It’s pretty well known that Europe would come to a standstill if pastry ceased to exist. I don’t understand why we would have to consider conventional weaponry and nuclear armaments when some evil genius can tamper with the grain supplies. Let Marvel Comics handle that one.
In the meantime, let us enjoy some mini jam tarts. If you are new to making your own pie crust, this is a great starter recipe because you don’t have to worry about rolling out this huge sheet to fit a pie pan. All you need to do is get the sheet thin enough to cut out 2″ circles. It’s easy enough for the kids to join in.
And the result is a lovely combination of fruitiness and buttery, flaky melt-in-your mouth goodness that is perfect with your afternoon cup of tea or coffee. It’s bite-sized, so you can easily control your portions too. At least, that’s what you can tell yourself.
What I am using is a traditional British shortcrust pastry. The ratio is 2:1 flour to fat with enough water to bind and give the dough the right shape and stretchiness. Lots of people go with a half and half butter for flavor and lard for flakiness. You can substitute shortening or margarine to get that flakiness or to make it kosher/vegetarian. Many just choose to use all butter. Feel free to experiment to find what works for you.
Mini Jam Tarts – Karen Style
8 oz all purpose (plain) flour
1 healthy pinch of salt
2 oz unsalted butter + 2 oz lard, shortening, or margarine or 4 oz butter
24 tsp of jam
You will also need a 24-cup mini cupcake pan.
First, prepare your pastry. Mix together the flour and the salt. Cut the fat into smaller pieces and incorporate the fat into the flour mixture. You can do this one of two ways.
1. If you have a food processor, place the flour mixture and the cold fat into the bowl and pulse it until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. This won’t work if the fat is at room temperature. I like this method because, like I said before, I am lazy.
2. If you bring the fat to room temperature, you can incorporate the fat into the flour using a pastry blender, a knife, or a huge serving fork. Once again, you are looking for a breadcrumb-like texture.
Then add the flour back in the bowl, if you are using the processor method, make a well in the flour, and add about 2 oz of water to start. Use you hand as a sort of a whisk and gently turn to incorporate the water into the flour mixture. I am using the Gordon Ramsay method. He demonstrates it in this 2 1/2 minute video embeded below, and he doesn’t even swear and yell at you. He just dances around like he has to wee.
Add more water a tablespoon at a time until the dough pulls cleanly from the bowl. If you are going to make a mistake with this, it is better to make it too wet than too dry because it is easier to add more flour to pastry later on than more water. Knead the dough gently on a lightly floured surface until it forms together. Flatten, wrap in plastic wrap (clingfilm), and let it rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
After the pastry has rested, roll it out on a floured surface until the dough is 1/8″ thick. Using a 2″ round pastry cutter, cut out 24 round circles and line the cups with them, pressing the surfaces to get rid of the cracks. Chances are, you will have to reroll the dough to do this, unless you are really skillful and play a lot of TETRIS. Fill each cup with 1 tsp of your favorite jam. If you have leftover dough, feel free to cut out stars or circles to place on top.
Bake in a 200°c/400°F/Gas Mark 6 oven for 20 minutes.
Now, this is what BBC Good Food site tells you they are supposed to look like with its labeled for reuse photo…with a staff of food stylists and professional photographers.
Here are what mine look like.
On the left, I had my homemade strawberry jam tarts; on the right were my chunky apple maple jam ones. OK, they are not prom queens, but they were tasty and made us happy in our bellies.
And they will do the same in yours.