Already thinking of Christmas?
Well, I am the first to sigh when festive paraphernalia starts to appear on supermarket shelves in mid September. However, for the purpose of my blog, a bit of forward planning is essential to satisfy those looking for tasty festive recipes.
‘Three King Pastries’ – my own creation – are a moreish and moist sensation. Both the tarts and the muffins are topped with three succulent dates – hence ‘Three Kings’ – and coated in an apricot glaze. With a soft light sponge laced with festive spice, they won’t last long.
These festive pastries are easy to make and offer a real alternative to mince pies or even Christmas Pudding. The following recipe will make 6 tarts and 6 muffins.
Ingredients: Makes six 10cm tarts and six 7cm x 3cm muffins.
200g plain flour.
125g unsalted butter – cold and cubed.
50g caster sugar.
1/4 tsp salt.
Extra flour for dusting and rolling.
Sponge for both tarts and muffins:
220g self raising flour.
200g softened unsalted butter.
4 large eggs – beaten and at room temperature.
200g caster sugar.
1 heaped tsp of mixed spice.
80g chopped prunes.
Zest of 1 large orange.
18 soft stoned prunes. Cut in half if large.
Apricot Glaze and Garnish:
18 dates – halved and stoned.
225g or 4 heaped dessert spoons of apricot jam.
3 dessert spoons of water.
15g fondant icing.
Icing sugar for dusting before serving.
Orange Butter Icing:
50g unsalted softened butter.
80g icing sugar – sieved.
Zest of 1 orange.
Beat the egg and sugar together until well mixed – set aside.
Add the salt to the flour.
Rub the butter into the flour to create a crumb texture.
Once all the butter has been rubbed into the flour add the egg and sugar mix.
Combine all ingredients into a dough, wrap in cling film and chill for several hours.
Note: This dough is quite sticky, so use a little extra flour to bring it all together. Refrigerate for several hours before rolling.
Rolling Pastry and Lining Tart Tins:
Grease your tart and muffin tins with butter.
Roll out a portion of the pastry to 3mm in thickness.
Place tart tin on pastry (see image)
Cut around tin leaving a 2cm overlap to account for the sides of the tin.
Line your tart tins with the pastry circles. (see image)
Continue to roll out the remaining pastry, cutting out circles and lining each tin.
Once all the tart tins are lined with pastry – chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Sponge for Tarts and Muffins:
Cream the butter and the sugar.
Gradually mix in the beaten egg. Note: Eggs at room temp’ will lessen the risk of splitting when mixed with the butter. If your mix starts to split before all the egg has been added – mix in a couple of tabls’ of the flour.
Add flour and mixed spice into the butter mix. Combine with a balloon whisk.
Prepare Tarts for Baking:
Set oven to gas 7 or 220°C / 425°F
Pipe some of the sponge mixture into the lined tart tins and smooth with the back of a teaspoon.
Add three prunes to the top of each of the tarts. (see image)
Bake for 15-20 mins’ until sponge has risen and golden brown.
The prunes will be enveloped beneath the sponge as the tarts bake.
Once your tarts have baked, remove from their tins and place on a cooling rack to cool.
Prepare Muffins for Baking:
Mix your chopped prunes and orange zest into the remaining sponge mix.
Divide your sponge mix between your six greased muffin tins.
Bake for 20-25 mins’ or until sponge has risen and golden brown.
Once your muffins have baked, remove from their tins and place on a cooling rack to cool.
Apricot Glaze and Garnishing the Pastries.:
In a pan, slowly heat up the apricot jam and water to a runny syrup/glaze.
Place three halves of your dates on top of your tarts and muffins.(see first image)
Spoon your hot apricot glaze over the top of each tart and muffin – including the dates. Set aside for the glaze to cool and set.
Roll out the fondant icing to 3mm thickness. Cut out star shapes with a star cutter.
I use a small star cutter for the muffins and a larger star for the tarts.
Orange Butter and Finishing off the Pastries:
With a balloon whisk thoroughly combine the butter, icing sugar and orange zest.
Pipe small swirls of orange butter on top of the muffins and tarts.
Pop a fondant star on top of the orange butter.
Note: I leave some of the pastries without the orange butter – they are just as nice and some people may prefer it without the added calories.
Dust with icing sugar and serve.