Christmas would not be complete without at least one traditional Finnish baked good. Finland is home to Santa Claus’s address after all! When children send their letters to Santa every year, they send them to Santa Claus, Main Post Office, FI-96930 Arctic Circle. This address is in Rovaniemi, the Santa Claus Village located in the Lapland region of Finland. (Though, Alaska often receives many of the letters from American children sent to “North Pole, Alaska”.)
Joulutortut are a Christmas pastry enjoyed every year in Finland. The translation of joulutortut literally means Christmas pies, but these are most often called Finnish Christmas stars in English. The dough is a flaky puff pastry filled with prune jam and shaped into stars and topped with sparkling or pearl sugar. The puff pastry is made using a process called laminating, repeated folding and rolling of the dough to create the many layers.
6 oz pitted prunes
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1.5 cups heavy whipping cream
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 egg, beaten
sparkling or pearl sugar
- Place prunes in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring water to a boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes. Prunes should be very soft. Drain water from prunes and discard. Place prunes in a food processor with sugar and lemon juice and blend until smooth. Set aside until pastry assembly.
- Sift together flour and baking powder and set aside.
- With an electric mixer, beat whipping cream until soft peaks are formed. Gently fold flour into whipped cream, forming a crumbly mixture. With your hands work the softened butter into the mixture until a sticky dough is formed. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
- On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough into a thin, large rectangle. Fold into thirds and turn over. Repeat this process two more times and on the final time roll into a 15×18 inch rectangle. Trim edges to form a perfect rectangle. Measure and cut dough into 3 inch squares. Transfer squares to a parchment lined baking sheet. Make four small cuts towards the center of each square. Place 1 teaspoonful of prune filling into center of each square. Fold every second corner towards the center of the square to form a star shape.
- Brush each star with the egg wash (especially towards the center so the star doesn’t separate during baking) and sprinkle with sparkling or pearl sugar. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until lightly golden.