Finland Food: Rahkapullat - Quark-filled Buns

I've just been on vacation in Estonia and I must say I adore the pastries there :) One of my favourite buns is 'rahkapulla' ( a quark filled small pie/bun). They are eaten also in Finland, but I think Estonians bake them far more delicious. I think their quark is better and the same goes with all sourmilk products, like Estonian yogurt, yummy :)

Kohupiim, Estonian quark
I had a truly delicious quark bun there (see my previous post on the lovely pastries of Estonia. Unfortunately for those who cannot understand Finnish,  it's written in my mothertongue...). I also bought some Estonian quark with me and on Friday I finally decided to bake myself.

Rahkapullat (makes appr. 12 buns)

Dough (can be used for making any kind of Finnish buns)
25 g fresh yeast (or 11 g dry yeast)
250 ml milk
100 g butter
90 g sugar
1 tsp ground cardamom seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg (divided in two)
500-550 g wheat flour (high protein)

300-400 g quark
1 egg
50-80 g sugar (depends how sweet you want the filling to be)
1 Tbsp vanilla sugar
2-3 Tbsp lemon juice

Optional: grated zest of 1/2 lemon or a handful of raisins

Dough: If using dry yeast, mix it with half of the wheat flour. Melt the butter, add the milk. Check the temperature: it should be slightly warmer that your fingertips (appr. 38 C) if using fresh yeast. If you are using dry yeast, 42 C is better. Depending on the temperature, warm the mixture a bit or allow it to cool a bit. Crumble the fresh yeast in a bowl, add some of the warm milk-butter mixture and stir until dissolved. Add the rest of the liquid, sugar, salt, cardamom, half of the egg and mix well. Add the flour little by little (if using dry yeast, add first from that flour you've added the yeast) and finally knead it with hands (or with a dough hook of a mixer) until it's smooth. It shouldn't get too dry, so be careful not to use too much flour: the dough should still stick to your hands a bit when kneading it. Too dry dough results in hard buns. Don't knead the dough too long, it leads also to hard buns. Leave under a tea towel to rise in warm, draft-free place until double in size (in my kitchen it usually takes 30-40 minutes.)

Flour the working surface and flip the dough onto it. Sprinkle some more flour and punch the dough down and knead it a bit. Roll it into a roll shape and divide it to equal portions (appr. 12). Form into balls and then flatten them with a rolling pin or by hand. Place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Cover with a cloth and leave to rise for 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200 C and make the filling.

Filling: If using Finnish quark, put it in a coffee filter to drain for a couple hours. Estonian quark is more dry. You could also substitute ricotta for the quark, but in that case I would put a lot of lemon juice to get that lovely sourness. Combine all the ingredients (the amounts can be varied as you like). I like my quark filling to be very sour, so I use a lot of lemon juice. You can also add a handful of raisins or grated zest of half  a lemon.

When the buns have risen, press a hole in the middle of a bun with a glass. Brush them with the remaining egg (the other half was used when making the dough). Spoon the quark mixture into the hole. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the buns are golden-brown and the quark still hasn't got any colour.

Enjoy with coffee or tea :)

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