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Jam Tartlets

The Queen of Hearts
She made some tarts,
    All on a summer’s day;
The Knave of Hearts
He stole those 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.

The Queen of Hearts” is a poem based on the characters found on playing cards, by an anonymous author, originally published with three lesser-known stanzas, “The King of Spades”, “The King of Clubs”, and “The Diamond King”, in the British publication The European Magazine, no. 434, in April 1782.However, Iona and Peter Opie have argued that there is evidence to suggest that these other stanzas were later additions to an older poem.

There has been speculation about a model for the Queen of Hearts. In The Real Personage of Mother Goose, Katherine Elwes Thomas claims the Queen of Hearts was based on Elizabeth of Bohemia. Benham, in his book Playing Cards: History of the Pack and Explanations of its Many Secrets, notes that French playing cards from the mid-17th century have Judith from the Hebrew Bible as the Queen of Hearts. However, according to W. Gurney Benham, a scholar who researched the history of playing cards: “The old nursery rhyme about the Knave of Hearts who stole the tarts and was beaten for so doing by the King, seems to be founded on nothing more than the fact that ‘hearts’ rhymes with ‘tarts’.”

The poem’s story is retold in a much expanded form in an 1805 poem known as King and Queen of Hearts: with the Rogueries of the Knave who stole the Queen’s Pies by Charles Lamb, which gives each line of the original, followed by a poem commenting on the line. In 1844 Halliwell included the poem in the 3rd Edition of his The Nursery Rhymes of England (though he dropped it from later editions) and Caldecott made it the subject of one of his 1881 “Picture Books”, a series of illustrated nursery rhymes which he normally issued in pairs before Christmas from 1878 until his death in 1886.

“The Queen of Hearts” is quoted in and forms the basis for the plot of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter XI: “Who Stole the Tarts?”, a chapter that lampoons the British legal system through means of the trial of the Knave of Hearts,where the rhyme is presented as evidence. The poem became more popular after its inclusion in Carroll’s work.

A tart is a baked dish consisting of a filling over a pastry base with an open top not covered with pastry. The pastry is usually shortcrust pastry; the filling may be sweet or savoury, though modern tarts are usually fruit-based, sometimes with custard. Tartlet refers to a miniature tart. Examples of tarts include jam tarts, which may be different colours depending on the flavour of the jam used to fill them, and the Bakewell tart.

Buy Jam Tarts online from the Cotswold Cake Company.

The following recipe is for Cassandra Austen’s (Jane’s Mother) short crust (for pies) from Martha Lloyd’s household book. Use your favorite jam filling to make tarts or follow the modern recipe below.

Short Crust
a lb of flour a 1/4 lb of butter a 1/4 lb of lard, rubbed in, wetted of a moderate thickness with hot water.
Mrs. Cassandra Austen, from Martha Lloyd’s Household Book

Jam Tarts
Plain flour – 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp (14 oz)
Salt – ¼ tsp
Butter or margarine – 7 tbsp (3½ oz)
Margarine or lard – 7 tbsp (3½ oz)
Cold water – to mix
12 tsp. Fruit Jam

  1. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the fats. Cut into the flour with a knife then rub in with your fingertips. The mixture should resemble fine breadcrumbs.
  2. Sprinkle water over the crumbs. Mix to a stiff crumbly-looking paste with a round-ended knife. Draw together with fingertips, turn out on to a lightly floured work surface. Knead quickly until smooth and crack free.
  3. Roll out and use as required. If not to be used immediately, transfer to a polythene bag or wrap in aluminium foil and refrigerate.
  4. Roll out the pastry and cut out 12 circles with a 7.5 cm (3 inch) cutter. Line the 12 holes of a bun tin with the pastry.
  5. Place a teaspoon of the jam in each pastry case. Do not overfill or the jam will boil over and make a very sticky mess.
  6. Bake at 200 °C / 400 °F 6 for 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Cool on a wire rack.Modern recipe from Helen’s British Cooking Site.

 

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