Jam tarts are one of those simple, delicious things that I remember consuming in droves in my childhood, but not so much as an adult. I always have flour in the cupboard and jam in the fridge, and this makes for a lovely rainy-day activity for small children to help with. Of course, you can cheat with jam tarts and buy some ready to roll shortcrust pastry, but where’s the fun in that? Fill them with any jam you like, or lemon curd, or to feed my peanut-butter-and-jam obsession, I work a little peanut butter into the pastry mixture and fill with smooth strawberry jam…
Makes about 6 tarts, depending on the size of your cookie cutter:
50g butter, or 25g butter and 25g lard, plus extra to grease the muffin tray
120g plain flour, plus extra to knead the dough
1 tablespoon cold water
6 heaped teaspoons of jam
Preheat the oven to 180C and pop a tablespoon or wooden spoon into the freezer. Lightly grease a 6 cup muffin tray with butter or oil, and set to one side.
Chop the butter – or butter and lard – into small cubes and toss into a large mixing bowl. Add the flour and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture starts to look like fine breadcrumbs. If your hands start to become warm, rinse them under a cold tap.
Add a tablespoon of cold water to the floury breadcrumb mixture, remove the spoon from the freezer and use it to mix the dough together.
Briefly knead the dough on a floured worktop and press or roll out until approximately 0.5cm thick. (I don’t usually use a rolling pin, I find that a bottle or my palms work just fine.) Using a pastry cutter or a tea cup, cut circles from the pastry that are slightly bigger than the muffin cups.
One at a time, gently press a pastry circle into each cup of the muffin tray. Repeat until all the dough is used up. Pop a heaped teaspoon of jam into each pastry case, being careful to only fill two-thirds full, as the jam will bubble and spill when cooked.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and allow to cool before serving.
Tip: These will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days after baking. They also freeze beautifully – allow to cool, then freeze in a freezer bag or airtight container. Defrost in a microwave or oven on a low heat.
Queen Of Hearts Jam Tarts, from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe. Published by Michael Joseph at Penguin, available to order at The Hive, supporting your local independent book stores. Also available at other online retailers and major supermarkets.
Photography by Susan Bell: http://www.susanbellphotography.com