Finnish Korvapuustit Aka "Slap in the Face - Cinnamon Rolls"




Introduction: Finnish Korvapuustit Aka "Slap in the Face - Cinnamon Rolls"

About: I like to divert stuff from its intended use. Most of my crafting is based on re-use and recycling due to my urge to use resources consciously (and my small wallet). As I like to consume ideas rather than prod…

I learned about these violent beauties in Finland when I did my term abroad.
These are basically cinnamon rolls but due to the way they are cut and pressed they blossom out to a more complex shape. Because of their enlarged surface they are crispier on the outside than traditional rolls.
And they look extraordinary pretty.

In Finland they are called Korvapuustit which means in english "box somebody's ears".
I asked about the origin of this name and was told they are called this way because they look like ears. - Well, they somehow resemble an auricle but that doesn't really explain the rowdyish endorsement...
I couldn't find out the full meaning of the name - but maybe a finnish instructables member will unravel the mystery in the comments...

They are made of a simple yeast dough.
If you are not afraid of food additives you could as well use ready made dough. My housemate likes to make them with pre-made croissant dough. I have to confess they taste really nice although you shouldn't call them Korvapuustit - Those are rather Korvapuustit shaped cinnamon croissants...
Nonetheless you can save money and skip unnecessary additives and packaging waste, by making a simple sweet yeast dough as shown in this instructable. If you want to take a shortcut use commercial dough and start with step 5.

Korvapuustit are my favorite bring-along-things for brunch gatherings or coffee parties.
People always like them a lot and I'm often asked how they are made.
They are the nicest when fresh but also very good the next day.

BTW I really enjoyed my time in Finland. It's a wonderful country and the people I met were really nice. I highly recommend visiting Finland and eating Korvapuustit in their natural environment!

Step 1: Ingredients and Tools

500g / 4 cups of flour
250ml / 1cup milk (you can use regular milk or a subtitute like soymilk)
1 egg (you can substitute with 3 tablespoons of (substitute-)milk)
4 tablespoons sugar (this dough isn't overly sweet. If you have a sweet tooth you can add more, but keep in mind there will also be sugar added with the filling.)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (if you don't like cardamom, skip it - if you love cardamom add more)
75 grams (1/3 cup) butter or margarine

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1,5 teaspoons cinnamon

Brush them with eggwash or milk before baking (I forgot about it when I made them and they still came out nice)

Traditionally Korvapuustit are sprinkled with coarse sugar before baking.
You could as well use frosting .
Or nothing (thats what i did).

Step 2:

The recipe will work with every kind of sweet yeast dough. So if you have a favorite recipe you can use it.
If you are a yeast dough novice you can follow my steps. It is a pretty fool proof recipe and I will highlight the crucial points. So don't be scared.

Step by step:

-Take the butter/margarine and let it melt on the stove. You don't want it to cook, just let it melt.
As soon it's melted set it aside and let it cool until you use it. That way it wont be too hot.

- Warm the cup of milk. Just warm it up, don't bring it to a boil. Too high temperatures will kill the yeast

I recommend this high tech temperature detection method:
Wash your hands.
Put one finger into the liquid.
If your finger tells you: "Hej, this would be the right temperature for a hot shower" the yeast will like it as well.
(Don't test the temperature just by touching the outside of your pot, thats not precise enough)

Transfer the warm milk to a bowl.
Add the 4 tablespoons of sugar to the milk.
Add the teaspoon of salt to your milk.
Add the teaspoon of dry yeast to your milk.
Add the egg or 3 tablespoons of milk to your milk.
Add the ground cardamom.
Add the melted (and now to shower temperature cooled down) butter/margarine

Whisk all the liquid ingredients very well together.

- Put the 4 cups of flour into a mixing bowl.
Add the liquid mixture to the flour and mix with a spatula.
As soon everything is combined use your hands to knead the dough.
The texture of the dough will first be rather "fragile" (take a look at the first kneading picture to see wat I'm talking about)
You have to knead it until you can recognize a change in texture (as you can see in the second kneading picture)
This will take about five to ten minutes.

If you own a food processor you can use it (use the kneading hook) for this step as well.

When the dough is ready cover it.
To do so I recommend to put the whole bowl in a plastic bag - this way its well covered and the bowl is perfectly prepared to be used in the incubator, I'll show you in the next step.

Step 3: Incubator

Yeast dough likes it cosy.

To let you dough grow you could just place it in a warm spot in your house and wait till it doubled in size.

If you are in a hurry you can speed up growing time by building a hightech incubator:

Take a hot water bottle and fill it up with hot water.
Place it on a pillow.
Place your wrapped dough bowl on top.
Cover with a tea towel and a towel and/or a blanket.

This provides a perfect environment for your dough. I very much recommend this method especially in wintertimes.

Now you have to wait for the dough to double in size.
This step takes about an hour up to one and a half hour but I very much recommend not to trust your watch but your eyes. Take a look at the dough after an hour, if it's grown to double size you can continue with the next step, if not wait another half an hour and take a look again.
The dough is ready when it doubled in size.
This is important and you shouldn't be impatient at this point.
Trust me. I learned this the hard way...

Step 4:

When your dough doubled in size put it on a floured surface and use a rolling pin to flatten it out.
(If you don't own a rolling pin use a cleaned wine bottle or something similar)

If the dough doesn't want to be rolled out and pulls back because its so elastic just wait a few minutes and let it relax.
After a few minutes it will be much easier to roll it out.

In the meantime you can melt the three tablespoons of butter in a small pan (and then let it cool down again).
And mix the three tablespoons of sugar with one and a half teaspoons of cinnamon. I like to add vanilla to the mixture as well but thats optional.

Roll out your dough to a rectangular shape.
My working surface is 12 to 16 inches / 30 to 40 cm big which determined the size of my rectangle.
But if I had a bigger workspace I would have made it bigger ( I guess about up to 16 to 23 inches / 40 to 60 cm)
(Than bigger your rectangular is then thinner the dough becomes, than more cinnamon sugar can be distributed... hmmm)

Step 5:

Use your fingertips to make some dents into your dough surface, this will help the butter to stay in pace and makes it a little bit less messy.
Distribute the cooled down melted butter with the back of a spoon or a spatula.
sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture on top.
Coil up the dough.

I've cut the roll into two pieces to make it easier to handle them.
I also stretched those pieces a little as you can see in the picture.

Step 6: Magic Cut and Push

Now cut the coil:

If you are American cut it into trapezoid shapes.
If you are British cut it into trapezium shapes.
If you are confused take a look at the pictures.

Turn your trapezoids/trapeziums pieces so the shorter side is on top.

Use a knife handle or the handle of a wooden spoon and pinch the top down.

Continue with all of your coil parts.

Be amazed how easy this is.

The first picture of this step is actually a gif - > If you click on it it should show you the process in a little "movie"...

Step 7:

Transfer your Korvapuustit to a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Now turn on your oven to 220°C / 430°F and wait till the oven reaches the temperature. This gives your rolls time to rise again a little - as soon the oven is on the right temperature put the bakingsheet on the middle rack of your oven.
(I didn't brush the Korvapuustit surfaces with eggwash or milk before baking. But you could.
After brushing you could sprinkle them with coarse sugar. But I hadn't coars sugar...)

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes at 220°C / 430°F.
I recommend to not only trust the watch but take a look at the oven after 15 minutes and check back every five to ten minutes. The size of your Korvapuustit may vary and determines how long they have to bake.

(The Korvapuustit I made when I did this 'ible where rather big (I ended up with 12 pieces. I did this recipe before and made smaller ones and had about 20 pieces.)

Let them cool on a cooling rack. (I like to cover them with a clean tea towel while cooling)

Step 8: Serving Suggestions / Finland in a Ear Conch

For maximum enjoyment I recommend eating Korvapuustit while watching a Movie of Finland's most famous director Aki Kaurismäki. My favorite one is "Shadows in Paradise". -
Or take a look at Jim Jarmusch's "Night On Earth" the last episode of this movie takes place in Helsinki.
Watching these movies may introduce you to the rather dark side of the finnish soul. So I'd like to mention here: The finnish people I met did laugh and smile a lot as well : )

Another superb opportunity to enjoy your fresh made cinnamon auricles is snacking them while waiting for Santa Claus. He recides in Korvatunturi in Northern Finland and will appreciate your baking skills. (Don't trust the rumors about Santa living at the North-pole. Finland is clearly his principal residence, everybody in Finland will confirm this).

Accompany your cinnamon rolls with lots of coffee. Finland has the highest consumption quote of coffee per person in the world. So for an authentic experience drink a lot...

My soundtrack recommendation for preparation as well as consumption are:
- if you like it old school go for finnish tango music, surprisingly there is a huge tango tradition in Finland...
- my favorite finnish Band is Aavikko, surprisingly they are rather unknown outside of Finland...
- Lordi - I consider them an example for finnish humor, surprisingly they are internationally successful...

Kiitos for reading my instructable!

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14 Discussions


6 years ago on Introduction

Thank you Spunk!
I'm originally from Saint-Petersburg, and I usually travel through Helsinki (somehow it's cheaper). I've been there few times by now using Couchsurfing. I have always enjoyed my stay there. In general people there are very reserved with strangers, as oppose to Canadians, but it only makes one appreciate their friendship even more.
I love Finnish food, especially their Lingonberry drinks and ice cream. Would move there just to have it any time.
Thank you for the music suggestion too. Listening to it right now, drinking my second cup of coffee :o)


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

Hej Aschetinia,
I can confirm your observation - most Finnish people tend to be a little shy but as soon you get to know each other they are really sweet : )
The most surprising ice cream I had when I was in Finland was liquorish flavored. It's crazy but delicious!


6 years ago

Just made them! They are great, I left out the spice I didn't have but was still good! I might experiment with more butter or something if I make them again :)


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

Oh I'm so glad you liked them!
I hope you just skipped the cardamom and not the cinnamon...
You might be careful with the butter. I once used a pretty generous amount and ended up with a lake of butter on my baking sheet. The dough wasn't able to hold the overload...
But if you like to experiment you could use ground nuts mixed with sugar or maybe something like nutella? : )


6 years ago on Introduction

They do rather look like a "cauliflower ear"

If one doesn't have a hot water bottle or a heating pad, one can put the dough in their oven with a bowl of boiling water on the rack underneath the dough bowl.

I'm definitely going to make these but it's going to be difficult to find Finnish coffee. I'm not sure that I have ever seen a truly light roast coffee in the US.


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

Thank you for your smart comment!
I've never heard about the cauliflower ear - but this makes perfect sense!

And hey - Only due to your comment I started to research about Finnish coffee and in fact learned that it is roasted in a special way. Thats funny because while I was living in Finland I just thought: "Well I somehow have to be quite generous with the coffee to water ratio to get a decent brew..."
So I guess to fake a Finnish roast you could just brew your coffee more on the watery side...


6 years ago on Introduction

You know you can skip the saltwater and come to the northern shore of the big ice cube to visit finland


6 years ago on Introduction

Just a suggestion but You should probably call them "Korvapuustis" or sonething like that since "Korvapuustit" is a plural of the word "Korvapuusti".


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

I'm not sure if I understand your suggestion.
As far as I know, and as you said Korvapuustit is the Finnish plural form.
Do you suggest using English declension on a Finnish word?

Which language would I speak when I called them "Korvapustis"?

I'm pretty unsure about all this as neither English nor Finnish is my mother tongue...
Could you explain your suggestion?


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

In contradiction to the name it doesn't hurt to eat them ; )


6 years ago

These look absolutely delicious. I'm going to try them immediately after my next visit to the grocery store. My mother is of Finnish heritage, and every once in a while my grandmother brought cinnamon rolls over to our house. She wasn't a very good cook, unfortunately ;-) . I'd bet these were the rolls she was trying to create. Yours look so much better!


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

I'd love to have Finnish ancestors. It's such a beautiful country!