Jam tarts are a classic British teatime treat. Why not try making them with a pastry top as a simple yet heart-felt treat for Valentine's Day.
Jam tarts are a quintessential British teatime treat - little crispy short crust pastry rounds filled with assorted fruit jams, such as strawberry, raspberry, apricot, blackcurrant and lemon curd. They were the first things my mum taught me to bake when I was little, and in turn, I taught my daughter how to make them when she was very small. Here I have suggested that as a Valentine's Day treat, you top the jam tarts with a little pastry heart........after all, the way to a loved one's heart is through their stomach, and they can be popped into the office lunchbox as a romantic sweet treat.
Jam tarts also have a bit of an interesting history, with woman vying for prizes in annual jam tart baking competitions; it was traditional for ladies to make a large jam tart with different colour and flavoured jams separated by fluted and criss-cross pastry lattice work for Church baking competitions. These large jam tarts could be quite complex with more experienced bakers creating astonishing and highly decorative latticework
with up to 8 or 9 different jams! These “Jam Tart Contests” were the original Great British Bake Off competitions and were fiercely fought every year, with a housewife's reputation being made or broken depending on her prowess with pastry and jam!
Jam Tarts normally don’t have any pastry topping however and for the rest of the year I just make them with no pastry lid, or use other suitable shapes appropriate for other special events such as stars for Christmas etc. I have suggested homemade short crust pastry in the ingredients, as it is so easy to make and is far superior to ready-made, although I DO use ready-made when I am short of time. Try to use good quality or homemade jams and jellies, the higher the fruit content, the less the jam or jelly will bubble out of the pastry case. These are essential for any English Tea Party, especially if Alice in Wonderland has been invited............along with the white rabbit! Have fun!
(Makes a dozen tarts)
Queen of Hearts Jam Tarts
225g plain flour
115g butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 to 2 tablespoons cold water
A little flour, for dusting
Assorted jams of choice, such as raspberry jam, apricot jam, strawberry jam, lemon curd or blackcurrant jam
Caster sugar, for sprinkling
Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas mark 6.
Make the pastry: Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl, add the butter and rub it in using your fingertips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.
Use a knife to mix in the water, a little at a time stirring with the knife until the mixture comes together and you can form a ball with your hands. Wrap the pastry in a piece of cling film and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes – this will make it easier to roll out.
Dip your biscuit cutter in flour then cut out as many circles as you can – you may need to gather the bits of pastry up and roll them out again to make 12 circles. (Make sure you leave a little of the pastry scraps for the heart shaped pastry lids) Once you have the desired amount of pastry cases, roll out the pastry scraps and cut out the required amount of hearts, using a mini heart shaped biscuit/cookie cutter.
Lay the rounds of pastry in the tart tin, which has been buttered or greased and press them gently into place. Prick the base of each tart once with a fork.
Carefully put 1 heaped teaspoon of jam into each tart, and then top them off with a pastry heart and bake the tarts for 10 to 12 minutes.
Leave the tarts to cool for a few minutes then use a palette knife to gently lift the tarts out of the tin and leave to cool completely on a wire rack. Arrange them on an attractive serving plate and sprinkle with caster sugar.
Inspired? For more baking recipes visit Great British Chefs collection.
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