November 2, 2023


My mum used to bake every weekend and her jam or lemon curd tarts were very popular.  They were not, however, things of beauty!  The jam or lemon curd would always boil over, producing a slightly burnt or chewy edge to the tarts.  My dad used to joke that he could only eat one if it had a brown ring round it!

I very rarely make them but during the clearing out of the freezer recently I found a pack of ready made, ready rolled sweet pastry at the bottom of a drawer so thought I might like to have a go for old time's sake.  My dad died last year and his birthday is just around the corner.  It's nearly twenty one years since my mum died and baking something that they both used to enjoy brings back happy memories of life back home when I was a little girl.

Then, the other day, I stumbled across a tip for making perfect tarts.
It's not so much a recipe as a guide to how to avoid the brown, chewy rings and it's so simple.

To achieve the perfect tart shell you need two identical tart tins.
I used my new mince pie tins.  The holes have rounded not flat bottoms.

All you have to do is to grease one tin as usual and line each hole with a circle of pastry.  Then grease the underside of the other tin and place it on top of the first with the uncooked tarts.  Don't press it down, just sit it on the top.  It's effectively a way of blind baking the pastry without having to faff about with paper and beans.

Bake at 200° C / 180° fan / gas mk 5 for about 11-12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and take off the top tin.  Return to the oven for a 3-4 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.

You then have a dozen perfect shells which you can fill with lemon curd, spooning it straight from the jar.  If you want to have a jam tart you will need to heat the jam gently in a small pan before spooning it into the tart shell to get a smooth finish.

I stored my tart shells in a sealed plastic box and they were still perfectly crisp and delicious several days later, which meant that I could simply have one lemon curd tart as and when I fancied one, AND there was no problem storing them - no sticking of the filled tarts together.  (Although I have to say that getting two tarts stuck together in the cake tin was definitely a bonus when I was a little girl!)

My next experiment will be to make mini tart shells using two mini muffin tins.  Mini tart shells, sweet or savoury, are excellent for making party nibbles.  I have yet to discover whether this method will work as the holes are relatively deep.  I'm hoping it works as they are such a price to buy in the shops and the incredibly long use by date makes me wonder what they put in them to achieve that.

I shall give it a try and report back!!

The tip comes originally from Nancy Birtwhistle, a previous GBBO winner who has produced an enormous amount of material showing how you can save money, save the planet and live better.  She has also written several books on these subjects.


The method worked perfectly when I tried it using a mini muffin tin.  I used my Pampered Chef tins as the holes have slightly more sloping sides and they also came with a little "dibber" to push the pastry neatly into the holes.  I used a 2" pastry cutter and baked them for 11 minutes before removing the top tin plus 2 minutes more.  Success!!


  1. Interesting and worth a try. My Mum also used to make lemon curd tarts. I have not had one in years! Cheers Diane

    1. Diane, I shall certainly use this method to make tart shells in future, much cheaper and better than the shop bought ones.

  2. Can you actually buy lemon curd in your corner of France? I don't think I've ever seen it here (not that it bothers me too much as I'm not a fan), but I'm just curious!

    1. Yes you can! Sometimes it's available at silly prices in the "British foods" section in Intermarché but in fact SuperU sell their own brand which is fine. In reality I tend to bring Bonne Maman lemon curd back to France with me - curiously you can buy it in the UK but I have never seen it for sale in France! One jar per year is all I need.

    2. Thanks for that. I'll have to check out SuperU. We used to have a British foods shop across the lake in l'Ain but that was a long way to go - plus he was pricey and has now moved into Switzerland. Our "British foods" at Intermarché is rubbish, they don't even sell tea!!! I know, I'll have to boycott them!

    3. I have in the past made my own lemon curd and it's not as difficult as I imagined. It doesn't keep as long though (in the fridge).

  3. This is a fine idea for producing lovely tart cases. I like the rounded bottom tins too (but where would I put them?). My mother used to make jam tarts when she had any time, which was very infrequently. They always had burnt edges. Actually, that was my favourite bit - to be honest, they weren't good tarts, although I'd give a lot to taste one again. I've often wondered what additives they use to allow the long life of the pastry cases in supermarkets, but I bought some not long ago to use for a large family gathering and the listed ingredients didn't include anything strange, so I've no idea what's going on.

    1. My mum died suddenly, without warning, four days before Christmas in 2002. As the anniversary draws near i too would give anything to to taste her tarts, sausage rolls, or anything again. Bitter sweet memories.