Ässä Vekarapäät – Grandma's traditional Finnish Cinnamon Biscuits

21:50

These little biscuits are very traditional in Finland. In my childhood they would grace the coffee table at any Finnish christening, birthday and funeral. Today I’m sure in many homes they still make an appearance at Christmas, but otherwise they may be a bit out of fashion. I am quite out of touch with what is in and out in Finland, but I imagine it’s all macarons and choux pastry (for a long time watching the cooking programs here I thought it was shoe pastry) and cronuts.

Finnish Cinnamon cookie Ässä Vekarapää

I just remembered I haven’t had these for ages and I’ve never made them before, or maybe I have, but they probably exploded or imploded and I erased the episode from memory. I was a very bad cook for a very long time. With my nowadays much more honed kitchen skills I knew I could do this – it really is a very simple little biscuit and I think that’s the beauty of it. 

These biscuits played a big role in my childhood. Or as big as a biscuit could play, they did not help me with my disastrous cross-country skiing skills or determine my career path, but my maternal grandmother used to make them and they still make me think of her and the times we spent with her and granddad.

She would always have these in a big lidded plastic bucket when we’d go visit for the weekend or summer holidays. First she’d give us rye crispbreads topped with butter and German salami or ham, cheese and cucumber or tomato. There were big trays of them and we kids would eat them with glasses of milk around the kitchen table. Mum and dad and my grandparents would eat theirs with tea or coffee in the dining room. Those were the good old days when children still were made to know their place and weren't led to think the sun rotated around them.

The crispbread was already turning ever so slightly soggy by the time we arrived. I think she started preparing early. But I didn’t mind, I thought they tasted fantastic and I was always happy to visit her and granddad, although the 3 hour drive was uncomfortable with the 7 of us in the car. When the twins were small we’d put them on the rear window shelf, but when they wouldn’t fit there anymore, one would need to squeeze with the rest of us in the back seat and the other would sit with the non-driving parent in the front. The twins were trained to dug down as soon as someone said Police.

My grandmother didn’t really give a shit about the rest of us, she loved my youngest brother, the golden boy.  But my granddad loved us all and I remember sitting on his lap and he’d sing to me a Finnish traditional song where a boy talks to a girl about a little house he’s going to build on top of a hill and he asks the girl to come and share it with him. If the girl would not come he’d move abroad so he wouldn’t have to see her and he would never return. Then he ends his monologue by saying he knows he’ll never get her and he’ll resign to his faith, live his life alone and will just think of her. As far as Finnish folksongs go this is definitely on the cheerful side. Usually there is also an orphan mallard left alone in the freezing lake unable to find his mother or a hungry house sparrow who’s some little girl’s starving dead little brother from heaven. Obviously not mine because my grandmother would be feeding him biscuits.

I think the official name of the biscuit is Kaneliässät (Cinnamon S), but my Grandmother (I’m just joking - she was a wonderful grandmother and I only have nice memories of her, but she was just a little partial to the effing cherub) used to call them Ässä Vekarapäät. I didn’t find anything by googling the term, so I don’t know if anyone else calls them that. I remember first time husband got these and heard the name he suggested that he might just call them biscuits. 

Today they turned out fantastic, I think my grandmother's biscuits may have been prettier, but these tasted just as good. We ended up dunking them in tea after dinner and got through quite a few. 


S-shaped Cinnamon cookies

Recipe: Ässä Vekarapäät – Finnish Cinnamon S biscuits (makes 40-45)


200g room temperature butter
2 dl sugar
2 eggs
4.5 dl plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
Sugar and cinnamon

Whisk the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and keep whisking. Add the flour and baking powder mixture and mix well. Cool in the fridge for 30 min. Roll into thin 8 cm long strips, about ½ -1 cm thick. Use a bit of flour, otherwise they will stick. Mix some cinnamon and sugar on a plate and roll the strips in the mixture then place onto a baking sheet forming the letter S. Bake in 175C for 10-15 min or until the biscuits start to brown a bit. Let cool for 5 minutes and move to a tray to cool completely.

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