Comforting korvapuusti: A guide to appreciating Finnish cinnamon buns
Cinnamon buns, or "korvapuustit," are a beloved treat in Finland
You'll smell the mouthwatering aroma of cinnamon, sugar, and butter wafting through the streets of most Finnish towns and cities most mornings. In fact, these tasty buns are so highly regarded that there is even a day dedicated to celebrating them, held annually on October 4th.
The perfect korvapuusti
But what makes a korvapuusti truly perfect? According to Finnish pastry connoisseurs, it's all about the appearance and texture. The surface of the bun should have various shades of brown, from dark espresso to light latte, and should look and taste as if it were home baked. It should also be generously sprinkled with thick granules of pearl sugar, never with fine sugar, and the layers should easily reveal the cinnamon inside. And of course, there should be a lot of cinnamon - a korvapuusti without plenty of the spice just wouldn't be the same.
A source of comfort and token of love
While cinnamon buns may not be the healthiest option, Finns don't seem to mind. In fact, savoury food is typically eaten whenever Finns go out to a cafe, they nearly always order a korvapuusti with their coffee. And why wouldn't they? These buns are a cornerstone of Finnish culture, often enjoyed as a way to socialize and resolve work problems or matters of the heart. They are a source of comfort, but also a source of joy and even power. In Finnish culture, offering a cinnamon bun to someone is a token of love and goodwill.
Treats for all seasons
But korvapuustit aren't the only sweet pastry enjoyed in Finland. Different treats are associated with different seasons and occasions. On 5th February Finns eat Runeberg tarts, small cakes flavored with almonds and arrack or rum named after national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg. His wife, Fredrika, is considered to be their inventor when she dipped these tarts in punch and served them to him at their home in Porvoo,
Around Shrove Tuesday, a variation of the sweet bun called a laskiaispulla is served. These buns are cut in half and filled with either strawberry jam and thick cream or strawberry jam and marzipan, and Finns love to debate which is the proper filling. Laskiaispullas are so delicious that they are enjoyed throughout February, even though Shrove Tuesday only comes once a year.
On the last day of April and the first of May, known as the "Vappu" holiday in Finland, sugar donuts and a type of deep-fried funnel cake called tippaleipä are popular treats. Tippaleipä may be distantly related to Spanish churros, although Finns don't dip theirs in chocolate.
During December, Finns eat star-shaped Christmas tarts called joulutorttuja, which are made from puff pastry and filled with prune jam. On December 13th, Swedish-speaking Finns in particular celebrate Lucia Day by eating a special type of sweet bun called a Lucia-kierrepulla or "lussekatten" in Swedish.
Keep it in the family
But no matter the season, korvapuustit are always a staple in Finland. In the past, Saturday was even known as "Sweet Bun Day," when mothers and daughters (though not usually men) would bake cinnamon buns and korvapuustis. Those who baked the best buns were unlikely to divulge their secrets, as the recipes were often closely guarded family treasures.
So next time you're in Finland, be sure to indulge in a korvapuusti or two. Whether you're celebrating the first warm days of summer or commiserating over having to return to work after the holidays, these sweet buns are the perfect companion. And who knows,with a little practice, you might even master the art of appreciating the perfect korvapuusti. Just remember to examine the surface, look for plenty of cinnamon and thick granules of pearl sugar, and savor the soft, buttery layers. And if you're feeling generous, don't hesitate to offer a korvapuusti to a friend as a symbol of love and goodwill. After all, in Finland, there's no better way to show you care than with a delicious cinnamon bun.