Category Archives: Savoury Food

Saaristolaisleipä – A Traditional Finnish Bread

I have been making our own bread for quite a while. If I have enough time on my hands I usually make sourdough bread but it is not as failproof as normal yeast dough and really time consuming. For a few weeks now I have tried to master an Estonian sourdough rye bread but I keep on failing miserably. I can tell you that nothing is worse than having to throw a fresh loaf into the trash!

I decided to have a break from Estonian bread making, so next on my agenda was a traditional Finnish bread – saaristolaisleipä. Often translated as Islander or Archipelago bread, it consists of rye and wheat flour with rye malt and dark syrup. The malt gives the bread the dark look that is typical for this bread and the syrup a soft and sticky consistency and a slight sweet flavour. And the best thing: it isn’t a sourdough bread and therefore easier to make (at least for me).

Saaristolaisleipä - A traditional Finnish Bread

The recipe I used was originally for three breads but in case I would fail again I only made two. I also converted the measurements into grams since Finnish recipes mostly use deciliters for measuring and it tends to confuse people too much.


665 ml buttermilk, 2,5% fat
50 g fresh yeast
200 ml dark bread syrup (contains malt) or other dark syrup/treacle
150 g malt flour (I used rye malt)
60 g spelt bran (or wheat/rye bran)
130 g rye flour
400 g wheat flour
3/4 tbsp sea salt

For the glaze

1tbsp dark syrup
3 tbsp water

Spices (optional)

bread spices like coriander, fennel, cumin 
hemp seeds

Take a saucepan and heat the buttermilk on the stove until it’s lukewarm. Crumble the yeast into it and let is dissolve slightly, then add the syrup.

In a big bowl mix all the dry ingredients (including spices if you like) and then slowly add the buttermilk/yeast mixture while stirring with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula. You don’t have to mix it for long but make sure everything is properly incorporated. The dough will be quite liquid, unlike wheat dough. Cover with a towel and let it rise for around 1,5 hours in room or above room temperature. I put it on our bathroom floor which has floorheating. Make sure to check the dough every once in a while because how fast it will rise depends a lot on the temperature and also texture of the dough. The dough is ready when it has doubled in size.

Make sure to preheat the oven to 175°C before the rising time is up. Grease two loaf tins with butter and divide the dough into two parts. Distribute it equally between the tins and smooth out with wet hands. You can then add hemp seeds on top of the breads if you like. Bake them on the lowest rack for 2 hours. Spray a bit of water into the oven or keep a little bowl with water underneath the breads to keep them moist. Depending on your oven you might need to cover them with tinfoil after an hour to prevent the top from burning.

For the sticky glaze mix the syrup with the water and brush the breads with it 15 – 30 minutes before they are done. When the time is up, take the breads out of the tins immediately and brush the rest of the syrupy water on them. Then wrap each in parchment paper and wrap firmly with two towels. Let them  cool down like this completely or best overnight so they are well rested in the morning. Now it is time to taste your bread! Enjoy!


Saaristolaisleipä - A traditional Finnish Bread

Saaristolaisleipä - A traditional Finnish Bread

Saaristolaisleipä - A traditional Finnish Bread


Mock Chicken Nuggets

2women2cats: Mock Chicken Nuggets

I love to make dips but sometimes I want something a bit more substantial than vegetable sticks with them – plus once in a while I am craving for fast food! This was the perfect time to figure out how to make mock chicken nuggets. Actually I don’t think this dish can be called fast food since it certainly takes longer to make than to order from your local fast food restaurant and at least you know what is inside if you make it yourself. For Tiia as a pescetarian it can also be difficult to find anything nice to eat there, so we don’t really go at all.

For the recipe I bought dried soy strips which are quite small but they come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Just pick the ones that are most convenient for you. Soy is really versatile and you can season it however you want. You can make steaks or marinate it for stews and curries. The dried soy is really hard and needs to soak for a while before it can be used. Afterwards it can be seasoned and in this case coated in breadcrumbs and fried. The recipe I used is from the German blog Die Umsteiger who make great cooking tutorial videos for people who want to switch to a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle.


1-1 1/2 cups dried soya chunks
2 tsp salt
2 tsp chicken seasoning
1 tsp yeast extract
1 tbsp soy sauce
2-3 tbsp flour of your choice
bread crumbs

First you have to soak the soy. In a small pot bring 500 ml of water, the salt, chicken spice, yeast extract and the soy pieces to a boil and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. The longer the better, so you can already prepare the soy in the morning. When it has soaked enough, remove the soy (don’t pour away the liquid) and squeeze the water out as much as you can. In the original video that is done between two wooden cutting boards which works quite well. If the soy is cold already you can also use your hands.

2women2cats: Mock Chicken Nuggets

Take two deep plates and fill one up with bread crumbs and the other with the remaining liquid from soaking the soy. Add the soy sauce and a bit more salt or chicken spice if you feel it’s not spicy enough. Don’t worry about the amounts. The mixture needs to be quite overspiced to give the right amount of flavour to the mock chicken. Now whisk in the flour until it becomes thick enough to coat the soy with.

2women2cats: Mock Chicken Nuggets

Start dipping the strips or nuggets into the seasoning and coat them with bread crumbs afterwards.

2women2cats: Mock Chicken Nuggets

Fry the mock chicken in a hot pan with a bit of oil until they are lightly brown and nice and crispy. Enjoy them with your favourite dip!


2women2cats: Mock Chicken Nuggets

Pulled BBQ Seitan – The Best Summer Burger

For a few years now I have experimenting with making seitan. I have to admit that before I met Tiia I didn’t even know what it was but I was intrigued right away. Seitan is made from wheat gluten and then steamed, cooked or baked. I always buy seitan flour online or at the supermarket.

I have tried a few recipes but they were always a bit too bland or the amounts just weren’t working out perfectly. So here is what I have come up with over time. The first recipe is for a basic seitan loaf. That can be used to make the pulled seitan burger (scroll further down for the recipe) or, after baked, just be eaten by itself, on bread or as a steak. If you want to make the burger buns yourself you will find our recipe for those here.

Basic Seitan:


1 cup kidney beans (cooked)
4 sage leaves
3 tsp roasted onion
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil

2 tsp smoked paprika
3 tsp paprika
3 tsp freshly ground pepper
3 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp yeast extract
1 1/4 cups water
2 3/4 cups seitan flour

First heat up some water in a steam kettle. If you don’t have one you can just use a big pot and put a colander in it to steam the seitan.

In a food processor blend together the beans, sage, garlic, onion and olive oil until everything is really smooth.

2women2cats: Pulled BBQ Seitan Burger

Add the rest of the spices, mix well and add the water and seitan flour. Depending on the type of gluten you’re using you might have to add more water. The dough is right when everything sticks together nicely.

2women2cats: Pulled BBQ Seitan Burger

Form a loaf and wrap it in aluminium foil.

2women2cats: Pulled BBQ Seitan Burger

Make sure it’s packed tightly and nothing can come out of the sides. When the water is ready, steam the seitan for 60 minutes. Turn it around once after 30 minutes.

2women2cats: Pulled BBQ Seitan Burger

Now it depends on what you want to do with your seitan. If you want to use it as pulled seitan for burgers or sandwiches, steaming it should be enough since it will get fried later. If you want to eat your seitan thinly sliced on bread or as a steak for lunch it should go into the oven after it has steamed for an hour. In this case heat up the oven to 175°C and let the seitan bake in the aluminium foil for another 60 minutes.

2women2cats: Pulled BBQ Seitan Burger
The seitan loaf after steaming and baking

I also like to use this recipe for other occasions like Christmas and fill the seitan with pesto and crushed nuts!

If you now want to make pulled seitan continue with the following recipe.

Pulled BBQ Seitan:


1 loaf (or less) of the ready steamed seitan
1 small onion
3 cloves pressed garlic
1 tsp olive oil

For the sauce:

1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 apple vinegar
1/3 cup muscovado (or brown) sugar
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp paprika
3/4 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp Worcester sauce
3 tsp freshly ground pepper

In a bowl mix together all the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.

Pull the seitan apart with a fork and fry it in a pan with the oil until it gets a crust.

2women2cats: Pulled BBQ Seitan Burger

2women2cats: Pulled BBQ Seitan Burger

Add the onions and the garlic only after 8 minutes or so since the seitan will take a while to fry and you don’t want to burn them. When the seitan looks done and the onion is glossy turn the stove to medium-low heat and add the bbq sauce. Let it simmer for a while until most of the liquid is gone.

2women2cats: Pulled BBQ Seitan Burger

The bbq seitan will be soft and moist. If you like it to be a bit more firm you can also just bake the loaf in the oven after steaming, like written above in the basic recipe. Afterwards you can cut the loaf into desired pieces for the burgers and start the bbq recipe with frying the onion and garlic instead of the seitan. Add the seitan together with the bbq sauce since it doesn’t need to be fried anymore.

Serve with freshly made burger buns (recipe here) or on sandwiches. We ate our burgers with fresh rucola, avocado and mint. It made a great combination!



2women2cats: Pulled BBQ Seitan Burger

World’s Best Hamburger Buns

Ever since I ate an amazing burger at Streat Helsinki Eats, I have wanted to make some proper hamburger buns. The ones you can buy at grocery stores usually tend to be absolutely disgusting, and it is always a shame to ruin a good hamburger with buns that taste like a mix of cardboard and spit. I guarantee that after you’ve tried these you won’t be buying those ever again.

2women2cats: World's Best Hamburger Buns

The recipe is originally from Heléne Johansson’s book called Leipä (Bröd från Brunkebergs Bageri), and I got it from the blog Pumpkin Jam. The recipe is actually  for hot dogs, but they work as well as hamburger buns.

My goal was to make the buns more interesting taste wise and a lot more funky looking. The spices are an oompf but not in a hot way. If you want plain ones, you can just leave them out (but keep the salt).

Burger buns with an Oriental twist (10-12 buns)

2 1/2 dl milk or vegetarian “milk”
37 g fresh yeast
375 g plain white flour
25 g butter or vegan margarine (room temperature)
10 g sea salt
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp turmeric
1/2 tbsp curry

Dissolve the yeast in lukewarm milk. Pour the mixture in a kneading machine, add the spices and the butter. Add the flour a third at a time. Knead it for 10 minutes or double the time if you’re doing it by hand. Let the dough rest for half an hour.

2women2cats: World's Best Hamburger Buns

Cut the dough into 10-12 pieces (depending how big you want the buns – mine were quite small). Roll them into buns, put them on a tray lined with parchment paper and let them rise for 1½ hour or until they have doubled in size.

2women2cats: World's Best Hamburger Buns

2women2cats: World's Best Hamburger Buns

Preheat the oven to 225 °C. When the oven is hot, bake the buns for around 10 minutes. If you’re not eating all of them on the same day, you can freeze the rest once they’ve cooled down.

If you want extra awesomeness, enjoy your hamburgers with some pulled seitan! Click here for our recipe.

2women2cats: World's Best Hamburger Buns


The Most Awesome Nettle Pesto

Last year Tiia had brought home a small bag of nettles and we decided to make pesto out of them. I have to say that I was a bit apprehensive at first since eating something that stings didn’t seem that appealing to me, but with some prep work nettles can be used in a lot of different dishes. The jar we had was gone in a week because it was so delicious! So this year I wanted to make a bigger batch.

If you want to pick some nettles take some thick rubber gloves with you, a pair of scissors and a plastic bag or basket. The best time to pick them is in spring when the plants are still small. If you go in the summertime and the nettles have grown more, just cut the upper 5-10 cm off. Shake them a bit to get rid of bugs. It doesn’t matter if the leaves a bit dirty, the nettles will be washed and boiled later.


Depending on where you live you might come across the plant below. The white deadnettle (germ. weiße Taubnessel, finn. valkopeippi) looks similar to common nettles but doesn’t sting and despite the looks and name isn’t related to nettles.  I heard they can also be used in salads or cooked but I don’t have any personal experience with them and they aren’t used in this recipe.


If you have picked a sufficient amount of the nettles you should wash them at home immediately with lots of cold water. I washed them four times to make sure all dirt and bugs were gone.


Bring some water to boil at the same time and boil batch after batch for a few minutes before letting the excess water drip out in a big colander. After they’ve cooled down you can use a salad spinner to get rid of the remaining water.

Don’t pour away the water you boiled the nettles in! Cooled down it will make a great fertilizer for your plants.



Now the nettles are ready to be made into pesto. You can experiment with how much oil and parmesan you like. I found the pesto quite delicious when it’s not dripping with oil and doesn’t have too much parmesan. I picked around a kilo of nettles and it made a bit less than 2 l of pesto. Some will be stored in jars in the fridge or given away as a gift. I also froze a bit of the pesto for later.

Here is the recipe for a smaller amount:


250 g nettles (weigh the pre-washed nettles)
25 g parmesan (or nutritional yeast if you want a vegan pesto)
20 g sunflower seeds (or cashews)
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves depending on size
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Roast the sunflower seeds in a pan without oil until they are lightly coloured and grate the parmesan. Blend the nettles with the garlic and the seeds in a food processor by pouring in olive oil carefully. When everything is really smooth, add the cheese (or yeast flakes) and some salt and pepper. Taste the pesto and add more spices, garlic or oil if needed. If you want a vegan pesto but don’t want to use nutritional yeast I recommend using cashews in the recipe (increase the amount). They give a cheesier flavour to the pesto.



Store the pesto in jars in the fridge. Make sure it’s always covered with a bit of olive oil to keep it from getting mouldy and always use a clean spoon or knife. This way it will be kept fresh for several weeks. Enjoy with pasta, as a dip or on bread!