I’ve had a lone jar of quince marmalade sitting in the back of my refrigerator for about a year now, and thought it was about time I humanely dealt with it.
Personally, I love quince.
I like them poached, stewed, roasted and make into jam. But judging from the still-to-the-brim jar that’s been relegated to the back corner of my fridge, it’s not as popular with others as it is with me. So I decided to kill two birds with one great recipe.
I’d flagged a lovely tart that Luisa at Wednesday Chef made a while back which featured—get this, a no-roll crust! I’m not a fan of cleaning up my counter (or my refrigerator, for that matter) especially when my housecleaner is on her annual eleven-week vacation. So the idea of a crust you just press into a tart mold, fill with jam, and top with the remaining bits, appealed to be more than you can imagine. It doesn’t take much to please me, does it?
Never content to rest on my laurels—or in this case, someone else’s, I tweaked the original recipe, swapping out some of the flour and mixing in stone-ground cornmeal, because frankly, anytime I can add cornmeal to something, I will.
I spread my unfairly neglected deep-ruby marmalade on the tart shell, but instead of rolling the dough for the top, I sliced rounds of the dough, cookie-like, placed them over the top, hit it generously with lots of cassonade sugar (with which I wasn’t stingy with), and baked it.
Everyone flipped when I bought it to the table. Holding our collective breaths, I slid the first slice neatly from the pan, making a picture-perfect triangle. And the taste? Out of this world. The buttery crust was a crumbly counterpoint to the conserved fruit filling. This tart has it all: easy to make, a perfect vehicle for leftovers, and neat slices; this is going right into my make-more-often files, and I’ve got a few jars of jam in my cupboard that are destined to become tarts in the near future. If I could only get my hands on some Concord grapes around here, I think that would be the home-run.
Now here’s the kicker.
I was staying with friends in the country this weekend and—get this, their oven doesn’t have a temperature dial. When I moved to France, I was as shocked as the next person (unless the next person was French…) to find that some ovens here just give general “guidelines” as to how hot they are. This one just had two settings: MAX and MIN, and a anonymous curve of gradations in between. And neither, in my opinion, bore any relationship to the actual temperature inside the oven.
I know how scared some people can be from veering away from recipes. But fear not, my friends. In spite of what your high school guidance counselor said to you, as mine said to me, I have every bit of confidence in you (oh, how I longed too hear those very words…), and I’m positive that you can figure out when it’s cooked. Simply bake your tart in the oven until—get this (again), until it’s done. That’s right. Just pop it in the oven at its most middling of temperatures, say around 375F (190C), until it’s nice and browned on top, as shown.
Hey, if the French can do it, so can you. And they’re certainly no slouches at baking—now, are they?
Easy Jam Tart
Adapted from the Crostata recipe at Wednesday Chef
This should work with any jam, conserves, or marmalade, but I’d be a bit wary about using jelly, which may be too thin and runny. I’m thinking next time about adding a small amount of finely-chopped fresh rosemary to the dough, and you could certainly add a few swipes of fresh citrus zest, or a dusting of ground cinnamon or cardamom, if you’re so inclined.
And although the tart is fine just as is, you could certainly serve this with vanilla or fresh ginger ice cream, or some whipped cream, to dress it up.
- 9 tablespoons (110g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 1/2 cups (190g) flour
- 1/2 cup (70g) stone-ground cornmeal or polenta
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder (preferably aluminum-free)
- 1 3/4 cups (450g) apricot, raspberry or other jam
- coarse raw sugar; known as cassonade, turbinado, or demerara sugar, for finishing the tart
1. Beat together butter and sugar until well-combined. Mix in the egg, egg yolk and almond extract.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking powder. Gradually add the dry ingredients, just until the mixture just comes together.
3. Measure out 11 ounces (300g), which is about 2/3rd of the dough if you don’t have a scale, pat it into a disk, wrap it in plastic, and chill it. Take the remaining dough and roll it into a log about 2-inches (5cm) in diameter, wrap it and chill it, too
4. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow to room temperature slightly. With the heel of your hand, press the dough into the bottom and sides of an unbuttered removable bottom tart pan (one that’s 9″ or 10″, 24cm), or springform pan, patting it evenly.
5. Spread the jam evenly over the dough.
6. Remove the log of dough from the refrigerator and slice in cookie-sized disks, then lay them over the jam. Top very generously with lots of coarse raw sugar, at least 2 tablespoons.
7. Bake until the pastry is golden brown. (If you don’t trust yourself, or your oven, Luisa’s recipe says 20-25 minutes.) Let cool before serving, and serve at room temperature.
Storage: Although lovely just after it’s made, this tart will meld together beautifully overnight and will keep well for a couple of days, well-wrapped. Since it’s not-so-fragile, it’d be perfect to take along on a picnic.
Ripe For Dessert (My quince marmalade recipe)
Quince paste (Membrillo) (Simply Recipes)
Slow-baked quince (In Praise of Sardines)
Quince tartlets: (Tartlette)
Quince caramels: (Chez Pim)