The 26-metre-high Pyynikki Observation Tower, built in 1929 from red granite, is located on top of Finland’s highest gravel ridge, Pyynikinharju, and offers a spectacular view of Tampere.
Downstairs there is a café that has become famous for its doughnuts, baked on the spot using a secret recipe. The café is open for business all year round, every single day.
The secret donut recipe of Tampere’s Pyynikki Observation Tower got its start in the 1980s. As a baker of the famous sweet snacks, Jutta Hildén knows the mystery behind their success.
“Of course I can’t reveal the recipe. It is a secret, as all Tampere residents are well aware,” says Hildén.
“The doughnuts first rise in the warm oven, then we poke a hole in the centre with our thumb before we deep-fry them - no moulds, just a finger. Then they are fried in 170-degree oil until they are a nice golden brown,” she explains.
Lines out the door
The Tower’s café starting selling gluten-free sugar doughnuts last autumn, but their standard doughnut continues to be their biggest seller. A line of customers runs out the door almost every day.
“There’s no formula for the lines. Some days it rains in sheets all day and there is still a line out the door. On sunny days, holidays and at summer’s peak, the line extends all the way out to the parking lot,” says Hildén.
Locals are naturally regular customers, but the doughnut’s reputation has spread so far that many foreign tourists also make it a stop on their sightseeing route.
“Tourists are very interested and they take lots of photos. I think doughnuts are of interest the world over. Our local delicacy is pretty well-known. Then there are those that have competitions - who can eat the most in one sitting,” says Hildén.
Even Turku residents, traditionally Tampere’s good-natured adversaries, have to admit that the doughnuts are world-class. Some even drive to Tampere just to satisfy their craving.
“One woman told me at the check-out that she had come all the way from Turku to buy doughnuts. Tampere was quite a detour, but she just had to stop and bring some home,” says Hildén.