Finnish Pins

Today I’m making my dad’s favorite cookie, Finnish Pins. This buttery cookie dough is similar to shortbread, but has an almond flavor and is topped with chopped almonds and pearl sugar.

If you’ve never had pearl sugar before, I strongly recommend you give it a try. It’s quite popular in Scandanavian baking and will add another level of texture to your everyday baked goods. I like pearl sugar because it doesn’t dissolve quickly when exposed to heat or moisture. You get a sweet, crunchy texture when you top these cookies with pearl sugar.

If you don’t live near Ikea or other specialty food stores, you may have to look online. Your local supermarket probably doesn’t carry this sugar. The star of the Finnish Pins is the pearl sugar, so plan ahead for this one. You can use festive sprinkles in a pinch, but you won’t get the same result.

This dough is rolled out into a log shape, cut into pieces then coated with a beaten egg. The egg coating serves a dual purpose. First, it helps the pearl sugar and chopped almonds stick to the cookie. Second, it makes your cookies perfectly golden brown during the baking process.

Butter Late Than Never

My mom and mormor used margarine in this recipe and they turned out just fine, but I prefer butter. If I’m going to splurge on baked goods, I want it to be better than just fine. Besides, you just don’t get the same texture from margarine as you do butter.

The butter needs to be fairly soft to be able to work the dough. But the butter also needs to be cold to obtain the maximum amount of crumbliness during baking. So, once you have all of your Finnish Pins dough rolled out and your pieces formed and topped, stick the tray of cookies in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes before baking.

This recipe makes about 200 cookies, so it takes a while to make them. I like to roll out all the dough, form the shapes, then freeze the dough pieces in batches of 50. This way you can just bake a tray of cookies whenever you want them without having to do all the work each time.

If you choose to freeze the dough, save the egg coating and topping for when you’re ready to bake the cookies. The pearl sugar is a sturdy sugar, but will hold up better if you wait to do the topping until the cookies are ready to go in the oven. Also, be sure to wrap the cookie pieces in parchment or wax paper before sealing in a freezer storage bag.

Finnish Pins

A buttery cookie topped with pearl sugar and almond.

Course Cookies
Keyword butter
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 200
Author Lisa York

Ingredients

For The Cookie Dough

  • 4 cups flour divided
  • 2 cups butter room temparature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp almond extract

For The Topping

  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup pearl sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds

Instructions

For The Cookie Dough

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F

  2. Beat the butter, sugar and almond extract until well blended. Gradually add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is thick and somewhat tacky. (Reserve at least 1/2 cup flour for sprinkling on your work surface. The tackiness will be gone after rolling out the dough in the flour)

    Finnish Pins dough
  3. Lightly sprinkle a few pinches of flour over your work surface. 

    Finnish Pins floured work surface
  4. Using about 1/4 cup of the dough, form a ball. 

    Finnish Pins roll piece of dough into a ball
  5. Roll the ball of dough into a log shape. Carefully spread the length of the log as you go along until the log is roughly 12 inches long. 

    Finnish Pins roll dough into a log
  6. Cut the long log into pieces approximately 1 1/2 – 2 inches long. 

    Finnish Pins cut log into pieces
  7. Place each piece on a baking sheet lined with parchment. These cookies do not spread out to much, so you can fit a lot of cookies on one sheet.  

    Finnish Pins place small logs on baking tray

For The Topping

  1. Chop the almonds into very small pieces. I used almond slices because they are easier to make a finer chop.

    Finnish Pins chopped almonds
  2. Mix the chopped almonds and pearl sugar. 

    Finnish Pins pearl sugar and almonds
  3. Beat the egg. Using a pastry brush, dab the tops of each cookie with a coating of the egg. 

    Finnish Pins brush dough with egg
  4. Sprinkle the pearl sugar and almond mixture over the cookies. (If your dough is warm and very soft, refrigerate the dough for 15-20 minutes, You’ll get a crumbly, dense texture. 

    Finnish Pins sprinkle topping
  5. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are golden brown.

    Finnish Pins

Do you have a favorite ingredient that is not easy to find so you have to plan ahead for? Tell me about it in the comments below. Also, please follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest by clicking on the link provided.

Colomba di Pasqua Italian Easter Cake

This is the first of a segment I call “Recipes with Friends”. The idea is that one of my wonderful friends who are also wonderful cooks or bakers will share a recipe with us and write a little bit about the recipe. Well, one particularly wonderful friend is an online penpal, named Max. He is from Italy and we’ve been online friends for 9 or 10 years. Max is a self-proclaimed-not-so-good-cook, although I think he is probably a better cook than he gives himself credit. So, I’m letting him off the hook and didn’t ask him to bake this delicious Colomba di Pasqua Italian Easter Cake, but I will give him credit for the idea.

Max has encourage me to start this blog to share my recipes, he’s given me advice and shared his opinion on many topics, so I found it fitting that the first “Recipes with Friends” includes something about him. Max and I share a fondness of nice shoes. I don’t have many opportunities to wear them these days, but Max likes to tease me and send me pictures of all the beautiful shoes he would buy for me if I lived in Italy. I must say, he has exquisite taste in shoes and is very fashionable.

We’ve talked about recipes and different food stuffs over the years. I’ve shared recipes and pictures of my creations with him. He has even shared some with me. This recipe is not one of them, however. When chatting of Easter plans he told me of this Easter cake he bought to take to his mother for the holiday. I’d never heard of it, so naturally, I looked it up. This was mere hours ago and I was quite intrigued. Usually when I want to experiment with a new recipe, I scour through the many recipes I have saved, look online and through my favorite cookbooks. I look for something that stands out as different then compile a list of ingredients. Next, I decide how large of a recipe I want to make and figure out how much of everything I will need. I try the recipe and make adjustments that suit my tastes. Sometimes it’s a hit. Other times I need to start over and create something from scratch. I looked at a few recipes for this cake, but chose to try the first one I came across that had an English translation (www.academiabarilla.com). It was nice to have the translation, but the measurements were still in weight, so I hope my conversions are right or, at least, close. This is one of those times I wish I had a scale. Anyway, it’s baking in the oven as I write this and it smells heavenly.

While the bread is baking, I’m reading some articles about the Colomba, which is the counterpart to the Christmas Panettone and Pandoro. Colomba is Italian for Dove by the way. Colomba di Pasqua translates to Easter Dove. This bread is supposed to be formed into a dove-shaped mold, unfortunately, I do not have one of those either, so I shaped it by hand. We’ll see what it looks like when it’s done baking.

Colomba baked
Colomba after baking

That doesn’t look anything like a dove. Well, maybe if you squint and tilt your head. Well, maybe not. But, it’s not bad for a spur of the moment, first attempt challenge. I just sampled a piece and it’s really very good. In the short amount of time that I’ve had to research this recipe, I have found that a traditional Colomba di Pasqua uses natural yeast and has an average rising time of 30 hours. Wow! 30 hours. I didn’t start this recipe early enough for that. I used a rapid rising instant yeast and the standard rising time of allowing for the dough to double in size before the next step. Maybe I’ll plan ahead next time and try the natural yeast instead.

Colomba di Pasqua

A quicker version of the traditional Italian Easter cake.

Course Bread
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Inactive time 2 hours
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 1 loaf
Author Lisa

Ingredients

  • 3 1/3 cups flour
  • 9 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 packets rapid rise instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp warm water
  • 5 oz mixed candied fruit (I used raisins and candied pineapple)
  • almonds and pearl sugar for sprinkling on top
  • 1 pinch salt

Instructions

  1. Dissolve the yeast in a 1/2 cup warm water and gradually add 1 1/2 cups of flour. Set aside in a warm place and allow to rise to double the size (approximately one hour). This is the starter dough.

    Colomba ingredients
  2. In a separate bowl add the remaining flour, 3 well beaten eggs, sugar, salt and melted butter. Add this mixture to the starter dough and knead until incorporated. Set aside in warm place, cover with a towel, and allow dough to rise until it doubles in size again (approximately one hour).
    Colomba dough
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  4. Sprinkle flour over the raisins and candied pineapple and shake off the flour. This removes the stickiness from the fruit and will make it easier to fold into your dough.

  5. Beat the remaining egg with 1 tbsp of water to coat the top of the dough.

  6. When the dough has doubled in size, fold in the fruit. Be careful not to over knead the dough. Using a dove-shaped bread mold, shape the dough (or make a rough shape by hand if you don't have a mold) and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Using a pastry brush, coat the top and sides of the loaf. Sprinkle the almonds and pearl sugar on top of the loaf.

  7. Bake the loaf for approximately 30 minutes.

  8. When the loaf is done baking, allow to cool to room temperature before enjoying.

    Colomba baked

Have you ever had Colomba di Pasqua before? Have you tried this recipe? Please comment below and let me know how this compares. Look for updates in the future as I’ll be experimenting with this recipe again.