Thursday, 12 September 2013

Jam tarts

I often wonder if there might not be a few teeny tiny totally major flaws in the design of human beings. Like a blueprint that someone has dripped coffee on before anyone notices and it goes to be made up in the factory and comes out all wrong.

Like pregnancy. Stupid! Dangerous! Not modern! I have often thought how great it would be if the whole thing were to be outsourced to Apple. You could download your iBaby from the iCloud and you could set the side switch to mute.

And toddlers. Why are they so annoying? It is not in their best interests. It is not in anyone's interest. Why are they like that? I know they are experiencing some brain thing with the hormones and this and that and wevs... but WHY does this miraculous brain-change have to result in them not putting their shoes on? Or refusing to put a plaster on a suppurating foot-cut? Or breaking everything in sight? Or constantly tripping over?

(About six years ago a woman I know said of her 3 year old "She's constantly falling over! I just want to scream 'Stop fucking tripping over!'" I was shocked and thought she was a bad person for thinking this. I don't any more.)

And the children-and-sleeping thing. Before you have a baby you know you're going to be tired - you're not an idiot. But you say to each other "it'll be okay we will cope". And then it happens and you're just open-mouthed and demented, one-eyed and bonkers with fatigue. And I consider my children to be good sleepers! But all it takes is for Kitty to decide to have a bad dream and Sam to have a rocky night, for whatever mysterious baby reason, and it's a proper nuit blanche, which is French for fucking nightmare (yes I know it doesn't really mean that).

When I consider how many people have children who do not sleep well and how many of those people have to go to work in the morning it really is a miracle that the entire world doesn't just grind to a halt in a pile-up of errors because everyone is so flipping wired out on coffee, fags and sugar because their bloody kids kept them awake from 0430.

No-one, as my sister says, gets away with it. You can have all the help you possibly want, can possibly afford, but unless you have your kids sleeping out of earshot and you've got a live-in nanny who your babies call for if they are sick or frightened, when your kids wake up in the night, it's on you.

It's one thing if you don't work or aren't working much when your children are small, but what if you are up with your kids at night and then have to fucking get up and get on the tube and go to work? It's a miracle that trains even turn up, that the financial markets don't collapse in on themselves, that surgeons don't remove MORE wrong limbs, that banks don't make more errors in our favour.

I thought this as I stood at the kitchen counter the other day at about 1.20pm or thereabouts, having been awake since 0400 with Sam. It was my fault - I gave him insufficient naps during the day so by 6pm he was utterly exhausted and passed out rather than fell asleep, which meant he woke up with a jerk at 8pm, wailing and confused, and I was too lazy to let him fret himself back to sleep so I popped a dummy in. And the night went downhill from there. Anyway it taught me a lesson.

So I stood in my kitchen, having been unable to use my nap window to nap because a very noisy car alarm went off just as I was drifting off and you only get one shot at these things. I was dazed.

It being a Thursday (Friday being cake sale day at the nursery) I set about making jam tarts. Jam tarts are simple and a very good thing to do for bake sales. Despite only needing a hot oven and opposable thumbs for this, I managed to break two tarts and the rest of them look like Kitty made them, although she didn't (although this is what I will say to excuse their appearance). I was just cross-eyed with tiredness and made a mess of them. Imagine if I worked at Air Traffic Control?

Still, the thing about jam tarts is that they look quite sweet if they're a bit bashed-up. And they still taste the same, especially if you're eating one accompanied by a strong cup of coffee and a ciggie.

Jam tarts
Makes 12 (with a lot of breakages) with jam and pastry leftover

1 pack sweet shortcrust pastry from Jus-Roll (you can make your own but... fuck...)
1 jar Tiptree seedless raspberry jam. I think it is reasonably important to use nice jam for this seeing as it's such a boondoggle pisstake thing to make you might as well push the boat out when it comes to the main ingredient.
1 egg for glazing (not essential if you just can't be bothered)
12-hole fairy cake tin

pre-heat your oven to 180

1 Grease your baking tin

2 Dust your worksurface and roll out the pastry

3 Cut out discs with a pastry-cutter - mine was 3in across, which is about as small as you can go

4 Plop the discs into the cake tin holes and put a teaspoon of jam into each little cup

5 Beat the egg and brush a little around the top of the pastry cups - this is not essential

6 Bake for 10-12 mins

A note: these are a nightmare to get out of the tin when they are hot so leave them to cool down properly before you attempt it, or they will just crumble to bits and you might find yourself bursting into tears and throwing the spatula across the kitchen and then screaming at your husband.

p.s. I must apologies here to Katharine Sooke nee Begg, who I saw at an NPG party the other day and she was pregnant and I was so annoying and shouty and asking her about when she was having it and where and wasn't the bump huge and oh my gard and all that annoying stuff that drove me mental during my pregnancies. I wasn't even drunk!!!!! Anyway she claims to be an occasional reader of this blog so I thought I'd say sorry here. Sorry.


  1. I haven't made a jam tart in years, but I did recently hear a tip I thought worth trying - once you've dolloped in the jam, spoon over a teaspoonful of water. It stops the jam from going completely gummy and weird, apparently.

  2. Oh I hear you about the sleep! And I only have the one....
    Love a good jam tart though ;)

  3. So having started back at work part time a month or so ago, I was thinking it was a doddle balancing baby and 10 hour work days. But then Dora started waking crazy times: 5.30am one morning then 4.30am the next, then 3am, which isn't even bloody morning. And sitting there at 4am with a baby who wants to get up for the day, knowing that you won't be able to sleep again until bedtime is mind-bendingly horrible. And then you go into work, drink shedloads of coffee, try not to be stupefied in front of colleagues and try not to panic about how you can't seem to focus on anything. It's really not fun. I hope it's a phase - that's what I'm telling myself anyway...

    Esther - it's Dora's first birthday soon and I want to make her a cake that's a treat but that's not crazy on sugar/chocolate etc as it'll be her FIRST TIME (well sort of) of eating sugar/chocolate. Any words of wisdom? Adults need to like it too as I do realise she won't give a toss about it being her first birthday and will probably sleep through the party...

  4. Oh I was hoping this was a recipe that made air and ice water delicious and made me THIN, not one that had me fantasizing about pastry and sugar at 9:40 on day 1 of post-holiday diet.

    1. I did it on purpose to spite you

    2. I can blame you for the 2 packets of One Direction Love Hearts I've just inhaled so.

  5. How many times have I NOT left the jam tarts to cool down, so that they crumble to bits and I do the bursting into tears and throwing the spatula across the kitchen and then screaming at the husband bit? Many. It does pass. The tiredness thing. Then you have to think up another excuse for unreasonable behaviour. Because let's face it, a bit of screaming and spatula throwing can be quite fun.

  6. Yes - I know what you mean about kids falling over, my kid thinks I'm mean cause I say that it's his fault so stop whining (mean mum).

    Great blog, love this post as it made me chuckle.

  7. Oh god yes the falling over toddler is a very annoying thing. Ours does it even MORE when tired.

    And also, am cheered to know other parents (mums) are awake at stupid oclock trying, through a foggy haze of tirednes, to figure out WTF is wrong this time and why baby is wide awake.

    I try and explain to work peeps why I look like a zombie, but they just dont get it.

    Also, other parents seem to have fantastic babies who sleep from late till late. HOW? What is the secret?!

  8. Elizabeth Medovnik13 September 2013 at 21:30

    I'm lucky that my daughter is a good sleeper too, but I remember the days of breastfeeding on demand and the broken nights when she's been ill and I know what you're talking about. I have a friend who has to get up at 5am because of work and her daughter slept terribly and woke up for the day at about 3am FOR MONTHS. One day my friend fainted in the shower because her little girl had been up since midnight, and that followed a night when she'd woken up at 1am. Things have improved tremendously (I think they found the poor little thing had allergies and it was affecting her breathing), but I seriously don't know how she managed to walk and talk, let alone work.

    Thank you for the recipe; I'd really like to try making jam tarts sometime as I remember my mum making them so often when I was little and it feels like the sort of thing proper mums should do!

  9. And then...your kids turn into teens who stay out and don't text you to say what time they'll be back but they're old enough so you think 'they'll be fine'. But you need to call them just to check, and they don't answer and their phone keeps going into voice mail but still, you think 'they're old enough and sensible-ish, they'll be fine'. But you can't stop that little nagging thought in your head as you try to drift off to bed that they could be dead in a ditch. So, you wake up your husband at 3am and say 'do you think they are dead in a ditch?' and he tells you off for waking him up and being so dramatic and that they're probably pissed at a party and enjoying themselves and can't hear their phones because the music is too loud. You sigh and think 'yeah, he's right' and at 4am you stop staring at the ceiling and close your eyes and just as you're about to drop off, your teen texts and you jump out of your skin. 'Sorry didn't text mum, had a bit to drink and music so loud didn't hear the phone. I"m fine. Go to sleep, see you later. xx' You close your eyes again...until they come clattering through the front door singing. Bloody hell, it never ends!! Love your blog and the jam tarts - yum!

    1. Yes! But I have both ends of the spectrum...the teenager who thinks she is invincible all the way down to a HIGHLY annoying 5 year old who tells me how mean I am on a daily, nay hourly basis. WHY DID I HAVE SO MANY CHILDREN?????

  10. I remember reading your big while pregnant and thought your stories were hilarious... now after having my own I totally understand. But I'm glad someone feels the same way so I don't feel like a completely horrible mother. .. Thanks :)

  11. Not occasional - AVID reader of the blog which is truly great and very helpful reading pre-baby arrival... You weren't shouty or annoying in the slightest.... Katharine Sooke/Begg xx

  12. I do this. "Why are you constantly running into things. I gave you fucking eyes, didn't I? USE THEM" is what's in my head while I outwardly sigh and lean in for the cuddle

  13. Oooh this might be the answer to my 'what to I make to take in to work on my birthday' dilemma. Because obviously I have to take something in, but the night before my birthday I want to be sat at home drinking wine, eyeing up my presents and reminding my boyfriend constantly that it's nearly my birthday. Not icing or doing some such faffage. So jam tarts it is.

    Although I might make my own pastry as my Grandma might live 150 miles away but SHE KNOWS.

  14. Hello!! I love your blog, I'm following you here!!
    Regards from Spain!!