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The Delectable Diary of Hayley Harland: Plate to Page Tuscany & Jam tart recipe

07 November, 2011

Plate to Page Tuscany & Jam tart recipe

Photo by Denise
The yellowing hills are silent and still apart from the occasional twitter from a bird that decided to brave the winter. Then, 16 ravenous food bloggers scrunch down the gravel track to Il Salicone, a remote and historic winery, to quaff Chianti and gorge themselves on Tuscan cuisine.

It’s November and the sun is so baking, it’s lit up a rosy blush in everyone’s cheeks. Food is brought out and there is a gentle lull in conversation as half of the participants for this unusual workshop fill their mouths and the other half snap away on their cameras. Upon the table are platters of antipasti. Cured meats curl over one another: peppered salami with glistening white dots and salty prosciutto crudo with marbled fat that melts like olive oil the moment it feels the warmth of lips. A circle of cheese has been so evenly sliced, to take a piece would be like messing with the sacred geometry of Florence’s Duomo. Though, this doesn’t hold anyone back for long. It is mixed with the sweetness of honey, creating a whole new kind of symmetry. 

Photo by Denise
After a filling second course and plenty of jam tart, we finish the meal with cantuccini. Typically a hard crunch against the teeth, this almond cookie is softened today by red wine, from grapes picked in the surrounding vineyards. As the thirsty biscotto sucks up any remaining liquid, it leaves dirty pink sediment in the bottom of the glass. This is a custom usually observed with Vin Santo, but today, acidic Sangiovese seems more appropriate as the conversation flows from chocolate tart to gluttony and the seven deadly sins.

As we meander back to the villa, we discuss gratitude and appreciating the little things that make life beautiful. There was nothing particularly fancy about the meal, leek frittata and a decent Tuscan bottle, but even though we’re here because of the food, that’s not what Plate to Page is entirely about. For a group of people who can gaily chat away over lunch like old friends, it’s odd to think we only met yesterday. Surely, time has been stolen from elsewhere? Perhaps it lingers in the stillness of the air, or in the ancient walls of Il Salicone, suspended during our hours together.

Photo by Judith

Jam tart, simple but beautiful

When the warming smell of sweet pastry wafts from the oven, anyone with a nose could forgive that your tart was only knocked up within a matter of minutes and with such ease. Jam tart is so effortless and simple, some purist bakers may frown upon it as cheating but after they take a bite of the gooey snug middle, they'll eat their words, as well as the rest of the tart.

Photo by Denise
The ones we tasted at Plate to Page were almost overflowing with artisanal jams from Sunchowder's Emporia in a psychedelic mix of flavours. Apricot and wildflower, tangerine and ginger, peach and lavender, such choice! Each fairly normal fruit jam had an interesting twist and that made the ordinary special. It got me thinking about what I could add to my easy-peasy jam tart to make it more memorable. 

Experiment with flavours! If you’re making it with raspberry jam, why not try sprinkling over a pinch of chilli pepper, with a pear jam you could add saffron or stir lavender into lemon curd. It will make your tart the talking point, guests will exclaim, “Wow, what did you put in this?” and no one will question the origin of your pastry.

A generous spread of homemade jam
A secret ingredient of your choice
250g pack of ready-made shortcrust pastry (or homemade gluten-free)
1 egg yolk
A knob of butter for greasing
Icing sugar for dusting

  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC and grease your loose bottomed tart tin with butter.
  2. Roll out enough pastry to cover your tin. Blind bake for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove the baking beans from the tart, brush with a thin layer of egg yolk and bake uncovered for another 5 minutes.
  4. Pour the jam into the pastry, add your secret ingredient. You can make pastry strings to crosshatch over the jam if you wish. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes until golden.
  5. Remove from the oven and dust with a sieve of icing sugar. It is delicious when still warm but check that the jam isn’t molten hot before take a bite!

You could also try this recipe with puff pastry or make miniature tarts using the same method.

A big thank you to my photography partner Denise @TLTLittlethings who took these beautiful photographs and to the organizers for coming up with this brilliant idea in the first place! I am so grateful to have met and have learnt so much from all of you wonderful people:

Marta | Kate | Valentina | Lynn | Alexandra | Elizabeth | Robin | Olivia | Heidi | Denise | Judith | Jeanne | Jamie | Meeta | Ilva 

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At 07 November, 2011 19:21 , Anonymous Denise said...

This tart is such a great idea! Love your story, you're such a talented writer.

At 07 November, 2011 19:45 , Anonymous Jamie said...

Beautiful! I love this! And I'll be making my own crostata with my jar of Sunchowder Emporia jam! So thrilled to have met you and your presence at P2P was a joy! You are a truly talented writer and I can't wait to follow you on your creative journey. xo

At 07 November, 2011 19:49 , Blogger Anh said...

Thanks for the recap of Plate to page! I've always wanted to join, but living too far away :(

At 08 November, 2011 15:27 , Blogger Valentina said...

Hayley, you are a great writer. Reading your words I felt transported to that day last week. I'm a big fan of yous, you gorgeous girl!! BTW, tried the peppadews with ricotta. Yummy indeed.

At 08 November, 2011 16:17 , Blogger Meeta K. Wolff said...

A fantastic summary in wonderful words. Enjoyed reading it through your eyes. Thanks for being such a lively and wonderful part of P2P. I for one loved your company and getting to know you! Hug!

At 08 November, 2011 17:12 , Blogger Hayley Harland said...

Awwwww love you guys! Big fan o' yous lot too! Thanks Valentina for being such a gorgeous model, I love that picture.

@Anh, I combined it with a longer trip and it was only a few hours on the plane for me but others came from a lot further away. It was sooo worth it and one of the best decisions I've ever made.

@All my English readers - next one is in Somerset, get your Cheddars at the ready and book early http://www.platetopage.com/home/register-now


At 08 November, 2011 20:50 , Blogger Robin said...

Miss Haley,
you have such an incredible spirit and are a gifted storyteller. Your life is blessed and I am blessed to know you.

Keep writing, your talents are deep and charming. This great post speaks to all of that and more.


At 10 November, 2011 11:45 , Anonymous Jeanne @ CookSister! said...

Reading this post, I can almost hear you in my head! You have such a very distinctive writing voice - I think I'd recognise your writing anywhere. So thrilled that you found the workshop worthwhile - and I distinctly recall that discussion we had about the 7 deadly sins! It was a pleausre meeting you and I look forward to staying in touch :)


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