Well, where to start. As always the holiday festivities always descend into some sort of anarchy, so all the chirp and cheer I was going to bring to this post is sadly missing, for which I apologise. Nevertheless I took some snaps of what I’ve been up to, and especially to share the pastry recipe I modified, and which I think is equal to, if not better than the store-bought puff pastry!
What I essentially made is the traditional Finnish pastry, called Joulutorttu. A childhood in Finland usually means one’s memories revolve around people, sights and food, and these were a staple of the Christmas season, if I remember correctly. The traditional pastry is made with prune jam, so I dutifully made some last night, following the recipe at Cake crumbs and beach sand. I love prunes to the edge of reason, so this wasn’t actually a hardship. The actual difficult part was not eating it outright as is, but I promise a lot of finger-licking happened in the making of the jam and the tarts.
I didn’t want to make 60 (!!) of these (though next year I will!), because it was more to test my theory about the dough, so I cut everything down to 100: 100g of vegan butter/marg, 100g of flour (turns out one needs 100g + 1/4 – 1/2 cup more flour) and…best of all? 100g of tofu. That’s right! I replaced the ricotta in the original recipe with tofu since it’s pretty much the same thing to me – white, soft and squishy. I haven’t eaten ricotta in at least five years, so I’m not the right source for comparison, but the dough came out beautifully. Remember to squishy out the water from your tofu if you’re going to try this (and I heartily recommend that you do)!
I just kept adding flour till I felt the dough was right – it rolled out magically, puffed as it should, and overall was pretty spectacular. My first batch taught me, however, that the dough is quick to burn if left unattended, so whereas these pastries usually bake for 10-12 minutes at 225 Celsius, I would start checking at 6-8 minutes. Or, better yet, set the oven to 180C and then let them bake for 8-10 minutes. Either way, a watchful eye is needed. I was a bit overly cautious on the second round, which is why these pastries appear as pale as my legs, but I assure you they are baked through and through. 😀
Man-thing called these a ‘triumph’, which is big talk from him. He ate two immediately, and then again some more today…so much so that I don’t have enough to actually hand out as gifts (as was intended), so I just packaged them in some to-go boxing, and they’ll come along tomorrow when we celebrate with the in-laws (if they last the night). He’s also responsible for their new, very un-Finnish name – the shuriken delight, since his mind is geared towards seeing everything as a weapon (history ruins us all!).
Moving on! I decided we should add some sauces and condiments to the package this year, since cookies are all very well, but one can’t eat them all day long (yes, yes you can, actually, but for the sake of argument let’s pretend not). I’ve been eyeing this plum ketchup recipe from over at the Tolerant Vegan, and whoa! It has bite, it has snazz, and it is a winner! I honestly think that one could pour this over ice-cream and it would be magical. Now that we have rescued our ice=cream paddle from inside the cupboard (two big holes in the wall later) we are back in business on that front! Maybe a nice peanut-pistachio banana ice-cream with this swooshed over…*puddle*
I also made some lemon curd again, but despite heaping on 2 more tablespoons of corn starch and adding a vegan egg it still isn’t as firm as I’d like. Still, it’s tasty, and that’s all that is of concern after being in the kitchen for longer than is healthy.
Finally we get to the cookies! In our batch we had chocolate nut biscotti, as I’ve made it before, as well as some coastal crackers (this time with fig and mint, sweet basil and thyme (couldn’t decide!), and of course the sugar cookies.
And so there you have it! Baking for presents on a large scale is rather hard work, but very rewarding if you know the people who receive it know that it’s done from a place of love. (oh, and I made bobotie and more mushroom parcel pies, but sheesh, my brain can’t think any more!)