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Victorian Epiphany Tart – an old English recipe

3 min read

Originally written on January 5, 2022 – Updated 2023

An old English tradition, star-shaped Epiphany Tart with its multicolored jams, done well, it must have looked like a stained-glass window.
Yes, really a stained glass window!
Made specially for Epiphany and Church Suppers, as well as being very pretty, it is really delicious and simple to make.

There seem to be two types of people when it comes to Christmas decorations: those that love them and loath to take them down on Twelfth Night, on January 5, and those that can’t wait to see the end of them and enjoy seeing their house back to “normal”.
In any case, if you enjoy baking, this is a good idea that can extend the festive season and, let’s face it, we need all the extra joy and relax we can get.

The treat is made in a star shape and is used to celebrate Epiphany, January 6, and the arrival of the Three Kings to the Nativity (Matthew, 2 1–12.)
It is a very old recipe dating back to the beginning of the 18th century and is really just a jam tart using multiple fruit jam flavors, but considered a delicacy especially in the Victorian age.
Originally (and interestingly), this tart gave a few hidden insights of the household’s social standing and was apparently noted amongst the neighbours.
It showed how devout the household was and how well they were managing in the kitchen and not only, with housewives who would vie with each other to make the prettiest and most intricate designs.
The tart has 13 spaces,meant to symbolize Jesus and the twelve disciples, and a different jam was supposed to fit each one.
The Star of David design symbolizes that “star of wonder, star of night, star of royal beauty bright”, which the wise men followed to find the King of Kings, Baby Jesus.
But you were doing pretty well in the 1800s if you could rustle up that amount of jam!
Still today, I managed to find it only 8.
Well, despite the tradition is 13 different jams, fit in as many as you wish (or have on hand), and be creative.

Serve a slice of tart with a good cup of tea (or pour a sherry…after all, we enjoying to be different!).


– 225g shortcrust pastry
– Approximately 150g assorted jams, preserves and marmalade

– Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F/gas. Butter a 23cm/9″ pie or tart tin or plate.
– Roll out the pastry on a floured board and line the pie tin/plate with it, trimming off any excess that hangs over the edges.
– With the pastry trimmings, roll them out into a long rectangle and cut them into strips; arrange the strips in the tart base into a star shape, and spoon the different jams into each space between the latticework strips.
And advice: if you warm the jam first it will be easier to spoon in.
– Bake for between 25 and 30 minutes, until the pastry is cooked and golden brown. Allow to cool and serve in wedges with cream or custard.


Images from web – Google Research

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