mostly about food and cooking, but also the stories about the Bread and the Butterflies!

Jam and Treacle Tarts

In Baking, on the side, Tea Party, Vegetarian on September 5, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Jam and Treacle Tarts

This weekend, I finally snapped out of my laziness and decided, after a long gap, to fire up the oven.  The extended rains have brought lowered the temperature enough to consider outside of subsistence food and I thought I might bake some tarts.

The pages of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland are replete with mentions and tales of much food.  Just as there is purpose to every word of fantasy and nonsense in Alice, it is there to the bits about food as well.  It is as much a tale of wonder for children as it a reflection of the times.  The frequent discussions about food in the story are but a contrast to the scarcity of food in Victorian times.  And, like most of us today, Alice too seems to rely on something to eat or drink to alter her size all the time!

Jam and Treacle Tarts

Jam and Treacle Tarts

In modern times we are equally obsessed with food but for different reasons.  We are constantly trying to put food in some category or another and then assigning a value to the food as well as to the diets they fit into.  Some foods, and some diets then get to be regarded as inferior/superior.  Whether a people are vegetarian or eat meat, has all come out of pragmatism and to put values on these seems ridiculous.  I have the same view of raw-food and similar such other diets.  A good diet for anyone is surely one they can stick to without harming themselves or others?  If you are going to eat the shark to extinction, then there is a problem.  For me, a good diet is also one that does not require me to analyse food excessively before I can decide if it fits into the way I ought to eat.  That would make shopping for food such a chore!

If some foods are off the list, how come we are always looking for a substitute?  If I think milk ought to be out of my diet then why must I go out of my way to make ‘milk’ from everything I can lay my hands on?  Heck, if I were to take milk out of the equation I wouldn’t be able to pour myself a cup of tea!  I apply the same reasoning to butter and cream; if I think I ought to not eat them, then I just don’t eat them.  I don’t substitute them with something that is pretending to be butter/cream.  Actually, what I really do is consume butter and cream in moderation.  That way I never have to say never!  Unless, of course, there is a medical reason for doing so.  Again, this is my reasoning and it works for me.  I am sure others have their reasons for choosing to eat they way they do.  Who am I to tell them to follow my reason!

Ahimsa (nonviolence) is an important tenet of Buddhism as well as Jainism, and Hinduism.  That is the reason that most followers of these religions abstain from consuming food that is nonvegetarian or that likely to harm life in the course of its getting to our table.  Yet, many Buddhists in Thailand and Japan are consumers of meat and seafood.  They are just being practical; if you have scarcity of land and are surrounded by the bounty of the seas, it only makes sense to harvest some of it.  So, before we say that vegetarian, or non-vegetarian, or vegan, or raw-food, or any other diet is superior, let us just take a deep breath.  If one of them works better for us, that is just splendid!  We have found what works best for us; stick to it!

To quote Julia Child, “Everything in moderation… including moderation!” And with that, it is time for a treat!  What better that to bake tarts in praise of Alice!

Kakvi - liquid jaggeryThis was my first time making shortcrust pastry and I don’t even own a kitchen scale.  With some trepidation I measured out the ingredients for the pastry.  I needed 100gms of butter.  Actually, the recipes varied between 100-140gms for the same quantity of flour, which can only mean that shortcrust pastry is a little, if not a lot, forgiving.  To measure the 100gms I imagined our 500gm Amul butter slab, and guesstimated what 1/5 of that would look like.  If you are not as skilled at imagining, I recommend you use a kitchen scale.  I had some homemade lime marmalade and mango-lime jams that would so splendidly for the filling. After checking a few recipes, I got bolder.  It didn’t look like a lot of work if you were making just jam tarts.  All the work was in  the shortcrust pastry and not much of that even.  So, I looked up another ingredient from the Alice book – treacle.  We get neither Golden syrup nor treacle readily. But sitting in the fridge, waiting its turn was a small bottle of kakvi (liquid jaggery), that Shilpa had brought me on her visit here a few years ago!  It may not be the same but it seemed like the ingredient meant for such a recipe.

Jam and Treacle Tarts

I looked up a few recipes. For the shortcrust recipes vary from no sugar in the crust to a considerable amount of it. I decided to err on the side of moderation! Some used eggs, some didn’t; I went with no eggs in the shortcrust. For the filling too, there were many variations, usually calling for a mix of golden syrup and dark treacle and all warning of the resulting intense sweetness. The kakvi provided the perfect sweetness, combined with egg and some fresh breadcrumbs.

Jam and Treacle Tarts
Jam and Treacle Tarts
(makes 12 tarlets)

For the shortcrust pastry:
Adapted from this and this)
1 1/2 cups maida (AP flour)
1/2 cup atta (whole wheat flour)
100gms unsalted butter
zest of 1 lime
5T ice cold water
1/4t salt
1 T powdered sugar

Jam Filling: jam of choice, 1 teaspoon full for each tartlet

Treacle filling:
(for 6 tartlets)
(Adapted from Nigel Slater’s  and this recipe)
in a mixing bowl combine the following ingredients:
4 T kakvi
1 small egg
fresh breadcrumbs from one slice of bread
1t minced ginger
zest of one lime
juice of half a lime

Cut the chilled butter into bits.  I was using homemade butter which has a higher water content and just crumbles.  I sifted the flours before measuring by spoonfuls into the cup measure. In the jar of a food processor combine all the ingredients except the water.  Once the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, add the chilled water, one tablespoon at a time.  Depending on humidity, the water content of the butter, you may need less or more water.  Use just enough that it all starts to come together. Turn it on to the work surface and press together to form a soft ball of dough.  Wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C or Gas mark 4.  Grease a 12-muffin pan with butter.  Dust the working surface and your rolling pin with flour and roll out the chilled dough to a thickness of 5mm. [I rolled mine a bit thinner, but keep it 5mm thick.]  Using a fluted cutter, cut circles of dough slightly bigger than your pan depressions. [Again, mine were bigger and so the filling appears not up to the brim.]  With a light hand pick up the circles and gently ease them into the molds.

Spoon in filling of choice.  Bake for 15-20 minutes till the crust is golden.  Serve hot or at room temperature with ice cream.  Or a cup of tea!

Have you had your Tea Party yet? I am sure there is somebody reading this blog! Come to the Party so I know you are there! I hate to be at the table all by myself! 🙂

  1. Ummm they look so yum,,,:) u r tempting mento bake some,,,:)

    The are so easy and quick to bake!

  2. I cherish your write ups just the way I cherish my bowl of Rasmalai. cant tell you how much I look forward to your posts. wanted to take part in the party but not very well for quite sometime and had to give it a miss. love the tarts, homey and so comforting.
    Between am also planning to buy a good oven can you suggest any brand. thanks.

    Thanks for reading, Sayantani!
    I have a Faber (gas based) cooking range and the oven is very good. There is a huge choice in the market these days, though.

  3. Alice and treacle tart-perfect! Actually it brought back that childhood staple-Enid Blyton and her adventurous characters…. I liked the liquid jaggery touch. Mango-Lime combination sounds very tempting Anita!

    The lime cuts the sweetness of the mangoes beautifully besides adding to the texture!

  4. Yes- jam pastries/tarts are the easiest! They look absolutely splendid, Anita!

    Since you’re just beginning, I feel I can rattle off some extra info for you and any other readers: one can also use chilled ghee instead of butter… use about 1:2 ratio in volume… even a bit more flour (say… 1 C ghee to 2.25 C flour). And then, as for the sugar: one can use up to 1 part (granulated) for very-sweet… notice this 1:2:1 ratio is he same as for short-bread cookies and many ladoos… the dough of which is essentially a very-sweet pastry (use double volume of pdr’d sugar). My mother uses none for her fruit pies. I use about 1 T per 2 C flour. Egg can replace all/part of the water for binding- adds richness. Another pastry uses cream cheese/drained yoghurt for moisture (delicious!).

    A fun thing to try sometime: place a spoonful of jam between two circles of dough; seal the edges by dabbing water along the bottom near the edge before laying the second circle; cut plain or fancy vents in the top circle; lightly sprinkle with sugar if you wish; bake flat.

    Endless fun! 😉

    You know the science behind the cooking which makes is so much easier to substitute! I just wing it and no wonder I am reluctant to try many recipes for which ingredients are hard to find and need substitution.

    Little jam ‘pies!’ Fancy heart shapes would be so much fun especially when baking for little children! So mush fun, yes!

    I think I will be baking these again. They are as quick as the coffee cake I bake!

    • I liked the idea of cream cheese and hung curd/ drained yogurt in the pastry. I have used/substituted this in cheesecakes.
      So also chilled ghee! 🙂

      Pelicano is full of wisdom!

      • There are French cooks who always use clarified butter in pastries- one needs a few more drops of water for binding, but otherwise it does work well indeed! I use it also for some cakes… 🙂 Not that I make sweets often… but these posts make me dream. 😀

        Stop dreaming, and get into the kitchen! There’s some baking to be done!
        The French use cultured butter like us, so the clarified butter must be very much like ghee!

  5. I look forward to your posts because it is always accompanied by such good write ups! And the recipes always works. You did it again this time. The tarts look tastefully rustic.

    Thanks for reading, Poornima! I look forward to your responses too!
    Go ahead, give the tarts a try!

  6. Hey! Anita, You do set a pretty table….love your post not to mention the tarts.

    Elaichi’s comments bought back sweet memories…My son used to take these homemade jam rounds to Preschool every day with his carrot sticks and apples!! Sprinkling it with colored sugar crystals gives it a nice touch.

    I used to fill it with sweet and sour mango chutney or a potato/paneer filling for us adults…It used to make a warm nice treat when it was snowing!!Sweet memories….I really need to repair that oven and fast:-)

    Keep up the good work, Anita.

    Thanks, Rameshwari. Yes, fix that oven quick; winter approacheth! Nothing like filling your kitchen in the winter with baking smells and the warmth!

  7. Oh what a perfect sight- cups of tea and sweet buttery tarts! I’m planning to join the party in my own small way.

  8. Oh shoot- did not realize the deadline passed by yesterday. Sigh OK then I’ll cheer from the sidelines.

    There’s still time – till the 22nd!

  9. Love your treacle and tarts. Was thinking of making some this weekend, till I saw Nupur’s comment about deadline…. looking forward to the round up in that case 🙂

    On some requests, the deadline has been extended till Sept 22! Join in if you can!

  10. Dear sister,

    Your tarts look delicious. I love your comments on moderation. I am always in conversations with my colleagues here about the balanced diet and cooking! Cooking is glamorized, so much that people forget that there is the everyday cooking. I so want to do a study the correlates the fancy kitchen redo’s with the actual amount of hours people are cooking in these kitchens using the 10K Viking range that they put in. As you see I can go on and on. I thank you in encouraging people to find what works for them and not get worry about the latest fad in diet or the replacement ingredients that are being touted as being just as good and sometimes ever better. If only that were true!

    Keep up the good work sis!

    🙂 We know how to eat well without fretting over it! Sometimes I feel too much science has become detrimental to eating a balanced diet!
    Hope you had yourself another party!

  11. Anita- Enjoyed reading this post. I am not a great tart fan, but I am getting drawn to the idea of a mad tea party.. all I need is the tea and cakes. Have enough of mad.
    Like Mini, loved your comments on moderation. Keep up the good work, one of these days, let there be a book !

    A book will be so much work! Good to see you here!

  12. Lovely post, I love baking, but have never tried tarts, as most of the recipe call for blind baling and so one. I will try this one.
    Also liked your balance opinion about being judgemental to people’s food choice.

    These little tartlets don’t require baking blind! Go ahead, give them a try!

  13. Anita: Lovely post (as always).

    I am surprised that Golden Syrup is not easily available in India. Swati also mentioned that recently. I always got Golden Syrup in India, and easily for about 25 years now. It is a star ingredient in my pineapple upside down cake.

    There is this shortcrust pastry recipe I use that never fails – no weighing scales, no eggs. An old Ann Pillsbury recipe:

    Also, I think in your recipe the temperature should read 180C. I am not sure the tarts will bake at 180F in 20 minutes.

    I have never seen it on shelves here. Maybe I need to ask the grocer!
    This winter I am going to try my hand at baking a pie. Apple pie will be the first one to be tried and apples are already in season!
    Thanks for pointing out the temperature error – have fixed it!

  14. After I made the jam tarts, I made apple and cream cheese tarts… and I used only Atta. Came out lovely!

    You are on a roll, Raaga!

  15. […] tarts are synonymous with Alice.  I decided to finally try my hand at baking then.  I made tarts with lime marmalade, and mango jam.  I also attempted a recipe for a treacle filling with kakvi […]

  16. […] Jam and Treacle Tarts ( […]

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