Finnish Sunday Rolls

Things have really been heating up here in Aroostook County. Temperature-wise? Sure, I guess. But I’m thinking more about how wonderfully busy I’ve become. After a year spent seeking work, I finally found it, and that has ushered in a whole set of beautiful conundrums in recent months.

Like, do I want to buy a toolbox or a back rack for my beautiful new pickup now, or wait until later? How many new pieces of outerwear can I purchase before my boyfriend notices our bank accounts are falling swiftly? And why have I developed a strange fascination with collecting the feet of deceased animals I find in the woods?

If you can’t guess, I’m a forester. I spend my days about as far from paved roads as you can get in Maine, and life is good. My work keeps me busy, yes. But some weekends, I just need to remember to take it easy, to put down that partidge claw or rabbit foot down, and enjoy a nice big mug of tea, and a delightful baked good.

Enter Finnish Sunday Rolls, or Sunnuntaipyärykät. These come from one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, Beatrice Ojakangas’ The Great Scandinavian Baking Book. They are a sweetened (but not overtly sweet) yeasted roll, topped with slivered almonds and pearl sugar. They work well as a breakfast addition, served with sausage or bacon and eggs; they also excel on their own at snacktime, pairing nicely with both coffee and tea.

While the dough contains yeast, it is easy to work with, and requires relatively little rise time. Give these a go over the weekend – I am sure they will be a hit.

Finnish Sunday Rolls (Sunnuntaipyärykät)
Recipe from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book

Makes 3 dozen

You will need:

1 package active dry yeast
1/4 c. warm water
1 pinch sugar
1 c. milk scalded, then cooled
1 c. sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
5 1/2 to 6 c. all-purpose flour

1 egg, beaten
1/2 c. slivered or sliced almonds
Pearl sugar


In a large bowl, dissolve yeast into warm water, add pinch of sugar. Let stand for five minutes until frothy. Add the milk (cooled to lukewarm), cup of sugar, salt and eggs; mix until combined. Add the butter and 2 cups of flour, mixing to combine. Add remaining flour, mixing well until the dough will absorb no more. Cover, let rest 15 minutes.

Turn dough out of bowl onto a lightly floured countertop or wooden board. Knead, adding small amounts of flour if needed, until the dough is smooth and shiny – this will take roughly ten minutes. Wash out the mixing bowl if flaked with dried dough, grease with oil or shortening, and return dough to bowl. Rotate dough in bowl so that all surfaces are coated. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, approximately one hour.

Turn dough out onto a countertop, and cut into 36 equal pieces. Using both hands, round off each piece into a ball. Using baking stones or professional grade baking sheets lined with parchment paper, place rolls onto baking sheet smooth side up. Flatten each roll slighty. Let rise until puffy.

Preheat oven to 400F. Brush rolls with beaten egg wash, then sprinkle with pearl sugar and almonds. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until golden – – watch the bottoms of the rolls to ensure they don’t burn, especially if using thinner baking sheets. Remove from oven when fully cooked, and cool on racks. Serve warm.