I was having one of those days. One of those days when nothing was going quite right, one of those days when you really have two options: bang your head at a slow but steady pace against a wall or curl up into a ball and let those crocodile tears fall. (Note: these can’t be done at the same time, so don’t even try it). I really hate feeling sorry for myself. I do.
So, I decided on a third option: it was time to bake.
I immediately visited the ever-so-lovely Smitten Kitchen. I found a comforting dessert that seemed a bit out of my league but well within the realms of my kitchen reality. I wanted to stretch, but I did not want–could not, in fact–fail right now.
And, so, I introduce you to the jam tart. The crust comes together in mere minutes. The filling comes straight from a jar. Yet, it’s delicious. It’s impressive. It’s tangy, crumbly, moist, and gorgeous…and looks as though you slaved away. It’s perfect for an evening dessert with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. It’s perfect for a morning brunch. It’s perfect for afternoon tea.Really, this tart can solve world peace if you’d let it. Especially because when it’s finished, I promise you, you’ll feel as though you’ve accomplished something wonderful. Well done, you. Really, well done!
Blackberry Jam Tart
Adapted from Ready for Dessert and Smitten Kitchen
I wasn’t a perfectionist with this recipe. I couldn’t afford to be, and really, you don’t need to be. Don’t worry about not overlapping each of the sliced dough pieces evenly. Don’t worry if you use too much or too little jam. Just worry that you haven’t made two of these, because you’re just going to want more!
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup stone-ground cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, whole
1 large egg, separated [Save the egg white to make a glaze for the top crust]
1/8 teaspoon almond extract [I used vanilla extract]
1 1/3 to 1 3/4 cups jam [I used blackberry preserves] or marmalade
2 tablespoons coarse-crystal or granulated sugar
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or in a food processor, mix the butter and 1/2 cup sugar together until smooth. Add the egg, egg yolk (remember to save the egg white for later) and almond (ahem: vanilla!) extract and beat until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture and mix until the dough just comes together.
Transfer about one-third of the dough to a lightly floured counter and shape it into a log about 2 inches in diameter. (I placed the dough directly on the plastic wrap and shaped in right on there–no need to flour and get messy if you don’t feel like it.) Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it until needed. (I don’t believe in waiting; I popped it in the freezer for 30 minutes.)
Transfer the remaining dough to a buttered 9-inch (23-cm) tart pan. Using your hands, press the dough evenly into the bottom. If using a tart pan, press the dough up the sides to the rim of the pan and set the tart pan on a baking sheet. Refrigerate the dough-lined pan until firm, at least one hour. (Lazy alert take 2: the freezer can be your friend again.)
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spread the jam evenly over the dough in the pan. Cut the chilled dough into very thin discs with a sharp paring knife. Arrange them slightly overlapped in concentric circles over the jam to form a top crust. (Since I did not prepare correctly, I did not have enough dough to overlap each disk. Not to worry! Remember, you can’t fail with this tart!) Whisk the remaining egg white with a teaspoon of water until frothy; brush evenly over the tart lid and then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons coarse sugar. Bake until the top crust is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely.
Do ahead: If you don’t happen to have an event in a few days, but have had a recent evening of the blues, don’t fret! This tart keeps beautifully for a few days if kept at room temperature and wrapped well.