It was the image of a red summer cottage that first caught my attention.  It was set in surroundings so lush and green, it almost looked artificial.  There was an impression of open space, as far as the eye, almost teasing you into the page.  The picture was serene.  Tranquil.   The scene was nested in the archipelago known as Åland.

I remember the article on Åland in that particular travel magazine well before I even knew I would be one day visiting Finland.  That handsome image of the red cottage somehow just stuck with me.

Unfortunately, despite now having traveled to Finland, I still have not had the pleasure of visiting this picturesque area.  But there was a plan.  In Finland, take the ferry from Turku (in Finland’s west) across to Stockholm.  Along the way, stopping at – you guessed it! – Åland.

But the plan was not foolproof.  A fear of my motion sickness, which regrettably is heightened on water, ultimately stood between me and discovering more about this charming area.  (I am still unable to erase the nightmare – for me and all the other passengers – of a rough ferry trip between Koh Samui and Koh Phan Ngan almost 20 years ago!)

Once part of Sweden, Finland now maintains sovereignty over the Åland Islands.  Although this Swedish speaking province is now an independent territory, an autonomous nation, I could not resist including this dessert during ‘Finnish dessert’ month.

{ Åland Pancake } Original recipe by Julia @ Mélanger

This is a traditional dish of Åland.  I have seen recipes including a base of cream of wheat or semolina, as well as rice.  Some including raisins.  Most including cardamom (of course!).  And nearly all suggesting this unconventional pancake, be served with cream and cooked fruit or jam of fruit in season.

This version is my variation on the Åland Pancake.  If you enjoy the baked custardy taste of the Far Breton, the quintessential flan from Brittany, you will love the Åland Pancake.  It is creamy, dense and very smooth  – and just perfect with a dollop of lingonberry jam, a staple in this region of the world.

If you know of the Åland Pancake, I would love to hear about the technique you use.

* Ingredients *
¼ cup short grain rice
2 ½ cups of milk
3 large eggs
¼ cup caster sugar
¾ cup plain flour
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch salt
Lingonberry (or cranberry) jam, to serve

* Directions *
Preheat the oven to 180C or 350F.  Grease an oven proof casserole dish.  In a mixing bowl, whisk together all the ingredients.  Pour the mixture into the prepared dish.  Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serves 4