May 01, 2011

Walpurgis night doughnuts

Had you been in Finland last night, you would have seen a lot of cheery people out and about wearing rather silly looking sailor-like caps, most dressed in overalls or colourful outfits. The reason for all this cheeriness was Walpurgis night (vappu, in Finnish), which is the biggest spring festival in Finland, and many of those celebrating were university students wearing their high school graduation caps and university overalls.

This festival brings people outdoors and today - first of May - you would see many Finns enjoying picnics in the parks and outdoor areas. There are also the Socialist traditions connected to this day - you may see some political agitations held, but overall today is about celebrating spring and the summer months to come.

Since vappu is a carnival, the food served is also quite festive. Sima, a home-made non-alcoholic mead is enjoyed with typical vappu doughnuts and funnel cakes. At the first of May picnic you could be served open herring sandwiches, potato salad and other savoury dishes flushed down with sparkling wine or cider.

Vappu used to be the only time of the year my mum would make doughnuts. She disliked deep frying and this was the only occasion she would agree to make such unhealthy treats. These doughnuts are typically made with a similar dough to Finnish cinnamon rolls and then deep-fried until golden brown. I've tweaked the traditional recipe making them gluten- and dairy-free and using coconut oil instead of butter. I've also opted for a healthier baked version and I am very pleased with the outcome. These vappu doughnuts take me right back to spring in Finland!

Walpurgis night doughnuts
(makes 15 small)

210g gluten-free plain flour*
35g natural brown sugar
1,5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
pinch of salt
150ml water
1 large free-range egg
2 tablespoons extra-virgin coconut oil, melted
natural raw vanilla sugar, for coating

* I used Orgran brand plain flour that is a mix of maize starch, tapioca flour and rice flour.

1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line a roasting tray with baking paper.

2. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, cardamom and salt in a bowl.

3. Stir in the water, egg and coconut oil (can substitute with vegetable oil or melted butter). Stir to make a smooth but sticky dough.

4. Using your hands, roll the dough into 15 small balls and coat each ball with vanilla sugar. Place the balls on a roasting tray and bake for  15-20 minutes. Serve warm.