These were the inspired idea of my friend, Catherine.If you’re time-short, and want a mess-free way of baking which will entertain the kids at the same time, here’s your answer.
- 2 x ready roll shortcrust pastry sheets (£1 each in Tesco at the mo)
- Jar of jam
- Biscuit cutters
- Yorkshire pudding tray
- Butter for greasing
- Beaten egg & pastry brush
The options are endless. Ollie spent a happy hour cutting out hearts and circles, then went on a Halloween theme with the remaining pastry and cut out bats, cats, snails and hedgehogs(?). I’d misplaced the pastry brush, so he spent another fifteen minutes using a paint brush to egg wash the tarts. Incredible. No mess to clear up, no pastry to roll out, and at the end something delicious to eat too. What’s not to love?!
It’s very fitting that Catherine should be the inspiration for these tarts, because my first memory of Valentine’s Day is about her. Catherine is possibly my oldest and most long-suffering friend. She lived in the next street and we made the trek to secondary school and back together every day.
At the age of eleven I loved trying to wind up Catherine about who she fancied on the school bus. She never rose to it, she has the patience of a saint. As part of this continuing wind up, I decided to spend my pocket money on a plastic rose in a tube and deliver it to her pretending it was from a boy.
On Valentine’s Day, 1990, I dressed up in a shawl and a head scarf covering everything but my eyes, and I set off through the alleyway carrying the rose with a forged note attached. I knocked on Catherine’s door. Her mum, Judy, answered and in my best old woman’s voice I said:
“I’ve come to deliver a flower for young Catherine,”
“Err ok Sarah, I’ll let her know,” said Judy (there’s no tricking some people!) By this time Catherine had come to the door and in her dead-pan voice said, “I know it’s you, Sarah, I can see your school shoes.”
“Nooo I am Zelda, the flower seller!” I protested as I shuffled backwards out of their front garden, muttering to myself disappointedly at the disguise-failure.
I obviously couldn’t drop the wind up, because not long afterwards we were walking along The Mount (on our way to church, of all places), and I stopped and got my key out and pretended to carve into a wall CG 4 JB in BIG LETTERS. Catherine stood, arms folded, looking indifferent, while I hoped to get a reaction out of her. Little did I know that a police car was crawling up beside me. They wound down the window and called me over. I had to give my details and I was cautioned for vandalism of private property. I was so frightened that I cried, but I hate to say, it didn’t stop the wind ups, (if it wasn’t aimed at my sister, it was Catherine).
So what started as a post about jam tarts has ended as an apology to the most patient, long-suffering school friend you could ask for. Who else would willingly stand with me at the bus stop and share a flask of hot Ribena on winter mornings? Who would skive off school on my 17th birthday and cook a surprise dinner-party for twelve for me? Or would stand, uncomplainingly at the bottom of my stairs whilst I rushed around, making us late YET AGAIN for school?
Yes, Catherine had her foibles: she would involuntarily laugh if you told her bad news, and she once hit her toe repeatedly with a hammer to get out of Sport’s Day, and in later life she has developed an obsession for all gadgets Lakeland (who knew you could get so excited about an egg poacher or a heated clothes airer), but these are minors, and school-life was a million times more bareable with Catherine to laugh my way through it with.
(Catherine – far left; me – centre)