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Joulutorttu – Finnish Christmas Jam Tarts

At Christmas time my Mum always makes traditional Finnish Joulutorttu. Joulutorttu are pastry windmill-shaped tarts with a prune jam filling. I remember as a little girl, I would get excited when Mum made these, they have been a long time favourite of mine. The smell of the prune jam bubbling away on the stove still brings back fond memories.
I make the pastry myself using butter and ricotta (not for the faint hearted) however I have seen Joulutorttu made with puff pastry. I personally think the puff pastry tarts look fluffier however the ricotta pastry is nicer in taste, something about the butter and ricotta, just melts in your mouth! These are quite fiddly to make but SO worth it. Of course you don’t have to wait to Christmas to try them. You can also freeze them for a later date if you like, although they don’t last long in the freezer in our household, you’ll understand why when you try them.
500g unsalted butter; cubed, at room temperature
500g light ricotta
500g plain flour
Mix butter and flour together with fingers to form a crumby consistency.  Add ricotta and mix until it all comes together to form dough.  Roll into a ball then flatten into a disc shape and wrap in cling wrap, place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
300g pitted prunes
4 tbs sugar
Water – just enough to cover the prunes in a medium sized saucepan
Soak prunes for 2 hours, rinse, then place into a saucepan. Add water and sugar to the pan. Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer until the prunes have completely softened (about 15-20 minutes). Stir every so often to ensure they do not stick to the pan. Once the prunes are soft and most of the water has been absorbed remove from the heat. If you want a smooth texture you can puree the jam, however I mash mine with a fork as I prefer a chunkier texture.
Divide pastry dough into 3 portions. Roll the first portion out, fold into three (like an envelope) and roll out again into a square shape about 0.5 – 1cm thick. If you roll it too thin the tortut are a bit difficult to handle between the board and the baking tray so lean more towards thicker than thinner.  Use flour sparingly to ensure the pastry dough does not stick to the board. I also found if I sprinkled a bit of flour over the dough after the first roll-out it makes the dough easier to handle.
Cut the pastry into squares about 8x8cm in size (or use a square cutter).  Make diagonal cuts in each corner of every square about halfway to the centre, leaving the middle of the square uncut for the jam. Place a teaspoon of jam into the centre of each square.
To make a windmill shape, lift one corner of a square and fold into the middle on top of the jam. Brush the top of the pastry corner with lightly beaten egg, and fold the next corner on top of the egg. Continue with the last 2 corners. Press firmly in the middle to ensure the corners stick.
Place the pastries onto a baking tray and brush all over with lightly beaten egg. Bake at 225oC for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown and slightly puffed.
Dust with icing sugar when cool, then EAT! Be warned, very addictive.
** Note: you can use ready made jam of any flavour however traditional Joulutortut have homemade prune or apricot jam as the filling.
** Makes approx. 60 pieces. If you want to make a smaller quantity simply halve the recipe.
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  • Marjatta Kefalinos - Well done Pegs, look great and I bet they taste even better! You can also make them into a half moon shape, which is a bit easier than windmill shape which do look more inviting. You have become a “Good cooker”
    Ps. Love your instructions, so graphic.ReplyCancel

  • Peggy - Thanks Mum, that's a compliment coming from you the 'master cooker'! I saw this little pastry cutter online that cuts the windmill shape, must try to find out where I can buy one.

    I added more instructions to what you gave me for those that have never seen them being made. Of course I remember from seeing you make them a gazillion times!

    I've frozen a bag especially for you. :) xxReplyCancel

  • Marjatta Kefalinos - Thanks, can't wait to taste them…I get my own coffee……….xxReplyCancel

  • Toni - They look MOUTH-WATERINGLY good!!!
    I love recipes like this, something a bit different for an afternoon tea.
    And MMMMMM prunes :) I love them.ReplyCancel

  • Teresa - Yum – My mouth is watering. These look delicious! I think I will have to give them a try, although I'm not sure I will be able to create the windmill shape as beautifully as you have done here. Might start with the half moon shape as your mum suggests.

    p.s love the coffee mug!ReplyCancel

  • Peggy - Haha Mum! Touché. I'll point you in the direction of the coffee. :p xxReplyCancel

  • Peggy - Toni they really are scrummy! The pastry melts in your mouth. And prunes mmmmm. I heat them up for a few seconds in the microwave, warm prune jam is just divine! Good for an after dinner treat too, with coffee. Thanks for stopping by. :)ReplyCancel

  • Peggy - Teresa I deliberately didn't take pictures of my very first batch. I rolled the first lot of dough too thin so they were hard to handle and wound up looking crazy! Half moon shaped ones will be just as delicious.

    Unikko is bliss! xoReplyCancel

  • elenareviews - Glad to be your newest follower. I like the recipe, I prefer it for my tea party.ReplyCancel

  • Peggy - Glad you dropped in, thank you. :) These tarts would be PERFECT for a tea party.ReplyCancel

  • Mum on the Run - Mmmmm.
    A delicious work of art!

  • Peggy - They started off quite fiddly Shar but by the end I had pretty much mastered the shape. By golly they are delicious though, SO worth the trouble to make!ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - lovely to see someone make these with the “old-fashioned” recipe – the fluffy ones are terrible. good work.ReplyCancel

  • Peggy - Thank you. I love to stick to the original, traditional recipe if I can. And this pastry is DREAMY! I made a vegetable tart with the same pastry yesterday (with added salt) and it was delicious.

    Thanks for dropping in and for the feedback. :)ReplyCancel

  • Deb @ home life simplified - those look divine!! you are making it very hard for me to stay off sugar ! my mom would love these – will show her the recipe – it is very similar to a jewish recipe we love called humantashen (ignore my sad spelling – it is my attempt at a phonetical way…ReplyCancel

  • Peggy - Oooh you must post the recipe for those Deb, do they also have jam in them? I must google them.

    These were my faves as a kid (along with Finnish Pulla) and I still love them now. Making some on Christmas Eve, can't wait!ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - googled ricotta pastries and this recipe popped up in images. WOW! made half batch to try out and almost ate the lot myself. Used quince paste instead of prunes for filling. Still sensational.ReplyCancel

    • Peggy Saas - Well done, what a great idea to use quince paste. I know what you mean about almost eating the lot yourself, I’ve done that before! I’m glad you enjoyed them, and thanks for leaving me a note.ReplyCancel

  • Traditional Finnish Christmas Fare – Porkkanalaatikko (Carrot bake) - [...] buttery-pastry tarts filled with prune jam. I have posted the recipe earlier, you can find it here. I think next I will try my hand at Rosolli, no Finnish Christmas dinner table would be without it. [...]ReplyCancel

  • Pretty Pies | Rachie Adventures - [...] I got the basic design from a picture I saw, but I did not use the recipe. These have made delicious grab-and-go [...]ReplyCancel

  • Nichole - After watching my mom make these every year for Christmas, I took over that role a few years ago. I like to think I am a pro at making them by now. Unfortunately, my boyfriend, who is from Finland, has never cared much for them. I still make them for myself and my family, anyway. After reading your comment about making a vegetable pastry with this dough, I also thought something like a smoked salmon/cream cheese type filling would be delicious, as well!ReplyCancel

  • Shelley - ONE DAY I WILL try these!!! Could do with one right now……mmmmmmReplyCancel

  • Amy - The cutter to use is a windmill cookie cutter ateco make them. Makes it easier :) love your recipe will try out this Christmas xReplyCancel

  • Kelli - My husband’s Grandma taught me to make these, although there was no real ‘recipe. Hers were called Prune Tarts. I make them every christmas!ReplyCancel

  • Peggy Saas - Oh yes Nichole, I think you’re spot on with the salmon and cream cheese filling for this pastry. Great idea! Maybe I might have to try something like that. It’s a shame your boyfriend doesn’t like these much, but then more for you! It’s great that you have followed your Mum’s tradition and you bake them yourself, what a great thing to carry on.ReplyCancel

  • Peggy Saas - Yes Shelley, YES!ReplyCancel

  • Peggy Saas - Amy I have heard there are actual cutters for this shape but never knew where to find one, you are a genius! Thanks so much for the tip, not having to make all those cuts individually will sure make baking these a lot quicker. Good luck at giving the recipe a try, I am sure you will love them. Let me know how you go!ReplyCancel

  • Peggy Saas - Gorgeous, what a lovely tradition Kelli. I’d say these tarts would be my favourite childhood Christmas memory. My mum weighs and writes down quantities of ingredients for me when I want recipes for the old Finnish dishes. Most of what she bakes is by memory rather than a recipe too. Gotta love those old traditions. :)ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Brooks - Is there a different kind of fruit that can be used for the jam?
    Looks delicious!ReplyCancel

    • Peggy Saas - Sarah you can use whatever jam you like. I have had them with apricot jam too, but I just love the prune jam as it’s how my mother made them when I was a kid. I think if you boiled apricots the same way as the prunes that would work (although I have not tried it). You could also do peaches, YUM!ReplyCancel

  • Judy - Prune tarts are a tradition in my family and & have carried it into my marriage. I have never seen a dough made with ricotta tho. Sounds interesting. I use butter, flour, sugar & milk in mine. Oh, and I also have a “tart cutter” that was made by someone in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.ReplyCancel

  • Celida Bruss - These look veeeery Hungarian kifli cookies also made with prune filling. Or a poppyseed filling.ReplyCancel

  • Helen Torres - The measurements are given in grams, here in the USA we use cups and ounces, can you help with the conversions so I can make these yummy treats

  • Heather - Just made these this weekend and they are delicious! How long will they keep? Wondering if should freeze them if I expect them to last until Christmas?ReplyCancel

  • Peggy Saas - Oh yes, I have recently discovered the tart cutter Judy, I haven’t used it yet. Aren’t they genius! I think the ricotta addition comes from the idea of using ‘quark’ pastry. I think back in the day they may have used quark, but my grandmother’s version used ricotta. It’s delightful pastry (isn’t it all!).

    It’s good that you carried on the tradition, how lovely.ReplyCancel

  • Peggy Saas - Celida I looked up kifli cookies and you’re right, they do look very similar. Poppyseed filling sounds delicious!ReplyCancel

  • Peggy Saas - Helen I have converted the measurements, hopefully they’re accurate.

    16oz unsalted butter; cubed, at room temperature
    16oz light ricotta
    15 1/4 oz plain flour
    12oz prunes

    The reason I use grams with this recipe is the butter and ricotta comes in 250g packages here in Aus, so I just use 2 packets of each then weigh my flour. You can also halve the recipe if you don’t want to make so many tarts.

    Good luck Helen, let me know how you go!ReplyCancel

  • Peggy Saas - Well done Heather, they are delightful aren’t they! Yes you can freeze them, I always freeze some in freezer bags. They do last awhile but if you freeze some now then when you want to serve/eat them, take them out of the freezer and pop them into the oven for a few minutes, they come out with a ‘just baked’ texture. Not to mention the delicious smell from the oven!

    I’m glad you tried them and liked them, thanks for letting me know.ReplyCancel

  • Lucette :) - Thank you for sharing this recipe! My husband is of Finnish descent, and he remembers his mom making these with orange marmalade in the center. I am hoping to make him some as a surprise treat next week…and give him some joy. :)ReplyCancel

  • Shuriken delights – with my very own puff pastry recipe – and the holiday gift wrap-up | marfigs - [...] pastry is made with prune jam, so I dutifully made some last night, following the recipe at Cake crumbs and beach sand. I love prunes to the edge of reason, so this wasn’t actually a hardship. The actual [...]ReplyCancel

  • Anudhi - I made these with my family yesterday and they turned out gorgeous (not to mention delicious!). My comments aren’t worth much, because the last time I tried making Joulutorttuja I was nine and barely knew what I was doing, but my mother remembers making them, and told me the recipe was incredibly good for a novice like me to get them this perfect on my first try. Thanks for letting us add a Finnish touch to our Christmas cheer again!ReplyCancel

  • Piparkakut: Finnish Christmas Gingerbread Biscuits » cake crumbs & beach sand - [...] utensils scattered around either rolling Pulla, making the popular windmill shaped tarts called Joulutorttu or cutting out Christmas cookies. Such fond [...]ReplyCancel

  • 42 Traditional Finnish Foods That You Desperately Need In Your Life | - [...] What is it? Prune-jam filled tarts. Find a recipe here [...]ReplyCancel

  • 42 Traditional Finnish Foods That You Desperately Need In Your Life - zdouf! - [...] What is it? Prune-jam filled tarts. Find a recipe here [...]ReplyCancel

  • Apple and mango strudel | marfigs - [...] puff pastry (modified based on Peggy’s recipe - credit goes to her for the [...]ReplyCancel

  • Loryn - That’s really sherdw! Good to see the logic set out so well.ReplyCancel

  • San - I made these for a Christmas meal with Finnish friends and they turned out perfectly! The dough is just amazing and the folding makes layers! I did not add any sugar to the prunes and so I had some lovely treats that had just the right amount of sweetness.ReplyCancel

  • Time for cookies | Up north - […] you want to make something not so sweet for the holidays here is the recipe I used. Very easy and […]ReplyCancel

  • A Finnish Christmas | Olivia Sprinkel - […] stuffed, we take a break for a couple of hours, before going back for coffee and cakes. ‘Joulutorttu’, the Finnish equivalent of mince pies, are made from puff pastry with prune filling in the […]ReplyCancel

  • Trish - Hyva postaus. Usein olen turhautunut lukiessani maallikoille suunnattuja artikkeleja ja niista huomaa etta vaarinkasityksia ei tapahdu vain lukijan ja toimittajan valilla, vaan on tapahtunut jo toimittajan ja haastateltavan valilla. Useat proffatkin yliopistolla tuntuvat oikeen valttelevan ei-tiedemediaa koska tutkimuksista uutisoidaan kuitenkin vaarin. Onnea siis tiedetoimittajan loytamiseen, tarvetta on!Auttaako muuten jos ei-luomuheldelman pesee aseanapesuiinetlla ennen syomista? Jostain syysta elan luulossa etta se poistaisi myrkyt, mutta onko luulo tiedon vaarti?ReplyCancel

  • günstiger kredit - à la base…Vendre consiste à convaincre quelqu’un d’acheter ton produit…Donc si t’es le moindrement intelligent et bon vendeur t’as les bases pour etre un bon séducteur AUSSIReplyCancel

  • - gotta be honest, i have a TON of ps2 games sitting in a drawer covered in dust that i NEVER played (even though i made sure i bought a used PS3 that was BC) Fact is you forget the old games anyway, no big… Definitely looking forward to the 4….ReplyCancel

  • Ray Kujala - I remember my mom making these and many others at Christmas and all year roundReplyCancel

  • Patti - Tried a version of the pastry using cream cheese. Any comment on the differencee this may make. I found the dough quite stiff but easy to work with and the cookies held there shape well.had trouble with the shape where you fold the tips over the filling. It was hard to get the tips to stick and stay together even with egg wash. ,Thoughts?ReplyCancel

  • Christmas cakes around the world – DAILY WAFFLE - […] These Finnish pasty tarts are presented in the shape of a windmill, and would be a fun addition to the Christmas table this year. Check out how to make them at Cake, Crumbs, Beach, Sand. […]ReplyCancel

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