J for Joulutorttu I How to make Finnish Christmas Tarts – Day 10

Christmas tarts in Summer, I know it sounds weird but when you are on the quest for bakes from all over the world, seasons hardly matter! :)


Joulutorttu are traditionally made with puff pastry with a jam centre. The traditional jam of choice is Prune or Apricot jam. Served during Christmas, Joulutorttu are made not only in Finland but also in Sweden.

I was all geared up to make Prune Jam and then I realized my boys wouldn’t go near these tarts if I didn’t use their favorite jam. So I used home-made Strawberry Jam as the filling. I also made my own puff pastry. Yes, you read that right :)

I’ve made laminated dough before when I made these Vols-au-Vents, but that was many years ago. This was a good chance to make it again. I must mention that making Puff pastry is a lengthy process and requires time for chilling between dough turns. So plan well ahead if you intend to make the Puff Pastry. 

You will need:

I batch Puff pastry (recipe below)
Little flour for dusting (if needed)
¼ cup Strawberry Jam (click for recipe)

If you don’t want to go through the process of making your own puff pastry you can use store-bought puff pastry sheets and proceed to forming the pinwheels. The instructions for Puff pastry are below, they are detailed so I must warn you this is going to be a long post. 

Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough
From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Yields: 2-1/2 pounds dough

This makes a whole lot of dough, so I halved the recipe. I used only half of that to make the Joulutorttu. Remaining dough can be wrapped well and frozen for up to a year. 

2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter
Extra flour for dusting work surface

Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.

Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.)

Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that's about 1" thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.

Incorporating the Butter:

Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10" square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with "ears," or flaps.

Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don't just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8" square.

To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.

Making the Turns:

Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24" (don't worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24", everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).

With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.

Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24" and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.

Chilling the Dough:

If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you've completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.

The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.

Making the Joulutorttu: 

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Roll out a large square from the chilled dough and cut into smaller squares. 

Make diagonal cuts in the square on opposite ends leaving the center intact. Place a teaspoon of jam in the center. Starting from the top triangle (see pic) fold one corner over the jam. Continue with the alternate ends to form a pin wheel. 

Transfer carefully to prepared baking sheet. Chill for 10 minutes. Bake in preheated oven for 16-18 minutes until golden brown. 

Once baked, transfer to a cooling rack. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top and serve warm. 

These pretty pin-wheel shaped tarts can well be the attention catcher at any party. We enjoyed these tarts, the perfect amount of sweetness in every bite.


  1. These jam tarts look amazing! Kudos to you that you made the puff pastry from scratch...that's quite a time consuming task!

  2. Awesome Namratha, what a fantastic piece of work here!..Seeing your Joulutorttu, makes me want to grab them, I didn't get the pronunciation right, but who cares, when the treat looks so sinful...making the puff pastry yourself and the jam, wow, your dedication to the series is so appreciable!..

  3. OMG! you made the puff pastry sheets and jam and whipped up this beauty here? wow! Hats off!!

  4. Too pretty and very flaky those Joulutorttu looks, wat a fantastic pick for J.

  5. Same pinch I did a jam tart with home made puff pastry but went with simple dish tart. This joulutorttu looks amazing and thanks for sharing the folding pictures. Awesome.

  6. I had made something similar but in a different shape couple of months back. Absolutely loved the ease of making a sweet treat this quickly.

  7. Wow, those look so flaky and yummy!! AND you made your own puff pastry -- that is just amazing.

  8. Love the shape of the tarts . And making homemade puff pastry is a lot of work. Good job.

  9. nice shape - like our swastik... lot of hard work has gone in to this I guess!! Good job..

  10. Awesome shape and you have explained clearly to make it.. ill surely try sometime!!


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