These super-simple, delicious, egg-free jam squares or bars whip up in 20 minutes from everyday pantry ingredients, with your choice of jam!
This jam slice consists of a shortbread base with no eggs, that is topped with jam and then finished with a crumbled shortbread mixture. A true crowd-pleaser!
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Jam squares or bars or slices consist of a shortbread biscuit base topped with jam and finished with a crumbled shortbread mixture. If you like thumbprint cookies filled with jam or jelly, you will definitely like these!
In South Africa, these Jam Squares are also known as Hungarian Tart or Krummel Tert (in Afrikaans). But, they don't have any known link to Hungarian cuisine. They also usually contain eggs, which I skipped in this recipe. This tart is a family favourite across South Africa.
Flipping through my old recipe books, the Hungarian Tart popped out and I knew I had to make them, but I wanted an eggless version. After following the recipe in the book, I wasn't very happy with the biscuit, as it was a bit dry for my liking, so I returned to my whipped shortbread, made a few adjustments (such as decreasing the sugar content to compensate for the sweet jam) and was super happy with the outcome.
For an even easier jam-based dessert check out my Jam Puff Pastry Tarts!
This recipe has largely remained the same, however, I have tweaked and tested the recipe with metric measures that correspond more easily with cups for my readers who largely rely on non-metric measurement. And I added the simple homemade jam recipe that I used in the jam squares in the photo at the beginning of the post.
Why You Will Love These Jam Squares
- These super easy delicious jam slice only requires 7 everyday pantry ingredients.
- The shortbread used for the biscuit base and crumble topping contain no eggs!
- It's super customisable in terms of jam flavours that can be used. Choose whichever flavour of jam you want - apricot, raspberry, boysenberry, mixed berry or strawberry.
Here are some notes on the ingredients used in this recipe. Refer to the recipe card for details.
Butter adds flavor, softness, and moisture and sometimes aids in the leavening of baked goods. I use New Zealand butter in my recipes, which has approximately 82% butterfat and can be very yellow (similar to European or Irish butter). Butter cannot be substituted with butter or margarine spreads, but it can be substituted with baking margarine.
Salt is a crucial ingredient in all baked goods. I use table salt in all my recipes. One teaspoon of table salt equals 1.5 teaspoons of Morton Kosher Salt equals 2 teaspoons of Diamond Crystal.
Vanilla extract to add some dimension to the shortbread biscuit.
Jam - any fruit jam can be used in these jam squares (or jam bars or jam slices). Popular jams include apricot, strawberry, raspberry or even boysenberry jam, the choice is yours. The amount of jam within the jam slice ranges from ⅓ - ⅔ cup jam (this is dependent on how much jam you want in your jam slice, measure with your heart).
Jam vs jelly - Jam is a preserve that is made from whole or cut-up fruit, while jelly is made from fruit juice alone. For this recipe, I'm fairly certain that jelly will work just fine.
Sugar - I have used both granulated white sugar and caster sugar. Both work perfectly. This biscuit base does contain less sugar than that of my whipped shortbread simply because jam can be rather sweet. I would hesitate to use brown sugar, as it may compete with the jam flavouring.
Room Temperature Ingredients
Use room-temperature ingredients! Using room temperature ingredients ensures that ingredients in the batter or dough will incorporate easier. Take note that room temperature refers to around 20°C/68F.
- To bring eggs to room temperature quickly, place them into warm water for about 10 to 15 minutes.
- To bring butter to room temperature quickly, cut the butter into cubes and zap it in the microwave at 20% power in 10-second intervals. Or place the cubes in a bowl over warm water (such as with a double boiler) over low heat for 1 minute!
- Milk, buttermilk, and cream can be brought to room temperature by zapping in the microwave at 20% power in 10-second intervals. Or on low heat for a minute or two swirling every 10-15 seconds.
- If the butter is too warm/soft for baking - pop it into the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
Weighing & Measuring Ingredients
Weighing ingredients with a kitchen scale is more accurate than using measuring cups. All my recipes are developed and tested using grams only.
However, I have activated the metric-to-cup conversions. Simply click on "cups" or "metric" for your preferred measurements. For these conversions, cups are equal to 240 millilitres/8 fluid ounces, tablespoons are 15 milliliters and teaspoons are 5mL.
How to Make Jam Squares
Step 1: Prep and Preheat
Grease and line a 9"x9" square cake tin with baking paper, leaving an overhang for easy removal of the slice. Preheat the oven to 170°C/340°F.
Step 2: Cream Butter & Sugar
In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugar and vanilla. Cream until the butter has lightened in colour (for about 2 minutes).
Tip: If the butter is too hard, microwave it in short intervals until soft enough to cream.
Step 3 - Mix the dry ingredients
Weigh out the flour, and add the baking powder and salt. Whisk together to evenly distribute the baking powder and salt through the flour.
Step 4 - Make a soft pliable dough
Place half the flour into the butter mixture and mix through until just combined. Then add in the other half and mix until a soft pliable dough forms. Knead the dough a few times in the bowl until the dough comes together.
Step 5 - Assemble the jam slice
Press ⅔ of the dough into the bottom of the lined cake tin until it is evenly and smoothly pressed into the tin. Evenly spread the jam over the layer of biscuit dough. Then crumble the last ⅓ of the biscuit dough over the top of the jam.
Step 6 - Bake, cool and slice
Bake the jam slice for 35 to 40 minutes or until the biscuit dough is beautifully golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow the squares to cool completely in the tin. When the jam squares are cool, remove them from the tin and slice them into 16 to 25 squares or bars.
Quick & Easy Homemade Jam Recipe
If you have some fresh raspberries or strawberries, they can easily be turned into a lower-sugar homemade jam for these jam squares.
You will need:
- 250 grams of raspberries (2 cups) - fresh or frozen
- 50 grams of white sugar (¼ cup)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon water
- Place the berries into a small saucepan with the sugar and lemon juice. Mash the berries until soft. And cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes until the berries are soft and mashed.
- The berries are finished cooking when a rubber spatula can be dragged along the bottom of the saucepan to a distinct thick line in the jam without the jam running back into itself.
- Combine the cornstarch and water, then add to the berry mixture and cook until the jam is nice and thick (like a store-bought jam). Decant the jam into a heatproof container and allow it to cool completely before using it on the jam slices.
This recipe makes about ¾ of a cup of jam. I used the entire batch on these jam squares (pictured in the beginning of the post).
Note: Because this jam has a much lower sugar content than regular jam, and doesn't use jam-setting sugar, it requires cornstarch to allow it to set.
Note: This jam must be used within a week because of the low sugar content and lack of tartaric acid. Store the jam squares in the fridge.
Note: This is a fairly tart jam.
Note: This jam is not suitable for canning.
Pro Tips for this Recipe
When lining the slice tin, make sure you have an overhang on each side of the tin, this allows for easy removal.
Ovens & Air Fryers
The temperatures stated are for conventional ovens. For convection, fan-forced, fan-assisted, or air-fryers, the temperature must be reduced by 20°C/25°F.
For baking, make sure the oven is fully preheated, and that the rack is in the middle of the oven. Open the oven as little as possible. For best baking results use an oven thermometer.
Remember that all ovens work slightly differently and bake times may need to be adjusted for your specific oven.
Metal bakeware (if you can, choose light-coloured bakeware for an even better bake) is superior when it comes to baking biscuits, cookies, brownies, muffins and quick bread, scones, cakes. These heat up and cool down faster than glassware. Glassware is heavier, heats up and cools down slower than metal, and is more suited for bread puddings, pies, crisps, crumbles, and cobblers.
Storage & Freezing
These jam squares can be stored in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days, or up to 2 months when frozen. Baked jam squares can be frozen in an airtight freezer-safe container once completely cooled. If layering the jam bars, separate them using a piece of baking paper. Allow the bars to defrost at room temperature before serving.
Jam Squares FAQ
Jam squares and jam bars are typically topped with a shortbread crumble or an oatmeal crumble topping. While jam slices (particularly in New Zealand) are topped with a meringue coconut instead of crumble).
Yes - use the jam you like to eat, and if this is a lower-sugar variety go for it. However, I am unsure how a chia seed jam
I use a 9"x9" or 23cmx23cm square cake tin. Using a slightly smaller cake tin may require an additional 5 to 10 minutes of baking.
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Easy Jam Squares
- 9x9 Inch (23x23cm) Square Cake Pan
- 225 grams butter
- 150 grams white granulated sugar (caster/granulated)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 330 grams plain flour (all-purpose/standard grade)
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ⅓ - ⅔ cup jam
- Grease and line a 9"x9" square cake tin with baking paper, leaving an overhang for easy removal of the slice. Preheat the oven to 170°C/340°F.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugar and vanilla. Cream until the butter has lightened in colour (for about 2 minutes).225 grams butter, 150 grams white granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Weigh out the flour, and add the baking powder and salt. Whisk together to evenly distribute the baking powder and salt through the flour.330 grams plain flour, ½ teaspoon table salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Place half the flour into the butter mixture and mix through until just combined. Then add in the other half and mix until a soft pliable dough forms. Knead the dough a few times in the bowl until the dough comes together.
- Press ⅔ of the dough into the bottom of the lined cake tin until it is evenly and smoothly pressed into the tin. Evenly spread the jam over the layer of biscuit dough. Then crumble the last ⅓ of the biscuit dough over the top of the jam.⅓ - ⅔ cup jam
- Bake the jam slice for 35 to 40 minutes or until the biscuit dough is beautifully golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow the squares to cool completely in the tin. When the jam squares are cool, remove them from the tin and slice them into 16 to 25 squares or bars.
Storage & FreezingThese jam squares can be stored in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days, or up to 2 months when frozen. Baked jam squares can be frozen in an airtight freezer-safe container once completely cooled. If layering the jam bars, separate them using a piece of baking paper. Allow the bars to defrost at room temperature before serving.
Nutrition information is an estimate. If scaling the recipe remember to scale your cook and bakeware accordingly. All temperatures stated are conventional, unless otherwise stated. Recipes tested in grams and at sea level.