I was chatting about baking to a mum in the playground yesterday, we discovered a shared love of fairly unusual continental recipes, the kind Paul and Mary would give to Bake Off contestants to try and baffle them into submission. It got me thinking about some of my favourite things I’ve baked and blogged, so I thought I’d choose my top five best bakes and give them another airing.
I promise you they’re all easy, I lack the patience, time and skill to do anything too fancy and time consuming; but they’re all delicious.
Traditionally a moreish soft biscuit, I decided to attempt a German Lebkuchen Cake with considerable success. The recipe is easier than it looks to make and the results are truly scrumptious!
Traditionally Joulutorttu are made with puff pastry and a special Finnish prune jam. However I made mine with a Christmas preserve, but it does need a good firm set jam. Try plum or prune conserve for authenticity. They look a bit tricky to make, but it’s ready-roll puff pastry and jam and a bit of arty twisting of the pastry.
Birnenpfannkuchen is a German Pear & Ginger Pancake. This is a brilliant store cupboard standby, and a real family favourite when you need a quick pud. It’s a bit like a fruity toad in the hole, only better!
I originally created this shortbread recipe in 2013 in celebration of the Great British Bake Off and it’s still popular today. Cinnamon and raisin are a great combination and this lovely crumbly shortbread is a great bake.
I’ve always hated the thought of “baking” in the microwave, but I’ve cracked it with this delicious sponge pudding. From mixing bowl to table in under ten minutes – perfect for busy families.
So that’s my little round up of my five best bakes. What would you have in your top five?
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For about 11 months of the year I don’t really do much baking; then December starts and I’m elbow deep in flour. I actually love it, I make the usual mince pies and shortbread, hubs makes the cakes and because we’re a bit rubbish we always buy a Christmas pudding. I’m always on the look out for really, really easy, but fairly impressive looking and tasting things to add to my festive baking repertoire. This year I’m firmly sold on Joulutorttu, a sort of festive Finnish jam tart.
Traditionally the Joulutorttu is made with puff pastry and a special Finnish prune jam. We don’t tend to have prune jam in the cupboard; but I had a jar of Mackays Christmas Preserve. I thought this would make a good substitute. Of course if you have prune jam at hand you could use that, but this delicious Christmas preserve is packed with berries, made with mulled wine and lends a particularly merry feel to the Christmassy tarts.
Easy Joulutorttu (Finnish Jam Tarts)
You will need:
One packet of ready made puff pastry (or make your own if you’re clever)
One jar of Mackays Christmas Preserve with Mulled Wine
A splash of milk for brushing
Butter for buttering your baking tray
Butter your baking tray.
Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees.
Unroll your sheet of puff pastry, cut it into squares approx 3 inches square (my sheet cut into 15 squares).
Take a square and put a teaspoon of jam in the middle. Cut each corner to the middle and fold one corner of each triangle into the middle to make a windmill shape (trust me, this is much easier than it sounds, the picture probably explains it better).
With a pastry brush, brush the windmills with milk and pop into a pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes until the Joulutorttu are golden and puffy.
Once cooked, leave to cool, this is very important as the jam will be super heated. To serve, dust with icing sugar, they would be especially excellent with a good cup of coffee and best enjoyed whilst wearing a Scandinavian style jumper.
These Joulutorttu are pretty much as easy as baking gets. They’re a great store cupboard treat to whip up with no notice when festive visitors just happen to pop in. They’re crunchy, sweet and full of star-shaped Christmas joy.