I am jumping out of my seat with excitement over this tart! I first heard about mustikkapiirakka, which in Finnish means “blueberry pie”, in the Finnish class I took about five years ago. (I’m sure you can imagine, the week we spent discussing food terms was memorable!) It’s a typical not-to-sweet Finnish dessert, common in the summer when berries are plentiful. There is no recipe for it in my copy of The Finnish Cookbook, though I do see a recipe for savory cheese pie (juustopiirakka) I was tempted to adapt. In the end, I wasn’t sure about adapting savory to sweet, so I turned to Google; I found this recipe and worked on converting the ingredients to American measurements. The result is my Finnish blueberry cream tart, my favorite dessert of the summer, something I will be making for years to come. The Finnish name is a mouthful, but the ingredients are familiar and the method is straightforward. Finnish blueberry cream tart is a little bit of shortbread, a touch of blueberry pie, a hint of cheesecake, and completely delicious.
I am guessing mustikkapiirakka might be a new one for many of my readers, so let me explain it layer by layer. The reason I am calling it a tart instead of pie is the base, which is not a pie crust like you might expect in a traditional blueberry pie. It’s more of a shortbread, pressed into a tart pan to form a buttery, flaky, sturdy foundation for the filling. Now, let’s talk filling. First come the blueberries. Fresh, sweet, plump– but just a cup and a half will do. I learned the hard way about overfilling this crust; it’s not necessary, and it made a mess! 1 1/2 c. of blueberries should fit in your base layer in one even layer, with a bit of room left for the creamy filling. For the filling, I use creme fraiche; more of a specialty item, for sure, I enjoy using creme fraiche for baking projects with berries and summer fruit, especially those that call for sour cream or yogurt. It seems to sit right between those two: a bit creamier than yogurt, not as tangy as sour cream. Any of the three will work; substitute an equal amount of full-fat sour cream, or plain full-fat Greek yogurt, and you’re good to go. The finished tart is a little like cheesecake, though not as rich; sweet and pretty-purple from the berries; with a crisp, buttery base and golden brown edges. It’s really wonderful.
If you’ve ever made blueberry pie– you’re covered in flour and working to get that crust rolled out right, crossing your fingers the filling is thickened enough, sweet enough, enough to fill the crust… which you don’t want to be soggy– give three cheers for this tart. If you love cheesecake, as I do, but cringe at the thought of buying and using two pounds of cream cheese, plus sour cream, plus sugar– pump your fist for this blueberry cream tart! The Finns sure knew what they were doing when they put this combination together, and it’s time for it to catch on here. I’ll lead that charge; who’s with me?
Finnish Blueberry Cream Tart (Mustikkapiirakka)
For the crust:
- 12 T. unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 c. + 2 T. sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 c. flour (7 oz. weighed)
- 1 tsp. baking powder
For the filling:
- 1 1/2 c. fresh blueberries
- 1 c. creme fraiche, plain Greek yogurt or sour cream (8 oz.)
- 1 large egg
- 4 T. sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil or spray a 10″ tart pan like this one. I am sure you could successfully use a 9″ pie plate, too, though I haven’t tried.
Make the crust: cream together the butter and 1/2 c. + 2 T. sugar until fluffy and light yellow. Mix in the egg, then stir in the flour and baking powder just until mixed. Turn the dough, which should be malleable, but mostly in a ball, into your greased pan and use your hands to push it into an even layer across the bottom and up the sides of the pan. It will look like it is filling the pan, and that’s okay; the berries and filling take up relatively little room. Bake the (empty) crust for 10 mins. and remove to the counter to cool slightly.
While your crust bakes, whisk together the creme fraiche, egg, 4 T. sugar, vanilla and salt. The filling will be a very thin, pourable consistency.
Spread the blueberries evenly across the par-baked crust. Carefully pour the creme fraiche filling over and around the berries until the crust is filled evenly. Carefully return to the oven and bake for 30-35 mins. until the edges are golden brown and the filling around the edges is set. When you jiggle the pan slightly, you should see only a slight movement of filling in the center, not waves of uncooked liquid.
Remove from the oven and cool at room temperature for at least 40 mins. Serve warm or at room temperature, with ice cream or whipped cream if you like, maybe with a few extra berries on top. The tart will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.