Raspberry Jam Tarts

Piping hot, ruby-red jam, bubbling stickily over crisp, buttery pastry.

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Two components, 15 minutes in the oven, the silence of blissful munching, and just a few jammy crumbs left to show as evidence.

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Jam tarts are SO good, and utterly underrated and underexposed as one of those easy peasy bakes that are brilliant crowd pleasers too. You don’t just have to stick with raspberry, you can be as experimental as you like! Strawberry, blueberry, cherry….even chestnut jam, or a splodge of salted caramel sauce. The higher the sugar content, the more chewy the jam goes after baking, so bear this in mind when choosing. Personally, I love that chewy, toffee like texture, which pairs so well with the crumbly pastry and really helps it all stick together!

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I’ve got Taylor Swift’s Blank Space stuck on repeat in my head. I find the video utterly mesmerising, and not sure whether it’s her array of amazing outfits or her scary man-eating antics. I’ll leave it up to you to decide.

Jam Tarts

Makes as many as you like

  • shortcrust pastry odds and ends
  • jam

Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Roll out your pastry and cut out circles with a cookie cutter. I use a thermos flask lid as none of my cookie cutters are quite big enough, and it works a treat. Line a muffin tray with your pastry circles and press them in well. Now prick the base of each pastry case well with a fork, and put a small teaspoonful of jam into each case. Don’t put too much jam in each case or they’ll bubble over and make a sticky mess of your baking tin. Put the tarts into the oven and bake for 15 minutes until the pastry is golden and the jam bubbling merrily away. Leave until cool for a few minutes before unmoulding from the muffin tray and cooling completely on a cooling rack.

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Mini Bakewell Tarts

On a dark November evening, the air wrapped thickly with fog, my street becomes transformed. As I run, everything seems muffled, and all I can hear is the wet dripping of shadowy trees above me. I find myself jumping at loud noises, easily startled by large shapes that suddenly emerge to simply reveal an old lady holding an umbrella walking her dog.

I also see glimmers of festivity creeping into sight. Bright lights are starting to sparkle around houses, it’s glowy and glittery in shops, and there are signs for Christmas trees for sale. It’s also an excuse for even more baking than I normally get up to. I’ve got a cluster of bakewell tarts cooling in the kitchen, and I can’t wait to tuck in.

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I love the combination of crisp buttery pastry, tart raspberry jam, fluffy almond sponge, and crunchy toasted almonds. It’s that combination of four amazing things into something even greater than the sum of its parts.

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I much prefer a light almond sponge to the denser nut-heavy versions that are also floating about in recipe-land. As with other sponges, the trick really does seem to be gallons of patience. First, waiting for the butter to soften, then an arm of steel to cream the butter and sugar into a pale, almost meringue-like cloud.

It seems a billion times harder to get butter to soften in the cold Winter months, and by the time I was finished, I had a very sore arm and a blistered finger to boot!

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It’s always worth it though. To me, bakewell tarts always seem to have a bit of air of festivity around them. A bit more than just your ordinary tea time treat! I reckon that with Christmas coming up, you could happily turn these into a boozy mincemeat version that could be the best of both worlds!

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Mini Bakewell Tarts

  • 200g shortcrust pastry
  • raspberry jam
  • 110g butter
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 55g ground almonds
  • 55g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • milk
  • flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Roll out the pastry and cut out circles with a cookie cutter. Press them into the holes of a muffin tin. Prick the base of each pastry circle with a fork.

Make the almond sponge filling by creaming the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then whisk in the eggs and almond extract. Finally fold in the flour and ground almonds, and add a little milk to loosen the mixture to softly dropping consistency.

Spread a small dash of jam into each pastry case, and top with a spoonful of almond sponge. Sprinkle with ground almonds and bake for around 15-20 minutes until golden. Unmould from the muffin tin, and set onto a cooling rack to cool before eating.

Leek and Bacon Tart

I promised a yummy puff pastry tart recipe, and here it is!

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I tweaked this tart, because I wanted the pastry base to cook to a really crisp finish, and for the toppings to retain lots of flavour with getting too salty in combination together.

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Here’s what I did. When baking with shortcrust pastry, you nearly always blind bake the pastry before the toppings go on. So I thought I’d pretty much copy this with puff pastry. I docked the middle well, glazed the whole shebang with beaten egg, and it came out of the oven after 15 minutes looking like a beautifully risen brown pillow.

I then sprinkled on the cooked leeks, bacon lardons, a little cheese, and stuck it back in the oven. It didn’t seem to need that long, only 10-12 minutes, and it came out, the pastry brown and crackly, the lardons even cracklier. I was basically licking my lips as I took the photos!

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I’ve only made one adjustment to the recipe below. I’d fried the bacon lardons to such a crisp finish that I didn’t think they needed the extra oven time. Instead throw them over the pastry once the whole tart is done.

Leek and Bacon Tart

Adapted from BBC Good Food

  • rectangle of puff pastry, cold
  • 90g bacon lardons
  • 2 leeks, sliced
  • 16g herb and cheese Boursin (1 wrapped portion in a 6 pack)
  • 10g grated gruyère cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Roll out the puff pastry to the thickness of a £1 coin, and lay onto a baking tray. Trim the edges to form a rectangle with a sharp knife, and score a border within the rectangle 1.5cm from the edge. Prick the pastry within the border thoroughly with a fork. Put into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200˚C.

Lightly fry the bacon lardons until crisp. Remove from the pan. Fry the sliced leek in the bacon fat until soft. Mix the leeks with the boursin, and set aside to cool.

Brush the borders and the centre of the puff pastry rectangle well with beaten egg. Be careful to not let it drip over the cut edges, as it stops the pastry rising properly. Bake for 15 minutes until puffed up.

Spread a layer of leek over the pastry, and top with a sprinkling of grated cheese.

Bake the tart in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden, and crisp. Sprinkle the bacon lardons over the top. 

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Browsing the web, I’ve also come across links for all sorts of other amazing-looking puff pastry tarts. Check out these breakfast tarts from Drizzle and Dip, oh I am so definitely making these next!

Chorizo and Pepper Sausage Rolls

My best and worst ideas result from trying to avoid wasting offcuts of food. Once at university, my flatmate was trying to make fudge. It refused to set and we tried to turn it into cakes, by adding in approximately about half a tub of baking powder and strawberry food colouring. You can imagine the results were dire.

These mini chorizo sausage rolls are the complete opposite – they are stonkingly delicious! I had some pastry scraps and fancied using up the chorizo I had lying around too. It sounded pretty tasty in my head, and luckily, it turned out very tasty in reality too!

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I know it’s still November, but I can’t help thinking these would be perfect little bite size nibbles at Christmas parties. My pastry offcuts made 5 perfectly sized rolls, and I ate two warm out of the oven. Yummy. Sausage rolls are one of those delights where the homemade version is really so much tastier than anything you buy in a supermarket.

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I reckon the presence of chorizo instead of standard sausagemeat already makes them a little bit special, but you could always fancy these up even more by sprinkling some fennel seeds over the top or cracked black pepper.

Chorizo and Pepper Sausage Rolls

  • puff pastry offcuts
  • Spanish chorizo sausage, straight not curved segments only
  • 1 pepper, thinly sliced and lightly sauteed
  • 1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Roll out the puff pastry into a narrow long rectangle. Peel the paper around the chorizo away. Slice lengthways down the middle to split it partially open, and stuff this cavity with the cooked peppers. Lay the chorizo down the centre of the puff pastry rectangle. Now gather the sides of the puff pastry and pinch together in the middle to seal the pastry around the chorizo. Now flip the log of pastry wrapped chorizo over so the fold is underneath. Now cut the log into inch wide pieces. Prick the top of each chorizo roll with a fork, and brush with beaten egg. Pop them into a baking tray and put into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, reducing the oven temperature to 180˚C halfway through baking. Your chorizo might have oozed a lot of oil during baking, in which case transfer your rolls carefully onto a cooling rack to cool down. They might not get that far!

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Parma Ham, Leek and Gruyère Tart

I had a few days off recently, and used them to literally wander around central London, gorging myself on delicious things. Then I would trundle back home and cook up yet more yummy dishes, like this puff pastry tart for example.

I’ve always got a bit of puff pastry hiding in the freezer, and whilst there are loads of great uses for it (cheese straws, sausage rolls, jammy tarts, tarte tatin, a pie)….my favourite remains a savoury open tart.

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It was really scrummy, though I will be making a few alterations (as always) to make it even better! 🙂

I forgot to sautée the leeks, and they were as a result a little crisp, and scorched. I would definitely remember that next time, as well as upping the quantity of ham, and reducing the cheese.

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Beware flimsy baking trays! Mine warped, with one corner leaping a spectacular 3 inches. As a consequence, my tart didn’t emerge from the oven quite as neatly rectangular as I had hoped, and more of a rusticated rhombus.

I’ve got another half block of pastry, so I’ll be sure to try this tart again in the next few weeks, and feedback on how it turns out. I’ve also got a veggie-friendly mushroom version that I made earlier this year.

Triple Chocolate and Hazelnut Brownies

This is just a quickie post, with a phone picture too, but they were so tasty I couldn’t miss them off the blog. I made them as a way of using up some spare ingredients from the Nutella Torrone, but it’s easily tasty enough to be worth making even if you don’t happen to have the ingredients handy anyway!

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It’s a sticky, gooey sort of brownie, with that crispy sugary top, and is sure to go down well with everybody concerned, and you can play around with all the ingredient quantities too – the recipe is pretty flexible! It’s so easy that you can bung all the ingredients in one saucepan too, for minimal washing up. This brownie absolutely makes up for all the stress I had with the pâte sucrée of my previous post! Anyone else have those times too?

Triple Chocolate and Hazelnut Brownies

Makes 16 pieces

  • 100g butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 65g dark chocolate
  • 60g milk chocolate
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 80g plain flour
  • 20g ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 100g roasted skinned hazelnuts, chopped roughly
  • 100g nutella or other chocolate-hazelnut spread
  • 50g milk chocolate, chopped into pieces
  • 50g white chocolate, chopped into pieces

Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Line a brownie tin with baking paper.

Put into a saucepan the butter, sugar, 65g dark chocolate, 60g milk chocolate, and golden syrup. Heat gently until all melted together. Set aside to cool.

When cooled, stir into the chocolate mixture 2 eggs, and then follow with flour, ground almonds, baking powder and cocoa powder. Then stir into this brownie mixture most of the chopped nuts and chocolate, reserving some for sprinkling on top. Pour the brownie mixture into the baking tin and smooth.

Next dollop spoonfuls of chocolate hazelnut spread over the surface of the brownie and use a knife to gently swirl into the mixture. Finish off with a sprinkling of chocolate and finely chopped hazelnuts. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until no longer wobbly, and leave to cool completely before cutting into pieces.

Pierre Hermé Lemon Tart

This was going to be the year I finally tried baking pumpkin pie. Only when I got into Waitrose, they were point blank sold out of tinned pumpkin purée and I felt too lazy to roast and sieve out my own.

I always get this urge to bake all sorts of American-esque treats, graveyeard cakes and ghoulish fake fingers at Halloween but I usually never bother. Then Bonfire Night rolls around in quick succession, and before you know it, time for Christmas festivities and all that jazz.

But this year the weather has been playing funny. Although its November, the blue skies and warm temperatures are confusing me. What season is it supposed to be? My bake this weekend was more redolent of Summer, though I didn’t quite finish it time before the skies darkened, so there was a reminder that it is indeed the more wintry part of the year.

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When I tried the Dorie Greenspan Whole Lemon Tart recipe I published a few weeks ago, I felt it had a nice lemony flavour, but I was looking for a smoother, more creamy filling. This Pierre Hermé recipe looked just the ticket. I found the recipe on The Boy Who Bakes.

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For such a simple-looking tart, it turned out to be quite difficult. I can’t remember ever having had so many problems with my pâte sucrée before. I remade my tart case four times because it either splintered apart, or the sides slid down and deformed. On the penultimate attempt, I lined the tart with foil, only for it to stick fast, and then had an accident where it fell onto the floor and went splat.

Before you start thinking it’s all doom and gloom, let me get onto the best part of this tart, which is the curd filling. It is tangy, beautifully lemon, yet not too sweet, and tastes like a dream. Unlike the pastry, I didn’t have any problems at all. Although the recipe stated to heat it to 82˚C, it only ever reached 70˚C, but this didn’t affect the thickening process in the slightest.

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What looks like an innocent lemon curd contains an alarming quantity of butter. 300g to be precise. It makes me a little uncomfortable thinking about it! Next time, I will most definitely experiment with reducing this, as it seems a little excessive having more than one pat of butter in a single dessert. In fact, if you include the pastry, there’s probably more than two! Ergh!*

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I feel that the blogging baking craze has really quieted down from three years ago. Is this just me, or have others noticed this too? I know interest levels wax and wane, but it’s really sad to see a lot of my favourite bloggers stop posting! I miss all the weird and wacky ideas that used to constantly engage and excite me. I notice that when more successful bloggers write and publish a cookbook, that’s when the blog starts to fall by the wayside. I imagine the cookbook writing process is so intensive that you’re desperate to do something different after it’s finished, and then by that means, drift away from the blogging world. It’s such a shame, though I imagine it’s also hard always coming up with new material.

*I’ve halved the butter content since, and  although it’s not quite as thick, it does taste more or less the same. Hoorah! Still rich and lemony, but less likely to give you heart disease!