no-dough · pies · traditional Russian recipe

Autumn Colours and Karelia

I’ve come back from my third trip, this time to Petrozavodsk, the capital of the Republic of Karelia. I was supposed to be eating the traditional Karelian kalitka all the time… but the only thing I did manage to try was a tasty rye-wheat bread full of seeds, kefir (of course! but still – Vologda kefir beats them all!) and cowberry mors (traditional sweetened berry juice). I even got excited while making my way to the nearest supermarket, haha, I guess this is the best part of my business trips =) But in the shop there were quite few things Karelian… So when you have no chance eating the traditional food right on the spot, you just go back home and make yourself delicious kalitka with potatoes! (we’ll talk about them later)

The autumn colours – yellow, brown, red, transparent light – are even more distinct when you’re closer to the nature and move further North. Petrozavodsk is not THAT Northern but it’s almost Finland there. There were a few traditional restaurants just opposite the hotel (a very dramatic cardboard-like crimson&white building with columns=) I was staying at, and to one of them I did pay a visit:

It was very nicely decorated, with traditional music playing and lots of you-can-never-pronounce-that names of the dishes. As you know, I don’t eat meat and am even worse with fish… So I ordered some tasty grilled aubergines with smetana =) But I guess for a fish addict that is THE place. Also there were such traditional dishes as oat meal with three kinds of berries, berries with sugar, pea fritters, pies with mushrooms and rye blini with I forgot what. After a very difficult day at work that was a very nice place to relax a bit.

But before giving you the recipe for those kalitka things (which can be stuffed with porridge (especially millet), mushrooms, cheese, tvorog, berries,…), let’s see what I reserved for you quite a long time ago, before my last job trip. Here are some more autumn colours… in food =)

Here’s a sunshine-like Caramelised Onion Tart from which is a kind of quiche-like tart with loads of onion inside. However, the taste is different from a classic quiche, there’s more of the onion flavours in it. This is real comfort food!

My changes were scarce: to the onions, I added herbes de Provence and Italian seasoning and my cheese was far from being Emmental =) As for the pastry, I used the shortcrust pastry recipe also from

The same day I was on the verge of making even more comfort food – some Greek-style lentil soup, thick and flavourful… But when I opened the fridge to get some onions out of it, I saw an entire pot of soup made by my Mom… So instead of lentil soup there were some baked lentils for lunch, an improvised dish (as I already started making preparations for lentil soup…):

So, basically, I just fried up some onions, garlic, coarsely chopped carrots with herbs and soy sauce, meanwhile lentils were boiling in a pot of water. Then I simply combined all the things in a ceramic dish and baked at 190 ‘C along with the onion tart from above.

To add even more autumn colours, here are some realllllly red apples:

it’s a sort we call Paradise apples in Russia – they’re small, red and so sour this year that the only thing you can make with them is to cook some preserves! (more things to do with your apples here)

And now back to kalitka – traditional Karelian rye buns with various fillings. The word kalita means a purse. The rye crops are quite resistant to the cold so you’ll find loads of rye recipes in the North of Russia + Finland, Sweden, etc (see shangi, for example). The nice thing about the kalitka is that you don’t have to prepare leavened dough, there’s even no baking powder there, just flour, salt and dairy. And also for the filling feel free to use your leftovers! Just like I did – we had like a cauldron full of mashed potatoes and could easily fill in all the buns with them, with even more of potatoes left.

A year ago – Τάρτα με κρέμα και ροδάκινο (Tart with Cream and Peaches)

Karelian Kalitka Pies with Potatoes – adapted from the package of rye flour and translated, of course – will make a batch of pretty buns that are so good with smetana!


for the dough:

  • 210 g rye flour + some all-purpose flour for kneading
  • 75 ml sour cream – I used 15% fat smetana
  • 75 ml milk – I used 25% fat dried milk diluted in warm water
  • 1/4 tsp salt

for the filling:

  • 5-6 medium potatoes (or use your leftover mashed potatoes! less work to do=)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • salt to taste – I also added some pre-mixed seasoning
  • 30 ml milk or sour cream – I used milk + prostokvasha

for brushing:

  • 1 egg (use a tiny bit less in the filling and safe it for brushing!)
  • 20-30 g butter – I didn’t use that


First, prepare the filling (if you are making it from scratch): Peel the potatoes, boil them, drain and mash them, adding eggs, butter, milk or sour cream. Leave to cool. (As I was using already made mashed potatoes, still warm, I added less butter, eggs – reserving some for the glaze – and milk combined with prostokvasha + salt & seasoning).

Now, the dough: Sift the flour, add salt and milk which was mixed with sour cream. Knead the dough. If the dough is too sticky (which it will be as you’re using just rye flour!), add a bit of flour (here I suggest using all-purpose). The final dough should be not sticky and elastic. Make a ball out of dough, place it in a plastic bag so that it doesn’t dry out and leave for 20-30 mins.

Roll the dough into a log about 4 cm in diameter. Slice the log into walnut-sized pieces (I had about 9 pieces). Each piece should be then flattened into a thin round – called skanets (a generic word for the rounds of dough which can be later turned into shangifor example). Place 1-2 Tbs of filling into the centre of the rounds. Then lift the edges of the rounds, pinching them at a 1 cm gap, so that you get a sort of tartelette with its borders lifted to the centre of about 1.5 cm height. Thus you’ll have an open rye kalitka pie.

The original recipe suggests greasing a baking sheet but I prefer using parchment paper here. Place your pies on the paper, brush with a beaten egg and add 1/4 tsp of butter in the centre of each pie (which I didn’t do, considering the amount of butter already sufficient). Bake in the preheated to 180-200 ‘C oven (I opted for a temperature closer to 200 ‘C) for 15-25 mins till the filling is nicely browned. After baking, the pies can be brushed (again!) with butter, left to cool a bit and served just a tiny bit warm (we ate them veeery warm=).

Result: Although I forgot to bring the pinched ends to the centre, the pies didn’t fall apart and – which is more important – were a pleasure to eat =) I’m sure they’ll be great with any savoury filling but even with some sweetened cottage cheese or berries it’ll be an interesting combination!

Go on, make something comforting to make yourself comfortable 😉 there’s been this Medieval mist (don’t know why, but I associate mist with the Middle Ages!) covering the city all since the very morning today and one feels a need to get comfy on that misty Sunday… (haha, no sun!)


2 thoughts on “Autumn Colours and Karelia

  1. Аааааа, вкусняшки моего детства! Только у моей северной бабушки из Вологодской деревни они назывались “рогушки”, а может и “рагушки”(в детстве это было не важно…). Тесто – точно такое же, размер был по величине средней сковородки. Выпекались в русской печке, какая же это была ВЕЩЬ!

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