Adapted from recipes by Helga Lakso and Beatrice Ojakangas
Makes about two dozen
2 cups white flour
1 cup butter (or a mixture
of shortening and butter)
1/3 cup water
Dash of salt
1 pound pitted prunes
3 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Mix flour and salt; cut butter into flour-salt mixture using pastry cutter, and add up to 1/3 cup of water (until it feels like pie crust). Cool pastry dough for half an hour in the refrigerator.
Use a rolling pin to incorporate the butter into the chilled pastry dough: on a floured pastry board or table, flatten the dough with the rolling pin; fold down the top third of the dough and roll lightly. Fold the bottom third up over the center and roll again. Turn the pastry dough 90 degrees. Repeat the folding and rolling until the butter is blended into the dough. Chill pastry dough for a couple of hours or overnight.
Cook prunes in water until they’re soft; drain, and press through a wire strainer or puree in a blender. Stir in sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice. Chill until ready to use.
Assembling the tarts:
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Roll out half of the pastry dough to about 20 inches square. Using pastry wheel or sharp knife, cut dough into 3-inch squares. Make a partial cut diagonally from the four corners of each pastry square in towards the middle…don’t cut all the way!
Place a heaping teaspoonful of prune filling in the center of each tart, then fold the point of each cut corner across the filling, like a pinwheel. Pinch to close the four corners together in the middle of the tart. Chill the finished tarts until very cold before baking (Mom says this makes them much flakier). While the first panful is chilling, roll out the second batch of dough and make more tarts.
Bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until pastry is lightly browned. Remove from pan immediately. Your impulse will be to eat them while theyíre still hot, but the prune filling will really burn the roof of your mouth.
Finnish prune tarts will keep a few days in an airtight container, once they’ve cooled. Watch for thieves.