Jam tarts are definitely a part of my childhood. They are humble, cheap to make and such a pretty little treat. It’s funny how simple pastry with a blob of jam can turn into something so exciting, with chewy bits, bubbling bits, crunchy bits and jammy jelly bits. Even if you cheat a little, and buy ready-made pastry, just the ritual of filling these tarts with your favourite jams and then baking them can be really relaxing. The beauty of these for me is playing with the different jam or jelly flavours so you get a rainbow of colours. Just about every supermarket in Britain stocks a great selection of posh jams: strawberry, blackberry, blueberry, gooseberry, apricot, cranberry ... the sheer number of fillings available now makes these even more exciting than the ones I had as a kid.
Put the flour, sugar and butter into a food processor with a pinch of salt and pulse until you have a mixture that looks like breadcrumbs. Crack in the egg, grate in the zest from your orange or lemon and pulse again, adding a little splash of milk to bring everything together, if needed. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and pop it into the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Dust a clean surface and a rolling pin with flour and roll out the pastry so it’s 0.5cm thick. Get yourself a few 12-hole jam tart trays (or cook the tarts in batches) and a fluted pastry cutter just a little bigger than the holes of the tray (normally around 6cm). Cut out rounds of pastry and gently push them into the wells so they come up the sides. Any leftover pastry can be gently pushed back into a ball and rolled out to make a few more tarts. Put 1 heaped teaspoon of filling into each jam tart, interspersing and alternating the flavours of jams, curds or jellies.
Pop the trays on the middle shelf of the oven and cook for around 12 to 15 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the filling is thick and bubbling. Remove from the oven, leave in the tray to firm slightly, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool for a few minutes before serving.
PS: I know this might sound a bit girly, but if you can track down a lovely old tart tin from an antique shop, then serve these straight out of the tin – it looks really good, as the old tins are really cute. See, I told you it was girly!