Joulutorttu are traditional Finnish jam tarts made and eaten at Christmas. Made with a delicate buttery ricotta pastry and filled with prune jam, they are the epitome of family Christmas food moments for Finnish folk. This recipe has been handed down through the generations and is a longtime family favourite.
I remember as a kid when my mum would start baking these, I'd wait anxiously to get my hands on the delightful little windmill with the surprise centre.
Although there is a bit of work involved in preparing the windmill shapes, one bite into a tart fresh out of the oven makes it all worthwhile. Make a big batch, eat half now and freeze the other half in freezer bags for later. —Peggy Saas
unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
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, refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Soak prunes for 2 hours, rinse, then place into a saucepan. Add sugar and enough water to cover prunes 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, or mash with a fork for 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. Sprinkling 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.