october 5, 2009.

fall is here. there is no question about it. the leaves, crimson and fiery, greet me with waving arms every morning. truly, their warmth coaxes me out of my warm and snug covers these mornings.

a season i always forget how much i enjoy. those crisp gulps of air that only come around during this time of the year. the muted tones, brown and earthy. the garlic’s in the ground and the compost heaps are piling tall, hungry for more leaves.

i feel like it’s also the perfect time for baking. but, then on second thought, there is no such thing as a bad time for baking…. our house is cool and welcomes the heat of the oven. we get this great box of food from gleaners community food bank with all of these amazing goodies. it’s like a csa, but not through a farmer. my house has only participated for one month so far, but a great month it has been! one of the features of our box (the aim is to have 90% of the food sourced from 90 miles surrounding detroit) was two lovely portioned bags of organic cornmeal from hampshire farms.

while i love cornbread as much as any person, i was curious for some other ways to use this treat. not long after, i stumbled upon heidi swanson’s vintage jam tart recipe, and decided that this was to be my monday evening adventure.

cornmeal jam tarts

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
2 tablespoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled
1 1/2 cups milk
1 egg white
Any tasty jam that you enjoy.

1. preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. combine cornmeal, flours, salt, baking powder, and sugar in a bowl. if you have a large food processor, use this.

3. add in butter cut into 1/4 in sections. if you are using a food processor, pulse 30-35 times, otherwise use a pastry cutter. as i have neither, i started using forks and then pulsed portions of the mixture in my mini processor– it worked, but needless to say this is not the ideal approach.

4. dump mixture into a bowl if in food processor. add 1 1/2 cups of milk. with a fork, stir till just combined. this is going to be rolled out– add more milk if too dry, more flour if too wet. try hard to not overwork the dough either way, as this will result in tough pastries.

5. dump dough onto well floured surface and roll to 1/3 inch thick. pat on more flour if it looks sticky. cut dough with a medium sized cutter– i used a wide-mouth mason jar as my cutter. then, cut the middles out of half of your circles with a smaller cutter–i used the lid to my cinnamon spice container.

6. brush the rounds with egg white, then stack the rings on top, brushing egg white on these as well. spoon some jam into the hole. i used black raspberry currant as well as a homemade mixed berry in mine. any type you like will do. i also sprinkled a bit of sugar here to add some sparkles to the end product.

7. place rounds on a parchment lined baking sheet, bake for 10-13 minutes depending on size of tart. i think mine were in for about 15 minutes. the parchment paper made the clean up a cinch despite the juiciness of the jam.
this can make 1 to 2 dozen depending on the size of tarts. i made about 14.