I hope you all had a blessed Christmas spending time with family and friends and enjoying your holiday traditions. I added a new, Finnish of course, tradition to my list this year. Prune tarts! Or Joulutorttu, which translates to Christmas tart. Before this Christmas season I had only eaten two in my life. After this season, I’m not entirely sure how many I’ve eaten! Before you go wrinkling your nose at the word “prune”, remember they are a dried plum and who doesn’t love plums!
The first person to ever give me a prune tart, as they weren’t a tradition in my family, was Julie Bedell. I was at her home gathering materials for my documentary about Settlers Co-op last year and she had just finished baking. Fresh from the oven, the prune tart was delicious. I was too ashamed to tell her I had never tried one before.
So, when I decided to learn how to make prune tarts this season, Julie was the first person who came to mind. What I did not know was that Julie is a pro. One year she made 93 dozen prune tarts and she sells them at festivals like Heikinpäivä. Carl Pellonpää even asked her once to come on his show, Finland Calling, and make her prune tarts. Julie declined as her recipe is a family secret. Don’t get excited though, she still didn’t give her recipe to me, however she did share some great tips and tricks how to make them extra yummy. I mean if you don’t give your recipe to Mr. Pellonpää, you’re not giving it to anyone!
This recipe is based off my best friend’s Grandma Betty Johnson’s family recipe, with a few adjustments from Julie’s tips. You can find many variations online. Some use ricotta or cream cheese for the dough! Some prefer lots of sugar in the prune filling and some prefer none at all, like Betty, who says the prunes are sweet enough.
Like me, you most likely do not own a tart cutter. If you do, hold on to it with dear life. You cannot purchase one anywhere that I can find. I checked Risto’s Hardware in Hancock, Michigan who I was told was sure to have them. I talked to the owner and he hasn’t been able to find a supplier for a couple years. The supplier he used to order tart cutters by the thousand, shut down. If you know where I can buy a prune tart cutter please message me! The video does show how to cut the tarts by hand with a knife if you don’t have a cutter. Or maybe we’ll convince Julie’s husband to go into business as he made hers.
Speaking of things being made, our beautiful aprons were made by Vicki Kurtti! Find her on Facebook if you want to buy one!
A tip I didn’t add to the video that Julie and others have given me is to cut your dough into the shapes and place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet and place in the refrigerator to fill and bake at a later time. (Also refrigerate your prune filling) If company is coming over, take the ready-cut dough out of the refrigerator, fill, bake and you have fresh prune tarts for your guests! They are best right out of the oven!
Making this video was a first for me. A couple times you see me operating the camera, as well as being the “host” learning how to make prune tarts. Unlike me, Julie is a natural, and does an amazing job in front of the camera, showing how to transform these basic ingredients into something traditionally delicious.
Watch my video below for step by step instructions! I hope you give them a try and let me know what you think!
sHORTER VIDEO! mUSIC & INSTRUCTIONS ONLY:
PRUNE TART RECIPE:
Based off Betty Johnson Family Prune Tart Recipe, Tips and Tricks from Julie Bedell
Makes about 4 dozen
4 cups of flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup real butter (softened)
2 eggs (room temperature)
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup whole milk
1 egg white
Sift your flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
Add butter and 2 eggs to mixer and blend using stand mixer with pastry cutter blade or hand mixer.
Add sugar to butter/egg mixture and blend.
Slowly add dry ingredients and ¾ cup milk, alternating dry ingredients and milk.
Chill dough (4-5 hours or overnight or up to 7 days).
Roll out dough on floured surface 1/8” thick. Cut shape using tart cutter or knife.
Fill with a tablespoon or so of prune filling and join corners.
Dab dough with egg white whipped with a dash of water. Adds a nice golden brown to pastry.
Bake 25-30 minutes depending on your oven (25 is perfect in mine).
Cool on rack.
Share with your neighbors.
1 pound pitted prunes
1 ¼ cup water
¼ cup sugar
Place prunes and 1¼ cups water in medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20-25 minutes until prunes are soft.
Remove from heat.
Add sugar and beat using an electric mixer until smooth (about 45 seconds).
Cool before filling tarts.
Kristin Ojaniemi is a Finnish-American filmmaker, video creator and proud Yooper full of sisu.