I’m a big fan of old-fashioned, simple baking – give me jam tarts, scones, Victoria sandwiches and fruity muffins over achingly-sweet iced cupcakes any day. I grew up baking these sorts of things with my mum, and I love making the same things now for my boys.
You don’t really need much of a recipe for jam tarts – just some shortcrust pastry and a pot of jam, plus a bun tin – but here’s how I make mine and hopefully it will inspire you to have a go too. Children love this sort of baking – there’s always a bit of leftover pastry to play with and a fair bit of jam-spoon-licking usually happens!
You could, of course, buy some ready-made pastry, but it really isn’t difficult to make from scratch and it’s super cheap. I use a mixture of lard and margarine for my pastry – all-butter pastry is lovely, but this pastry is much easier to roll out – a must if children are involved! I also don’t add any sugar to my pastry – the jam’s sweet enough.
Here’s what you’ll need:
225g plain flour
50g margarine or butter
50g lard (if you are vegetarian you could use Trex)
very cold water
pinch of salt
jam – we used Raspberry and Bramble
plus, a non-stick 12 hole bun tin and a fluted pastry cutter. If you have two tins, you’ll probably have enough to make about 16, but if not there will probably be a little left over.
1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C. Place your flour, salt and fats in a large mixing bowl. It’s a good idea to cut your butter and lard into small pieces.
2. Rub your fat into your flour until it resembles breadcrumbs, with no big lumps. Try to use as light a touch as possible. It doesn’t matter if it takes a while, just don’t be too heavy handed with it – you want to be rubbing it very gently with the tips of your fingers and sprinkling it back into the bowl.
3. Now start cautiously adding your water to the mix, whilst stirring it with a table knife. The knife helps bind the pastry together quickly and lightly. You will need very little water – about 3-4 tablespoons or so, but it depends on the day – don’t put too much in at once! Stop adding water as soon as your mixture starts to bind together. Now use your hands to bring it together in a ball. It should be soft, not sticky – add a little more flour if necessary, or water if too dry and flaky.
4. I like to divide my pastry up before I roll it out, to avoid overworking it (which will result in tough pastry when baked). Take half your pastry and roll it out on a smooth, floured surface. You want it quite thin – aim for 5mm. Cut out round discs with your pastry cutter and carefully place them in your bun tin.
5. Now for the jam. Each tart will need about a teaspoon of jam. Don’t be tempted to overfill – as the jam gets hot in the oven it bubbles up and can easily overflow (making for messy tarts permanently stuck to your tin!).
6. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes – or until a light golden colour.
7. Be really, really careful when you get them out of the oven as the jam will be runny and absolutely red hot. Make sure your children don’t touch or attempt to eat them while they’re this hot! And don’t be like me and inadvertently pour molten jam over your hand while trying to take the perfect photo – ouch.