Jammy Tarts

Jam Tarts are traditionally made as open cups of pastry crust with a spoon of jam in the middle. I’ve made mine more like “apple turnovers” with the round crust folded over the top into a half-round, then the edges sealed with a fork pressing it flat.

My Mum would make pies. I’d “help”… At about the time I could see the table top, I was allowed to use the leftover bits of pie crust dough to make “Jammy tarts”. Mum would form it up into a ball, roll it out again, and I’d use some glass or other to cut new rounds (usually ever smaller as the dough got used up), spoon a bit of jam on them, fold in half, and press the edges together with a fork. Bake until lightly browned (about 10 to 12 minutes on high).

Yesterday I wanted something sweet. Nothing in the house. Plain Old Jam On White Bread (POJOWB?) not that interesting… And I remembered Jammy Tarts. One of those “memory floods over you” moments. I had to have a Jammy Tart, Damn It!

I decided to just use a basic pastry recipe as I’ve never made very good pie crust. In a large bowl I mixed 4 ounces of flour (by weight) with 2 ounces of “fat”, a sprinkle of salt, and about 4 tsp of cool water. Mix it all together until crumbly, add the water as needed to make a dough, let it rest about 10 minutes+ in the fridge. Then roll it out flat, cut your circles, about 1/3 a diameter blob of jelly in the middle, fold over, press the edges, bake about 12 minutes at about 400 F. Then LET THEM COOL A LONG TIME, like 1/2 hour long. The jam inside stays hot a long time.

In my case, I was very impatient. Some shortcuts were taken. I didn’t let the dough rest, so it was a bit more “crumbly” than desired. I got to patch up the side of one tart as the dough was torn a bit. I didn’t roll it out (as it was crumbly..) and instead formed each “circle” by hand, so they were a bit irregular. Then filled them while holding it and crimped the edges with my fingers. In the end, these were more like Chinese Bows or Japanese Pot Stickers in form and I set them on the non-crimp edge in the pan instead of laying flat. Hey, it worked ;-)

One other thing was I used one ounce of butter and one ounce of bacon grease. Using lard is preferred for many kinds of crust pastry, but most lard is hydrogenated. So I save bacon pan drippings. (Just pour it in a jar and set in the fridge after it cools to almost room temp). This makes a great crust for savory pies (meat pies and such). I wasn’t sure how it would work for sweet pies… It was OK. Added a bit of richness and an interesting flavor, but took away the “just sweet desert” aspect. A more complex flavor. Worth trying but most folks will likely want 100% butter. Still, 1/2 hour after they were out of the oven, they were all gone ;-)

For larger ones, made with a stronger dough, use a fork or knife to poke a couple of vent holes in the top (so steam won’t explode the pie). For these little ones and with a crumbly leaky seam, I didn’t bother and it was fine.

For pastry you are supposed to use unsalted butter then add salt per the recipe. I’ve often just used the common salted butter and not added any salt to the dough. It’s pretty good.

This particular trip down memory lane had me longing for more Jammy Tarts, and I’ve decided I’ll be making them more regularly. It had been about 1/2 a century since I made any. I think I’ll try cutting the fat in 1/2 so it’s more like a pie dough and less like a flakey pastry dough. These were very good and the crust was very flakey, but that also means they tended to send a shower of crumbs down my sleeve when I bit into them (cured by just stuffing the whole thing in my mouth ;-) But I’d like to make them bigger than pot stickers and with properly chilled / rolled dough. I also don’t need quite that many calories… OTOH I wasn’t hungry until well past the next meal time…

I also am now encouraged enough to try making a meat pie using the leftover “chicken slow cooker” stuff as filling. Using either saved chicken fat or bacon grease for the fat, and making a stronger dough with more mixing and chilling to develop more gluten strength. A stronger more savory dough with less fat in it (so a 1:4 fat:flour instead of 1:2).

Just as a reminder what the slow cooker meal is:

I cut up 4 pieces of chicken into chunks about an inch thick (so they cook evenly, I tend to use thighs where I cut them into 1/3ds long ways so the bone cooks faster. One onion as large dice. A couple of carrots, scraped and diced. About the same amount of celery chopped. (Mirepoix of a sort). Then I add one can of condensed cream of {mushroom or chicken} soup, about an ounce of water, and fill the slow cooker to the top with chunks of potatoes – usually about 2 medium or one very large – cut into about 1 inch on a side chunks). Salt and pepper as you like it. Sometimes I’ll add any left over peas or green beans in the fridge. This makes a nice ‘stew’ that can be made thinner with a bit more starting water and more “pie filling like” with less. Other meats can also be used.

So with that, and some dough, I ought to be able to make my own meat pies… Which would make for an interesting meal. A plate of little “meaty tarts” followed by a serving of “jammy tarts”.

FWIW, the smallest jammy tart I ever made was about the size of a fingernail. I just didn’t want to waste that scrap of dough and my Mum was tolerant of the experiment. It was cooked for just a minute or two, and while a bit dry, was still very good. I did get an intuitive grasp of the notion that the filling increased as the cube of the linear dimension and that the crust was more in line with the square; in that I figured out pretty quickly that big ones were way too jammy and the little ones wanted more jam than would fit. The ideal size seems to be about the size of a circle cut with a large coffee cup or drinking glass. What we used as cutters then, since the extravagance of buying a device just to cut circles was not, erm, “in the budget”… Call it about 2 1/2 to 3 inches.

So there you have it. If you have flour, some butter or left over bacon grease, a jar of jam and a salt shaker, you are all set to make a fun sweet treat. You don’t need the fancy fluted Jam Tart Cutters or cups. You don’t need a muffin tin (I used an old pie tin saved from a store bought pie). I didn’t even use a rolling pin. (It is possible to use a sturdy drinking glass as an ersatz roller, but a bit tricky as it rolls in arcs. ;-) The Jammy tarts don’t mind if they are a bit misshapen, have a leak or two, are crumbly or a bit tough, taste a bit of bacon, or all butter, are too big or as small as a nickle. They just work.

I would recommend making twice as big a batch as you expect to eat. Otherwise an hour later you want more and they are all gone ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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10 Responses to Jammy Tarts

  1. rhoda klapp says:

    There are two substances which can completely overcome the laws of specific heat and heat transport. They are Pizza cheese and jam on a jam tart.

    I made them with my mother’s left-over pastry too.

  2. Steve Crook says:

    I like to make jam and marmalade and it turns out it can be a hazardous job if things go wrong and you splash a bit. I’ve often thought that castle defenders would have done better than oil by pouring boiling jam on their attackers. It sticks and burns something horrible.

    I got a nasty lip burn from trying one of last batch of jam tarts before it had properly cooled. It was horrible and to make matters worse, I had to go around for about two weeks with what looked like the cold sore from hell.

    > There are two substances…

    +Chinese Toffee Banana. The filling seems to remain insanely hot despite the outside being cool and that molten banana really sticks to the roof of the mouth….

  3. mpcraig says:

    “At about the time I could see the table top …” To any of you with toddler aged children or grandchildren, this is awesome: https://happygreylucky.com/ikea-hack-toddler-learning-tower-stool/

    I’m not handy and I built one. The key is the 90 degree wood clamp. I also heavily sanded the edges and corners before painting.

  4. Larry Ledwick says:

    Cool idea, although I would add one small feature. A thin wood lip on the back of the top step to give a bit of warning to the child that they are about to step backwards off the top step. I can visualize a step too far back and a sliding fall out the back shins taking the brunt of the fall.

    Just something there to give just a bit of warning that they are right at the back edge of the top step.

  5. Gary says:

    The trick with pie crusts is to cut in the butter with a couple of knives. The particles of butter will be of various sizes but the largest should be the size of a large pea. Over-cutting reduces the flakiness of the crust. Use ice cold water to moisten the flour and butter until it just sticks together, then roll into a ball and chill for an hour. My wife is jealous of how well my crusts turn out.

  6. mpcraig says:

    @Gary The same technique with butter applies to the toppings on a crisp like Apple Crisp. One thing I do which seems to work well is freezing the brick of butter and then using a cheese grater. (Credit: Chef Michael Smith)

  7. H.R. says:

    Rolling out dough on a marble slab and using a marble rolling pin that’s been chilled in the fridge before use also helps. You are ahead of the game if you have quartz or granite counter tops in your kitchen.

    Marble rolling pins are still to be had for under $20 USD. If you don’t have granite counter tops in your kitchen, you can buy an 18″ x 18″ (~ 450 x 450 mm) marble slab for not a lot of dough (ouch! sorry).

  8. H.R. says:

    Besides jammy tarts, the excess pastry dough can be used to make cinnamon rolls.

    Roll the leftover dough into a rough rectangle. Either dot with butter or brush on melted butter. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and roll it up into a ‘log’. Bake until done to your liking; a little lighter seems best to me as it slices better.

    When it comes out of the oven, give it just a minute or two but while it’s still soft, slice the ‘log’ into rolls about 1″ in width or to your own fancy. If you wait too long to slice the log, it gets a little crumbly and doesn’t slice into rounds as nicely.

    I’ve seen a variation on this, though I’ve not had them this way, where the log was sliced into ~1/4″ rounds before baking and the rounds laid out like cookies. That’s probably a good way to make dunkers for your coffee or tea.

  9. Larry Ledwick says:

    My mom used to do something similar with the trimmings from pie crust she would take all the trimmings and cut into small bite sized pieces, dab them with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mix, and bake on a cookie sheet until they were crispy.

    They are a great snack that does not last long.

  10. corsair red says:

    I well remember my mother rolling out dough for biscuits and pie crusts. I think my wife did that also until frozen pie crusts and Pioneer Baking Mix came along.

    H.R., here’s how to make cinnamon rolls:
    Use the basic Pioneer Baking Mix recipe for biscuits, but with some added butter and less milk. No, I don’t know how much; the wife does this. I make cakes. Roll this dough out to about 1/2″ thick. Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Roll into a log. Bake appropriately. Out of the oven, cut to about an 1 1/4″ thick. This will be the size of two large, and I mean large, biscuits. While still warm, frost with a confectioner’s sugar and water icing. I can eat 4 of these with 2 cups of coffee, but then I have a sweet tooth that would kill five ordinary people.

    The only pictures online are on my facebook page. I will post a link if requested, but you will know my secret identity then, and, even worse, see pictures of me in the spandex suit. You will also envy forever for having a wonderful wife.

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