The Queen of Tarts

What better way to ring in the new year, dear readers, than to share one of my very favorite family traditions with you. Every Christmas, Nanny makes her famous tarts! They are really a unique little treat: flaky pastry filled with jam and topped with buttery yellow cake. We usually serve them along side our usual pies for dessert at our big Christmas dinner. But they are also excellent with a cup of coffee for breakfast, or – my personal favorite – in the afternoon with a cup of Earl Grey tea!

Nanny’s Raspberry Tarts


3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups milk


2 cups flour
1 cup shortening
about 3/4 cup ice water


Seedless raspberry jam

Note: This is a VERY old recipe that goes back several generations in my family. In recent years, I have found that the cake recipe does not turn out as well as it did in the past. I have unfortunately seen this happen with several of my truly VINTAGE recipes, likely due to a change in the quality of ingredients available. I suggest using the Liniment Cake recipe for these tarts instead of the one listed here. However, I will leave Nanny’s original recipe here, for the sake of history!

First, make the batter. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and the flour and the baking powder.

Next, add the flour and the milk alternately to the creamed mixture, starting and ending with the flour. It usually takes about 2-3 additions of each. Beat the batter until very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Set the batter aside, and make the pastry.

Sift the flour into a bowl. Add the shortening, and cut it into the flour using a pastry blender until the mixture resembles course crumbs.

Next, add the ice water. Sprinkle it all over the mixture and use your hands to work it in until it all comes together in a ball. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and roll the crust out very thin, to about 1/8 inch thickness. Cut the dough into about 3-inch rounds, and fit the dough into your tin the same way you would fit a pie crust into a pie dish!

These are Nanny’s tart tins. They came from her mother (my great-grandmother) in England.  They really resemble sort of a slightly deeper-than-usual mini muffin tin. Nanny has always used this old tea cup to cut the crust, as it is the perfect size to fit her tart tins!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

To assemble the tarts, place about a tablespoon of raspberry jam into the bottom of each crust. Then top the jam with a spoonful of cake batter, sealing to the crust around the top.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the tops turn golden brown. Enjoy!!!

The Queen of Hearts she made some tarts all on a summer’s day;
The Knave of Hearts he stole the tarts and took them clean away.
The King of Hearts called for the tarts and beat the Knave full sore
The Knave of Hearts brought back the tarts and vowed he’d steal no more.

-Lewis Carroll

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