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Tuesday, 12 March 2013

ESTONIAN WHEATEN PIE



Silvia Kalvik says that in Estonia:

            When a baby was born, mothers of other families paid a call on the new mother and her baby.  Only married women with children of their own were allowed to go.  In olden times, porridge and a loaf of pure (i.e. not mixed with chaff) rye, barley, or wheat bread was taken along.


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WHEATEN PIE stuffed with Salt Pork and Onions

WHEAT DOUGH
½ tsp sugar
¼ cup warm water
2 ¼ tsp yeast
1 ½ tbsp softened butter
½ tsp salt
2 ¾ cups wholewheat flour (plus more for sprinkling on work surface when                                                                         kneading)

PORK FILLING:
1/2 pound salt pork
Onions: unspecified amount . . . so I’m putting in 8 ounces

·        Cut meat into small cubes.
·        Chop the onions.
·        Fry together.  (I used 1 tbsp bacon fat.)

I also added 2 sliced hardboiled eggs to the filling because that is a common ingredient in most of the other fillings. 


Verdict:  This is like an Estonian version of a calzone but the pastry is almost too hard to saw through.  Nicole thought the salt pork was gelatinous (myself, I liked that) and the egg was too dry.  Well, I just can’t recommend this.  L
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P. S.  I had a small slice for breakfast the next morning and quite liked it.  Most people would discard the thick outer edges but . . .
     Silvia tells us that in Estonia "Bread as the main item of food was treated reverentially. . . . If a child happened to drop a slice of bread, he had to pick it up and kiss it."

Estonian Proverb "Have respect for bread -- bread is older than us."

The chapter on "The Eating Habits of the Estonians" gave me the best understanding I've ever had of the scarcity of food endured by people employed as peasants. Coarse black bread may not sound great to some but, most of us actually enjoy the dark ryes in bakeries.  What would you think, however, of 'chaff bread'? Chaff bread "was black and brittle like peat. . . . so brittle that, when eaten, it crumbled and was blown away by the wind."
     If that's not bad enough, what about this:
"During the years of crop failure there was not enough chaff to go around, therefore hazel-tree catkins, acorns, moss, heather and ferns were used to supplement bread grain.  In spring, even bread like that was scarce . . . "