Finals are finally over, much to my relief. Tomorrow, I'm going back to my parents' house for winter break, which means that today I was trying to use up as much of my food as possible. I had a pack of raspberries sitting in the fridge (They were on sale at the store a few days ago, and I never say no to Chilean produce!), and I spent most of the afternoon debating what to do with them while watching "Lawrence of Arabia" in an effort to distract myself from how cold it is. The movie was a good choice for that, with its many scenes of trekking through the desert. It made me almost grateful for the rain and cold- I mean, hell, at least I'm not sinking in quicksand or dying of dehydration! Completely unrelated to "Lawrence of Arabia", what I eventually decided to do with the raspberries was make a little pastry wreath. It seemed appropriate to make something festive, since we are right in the middle of the holidays and people are looking for things to make for their family and friends. The raspberries were a beautiful shade of red and made the wreath look very pretty and Christmas-y. I could easily imagine making a  larger one to use as a centerpiece on Christmas eve.
     I only had half a stick of butter to work with, so my wreath came out pretty small (about 8 inches in diameter). If you would like to make a larger wreath, by all means double (or even triple) the recipe. Personally, I like my little wreath. I already discussed the virtues of cute miniature versions of things in my post on quiches, but I will repeat myself: little things are cute!

*makes on 8-inch wreath

1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter
2 tbsp skim milk, cold

1+1/2 cups raspberries (I used fresh, but frozen would probably work)
3 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp brown sugar
sliced almonds to garnish

    To make the pastry, mix together the flour, baking soda, and sugar in a medium bowl. Cut the butter into this mixture until the butter is in pea-sized chunks that are coated with flour. Add the skim milk little by little, only adding enough to hold the dough together in a ball. Wrap the ball of dough in plastic and chill it in the fridge for one hour. In the meantime, mix together the ingredients for the filling in a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate.
    After the pastry dough has chilled one hour, remove it from the fridge and take off the plastic. Rub the dough ball on all sides with flour, then squash it with the palm of one hand and roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Try to roll the dough into a rectangle that is twice as long as it is wide.  Rub the dough with flour on both sides, then fold it in thirds by pulling one end of the dough over itself, then pulling the other end of the dough over the flap to the folded edge. Roll out the dough again. Be sure to roll only in one direction-from one folded edge to the other. When the dough is 1/8 inch thick, fold it in thirds again, and roll it out again. The dough should be a long, skinny rectangle when you are done, about a foot long and about 4 inches wide. Wrap it in plastic, put it on a cookie sheet, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
    After 30 minutes, remove the dough from the fridge and take off the plastic. Spoon the filling into the middle of the rectangle, leaving an inch clear on  each side of the filling for the whole length of the dough. Cut slits into the dough at a slight angle on each side of the filling, about half an inch apart. Fold the small flaps of dough over the filling to create a braided look. To make a wreath, gently pull the two ends of the braid to meet each other, and overlap the dough slightly to fuse the ends together.
    Bake the wreath on a cookie sheet at 400 degrees F for 10-15 minutes, until the pastry is golden. Immediately after you remove the wreath from the oven, brush it with a mixture of 1/4 cup warm water and 1 tsp brown sugar. Garnish with sliced almonds. Because the wreath is delicate, transferring it to a plate may be difficult. What I did was to invert it from the cookie sheet onto one plate, then invert it from the first plate onto a second plate to get it right side up.