first time, are likely to refuse it! LOL!

It's really not the most elegant or delicious looking thing! I like it though...and I am the only one in the house that does! Some Finns have joked with me that eating Mämmi, I pass the acceptance of Finnish/Foreigner status!

An Easter symbol of the unleaven bread, Mämmi looks like (and this really is the nicest description) - grainy and pureed chocolate fudge cake. Made like a porridge from rye bread, water and molasses it is eaten as it is, cold, with lashings of cream and sugar.

In days of old it was baked very slowly in baskets crafted from Birch bark. Nowadays it is ready made and sold in cardboard boxes, that are printed to resemble bark! Very few people probably bother to make it at home... so much easier just to buy it off the shelf. It is of little doubt, the oldest of Finnish Easter traditions - originally it used to be a food at Lent, eaten cold or spread on top of a slice of bread. I think I am glad to eat it these days.. with the cream and sugar! :D

When Finland gained its independance in 1917, Finns searched for typical social symbols and the folk dish of Mämmi was readily taken on as such. Whereas it had previously been a delicacy known mainly in south west Finland from the 18th century, it became a seasonal product to all and an integral part of Finnish homemaking and cookery books.

If you would like to try it.. here is a recipe!



Half a Kilo of Malt
1.25 Kilos of Rye Flour
Half Teaspoon of Salt
5 Litres of water
6 Tablespoons of Seville orange rind


Mix to a thin consistency, a quarter of the malt amount with some of the rye flour and add one litre of the water. Cover the surface with a thick layer of malt and rye flour. Cover the saucepan well and put in a warm place for 1 hour. This helps to sweeten the mixture. Beat the mixture well and add some more water. Cover the surface with malt and flour again and leave to sweeten for another hour. Repeat until all has been used. The water should NOT be boiling hot but very gently simmering.

This mixture is then boiled and spiced up with the orange rind and molasses (to taste), whilst stirring frequently. Take off the heat and beat the mixture until it is cooled. Empty into shallow square cardboard boxes - or another kind of oven proof container - and bake slowly in a moderately heated oven for a couple of hours or so. Do not bake on too low a temperature or it can turn bitter. Do not fill too high, as the mixture will rise whilst baking! Don't forget to serve with lashings of cream and sugar!

Good Luck! LOL!!!!

The other dish, "Pasha" is made from sour milk (otherwise known as Quark), it also has naughty things such as cream, butter, vanilla, sugar and orange marmalade in it! Traditionally is is moulded in wooden moulds like this, available

They are marked on the outside with an X and a B which means "Xpuctoc Bockpece" in Russian! Why Russian? Well, this was introduced to Finland at the same time as the Orthodox religion and it was originally an Orthodox Easter feast fayre. It's a custom from the former region of Karelia, between the White Sea and the Gulf of Finland, that then belonged to Russia. The desserts name is derived from the word "Pasxa" - meaning Easter.

Here is an image from a Finnish blog -

If you don't have a wooden mould to make it in.. you can use other things... the following recipe site advises using a terracotta plant pot with a hole in the bottom. Please ensure its brand new of course and line it with some muslin! LOL!! Failing that you can use a plastic coffee filter - again lined with muslin.

Here is a really good recipe!

And a good blog on it too.. here...

Boiled eggs should also be served on a Finnish Easter table! This year, I might put them inside the Turkey for a laugh!

There is also Limppu - which is a soft, slightly sweet and subtly malty loaf of bread, but it also appears at Christmas. There are two versions, light and dark and I prefer the dark. It is made with a little syrup in it, which is what makes it slightly sweet. I've bought the brand Vaasan this year. Surprise, surprise the packaging has a Witch on it! LOL....

We also indulge in drinking Sima at Easter too. It is traditionally drunk for the 1st of May, the day when the Finns celebrate that spring has arrived and also 'Labour Day' - but we can't wait till then! It is often described as a mead, but to me, mead is alcoholic and Sima is not really alcoholic unless you have left it way too long. If I have time, I make it myself, but you can buy packet mixes of it and there are nowadays lots of ready made bottles of the stuff to guzzle away on! The best way to describe it is as a lighter version of Lucozade! Yummy!

Here is a Sima recipe.

You need to use a large plastic bowl or bucket kept for food use only. It needs a lid. I use a bucket.

The rind of a Lemon, roughly cut not grated finely.
500g sugar
4.5 Litres of boiling water
1 packet of dried yeast
The juice from the lemon
Bottles, preferrably glass.

Wash, dry and grate the lemon. Juice and reserve the liquid. Place in the bowl or bucket. Add the sugar and water. Cover and leave to cool. When lukewarm, add the yeast and the reserved lemon juice. Leave to stand for two days. Put a teaspoon of sugar and a few raisins into the bottles. Sieve the Sima into the bottles. Cap each bottle tightly and place in a cool place. After about a week or so, you will find that the raisins will have floated to the top. This is a good way of telling that the sima is ready to drink.

Last, but not least.... one of the unusual things that Finland has to offer at Easter is.. The Fazer Mignon egg. This is a solid almond hazelnut milk chocolate that has been set inside a real egg shell. It is totally handmade and the second oldest Fazer confectionery of Finland - dating back from 1896!

LOOK at the stats! OMG! 100g is 570cals and 40g fat! Each egg is a little over half of that! They are so sweet though, you can't eat more than one! Thank goodness too!

You can buy them individually or four in a pack, which is actually an egg box! Not so easy to eat.. but a bit of fun!


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