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Recipe: Briony May’s cranberry pesto puff pastry Christmas tree

Alright, I am just going to say it: I love Christmas! From the minute I first hear Mariah, mid-November, I get that familiar childish sense of excitement. I love the cheesy music, the tinsel, the extra family time and the food – oh how I love the food. Even turkey. I know I am a rare breed; although this year will be completely meat-free for me as I have recently gone veggie. So this month I wanted to whip up something delicious and vegetarian for the festive season. This puff pastry tree will look great on a buffet table or as a starter on the big day. You can even buy ready-made pastry if you are in a rush… I won’t tell anyone!

Cranberry Pesto Puff Pastry Christmas Tree

Pastry ingredients:
350g plain flour
1 ts salt
250g unsalted butter, frozen
100ml cold water

Cranberry pesto:
125g cranberry sauce
125g walnuts
35g parmesan, grated
2tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

• Make the rough puff pastry. Put the flour and salt into a bowl. Mix to combine.
• Grate the butter into the flour then fold the butter into the flour so butter is coated.
• Add water a tablespoon at a time (you probably won’t need it all). Bring the pastry together with your hands until it forms a ball.
• Tip onto a surface and bring together. Shape into a rectangle and flatten. Wrap in clingfilm. Chill for 30 minutes.
• Make the pesto. Place all the ingredients into a food processor and then blitz until combined and the consistency of pesto.
• Get the pastry out and on a floured surface, roll it out into a rectangle ¼ inch thick with short edge closest to you. Fold the bottom third onto middle third, then top third on top of that. Turn so that short edge is closest to you again. Repeat. Wrap in clingfilm then let it chill for 30 minutes.
• Repeat the previous step then the pastry is ready to use.
• Heat oven to 190°C fan. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide the pastry in half. Roll each half out into a rectangle ¼ inch thick. Place one rectangle of pastry on the prepared parchment.
• Cut into the shape of a Christmas tree using a knife. Cover with the pesto. Place other rectangle of pastry on top and trim to the same tree shape. Cut slits on both sides 2cm apart leaving the middle as the trunk. Twist each strip twice (once as you get to the smaller ones).
• Cut out a star and place at the top of the tree.
• Use a pastry brush to eggwash the trunk of the tree then bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown.

Follow Briony May Williams on Twitter and Instagram: @brionymaybakes. Illustration by Cat Faulkner; @catherinedoart