Thursday, June 12, 2014

The American South and Finland Share a Food Tradition: Rhubarb Pie!

Many of my readers know I have close ties to Finland via my friend Essi, who I met back in high school (I won't say how many years ago!)

In 2010, I was finally able to visit there and it was wonderful to see Essi again, meet her family and be in the country I'd spent 20 years reading, learning, and studying about!

Next summer, we plan to be there again, and I can't wait. Finland is a beautiful place and from there one can relax in the vast quiet of wild nature; spend time at the many wonderful lakes and marinas around Essi's hometown of Lappeenranta; stroll down the streets of Helsinki, one of Europe's oldest cities; visit Sweden, Russia, or Estonia for a day; have licorice ice cream; tour lovely Fiskars Village; take a boat ride around a castle in Savonlinna...just writing about it makes me so excited for our trip next year!

In the meantime, I enjoy sharing cultural traditions not only with Essi, but other friends I've made there - her sister Johanna; Sannamari, a friend I met through a Ravelry swap; and Mari, author of my favorite blog! I look forward to meeting both Sannamari and Mari next year when we are there and enjoy the connections we have now.

For the past few weeks, however, my social media newsfeeds were full of images of rhubarb and talk of rhubarb pies from my friends across the sea. Though I have never made one, I was bit surprised to discover a cultural food tradition that the American South shares with Finland! I decided to make one for a family cookout this past Sunday, but I asked Essi for a Finnish recipe. I found it was somewhat different from traditional Southern recipes but it turned out really well. Of course, finding fresh rhubarb was not so easy, but after visiting a few stores, we located it at BiLo and got to work!

Getting the dry ingredients blended. I always give this job to my son!

I also gave my son the job of cutting the rhubarb into small pieces. The recipe calls for 7 desiliters of rhubarb. My measuring cup has a reading for desiliter, but if yours doesn't you can find translation here

While he prepared the rhubarb, I got the crust ready. The crust recipe reminds me of Southern cobblers, and I can easily see using this with cherries or blueberries! Every Finnish pie recipe I have tried requires making crust from scratch. When I was there in 2010 and wanted to make a pecan pie for friends, I remember trying to express that I wanted a frozen pie crust. You won't easily find that there! I simply wanted to save time but rarely ever use those in my own cooking at all, and found it funny it was basically non-existent there!

Then it was time to sugar and soften the rhubarb...

...then put it all together...

...and into the oven!

I had to experiment a bit with temperature. The recipe says 200 which is low for American ovens. I'm not sure if this is a 'lost in translation' thing or if it really was supposed to cook on such a low temp. About 25 minutes in I upped it to 350 and kept a close watch for about 15 more minutes, and that seems to do the trick!

It was hard to keep the youngest household member from sampling it as it cooled! Even the finickiest child will be keen to try any food they've helped prepare, I've learned! It doesn't hurt that the smell was wonderful!

I was delighted to have borrowed this recipe from across the sea and put a new twist on an old Southern classic. It did taste a bit different in some ways than tradition Southern rhubarb pie, but it was delicious topped with whipped cream, and I'll definitely make it again!

And guess who got the last slice? 

For traditional Southern Rhubarb pie recipe, click here. To read about our making traditional Finnish Karelian pies, which was a fun culinary adventure, click here!

Finnish Rhubarb Pie
2 desiliters Lactose-free buttermilk (soured milk)
2 desiliters sugar 1 desiliter running margarine (or melted)
3 1/4 desiliters flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
7 dl pieces of rhubarb
1 desiliter sugar

Soften pieces of rhubarb with sugar in a flat container in the microwave for 5 to 8 minutes. If the liquid comes off a lot, drain it off, and use in other recipe such as the soup or juice.
Mix the base ingredients. Pour batter into pie pan (Ø ~ 28 cm). Add the rhubarb on the surface. Bake at 200 degrees for 20 - 30 minutes or until done. Serve with custard, vanilla sauce or ice cream.

TIP * Use on the berries of the season (about 3 dl), or apples. (Apple cubes or pre-cooked slices in the microwave oven in the same way as rhubarb.) Use sugar as needed.


Mari ❤ SaimaaLife said...

Well done, Amy! So great that you were able to find rhubarbs! Rhubarb pie is definitely one thing that belongs to my summertime. Especially I like to bake it in the beginning of summer because there are no berries yet in the forests to pick up. Thank you so much for your post & can´t wait to meet you next summer :)

Debby said...

Amy treated me to a slice, while we visited. It was tasty and fun to taste Finnish version!!

Amy Alley said...

Thank ya'll so much for reading and taking time to comment! Mari, I look forward to meeting you also! Debby, I'm so glad you enjoyed the pie!