Thursday, April 1, 2010

Mämmi v. Pasha

A morning television show did a survey of what was preferred in Finland: mämmi or pasha? Surprisingly for me, the mämmi won. I have been told by many people that they don't like mämmi.

Mämmi, the top picture, is an ancient concoction of rye, molasses and orange peel. You can read about it on Wikipedia here but I highlight this sentence from Wikipedia in case you don't want to follow the link:

Originally mämmi was eaten during lent. Its laxative properties were associated with purification and purging.

I have a birch bark looking box of mämmi sitting in the freezer!

Pasha (the lower picture) is a soft sweet cheese you make at home from rahka or quark and cream and fruit. It is part of the Orthodox tradition, but is now popular throughout Finland. People make pasha in special molds. If you don't have a mold you can use a flower pot or a coffee filter.

Here are some recipes for the adventurous cook looking to serve something a little different after church on Sunday:

Mämmi (from this web site)
1 lb. malt
3 lbs. rye flour
molasses to taste
1-2 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. chopped orange rind

Mix the malt and flour. In a large cooking pan (with a heavy bottom if available), heat about 2 quarts of the water and add enough of the flour/malt mix to form a thin mixture (like velli). Sprinkle with a layer of malt and flour. Cover the pan and place in a warm place to sweeten, about one hour. Now mix the sprinkled flour and malt into the mixture. Add more hot water and again a layer of flour and malt. Leave to sweeten. Repeat as often as needed to include all remaining water, flour and malt. With the last addition, season the mämmi to taste with molasses and orange rind. Cook for about 10 mins., stirring constantly. Whip till cooled. Place in low pans (ah, to have those birch bark mämmituokkoset available). Do not fill too full, because mämmi will rise in the oven. Bake in moderate oven for about 1-2 hours. Temperatures that are too low during cooking and baking tend to make the mämmi bitter. Baked mämmi will be cooled quickly and served with cold cream and sugar.

Pasha (from this web site)

3 dl quark (rahka)
200 gr butter (unsalted)
2 dl sugar
2 egg yolks
2 dl cream
1 tsp vanilla sugar
2 tsp grated lemon peel
3 tsp ground almonds
3 tsp chopped raisins
1 packet of mixed peel (leave a few for the decoration)Beat together the sugar and soft butter until light. Whip the cream until it stiffens. Add the quark, egg yolks, vanilla sugar, lemon peel, almonds, raisins, mixed peel and whipped cream to the sugar-butter mixture.

Pour the mixture into a strainer, which is lined with damp gauze. Allow it to strain for an hour or two. Press the mass (still inside the gauze!) tightly into a pasha mould. If you don't have one (pasha mould), you can use a coffee filter. Let the pasha set in the fridge overnight.

Before serving, turn out the pasha, and decorate it with almonds, raisins and mixed peels.
Let me know how you vote: Pasha or Mämmi!

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