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What Is Tortell?

By Sonal Panse
Updated May 16, 2024
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Tortell is a pastry that is popularly eaten as a Christmas food in Catalan cuisine. The O-shaped pastry is traditionally included in the desserts served on 6 January, a date that marks the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas and which is also celebrated by some as the Day of the Three Wise Men. It is a common practice to stuff the tortell pastry with both a figurine of one of the Three Wise Men and a bean. The person that gets the figurine in his or her portion is the lucky one that gets to wear a paper crown and be royalty for the day. The person that gets the bean, on the other hand, gets to pay for the pastry, or by tidy up after the meal.

The tortell pastry is made from sweet bread dough and is sweet-tasting. It may be decorated with fruit and nuts and stuffed with cream or chocolate. The ingredients used to make tortell are flour, sugar, milk, egg, salt, yeast, lemon rind, honey, fruit pieces, nuts, and butter. The milk and eggs are mixed together and heated, and the flour, sugar, salt and yeast are carefully blended into the mix. The butter is then stirred into the mix until it has properly dissolved. The resulting dough has to be kneaded well to get a smooth texture, and it is then covered and set aside for around four hours or so until it has doubled in size.

The dough, once it has risen, is divided into two parts, with each part formed into a round shape. A hole is made in the center of each. The two dough sections are then left to sit for two more hours to increase further in size. After they have risen sufficiently, their tops are studded with fruits and nuts and they are brushed over with melted butter, egg yolk and sugar. In some cases, a cream filling may be inserted between the two dough sections before baking. The figurine and the bean also need to be added at this time. It will help to wrap the figurine and the bean in foil before inserting them into the dough.

The dough sections are then put into the oven and baked at a high temperature. The tortell is ready after about 10 to 20 minutes of baking. It is done when it has turned a nice golden-brown.

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