Thursday, 31 May 2007

Jam Tarts (gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free)

It doesn’t happen often enough, but I really enjoy cooking with my children. Not the cooking whereby I am in the kitchen drinking wine and they are out in the garden, but the proper kind where we are all toiling and making a mess together. Bizarrely, I did it more when I had three children under the age of three and a half. I suppose if your life is in total disarray, you may as well add a messy kitchen to the mix.

Now, when we do it, I enjoy watching them squidge dough around, decorate Gingerbread in intricate ways and stir steaming pans; knuckles white with fear, terrified eyes fixed and staring. I think the latter is due to me being a bit graphic about the potential for third degree burns when playing near the stove.

A few years ago, my number two piglet helped me make a cake. I remember this being a guilt-driven cake. Her baby brother had arrived so soon after her own birth, I was concerned she would never have any Mummy left for her. So as soon as he was having a nap and the biggest piglet was at pre-school, we embarked on the cake.

We smiled happily and chatted to each other as she cracked the eggs, mixed, got fed up, I mixed, she poured, I mixed, she sieved, I mixed and finally it was all ready for the cake tin.

My bright little girl is very technically minded. She does all the pink stuff too, but has always, always wanted to know how stuff works and how it’s put together. She hovered near me as I started to pour the mix into the tin. At the crucial moment she found the answer to the question that had been bugging her. Just what is that lever for on the side of the tin?

In an instant the Mother-daughter smiling idyll was shattered as the lovingly prepared cake mix oozed from the cake tin and spread slowly over the table. We both stared in horror. She was the most horrified. I was the most vocal. As she ran sobbing up the stairs I frantically scooped the mix back into the tin with my hands and hoped no-one would notice.

We kissed and made up, but ‘the day L opened the springform tin’ has gone down in the annals of Porker family history as one of the more comic cooking moments.

I hope you have a small child to hand with whom you can make these jam tarts. They’re very easy, no levers involved, and all being well you can pass a happy moment together in the kitchen.

Happy Kitchen Jam Tarts (makes about 12)
I love the texture of this pastry. It's really moist and very easygoing, none of that cracking rubbish you get when using wheat flour. The sweet potato does give it a slightly orange hue, which doesn't bother me at all, especially not when it tastes so yummy.

145g sweet potatoes (weigh them after you have peeled them)
100g rice flour (plus some extra) (here's one)0.5 tsp gluten-free baking powder (here's one)
0.5tsp xanthan gum (here's one)
60g dairy-free spread (here's one)
60g caster sugar
About 15tsps of gluten-free jam of your choice

  • Peel the sweet potatoes, weigh out 145g, and then cook them in boiling water until they are soft. Drain them and mash them until they are smooth. Spread the mash out on a plate and leave to get cold in the fridge. You can make this up to 24 hours in advance. The mash needs to be really cold
  • Put the rice flour, baking powder, xanthan gum and sugar into a large mixing bowl
  • Add the dairy-free spread and rub it into the flour mix until it looks like breadcrumbs. It won't look like fine breadcrumbs, but don't worry
  • Add the sweet potato mash and using the back of a metal spoon mix and squidge it all together until it forms a dough. It could be that the dough is too wet and sticky to work with, so add more rice flour, tablespoon by tablespoon. Mix after each addition until you get a soft, pliable dough that isn't sticky. Chill the dough in the fridge for about half an hour, (you can leave it for longer if it suits you, I've done it for at least 4 hours and it's been fine)
  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius / Gas mark 4 whilst the dough is chilling and grease your jam tart tray
  • Flour a smooth work surface and roll out the dough to a thickness of about 4mm. Sprinkle more flour over the top of the dough if the rolling pin sticks, adding extra flour doesn't seem to make any difference to the final dough
  • Using a round biscuit cutter cut out the rounds and place them into your greased jam tart tray
  • Put about a teaspoon of jam into each tart base, don't overload because it all bubbles up and out during cooking, don't fill more than half full
  • Bake in the oven for about 12 minutes or so, until the pastry is golden brown and the jam is bubbly and melted
  • Leave to cool in the tray and remove when cold
  • These are good for the school run, but take a pack of wipes with you

© Pig in the Kitchen 2007

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beta mum said...

I'm not great at cooking with the children, as Ben was my first and his brand of cooking tended more towards the throwing across the room rather than spooning into the tin.
It's easier now they're older - so maybe I'll try this one with Hannah.
Ben doesn't like jam tarts - doesn't like much actually, unless it's got chocolate in it. Or ketchup.

Suffolkmum said...

We're a bit of a jam tart family, so will definitely try this! I always did more baking with them when they were smaller, too. Like you say, what's bit more chaos?!

@themill said...

Thanks for calling by to my place. Wish I'd had access to your knowledge when my eldest was small as he seemed to be allergic to most things. Still not good on lactose, but he seems to monitor it pretty well.
I miss cooking with little people, I think I'll have to borrow a niece.

Stay at home dad said...

They look so great I am actually tempted to bake!

Lee said...

Love the story about the springform pan! I can see it unfolding right before my eyes!

The tarts look beautiful! Tempting enough that I might actually try making them....

lady macleod said...

You have tugged at my heart with this story, as you do so often. Q rarely even allows me in the kitchen, certainly NEVER when she is cooking. A bit of a different dynamic here.

Sugarfox said...

Love the jam tart story. Having no piglets of my own I was tempted to try to persuade the cat to get involved - but she's far more into savoury than sweet.........
I will though most definitely be making your truffles - the most gorgeous truffles I've ever eaten!

muddyboots said...

When Harry was smaller he used to enjoy helping in the kitchen, now he is larger we argue in the kitchen!

mutterings and meanderings said...

Your piglets do make me laugh!

They are "The Queen of Hearts, she made some tarts" type of tarts Pig.

merry weather said...

Hello PITK, I've stumbled in here and am finding it hard to leave! My youngest has eczema and asthma plus is allergic to eggs and celery - wish I'd found your gorgeous kitchen before...

aussie mum said...

Hi PITK, as a very priviliged person with insider knowledge (that is, having being very fortunate to have met you in person on 1 wonderful occasion!), I have to tell you I am desperately waiting for the chilli chocolate truffle recipe I sampled last week. I wish to impress my australian visitors in a few weeks, I believe I have a few friends in Aus also waiting for same recipe!!

debio said...

Everyone, simply everyone should encourage their children to cook, mess around or whatever with food. The conversations I have ahd with my daughter which have sprung from cooking have been irreplaceable.
Lovely blog.

rilly super said...

I don't think I have made jam tarts since I was your children's age PITK. I'm not going to tell you how long ago that was but I'm tempted to see if they come out better than they did then

Around My Kitchen Table said...

Mmmm, jam tarts. Took me straight back to my childhood. My mum used to make lemon curd tarts too.

Drunk Mummy said...

Oh Pig - that story cracked me up. I have lost count of the number of times I have done some baking with the kids as a 'treat' only for the whole thing to dissolve into a seething mass of recrimination. I'm a lot better now at keeping things jolly, but maybe its just that these days, they help to clear up the mess!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Beta mum, yes, cooking with kids can be v. messy, ketchup tarts, they might do rather well in our house.

Suffolkmum, glad i'm not the only one who spent the early years in fact the chaos is still here

@themill, welcome. I'm glad your eldest has grown out of most things? I'm hoping for that with my littlest pig. I have four children you are welcome to borrow for an unspecified amount of time.

SAHD, think of the kudos with your wife if you gave her a home-baked jam tart when she came home

Lee, thank-you for kind comments, the tarts are rather yummy!

Lady M, I am looking forward to the day when my children will cook for me.

Sugarfox, welcome! May I say that you have a fabulous name? And you appear to have sampled my truffles? I'm intrigued...

muddyboots, at least he comes into the kitchen...!

M&M, I can laugh now...

Merry weather, thanks for stopping by. Allergic to celery? that's a new one, I shall have to google it! Bless you for saying my kitchen is gorgeous...

Aussie Mum you are welcome in my kitchen, especially when you say such lovely things! The chocolate chilli truffles are coming very soon!

Debio, hello. Thank-you for the encouragement, it is good to cook with them isn't it? I shall continue...

rilly, making jam tarts is a childhood rite of passage, just think of the wisdom you could bring to the task now...go on, have another go! (so how old are you?!)

amkt, lemon curd tarts sound lovely! I may have to give those a whirl...

Drunkmummy, yes, the shiny happy mummy veneer is easily dulled when tripping over wee ones in the kitchen!

The Trainee Nutritionist said...

ello ello, just made these beautiful jam tarts. V nice and love the pastry, you're right about the colour looks gorgeous. Luckily i doubled the pastry batch so can make some more tommorrow..hmmm. I would like to also have a go at using the pastry recipe and making little meat pies. Love your page you rock.

Love Fee