Mämmi - Malted Rye Pudding

Mämmi is a very traditional Finnish Easter dessert. It could be described as a rye pudding or porridge. It is made of rye flour, malted rye and sugar/syrup. It has a deep malt flavour and is best enjoyed with cream or milk. Some like to sprinkle additional sugar on top, but to my taste mämmi has enough sweetness on its own. I'd guess it's not the prettiest food there is, but surely it's not the only one (think of a brown meat sauce or lentil soup...). (And btw, ä is pronounced like a in ham).

Nowadays you can buy mämmi from grocery stores and some bakeries in Finland. The traditional serving (and baking) dish was made of birch bark, but nowadays the commercial mämmi is in bark-imprinted cardboard boxes. I'd guess nobody makes it home anymore (except geeks like me).  It's quite time-consuming to make. (The actual hands-on time is short, but with all the waiting it will take the whole day). Two years ago I tried making mämmi myself for the first time. Everything went well first: the rye porridge became sweet ("imeltyä" in English, no idea... to malten? the process in which enzymes (?) cut starches to sugars and the food becomes sweet) but in the last phase when you're supposed to bake it in the oven... I spread it too thinly and let it bake too long. It got dry on top, crackled and became like a very dense rye bread.

This Easter I wanted to try making it again and this time I nailed it. Now my readers abroad can also enjoy this traditional dessert on Easter. Some ingredients might be hard to come by, though. If you want to enjoy this on Long Friday, you'll have to make it either tomorrow or the day after tomorrow the latest as mämmi takes time to develop that sticky texture and deep flavour.

Mämmi - Malted Rye Pudding

1 L water (330 ml + 4 times 170 ml), boiling
250 g rye flour
170 g malted rye
2-4 Tbsp (malt) syrup or sugar (or to taste: this will also depend upon the malting process)
a pinch of salt
1 tsp dried and ground Seville orange peel (=pomeranssinkuori)

Start by measuring rye flour and malted rye to separate bowls(*). Mix 330 ml boiling water with one fifth ryeflour and one fifth malted rye (you are not supposed to cook the pudding yet, so take it away from heat if your stove is too hot at this point). Sprinkle some rye flour* on top. You can leave it on a mildly hot stove or put it in oven or insulate it well for the mixture to stay warm. It should stay around 60-70 C for 1.5 hours. (If the temperature sinks below 60 C at the end of the cycle, it doesn't matter much, as you pour nearly boiling water on it again, the bigger problem would be the mixture getting too hot. But if the temperature is too low, you will get sour pudding)

*I use the flour from (*) for sprinkling (though I'm not so sure if it matters to add a little more flour). I had to use 1-2 Tbsp each time to get the surface covered.

Do the next part 4 times:
Stir in the flour you sprinkled earlier onto the pudding. Add 170 ml nearly boiling water, 1/5 (of the original amount)  rye-flour and 1/5 malted rye. Mix. Sprinkle again some rye-flour on top and leave to a warm place for 1 hour. (Yes, it is gonna take time).

After you've used all flour and malted rye and it has been in a warm place for one hour after the last addition of flour, stir again to incorporate the flour. Add the Seville orange peel and syrup/sugar (taste and add more if needed). Bring to boil. Cook on moderate heat for 10 minutes while stirring. Pour onto an oven dish (I used 2 aluminum pans) and let it cool. All the recipes tell you not to fill the dish too much as mämmi will boil over in the oven. I've never had any problems with that. Instead my problems have everything to do with NOT filling the dish enough. I'd suggest to use a deep dish and fill it at least 3-4 cm (that way mämmi stays softer).

Bake in 150 C oven for 2-3 hours. If your mämmi looks dry, you can brush it with sugar water every now and then (I mixed 20 g sugar with 40 ml boiling water). Brush the surface once more after you've taken it from oven. Let cool and cover. Place in fridge for 2-3 days to "mature". You can also freeze mämmi if you decide to make a bigger batch. Enjoy with cold cream (or milk or vanilla custard).

 Happy Easter!!!

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  1. Will crystal rye malt (sold for home brewing) work? That's all I can find in the UK.

    1. So sorry I didn't notice your comment until now. In Finland we have two sorts of malted rye: finely ground stuff for bread (this is what I used here) and coarse for homebrew beer. Can you find it finely ground (as fine as rye flour)? It has a sweet, earthy flavour to itself. YOu can try googling "mämmimallas" (that's what it's called in Finnish). Do you have any Nordic food selling stores there? I bet some Finnish immigrants might want to buy it too. Are these of any help to you? Hope you find it there!

    2. Thanks, Tuulia. I have held a craving to taste this stuff again for 20 years or so! There is a Swedish food store in London, but they don't sell malt. In the end I tried with the stuff sold for homebrewing, and milled it finer with a coffee grinder. But how dark should the malted rye be? The stuff I used was a chocolate brown (actually sold as 'chocolate malt'), but mid and light tones are also available. My attempt at mämmi wasn't a disaster, but it wasn't really as delicious as I remember it. Possibly it needed to be sweeter, but I had to substitute bitter Oxford marmalade for the orange peel, so I didn't want to overdo the syrup/sugar. I really need to return to Finland and remind myself what the real stuff tastes like.

    3. Great that you still could get my answer, Jonathan! And great to hear that you could grind it finer. The colour of Finnish rye malt is not as dark as cocoa powder (dark cocoa powder, like Van Houten etc.), but maybe a bit lighter. Maybe quite close to the colour of carob powder (I can't compare it now, since I don't have that rye malt at the moment). I've mostly used this brand: https://laihianmallas.fi/tuotteet/tuoppi-1-kg-mammi-ja-leipamallas . It says that it's grounded, light rye malt, so maybe those lighter tones would be better. I hope you can come one day to Finland (sigh this Covid...). Mämmi is a seasonal product (as you might already know), so at this time of year it's found in plenty in all shops, but usually they sell it in bigger shops year-round (in the freezed foods section). Good luck with your mämmi adventure!

  2. Sorry, forgot to tick the 'notifu me' box.


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