Each year we harvest a lot of fruit from our backyard orchard. Each year, I make a lot of jams and jellies. Each year I realize we don’t eat a lot of it. Hmmmm…
We used to plow through far more preserves when the boys were younger and all three were still at home. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were a frequent school lunch staple. But now, one boy is grown up and on his own, the second will soon fly the coop for college, and the last one prefers meat and cheese sandwiches. Oh boy(s).
Even after I gift jars to friends at Christmas, I still wind up with extras. I don’t get too terribly freaked out by old jars of preserves, but at the same time I’d kind of like to move on in life. That’s where this delightful jam tart comes into play.
As much as I love the thought of those little “thumbprint cookies”, where you make an indentation in the dough then fill it with jam, I’m more of a “one and done” kind of gal. I’ve never made those cookies because it just seems soooooo tedious to spoon the jam into each one. It’s not that I’m lazy (hellooo… have you even looked around this website??), but I am easily distracted and have a lot to do. So those are a “no” for me. Pasta Flora is like making a king sized thumbprint cookie, but taking a lot less time.
The base is a cross between a cookie and a pie crust. It’s buttery and tender, but not terribly sweet. This is good because obviously the jam is going to be. Sugar on sugar isn’t really that appetizing. Typically, apricot preserves are used for the filling, but clearly you can use whatever flavor you like. I even mix flavors to create new combinations. The one pictured here was a blend of orange marmalade and strawberry. Very yummy, especially when paired with a nice cup of coffee or tea!
Some quick notes before you begin:
Unlike a pie crust where you want to leave chunks of butter for flakiness, here you will mix your pastry dough to be more uniform in texture. No matter what, like all pastries, don’t over work your dough or it will become tough. It’s pastry, not bread.
Use salted butter. Yes, salted butter. Pastries made with plain butter often come out too sweet and lack full flavor. The salt will help to cut the sweetness and enhance the overall taste.
Though any flavor of jam is fine, don’t use jelly. Jams have chunks of fruit in them whereas jellies are just coagulated liquid (that’s a pretty picture, isn’t it?). If you use jelly, it will turn into a syrup with the heat of the oven and be reduced down to a sticky goo on top of the crust. It’s just not what we’re aiming for here.
Pasta Flora (Greek Jam Tart)
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 cup salted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 Tbsp. Metaxa (brandy can also be used, instead)
- 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cup jam of choice (check out my jams and jellies section for ideas!)
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a bowl, combine the flour and baking powder and set aside. Measure the flour by fluffing it up with a whisk and gently scooping it into your measuring cup.
In another bowl, beat the butter until very fluffy and pale in color. Add the sugar, egg, and Metaxa or brandy and beat until the sugar is nearly dissolved.
Add the flour to the butter mix and gently mix it in till combined. You can use an electric hand mixer on a low speed so as not to overwork the dough. Stop when the flour is mixed in.
Form the dough into a ball. Pinch off 10 small balls, about the size of an unshelled walnut. Shape each into a thin rope and set aside. Gently pat the rest of the dough into a 10 inch tart pan, equally distributing the dough across the bottom and up the sides. It will be rather soft and a little too sticky to roll.
Put the jam into the tart pan, using the amount needed to fill the bottom. The sides of the dough should still be higher than the jam to keep it from spilling over while baking. Lay the ropes across the top of the jam in a lattice pattern. Gently fold the edges of the dough over to create a rim around the sides (see the picture).
Bake the pasta flora for 30 to 35 minutes or until the dough is just beginning to turn golden brown. Allow the pastry to cool in the pan before serving as it will crumble if cut too early. Leftovers can be stored at room temperature, lightly covered with plastic. Since the jam was already cooked down prior to being baked in the pastry there is a low moisture content that won’t spoil quickly. You could also freeze this for longer storage, just bring to room temperature before serving. Enjoy!