My house is over flowing with Finns. For the last few days we have been cooking constantly for every meal. It has to be nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Wien and the oven fills the whole house up with even more heat. Horrid.
Yesterday for coffee we made a very traditional Finnish sweet, called munkki. It is very similar to our donuts. It is typically and most traditionally made for May First. Which is the beginning of what Finns recognize as summer. So it is a nice little mini holiday. munkki, isn’t limited to May First however. The Finnish people love it and eat it with some regularity nearly always with afternoon coffee rather than as a breakfast food as we Americans typically eat our donuts.
Finland, wasn’t always a rich and prosperous nation full of liberalism, socialism, and highly educated people. Once, it was a small war torn nation. Often, it belonged to Sweden and or Russia at various points in it’s history. It is actually a fairly new country. Few people understand in full, what happens during wars. The Finns are some of those few that do. They understand that the important things that everyone holds most comforting and common grow scarce and become hard to find and increasingly costly as supplies run out and violence is happening all around. Coffee, for older Finns is a precious commodity. Many of them at one point in their lives had to drink some kind of substitute often because of war. Or they heard tales from their parents of what it is like to do without. They lived each day able to see the effect war had on the generation before them. For them, it is a privilege to have coffee. And so, every day at about the same time the Brits, are having tea my in laws sit down to a coffee. They like to snack on the two things that really run out when war comes to your neighborhood, sugar and coffee. So with the coffee there is nearly always some variety of sweet.
We use a bread machine to mix our ingredients. So we add them in order of what is most liquidy. First the milk, then the egg, last we add on top of all the flour and everything else, the butter and the yeast. We then put the machine in mix mode. But, you can do this without a bread machine. Just put your wets into a bowl mix them together and slowly add your dries and keep mixing.
Once your munkki dough is mixed, take it out of the machine or the bowl and place it on a lightly floured surface. We usually use a big beautiful rustic cutting board, but this time we just used the counter top. Roll your dough with your hands into a think snake. Then cut along your snake at regular intervals in the same way you would if you were making cinnamon rolls. After you have cut the snake into pieces, (aproximately 12 pieces), you will take each piece one at a time and press them into the hard, flat, floured surface and roll them into small balls. Feel free to add a bit of flour as you make your munkki dough balls. The dough is very sticky. It isn’t particularly firm either. Take your thumb and press it through the center of each ball. Use it to enlage the hole in the munkki dough ball a bit. Then you will have a small doughnut shape. Cover your munkki dough donuts with a piece of saran wrap and a couple of dish towels. Let them rise for about 40 minutes.
There is no baking in this recipe. Instead you will take your coconut oil and set it in a small pot on the stove. Keep it at about a medium heat. Your oil should be at about 160 degrees Centigrade or about 300-320 degrees Fahrenheit When your munkki has been sitting about 40 minutes it is time to set up the coconut oil. Once the coconut oil has reached proper temperature, place a few munkki donuts into the pot of oil till the side in the oil has turned a nice shade of brown. Then, turn them over so that the other side may achieve the same shade of brown. As they come out of the oil, they should next be rolled all around in a bowl of sugar till they are fully covered in delicious sweetness. They will be hot, so you may want to use a fork. Make sure you get all sides of your munkki in the sugar.
This is when your munkki is finished! It is time to set them out on the table with a big pot of hot coffee and to eat them relishing every bite of Finnish goodness.
There are many variations you could make to this recipe, for example, you could put them in a bath of cinnamon and sugar. Or swich out the coconut oil, for some other variety. Don’t be afraid to get creative and enjoy the yummies from Finland.