Gluten-free Karelian-ish Pies

Gluten-free Karelian-ish Pies

Karelian pies are a savoury pastry made with a rye shell filled with rice porridge. It’s usually topped with hard boiled eggs mashed with butter. But it can be topped with smoked salmon or – whatever you fancy I think. I called these pies gluten-free Karelian-ish Pies because I’ve never tasted a Karelian pie.

So while these are really tasty I don’t know if they are good gluten-free substitute for a Karelian Pie or not. Karelian pies were completely unknown to me until I searched for some traditional Finnish breakfast dishes.

Also my Gluten-Free Sweet Shortcrust Pastry is receiving a bit of traffic. And to be honest, I’m slightly mortified because that’s not a great pastry recipe. It is the best gluten-free sweet shortcrust pastry I’ve made to date. But that’s not saying much. It still fairly dense and dry. I’m going to have to improve and update that recipe and re-post.

But if it’s not a great pastry why are people visiting it? I think it’s because it’s got a title that is kinda niche and precise. People might actually type that very phrase into Google. So just that title with content of a certain length is going to get some traffic.

Why Karelian-ish Pies though?

I was going to call these Gluten-free Karelian Pies and then it occurred to me how very annoying it might be for someone who was looking for that very thing to come across a recipe where the pastry is nothing like that in a proper Karelian pie.

But these pies must taste something like a proper Karelian Pie because the filling is the exact same. But the pastry is quite different.

The pastry of a proper Karelian pie should be at least half composed of rye flour. Rye has a slightly dark bitter taste and the pastry I’ve used here doesn’t effectively mimic the taste of rye.

A good – but savoury – gluten free pastry recipe on twimii

The pastry in my Gluten-free Wild Garlic Quiche is actually really tasty. The walnuts and butter combine to make it very more-ish. That quiche is actually my favourite recipe of the year.

And considering how much I love the Bulgarian salad and the flourless caramel chocolate cake bars, that’s really saying something.

So with the first attempt I used the pastry from that. But that pastry is very buttery. And the rice porridge is also very buttery and milky. So there wasn’t enough contrast. So I made the pastry again but instead of using milk I used natural yoghurt. And I was delighted with the results.

But literally just as I was typing this it occurred to me that maybe adding some very very strong black tea to the pastry might give it a more rye-like taste. So I’m going to have to make these again.

Don’t worry I’ll still title these gluten-free Karelian-ish pies.

Well, what was the result???

The result is … it still doesn’t taste like there is rye in it – but this is great. I’m very pleased.

You may see more savoury pies here in the future.

Oh I added a little Parmesan cheese to the littlest pie in my third attempt. It was very tasty. I think I will add Parmesan to the rice porridge next time I’m making these.

And Finland?

I haven’t been. I’d love to go. … And there’s quite a lot to see –

And the food there?

How Finland kept Covid-19 in check and protected its economy. I don’t know if you’ve read this article but it’s very interesting. Finland was more prepared for a pandemic than other European countries and their constitution strongly emphasises “the protection of life and health very high among the responsibilities of government”. It’s very interesting. They never went into full lockdown but they did shutdown very quickly and for a couple of months. Which I know sounds very similar to here. But there are some key differences that I think we could learn from.

Anyway, your health is your wealth. Let’s all stay healthy as best we can. Sadly the wealth bit matters a lot too – but we maybe need to prioritise health first in order to guarantee the second.

Stay safe and well everyone.

And the recipe?

Oh yeah, the recipe…

gluten-free pastry for quiche ingredients
Ingredients for the pastry – buckwheat flour, rice flour, butter, walnuts, natural whole yoghurt and very strong black tea
The ingredients for the rice porridge. Butter, whole milk, water, nutmeg, pudding or risotto rice.
Ingredients for egg mash – still warm hard boiled egg, a bit of butter, some salt and pepper

Gluten-free Karelian Pies

Makes 8 - 10


    For the pastry
  • 150g buckwheat flour
  • 150g rice flour
  • 50g walnuts
  • 150g salted butter, cubed
  • 1 dessertspoon whole natural yoghurt
  • 4 tablespoons very strong black tea
  • For the rice porridge
  • 75g risotto rice
  • 150ml water
  • 25g butter
  • 500ml whole milk
  • nutmeg
  • For the egg butter mash
  • 2 eggs
  • butter
  • salt
  • pepper


    For the pastry
  1. Put the nuts in a food mixer and blend till reduced to crumbs. Add the flour and pulse till they are well mixed.
  2. Add in the butter and pulse until it's all well combined. It should all now have a crumby consistency.
  3. Next add in the yoghurt and 3 teaspoons of the black tea and mix till it's all well combined and forms a dough ball. Sometimes this doesn't happen when using gluten-free flour but once the dough starts clumping together just scrape it out of the mixer and you can form the dough ball in your hands.
  4. Take the dough out of the food processor and place in a shallow bowl or plate. Knead a tablespoon at a time of the remaining black tea into the pastry.
  5. Cover the ball in oiled cling film and leave in the fridge for an hour. - Or overnight if you want to make them the next morning for breakfast.
  6. For the rice porridge
  7. Melt the butter over a moderate heat in a deep pot. Add a good grating of nutmeg to the butter.
  8. Stir the rice in for a minute.
  9. Add the water and milk. Bring to the boil and stir well for a minute or so.
  10. Reduce the heat to gentle. Cover the pot and leave to cook for a good hour or until it has reduce down to a soft porridge/pudding texture.
  11. Assemble the pies and bake
  12. Heat the oven to 180 C.
  13. When you take the pastry out of the fridge you might find it's hard like cold butter. Just warm it up a bit by kneading in your hands. Cut the dough into eight or ten portions.
  14. Dust a clean surface with some rice flour and roll out one portion the pastry into an oblong shape. If you are having difficult rolling the pastry, you can simply shape this dough with your hands.
  15. Place 2 - 3 tablespoons of the rice porridge into the middle of the flattened portion of pastry. Then pinch up the sides of the pastry to surround the rice porridge. Don't be worried about the rice porridge spilling out during baking - it doesn't seem to do this.
  16. Dust an oven sheet or tin with rice flour. Using a fish slice, place the assembled pie in the baking tin.
  17. Repeat this process for all the portions of pastry dough.
  18. Bake at 180 C for 20 - 30 minutes.
  19. Take out and let cool for 15 minutes on a wire tray.
  20. For the egg mash
  21. Mash some butter into the still warm boiled eggs and season with some salt and pepper.
  22. Top the pies with the egg mash and enjoy!

rice porridge
This is actually yummy. I’ve discovered I love savoury rice pudding more than the sweet one.
dough ball
So after adding just three teaspoons of black tea the dough formed a ball. I took it out and worked in another few tablespoons of black tea into the dough.
This is from the second attempt. I left the dough in the fridge over night and it was rock hard the next morning. I just kneaded it till soft and shaped it with my hands. No rolling pin involved.
Once you’ve got the dough in a roundish flat shape, add the rice porridge.
You are my sunshine. My only sunshine. – I had to use the fish slice to carefully move it from counter to pan.
They came off the pan easily – but do use a fish slice. GF pastry dough just isn’t a pliable or as together as wheaten dough.
First mash, then season.
pre-baked savoury breakfast pies
Third attempt.
baked savoury breakfast pies
One didn’t make it. … ’cause I ate it.
first attempt at making the gluten-free Karelian pies
My first attempt at making the gluten-free Karelian pies. They look fine (in comparison to my other attempts) but the pastry needed a little bitterness.
Second attempt at Gluten-free Karelian-ish Pies. This time with a cup of herbal tea. – I’m giving up coffee for a bit. And it’s been hell…
Ooh but these savoury breakfast pastries are a treat!
gluten free karelian pies
So they were a treat already. But this version is definitely the best. I’m very happy with my new breakfast treat, gluten-free Karelian-ish pies.