The calm after the excitement

After the hustle and bustle of preparing for Christmas it was time to just sit down and enjoy watching the children, sampling a few holiday goodies both with the kids and a few after the house is quiet and they have gone to sleep. I even had a chance to start a book on the 26th and since it really engaged the reader I finished it the next day, spending half of the day in my pyjamas. But it was just what I needed. I felt a pleasant tiredness come over me, like a sense of deep relaxation. The next night I slept so soundly.
little ones
santa
In Finland Santa Claus or Joulupukki visits homes on Christmas Eve. There is electric excitement in the air when a loud knock is heard! We all sing the traditional “Joulupukki” song with which we welcome him into our home. Since we have a few American traditions in our Christmas, Santa visits again after the children are sleeping and leaves a few little things in their stockings.
santas helpers
Since Joulupukki is quite elderly and his eyesight is a bit poor, our little elves (tonttu) are eager helpers.
presents
After the excitement of Joulupukki and the gifts are unwrapped we enjoy some Christmas treats as a family. A bit of a calm comes into the evening, everyone is busy trying out their new toys and pyjamas. One of my favorite Christmas traditions is having coffee and treats in the candle light at midnight.
christmas goodies
christmas goodies2
One of the most traditional Finnish Christmas treats is the Prune tart. It originally was made in the half moon shape and later the star shape become popular. During the holiday season the little tarts can be found in all of the cafés and coffee shops, stores and bakeries. Homemade prune tarts beat them all when it comes to flavor. That is why it pays to put a little effort into making them. My Mother is from Finland and one of my childhood memories is of her making these tarts every Christmas.
prune tarts
Originally a puff pastry is used. I found this recipe a few years ago and have it scribbled on a piece of paper. I unfortunately did not write down where it originated. It uses butter and and quark. If you do not have quark readily available you may use sour cream or Greek yoghurt as a substitute. The quark gives the dough an interesting flavor which is not overly strong.

Butter puff pastry with quark (Rahkavoitaikina)
250g /8.8 oz butter cut into small cubes
1 tsp baking powder
4 dl/1.7 cups flour
250 g/8.8 g quark

prune jam or apple jam

Mix the cubed butter, flour and baking powder so that if forms a crumbly mixture. Add in the quark and quickly mix. Do not overwork the dough. The dough will be a bit lumpy and uneven at this point. Place the dough into a plastic bag and place into the refrigerator for several hours or until the next day.

The next day, sprinkle the counter top with flour and place the dough on the flour. Roll out the dough, folding it into thirds and rerolling it. Repeat at least four times. Place back into the bag and refrigerate for a couple of hours.

Take one half of the dough and roll it out so that it is about 3mm (0.12 inches) thick. Using a pastry wheel or pizza cutter cut the sheet of pastry into a rectangular shape as seen below. Cut the sheet into even squares. In order to get the star shape cut the dough with your pastry wheel as shown by the dotted lines.
img003

In the middle of each square place a teaspoon of prune jam. Lift every other pointed edge bringing it to the middle. After the star shape is reached gently press the middle with your index finger to insure that the dough stick and does not undo in the oven.

Bake in the oven until a light golden brown at 225 C/440F
The prune tarts freezes well.
prune tart 2

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24 Comments

  1. I am so glad you found time to relax! This holiday did seem more busier than others. Your holiday time sounds wonderful. I love the prune tarts. They are beautiful. You are an amazing woman!! Happy New Year!!

    1. Thank you so much! I have been practicing getting photos in low-light situations w/o flash. And to help me with that I received a tripod from my husband for Christmas…no more shaky hands!

      1. That is a great gift. I was having a silly time the other day trying to photograph the fruit trees with one shaky hand on the camera. Looking forward to seeing some of your tripod photos.

  2. Sounds like you and your family shared a wonderful holiday and your tradition of sipping coffee at midnight by candlelight would be just about the perfect way to end Christmas Eve. These joulupukki sound delicious and thanks for the lesson on creating star-shaped treats. I’ll have to remember that!

  3. I am glad you were able to take a little time to R and R. I love your photos and those pictures of the little ones with their cute little toes are just precious. They grow up so fast so getting that all on film is great. Your little prune tarts look so very delicious and very festive. What is quark? Take care, BAM

    1. Little toes and little hands are precious and they do grow up fast…sometimes a little too fast! Quark is a sour milk product that is high in protein and very low in fat (1%) It is quite dense and slightly dry in texture. There are new varieties available here that are closer to a yoghurt. I used this “softer” less drier version for the recipe above.

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