Vintage Jam Tarts Recipe

This jam tart recipe makes the cutest tarts ever. Cornmeal biscuit dough is the base, and you can play around with different shapes and sizes - they are delicious and buttery straight from the oven or at room temperature hours later.

Vintage Jam Tarts

This jam tart recipe reminds me of my grandma. My grandma on my mom's side of the family had a reputation for being more of a globetrotting traveler than that of a cook. She was widowed very young and I supposed cooking for one didn't really excite her. I remember a few things about the house she lived in - the smell of rose water in her bathrooms, a collection of tiny, hardback, Beatrix Potter books on her coffee table, and her oatmeal raisin cookies. Other than the cookies I don't remember much about her culinary skills. There is one story my dad loves to tell about the night she accidently baked a rubberband into his breaded porkchop. He still gets a good hearty chuckle out of this one - thirty years later. So given her reputation, you can imagine my surprise when my mom handed me a thread-barren, well-worn cookbook on Christmas morning and told me it was a favorite of my grandmas, given to her when she got married in 1932.

The book is titled Any one can Bake. It was published around 1927 by the Royal Baking Powder Company, it is one hundred pages in length, and the price on the cover is listed as $1.50. This book was clearly well-loved, and well used. There are a few spreads it in that have seen some heavy kitchen action. The recipes are kissed with smears and spatters, and some pages needed to be coaxed apart after years of being stuck together. It appears that muffins, waffles, and griddle cakes were in high rotation in her house.

Detail: School Lunch Illustration

One of my favorite sections is the one where they write about school lunches for kids. The chapter starts off with an illustration of three doll-faced little girls peering into a lunch pail, eager to see what sort of goodies mom had packed them. Delighted, one of the girls exclaims "Oh, look what mother gave me!"

I don't know about you, I mean maybe you were one of the lucky ones, but I don't remember ever having that reaction looking at my own lunch in grade school (sorry mom/dad). My late-1970's era California brown bag lunch consisted of peanut butter and honey on whole wheat, an apple, a single, small, red box of Sun-Maid raisins, and a Capri-Sun (if I was lucky). I still feel small pangs of guilt for throwing away all those apples and raisins over the years.

Towards the end of the School Lunch chapter the book suggests a short list of "recipes appropriate for children"....Butterscotch Curls, Easter Bunny Cakes, Merry-go Round Cake, and Jam Tarts. The Jam Tarts piqued my interest because they were made from a biscuit base rather than a traditional tart dough.

You roll out your biscuit dough and use a cutter to cut out circular shapes. Then go in and use a smaller cookie cutter on half of those. Look at the picture at the top of the page. Can you see how the shape cut with the small cutter is removed? You then stack the doughnut shape on top of one of the solid shapes and fill the center with jam. Cute, delicious, and easy.

Muffins + Waffles

I decided to adapt one of my favorite cornmeal biscuit dough recipes from my book and use that as the base for this recipe. Play around with different shapes and sizes - these are delicious and buttery straight from the oven or at room temperature hours later. These are definitely not shy on the butter front...maybe not the best way to kick of the new year, but they sure are tasty.

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Vintage Jam Tarts Recipe

1 cup finely-ground cornmeal
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons finely ground sea salt
2 tablespoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1/4-inch chunks
1 1/2+ cups milk
1 egg, just the egg white
1/3 cup jam (any flavor(s) you like)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Into a large bowl, or preferably, a food processor add the cornmeal, flours, salt, baking powder, sugar. To the dry ingredients add the butter. Using a pastry cutter or 30-35 quick pulses of the food processor, blend the mixture until it resembles tiny, sandy pebbles.

Dump the mixture into a medium bowl, add 1 1/2 cups of milk and with a fork stir just until everything is combined. You are going to roll out the dough, so if it is too wet, stir in a couple extra tablespoons of flour, if it is too dry stir in an extra tablespoon or two of milk. You don't want to overwork the dough, or your tarts will be tough, so stir only as much as you have to.

Dump the dough out onto a well-floured surface, pull it together into one large mound, and roll out until it is about 1/3-inch thick. Pat with more flour if things get sticky - sticky dough is your enemy in this recipe. Cut the biscuit dough with a medium cutter (the one I used was about 2-inches across), then cut half the rounds with a slightly smaller cutter.

Brush the large rounds with a bit of egg white - this will give the tarts that nice golden color. Place the outer rings on top, brush those with the egg white, and fill with a bit of jam.

Place the tarts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10-13 minutes - larger tarts will need to bake longer. The rimmed baking sheet is important to use because these tarts tend to have a bit of runoff, and you want to prevent a mess in your oven.

Makes about 1 - 2 dozen tarts, depending on the size of your cutters.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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Or, you know, many thanks 🙂


Hi Heidi,
I think this is my first time commenting here, but know your blog brings me lots of joy all the time!
I had a sweet adventure making these babies the other night. First my rolling pin disappeared; no matter, nothing a nice unopened New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc couldn’t understudy!
I was a little worried the butter hadn’t blended well enough because when I rolled out the dough, I could see little pockets of butter throughout. But I suppose those melted deliciously into the rest of the dough while baking, because they sure were scrumptious. I can’t say they were as pretty as yours … I’m not sure I rolled the dough thin enough, and the edges were flat rather than scalloped. They turned out rather enormous. But a friend sampled them and immediately declared I couldn’t change a thing next time. He also thought they were like (American) biscuits with the butter and jam already done for you — no work required — and christened them “Lazy Man’s Biscuits.”
Many things for a silly, delicious mid-week treat!


That’s almost a Jammie Dodger!


I love this site. Brings back memories of school lunches Mother made for me. I went to a one room country school and it was always interesting to see what came out of the lunch pails at noontime. My favorite sandwich was lettuce, Miracle Whip and white bread sandwich. A real treat. I remember one girl always had a chicken leg between two slices of white bread on Mondays. Leftover from Sunday dinner, I guess.
My own children attended grade school in an Oil Camp in North Africa and were able to eat at home each day. Fortunately their father was able to be there, as well. A very special family time.


I love it


These are very beutiful pastrys and my childeren love them


I, too, received some family cookbooks for Christmas. One belonged to my great grandmother and was published in 1877. It is titled Practical Housekeeping and instructs one on everything from cuts of meat to, soap making to (somewhat inaccurate and very comical) first-aid. What a treasure! As I looked through its food-stained, well worn pages, it brought tears to my eyes to know that my great grandmother depended on her treasured cookbooks then as I do now. I wonder which one of my 50+ cookbooks will still be around and treasured by my family 125 years from now.
Keep up the great content. I truly enjoy that you are sharing your love for the kitchen with all of us.


Vaoooooooo very nice


Grand Central Baking Co. in PDX and Seattle have been making these for years under the guise of “jammers” with luscious raspberry or blackberry jam centers. A straight butter biscuit base filled with jam is transformed from snack to meal when the treat in question is as big as your fist. What a great find!


I, too, initially thought that this was a flaky pastry. They’re absolutely gorgeous, Heidi.


Yummy yum yum.
Wow, I’m hungry now….


Oooh, I hope you post some more of the pictures – that one is fantastic! I collect the not-nearly-as-old but similarly kitschy to modern eyes “Heloise’s Helpful Household Hints” series – mainly for the adorable pen-and-ink drawings in them. (CERTAINLY not for the recipes – yech! The late fifties and early sixties wer not American cooking’s most shining moment.)


Don’t leave us in suspense. Please make the “Butterscotch Curls” and “Easter Bunny Cakes” next.


This recipe (and the resulting cookie) are rather similar to the kolatchkes that my family makes. There are two types — kolatch, which is a larger yeasted pastry (similar to a doughnut) and kolatchkes, smaller with cream cheese in the base.
Of course, I’m sure there’s a million recipes, all different for every Czech and Polish family. The point, I guess, is that some cream cheese would be good in there, too.


I love finding old cookbooks and all the nostalgia they bring with them. Recently my cousin found a copy of The NEW Settlement Cookbook(1954) at a garage sale and gave it to me. Little did he know that it had been a favorite of my mom’s at the time.
Thanks for sharing your walk down memory lane and your revised recipe.


I agree with Sam…at first I thought it was a puff-pastry dough…they look delicious…but I might be biased right now as I spent the whole pre-holidays looking for a recipe for Linzer cookies which are just like these but with a pate sable dough. So why did I need a recipe? Proportions and timing.
The illustration is adorable and I wonder if it alone is valuable as it looks like the same artist as the one who did the Campbell Soup kids.


Great find. I’ll have to fight the urge to put all of them in my lunches and share with the kids.


This reminds me of Maida Heatter’s inspiration cookbooks The Perfect Hostess Cookbook by MIldred O. Knopf, although yours is much older!
I have over the years collected cookbooks, and have often turned my nose up to local cookbooks (Nashville) but then decided that local cooking was a fun part of my childhood memories and turned to the Junior League cookbooks. I FELL ASLEEP like a buffoon last year in the closing minutes of an ebay auction for a first edition of the first Nashville Seasons cookbook, thinking nobody would want it. Someone did! I hadn’t seen one before and not since!


What a lovely story & a sweet cookbook. I bet it is a favorite for many reasons. I have a cute little handtyped cookbook put together and “mass” produced by typewriter by the ladies in a local church in the 1950’s. Each illustration is colored with colored pencil. This was done before everyone was doing a cookbook & is quite unique. It belonged to our nextdoor neighbor who left it to my Mom & Mom gave it to me, knowing I am a collector. Wish you could see it. The tarts look delicious. I know my husband would love these.


Oh my goodness! My mom had this book too. I remember the cute illustration of the kids and the waffle one too. Such sweet memories.
I looove little jam tarts, my mom used to use the leftover scraps from her meat pies and make them for us. Burnt my mouth on them so often.
What a great blog, will be back soon. Thanks for the memory.


fascinating. When I saw the picture I thought it was flakey pastry not biscuit. Then I read the recipe and got confused because of course biscuit means a very different thing to me than it does to you. But now I think I understand – its a ‘scone with an erupting jam-hole in its centre”, right?
I was looking at a vintageish (not nearly as old) book the other day and found a hilarious pic of volcanic potatoes which fred is eager for me to replicate.
when we made jam tarts as a kid, we just used plain shortcrust pastry with no sugar.
Every time my mum made any sort of pie with shortcrust pastry, she would use the left over scraps to make a wibbley-wobbley jam tart thingy. She used to put blackcurrant (the only jam i didnt like) inside when she didnt want to share it with us kids. I didnt mind – I was never a fan of shortcrust, epsecially made with margarine.
But the idea of jam tarts made with pate sucree and june taylor jam could be something I might revisit.


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