May 1st is a day of the May Day movement, which seeks to improve the rights of workers. In Finland, this day is called Vappu, and it’s customary to eat a special fried pastry called Munkki. Munkki is a donut-like fried bread that is especially popular on this day. In this article, I will introduce you to Munkki.
What is Munkki?
On May 1st every year, gatherings called “May Day” are held worldwide, and movements advocating for workers’ rights are initiated. In Finland, May 1st is designated as a holiday called Vappu.
Although globally it is a day for workers, in Finland, it also has the significance of celebrating the arrival of spring. Consequently, during Finland’s Vappu, citizens usually hold parties with food and drinks in the warm sunlight.
During Vappu in Finland, it is traditional to eat Munkki, a donut-like fried pastry. Munkki is a high-calorie sweet made from a dough consisting of flour, eggs, milk, and spices, which is then fermented and fried crispy in oil. Munkki is a popular pastry in Finland all year round, but its consumption increases particularly on Vappu.
Features of Munkki Recipe
Munkki is a type of fermented pastry, characterized by its soft and fluffy texture compared to ordinary donuts. The recipe involves kneading a dough made from all-purpose flour, butter, eggs, milk, and spices, then letting it ferment for a while using dry yeast.
One notable difference from Japanese donut-making is the use of cardamom as an ingredient. Using cardamom as a spice in pastry-making is common in Nordic countries.
Cardamom, known as the “queen of spices,” has an elegant and refreshing scent that tickles the nostrils. This scent goes well with the crispy, fried Munkki, and adding a small amount of coarsely ground cardamom using a mill is the key to making it delicious.
After allowing the dough to ferment sufficiently, shape it into palm-sized pieces. Munkki comes in various shapes, such as the classic donut with a hole or a round ball shape. Finally, fry the shaped dough until crispy in oil and sprinkle granulated sugar on the surface to finish. Munkki is often introduced as a Finnish-style donut, but because the dough is fermented like bread, it is actually a pastry that lies somewhere between a donut and fried bread.
Sima, the Traditional Beverage Served with Munkki
On Vappu, it is customary to drink a carbonated beverage called Sima along with Munkki. Sima is a mildly carbonated drink made from water, lemon, sugar, and dry yeast. The fermentation process produces carbon dioxide and a trace amount of alcohol, giving it a unique taste. Sima has its origins in honey wine, which was introduced to Finland from Germany and Latvia in the 16th century. Today, sugar is commonly used in place of honey in Finland.
Until the 18th century, Sima was an expensive beverage consumed by a select group of nobles. However, from the 19th century onward, the price of the ingredients decreased, making it an affordable drink for the working class. Due to this history, Sima has become an indispensable drink for Vappu, which is also a day for workers, and is enjoyed together with Munkki.
On May 1st, the May Day holiday, the traditional Finnish pastry Munkki is enjoyed. With its crispy, fried surface and soft, chewy texture, this Finnish-style donut has become widely popular as a delicious treat.