Making a rättänä

GARS portrays soldiers from the province of Savo (Savolax) in eastern Finland. For our “Peasant day” in 5.2.2017 we prepared several traditional savonian dishes. Here is the recipe for the dessert, a rättänä. It is basically a blueberry pie with a rye crust, and belongs to family of savonian dishes called “kukkos”. A kukko can be made from many types of ingredients -fish, meat, vegetables- but it’s always fully enclosed in rye dough and then slowly cooked in oven. The rye crust seals in the ingredients resulting in food that preserves well, an ideal food for longer journeys.

Baking rättänäs in clay oven in Pukkisaari. Photo (c) GARS 2017

Our recipe is slightly modernized, and of course we don’t have any written peasant recipes from the 17th century to start with. But the kukko is surely a centuries-old thing and the only ingredient here that wasn’t a part of 17th century savonian staple is the sugar: back then, it was mostly available for the rich, as it was imported. Instead of sugar kind of a home made sweetener called imellös would have been used. Imellös is made by soaking and simmering rye, in a process similar to malting. But it’s a bit gross so we used sugar anyway!

Kukko-type dishes can be made without any cooking vessel, into a form of a plump bread, but with rättänä it’s best to use a clay pot as the blueberry filling can be very runny when hot and may try to escape from the crust. You’ll need a oven-proof clay pot, about 2-3 liters in volume. The pot doesn’t need to be glazed.

The crust in a clay pot. Photo (c) GARS 2017

  • 200 grams butter, plus some for the pot
  • 1 dl of sugar
  • About half a liter of rye flour
  • Some cold water
  • Half a kilo of blueberries
  • Few tablespoons of honey or sugar (not necessary)
  • One desilitre of rolled oats (not necessary)

Making the blueberry filling. Photo (c) GARS 2017

1. Make the doug by melting the butter and mixing the sugar with it. Then add enough rye flour to make a pretty firm dough. Add a splash of water to make the dough pliable.

2. Divide the dough into two pieces, smaller and larger one. Take your clay pot and butter the inside well. Line the inside of the clay pot evenly with the larger portion of the dough. Roll the smaller piece of the dough into a circle that is slightly larger than the mouth of the pot.

3. Make the filling: mix the blueberries with sugar or honey and oats. You can use only the blueberries to fill the rättänä, but some extra sweetening adds to the taste and the oats are good for absorbing the liquid from the blueberries. Pour the filling to the pot. Cover with the dough circle and press the edges well.

4. Put into baking oven (on medium heat / 200 degrees celcius) for around 1 hour, or longer. You might want to cover the dish for the first half of the cooking time, to prevent the top from burning.

Wait a bit – the filling is hot – and then eat. If you are a flamboyant catholic, you can eat it with vanilla ice cream!

Heating the clay oven in Pukkisaari. Photo (c) GARS 2015

– Photos from the Peasant day 5.2.2017 in Pukkisaari.