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.