Saturday, February 11, 2012


Vårt land, vårt land, vårt fosterland,
ljud högt, o dyra ord!
Ej lyfts en höjd mot himlens rand,
ej sänks en dal, ej sköljs en strand,
mer älskad än vår bygd i nord,
än våra fäders jord!
Din blomning, sluten än i knopp,
Skall mogna ur sitt tvång;
Se, ur vår kärlek skall gå opp
Ditt ljus, din glans, din fröjd, ditt hopp.
Och högre klinga skall en gång
Vår fosterländska sång.

"Fänrik Ståhls Sägner" - "The Tales of Ensign Ståhl"
Johan Ludvig Runeberg

Johan Ludvig Runeberg died 100 years before my birth - who knew? Well, I probably learned it in elementary school... The stanzas above form the opening to the national romantic poem Fänrik Ståhls Sägner. In the 1840s the verses were put to music by Fredrik Pacius. This song is the national anthem of Finland. Traditionally the first verse is sung in Finnish, the second in the original language, Swedish. Swedish is the second official language of Finland. Runeberg was actually born in Sweden, but as the part of the country where he lived became the Grand Duchy of Finland after the Russo-Swedish war that ended with the peace of Fredrikshamn in 1809, he is considered Finnish. Oh, and the Grand Duke of Finland was the Czar of Russia - what we call a "personal union" in historian circles.

So, why am I rambling on and on and on about J.L. Runeberg? Well, partly out of patriotic whatschumacallit, but mainly because February 5th was the national day of our national poet, who is.... Runeberg!!! And of course the best thing about any national holiday is that it comes with a pastry! The Runebergstårta (Runeberg tart) is my favorite pastry in the whole world:
The Wikipedia article for the tart is not total crap, but it does not of course convey the deep emotive and sensorial love I have for this pastry. Now, the original ones are tall and comparatively narrow. We would hollow out the core and fill them with raspberry jam. Some day I will have proper Runeberg tart molds, but for now I am making due with muffin tins:

I still hollow out the center and fill it with raspberry jam, but now I no longer break off the bottom part and eat it from a bowl with milk. Now I eat it like an adult - with tea! And I moisten them with Amaretto, when I can. Amazing! 

I thought I would include the recipe, especially as it has some Family History. Which I may get wrong....

So, when Mother moved to Finland, my great aunt, aunt-Marita, took this poor foreign woman under her maternal wing. Moster Mita (as we said in Swedish) was this amazing woman who kept bees, had a great sense of humor, loved people, and was just all around as delightful an old lady as you could hope to be related to, or named after! She passed away when I was pretty young, but I have fond memories of her, and really wish I had had the opportunity to get to know her better. The summer cottage (tm, Finnish cultural institution beyond compare) that my family calls home was originally built by Moster Mita and her husband, Ivar. It is the center of the universe - did you not know? Anyway, Moster Mita gave Mother this recipe for Runeberg Tarts, and it is the best recipe, as far as I am concerned. This is corroborated by the evidence that several of my friends have asked me, myself, and I, for the recipe, selecting it above other available recipes. It is probably from some 1950s magazine or something, but whatever. 

I have doubled the recipe, because the original amount just makes me unhappy and leaves me unsatisfied. Yes, I LOVE this pastry!


2 eggs
2 dl sugar
2 dl whipping cream
1 dl almond meal (I grind my own here in the US)
250 gr butter, melted
4 dl bread crumbs 
3 dl graham flour
1 tsp baking powder

On top:
raspberry jam (I prefer seedless)
powederd sugar
punch, arrak, rum or amaretto

butter for greasing the molds

1. Beat the eggs and sugar frothy.
2. Mix the dry ingredients.
3. Melt the butter.
4. Mix the eggs and dry ingredients, then add the butter.
5. Whip the cream stiff, then fold into rest of dough.
6. Gloop into greased molds. The dough does not really change shape, rise or collapse. It makes ca 16 muffin bottoms. Do not pile high - you want a neat surface for the jam and icing!

7. Bake at 200 C (392 F) for 18-25 minutes.

8. Let cool. When they have cooled spoon out a dent of desired diameters with a teaspoon or apple corer. 
9. Moisten with alcohol of desire, to sogginess desired. I use Amaretto as it adds the almondiness. I sometimes dilute it with maybe a sixth of water, but sometimes not. Allow to soak in. Reapply if desired.
10. Fill the crater with raspberry jam.
11. Mix powdered sugar and water until a stiff icing is formed. You want it to be soft enough to melt into a uniform glaze, but still enough to keep its shape and not drip down the sides. 
12. Lie to people about how many you have so you don't have to share.

Smaklig kaffepaus!

Teacup brought to me as a 30th birthday present by "The Gels", and the plate is part of a tea set given as a wedding gift by soon-to-be-Dr. Nielsen.

1 comment:

  1. So, Mother is not sure this is Moster-Mita's recipe. Devastating! But that is how I have thought of them since I first helped Mother make them when we lived in Joensuu (1989-1994). And Mother and I agreed that they might be, and really, the important thing is that for me they are a connection to an amazing woman. Is this oral history in process, or what?