It has been few weeks since I’ve posted anything because I got bogged down with a crazy amount of work but since I am currently housebound with my leg looking like it is auditioning for the next Star Wars film, after some staircase gymnastics followed by an unsuccessful landing, I guess it is a good chance to type up some of my recent recipes and adventures!
It is December, as anyone who has seen calendar will know, and so not only is it Christmas month but it is also Finland’s 100th birthday. To make up for the fact that the pet Finn is on food shopping duty (so far mostly presenting someone in the shop with the list I have written, and getting out of the shop before he turns into a grumpy forest bear), I decided to de-gluten a recipe for Joulutortut. These bad boys are traditional Finnish Christmas Tarts (other names Tähtitortut – Star Tarts down to their shape, or for Swedish speakers Finska Jultårtor). And let’s face it what is more festive than festive Nordic food… oh, and they are way superior to mince pies… SORRY!
Disclaimer, these are messy because I baked them standing on one leg, but then again they are so easy you can make them standing on one leg. If you aren’t feeling like making the pastry you can use pre-made GF puff pastry, although this pastry recipe is genius and so easy to work with, that it is probably not worth it… and would be awesome to make canapés and other little tarts…
- 200g salted butter
- 300g plain gluten free flour (I used Dove’s Farm GF blend) plus plenty more to roll the pastry out.
- 1tsp xanthan gum
- 200g cream cheese
- 100g pitted dates
- half tsp ground allspice
- 2 smallish pieces of cinnamon stick
- 2 cloves
- 2 tsp demerara sugar
- Icing sugar and flaked almonds to decorate (optional)
- Cover the pitted dates with water in a small saucepan, add the spices and sugar and then warm over a low heat, stirring every so often until the dates have softened and the liquid has reduced down.
- Cube the butter and rub together with 200g of the flour and the teaspoon of xanthan gum, once it is thoroughly combined mix the cream cheese through it.
- Now add the final 100g of GF flour and mix it through with a fork until it can be combined to make dough. Once your dough is in a ball, sprinkle with flour and put it in the fridge until the date jam is ready.
- Once the date mixture is ready, remove the spices and blend the mix until it forms a smooth paste.
- Preheat the oven to Gas 5 or 190C
- Put some baking paper down on your work surface and sprinkle with GF flour. Taking small fist-sized balls of the dough to work with, put on the floured baking paper, and then sprinkle with more GF flour. Roll out so that it is about the same thickness as a £1 coin and you can cut out a 12-14cm square from it.
- Divide the original square into 4 smaller equally sized squares and you can also move them apart from each other to make it a bit easier to shape the tarts.
- Put a marble sized blob of the date jam in the middle of the pastry squares and then cut the dough on the diagonal from the jam to the corners.
- Fold the right hand corner of each of the 4 sections inwards to the top of the jam in the centre. Gently lift with a palate knife or metal fish slice and place on a baking tray covered with baking paper.
- Once your tray is full put in the oven until golden brown, for around 12-15 minutes (my oven is horrible for baking and the pet Finn was working as oven door assistant since I’m a bit incapacitated at the moment so there was a bit of “Baaaaabe, can you check them now please??” going on too, so apologies that this is quite vague! When they are ready the pastry will have puffed up and they will have turned a nice golden brown colour, so it is easy to see!)
- Repeat until you have made all the tarts, this makes around 36.
- I threw a few flaked almonds on top, and sifted a bit of icing sugar over to serve, and of course to make you feel festive, although they are equally delicious without, especially straight from the oven.
The pastry is my new go to… I’m usually not patient enough for baking and this didn’t make me get and throw everything in the bin half way through so I can guarantee it is easy!! The great thing about GF pastry is that you can’t overwork it (see getting rid of the pesky gluten has some benefits apart from not making me violently ill) and if the pastry gets too warm, just sprinkle a little more GF flour on it and pop it in the fridge. Traditionally these are made with prunes and without the spices but it is christmas and so I want everything to taste a bit like mulled wine!
My only caveat is that these are absolutely addictive, I’m having to keep them out of arm’s reach!