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Category Archives: Jams, Marmalades, Conserves and Chutneys

Blood Orange Upside Down Cake With Candied Orange

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Revisiting September:  Here’s a cake I made in september 2014, a blood orange upside down cake. This cake does blood oranges two ways – candied on the top of the cake, (which started off as the bottom) and whole oranges, skin and all, blitzed through the batter. A lovely introduction to the coming months of spring, when it will be warm enough to have afternoon tea in the garden!

Ingredients

2 + 2  blood oranges

200g  + 200g sugar

125g very soft butter

2 free range eggs

½ tsp vanilla essence

200g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

Method

Candied Blood Oranges

Finely slice 2 of the oranges, discarding the ends and keeping as many slices intact as you can.

Dissolve 200g of the sugar in 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan, and bring to the boil. Carefully place the orange slices in the syrup and simmer them until they are soft and sticky. Remove from the syrup using tongs. If the syrup is not reduced enough, cook it for a few minutes extra to thicken – but don’t let it go to toffee.

Cake

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.

Grease a 20cm springform cake tin. Line the base with baking paper, cut slightly larger than the circle base, making sure the paper comes a little way up the sides of the tin. This is  as a precaution, in case the syrup leaks out of the tin.

Chop 2 of the blood oranges in quarters and remove each end. Blitz in the food processor until reasonably finely chopped – there should still be some small chunks in the mixture.

Add the butter and 200g of the sugar and blitz in the food processor. The mixture will look very curdled! Add the eggs and vanilla and blitz again, the mixture will still look very curdled!

Gently fold in the flour and baking powder, making sure not to over mix or the cake with toughen. The cake mixture will now look “normal”.

Place the candied orange slices on the paper base in the springform tin, as artistically as possible, remembering, as this is an upside down cake, that the bottom becomes the top.

Place the batter over the top of the slices. Gently tap the mixture to even it out. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool the tin on a wire rack. When the cake is cool (not cold), carefully turn upside down on a serving plate. Release the springform clasp, and carefully remove the ring. Even more carefully, take off the base and peel away the baking paper.

You should have a beautiful upside down cake with fruit intact! Brush the cake with the blood orange syrup, or you could serve the syrup on the side as a sauce.

Serve with whipped cream or sour cream or creme fraiche. I prefer the latter two as the cake is very sweet and needs to be offset by a little sourness.

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Berry and Custard Chocolate Brownies

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This is a great recipe for chocolate brownies with a couple of twists. It’s based on Jamie Oliver’s Peanut Butter and Jelly Brownies from his lovely book of delights Comfort Food.

I loved the idea of this recipe with its peanut butter custard, but sadly had to forgo the peanut butter as the group I was baking for had some problems with nuts. I made the custard with just vanilla. It was fine – the custard gives a velvety smoothness to the brownies. The “jelly” in Jamie’s recipe is raspberry jam. This part of the recipe I did adhere to, but added fresh strawberries instead of raspberries.

The resulting brownie is very chocolatey, with its rough chunks of dark chocolate, soft with the custard and sweet and sharp with the berry tang. Recommended!

Ingredients

Custard
250ml semi-skimmed milk
1 vanilla pod
2 large free-range egg yolks
50g golden caster sugar (or raw sugar)
1 heaped tablespoon cornflour
20g unsalted butter (at room temperature)

Brownie mixture
230g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
250g dark chocolate + 50g extra for chocolate chunks in the brownie
230g golden caster sugar (or raw sugar)
4 large free-range eggs
150g plain flour
2 tbls raspberry jam
75g fresh berries (I used strawberries)

Method

To make the custard, put the milk into a pan, halve the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape out the seeds, then add both pod and seeds to the pan and lightly simmer on the hob, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, in a bowl, use a balloon whisk to combine the egg yolks, sugar, cornflour and soft butter. Whisking constantly, gradually pour the hot milk into the bowl, until combined. Return the custard mixture to the pan, place over a low heat and stir gently for 2 to 3 minutes, or until thickened. Leave the custard to cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. For the brownies, grease and line a deep baking tray (20cm x 30cm). Melt the butter in a non-stick pan on a very low heat, then snap up and add the chocolate. Stir regularly with a spatula until melted and combined, then remove from the heat and stir in the sugar. Leave to cool slightly, then whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until silky. Sift in the flour and mix well.

Pour the chocolatey brownie mix into the prepared tray, then swirl through the chilled custard (discarding the vanilla pod). Roughly mix in the additional chocolate chunks. Erratically distribute little spoonfuls of jam over the surface, then poke in the fresh berries (any fresh seasonal berries that correspond with the jam you’re using). Bake for around 25 minutes, or until cooked on the outside but still a bit gooey in the middle. Leave to cool before cutting into portions.

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Preserved Lemons

 

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Preserved lemons are the easiest and one of the nicest ways to make use of a lemon bounty.

In late summer, earlier this year, I was the lucky recipient of lot of beautiful lemons from an old tree in Burradoo, in the beautiful Southern Highlands of NSW. The lemons were mostly quite big and thick skinned, with a mild tang. They were well used in my kitchen, for several weeks. Lemon cake and lemon curd were obvious candidates for the produce.

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I also made a jar of preserved lemons for a visit to my Palm Beach haven. I’ve made preserved lemons a few times, using various recipes. I turned this time to see what Jamie said on the subject. The following is adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe.

Ingredients

Fennel seeds
Coriander seeds
Cinnamon stick
Peppercorns
Bay Leaf
Sea salt
Large fat Lemons

Method

You will need a good preserving style of  jar for this recipe. Make sure the jar is clean, there’s no need to sterilise.  The jar should also have a strong clasp or well fitting lid. The jar should be airtight.

In a bowl, mix the spices and the sea salt. Cut a cross into the lemons, almost to the base, but making sure that the quarters stay together. Push the seasoned salt into the lemon segments. This can be tricky as the the lemons are slippery, but persevere.

Pack the lemons as tightly as possible into the jar. The less space there is between the lemons the more attractive it will look and you won’t need to use so much salt. As you layer the lemons, juice will be squeezed from the lemons. Make sure the lemons are covered with juice – you can top up with additional lemon juice if needed.

Close the lid and put the jar into a cupboard away from the light. The lemons will be ready after one month of preserving. Jamie says that the lemons will last for about 2 years – I have usually used them all before then!

To use, discard the flesh and pith and use the rind with grilled chicken, lamb or fish, and in Moroccan tagines and casseroles.

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Whole Lemon Cake with Mascarpone and Lemon Curd

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This is a lovely cake, fragrant with lemon and lemon curd. It’s really easy too! It’s based on a Mary Berry recipe, see here.

The cake is a one bowl cake – everything in the food processor. My kind of cake. Cooking a whole lemon and using this in the cake gives the cake that intense lemon flavour. It’s pretty versatile – I made it as a single layer first off, and then as I was taking it to lunch at friends I decided the cake needed jazzing up, so I quickly sliced it in half and filled the middle with more lemon mascarpone filling. Either version is great as you can see from the photos!

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Ingredients
1 medium lemon
140g softened butter
140g caster sugar
140g self-raising flour
1 level tsp baking powder
2 free-range eggs

Icing (the icing also uses some of the whole lemon from above)
50g soft butter
175g icing sugar
250g mascarpone

For the lemon curd (You could also use bought lemon curd – but home-made is easy!)

100g unsalted butter it into small chunks
220g caster sugar
125 ml lemon juice
2 free-range eggs lightly beaten
Method

Put the lemon in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes, or until very soft and tender. Drain, cut the lemons in half and remove any pips.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C , 160 degrees fan forced. Grease and line with baking paper a medium sized cake tin – 20cm or 21 cm works well.

Place the lemon in a food processor and process until pulverised, but with some chunky bits left. Transfer the lemon mixture in a small bowl.

Put all the remaining cake ingredients into the food processor and blend until smooth. Stir in just over half of the lemon pulp. Keep the rest of the lemon mixture for the icing.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden-brown and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then turn the cake out, remove the baking paper and leave to cool on a wire rack.

For the icing, put the butter and icing sugar in the food processor and blitz  until smooth and creamy. Add the mascarpone, blend again and then add the remaining lemon mixture and pulse until the icing is just mixed.

To make the lemon curd, put the butter, caster sugar and lemon juice in a bowl over simmering water (bain-marie) making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Whisk for 5 minutes until all the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and whisk in the beaten eggs.  Put back onto the heat, and whisk or stir with a wooden spoon until the lemon curd has noticeably thickened – hard to say how long, at least 10 minutes. Remove from heat when thickened. To store lemon curd before using, place cling film on the surface of the curd to stop a skin forming.  Store in the fridge.

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To assemble the cake: Carefully cut the cake in half.  Spread half the lemon mascarpone icing  on the bottom cake layer, then place the top cake layer on top. Ice the top of the cake with the remaining icing. Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of lemon curd (or more if you really like lemon curd) over the mascarpone icing, gently swirling the lemon curd into the icing.

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Boozy Fruit or Hoarder’s Jam

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Hoarder’s Jam? I love this name and I dedicate this post to those friends and family, who are Hoarders. You know who you are…

This is not a jam – and I wonder why this delightful concoction ever got called jam! It’s boozy, fruity and a great way to preserve summer fruits. It’s less of a recipe than some simple instructions on how to combine fruit, sugar, spices and alcohol. The instructions are adapted from ‘The Women’s Weekly Made from Scratch”, a very handy source of some good recipes.

Lovely summer fruit like plums, peaches and apricots can be preserved, and the bonus is the fruity preserving alcohol is a great tipple or the basis of a champagne cocktail.

Ingredients 

Any mixture of stone fruit to make up 6 pieces:

Plums, apricots, peaches

250 g caster sugar

1 long piece of orange rind

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

330 ml alcohol: brandy, rum or gin

Method

Cut the plums  and apricots in halves, the peaches in quarters. Place the fruit and the sugar in china or glass bowl and leave for 1 hour.

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Transfer the fruit and sugar mixture to 1 litre glass jar with a strong lid. Place the orange rind and vanilla bean in the jar. Pour the alcohol into the jar. The fruit should be covered; top up with a little more alcohol to make sure all the fruit is covered. If the fruit won’t stay submerged, fill a small ziplock bag with a little water, seal and place on top of the liquid to keep the fruit under the liquid.

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Make sure you note the date of preserving on the jar. Keep in a dark cool pace for a minimum of 2 weeks or up to 3 months.

You can turn the jar occasionally, or VERY gently shake the jar. This is to help the sugar dissolve. After 1 week, the colour of the liquid begins to deepen, and a lot of the sugar is dissolved, with a residue still sitting on the bottom of the jar.

After 2 weeks the liquid in the jar has turned a deep ruby colour and all the sugar is dissolved.

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I opened the jar after 2 weeks and used the fruit to make my deconstructed crumble, recipe below and also here in an earlier post.

Refrigerate after opening, although I’m inclined to believe the fruit is well and truly pickled and should survive quite well for a few days in the cupboard. I’ll give you an update on that one!

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Crumble

Ingredients

100 gms plain flour
75 gms  butter at room temperature
Pinch of salt
50 gms dark brown sugar
25 gms golden syrup
50 gms rolled oats
20 gms chopped macadamias and almonds or any nuts you like

Method

Preheat oven to 175 degrees C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Place the flour, butter, salt and sugar into a bowl, and rub the butter into the other ingredients until the mixture forms coarse breadcrumbs.
Place mixture into the bowl of a food processor, add golden syrup, oats and chopped nuts, and pulse gently to combine.
Turn out the crumble mixture onto the lined baking tray, spread the mixture evenly and bake the crumble for 15-20 minutes, stirring once during the cooking time, until the crumble is toasted.
Remove from oven, and when cool, break up any large pieces. It’s important to have a combination of small and large crumble pieces. The crumble is ready to use, or store in an airtight container, or it also freezes well.

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Christmas Brioche

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I am still cooking from James Morton’s book Brilliant Bread. James is the most common sense baker around and his recipes really work. This time, I tried his Super-Fast Brioche and it was pretty fast. From mixing to eating in half a day.

I tweaked the recipe a bit and made a lovely Christmas version with sour cherries and cranberries. And as the dough is a bit tricky to use as it’s really sticky, I put the first prove in the fridge to make the dough firm up and make it easier to handle. You can also make a normal brioche loaf without the fruit and spices.

The texture was incredibly light and airy, somewhere between cake and bread. Which make sense of Marie Antoinette’s “Let them eat brioche” – not cake as the popular saying goes – Qu’ils mangent de la brioche“. And I used my wonderful sourdough starter, going strong after 6 months! I cannot recommend highly enough using sourdough starter in bread recipes where instant yeast is also used.

Here is James’ recipe, with my tweaks:

Ingredients

100g white sourdough starter (1-2 days after feeding) see here for how to make a sourdough starter

170g plain flour 30g strong white flour

One 7g sachet instant yeast

40g caster sugar ( I used 40g, double the sugar that James has in his recipe for a slightly sweeter brioche)

3 free-range eggs

5g salt

125g butter, softened and cubed

A handful of sour cherries

A handful of dried cranberries

I/4 tsp each of cinnamon and nutmeg

1 more free-range egg, for glazing at the end

Method

Preheat oven to 220 degrees C,  200 degrees C fan-forced and very heavily grease (with butter) and line a loaf tin.

Using a wooden spoon or electric mixer, beat together all dough ingredients except the butter.  (I used my KitchenAid with the dough hook.) Keep beating very vigorously – probably around 5-10 minutes – and you can see the dough become more elastic and stringy. If you are very competent with dough handling, you can attempt some stretches and folds. Beat in the butter until fully incorporated and the dough is totally smooth, another 5 minutes. You will notice the dough change – it will become firmer. Using hands or a dough scraper, fold the dough over into the middle of your bowl, tightening it.

Cover and rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Using your hands or a dough scraper again, fold the sides of the dough into the middle, working your way all around the bowl several times. You will see the dough tightening – you want to help it hold its shape at the end.

Cover and prove the dough for at least 2 hours in the fridge.  Remove from the fridge and get ready to shape.  The dough should have firmed up enough to shape it into a   loaf to go into the tin, for a regular brioche, or roll it and fill with fruit and spices and then shape for a Christmas version.

For regular brioche, fold the dough into a loaf shape and put into the buttered tin. Be careful with handling – it’s still a fragile dough, even after being in the fridge.

For Christmas brioche, put your chilled proved dough onto a floured board and gently stretch to a rectangle. Don’t go too thin – just stretch the dough large enough to be able to fold it over a couple of times with the filling. Scatter the cherries and cranberries and spices onto the dough then fold over 1/3 from the top, and then fold the dough over onto the remaining 1/3 of the dough. Carefully transfer to the very well buttered tin.

Prove for a final 1 hour. The dough should be light and fragile, but springy on top when prodded. Eggwash the top of the loaf, and turn the oven down to 200 degrees C, 180 degrees C fan-forced, and bake for 40 minutes until dark brown on top.

When cooked, cool in the tin for for a few minutes, then carefully turn out onto a wire rack. It should be OK, but you may need to ease the brioche out of the tin, as this dough can sometimes stick. Fingers crossed!

Let cool completely before eating. I served my brioche plain with butter, and with Christmas jam* and natural yoghurt.IMG_9358

When the brioche was a couple of days old, I toasted it and served it with vanilla butter (unsalted butter whipped with icing sugar and vanilla paste) and Christmas jam*.

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*Christmas jam is made with fresh or frozen cherries and cranberries, and sugar and water as in normal jam recipes.

 

 

Strawberry Jam Crostata

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Quirky Niece No 1 gave me a really easy recipe for Crostata, or Italian jam tart. She acquired the recipe on a recent trip to Italy. She tells a lovely story, below in this post, of her time in Italy with Companion to Quirky Niece.

“So, as part of our spontaneous European holiday, we decided to hire a car and drive around Tuscany for 5 days. After a hairy hour or so battling peak-hour Florence traffic due to a GPS mayhap, we finally found ourselves out in the countryside and at our first airbnb accommodation, a sprawling country house on an agriturismo near Montepulciano. In the warm summer evenings we sat on the balcony, looking out at the glittering lights of the ancient city, and every morning, we ate a sumptuous breakfast prepared by our beautiful hosts, which included fresh cheeses, sliced meats and a wonderful jam tart. We could never finish it, so we took it with us on our adventures, only to find another one freshly baked the next day! On our final day, I asked our friendly host which baker she bought it from. Highly amused, she responded that she was a terrible cook, but this was her special foolproof recipe. In an instant, she quickly set her baby down and wrote up the ingredients on a post-it. And now, it has become my go-to entertaining recipe as well!  I use all kinds of jam, so long as they have delicious chunks of fruit, and I remember our host’s exhortations to prick the base thoroughly with a fork before spooning in the jam.”
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I made the crostata recently using this recipe. I made a quick strawberry jam for the filling, but any good quality store bought jam would do. In hindsight, my pastry was too thick – I would use a larger baking mold next time, for a more manageable pastry base.
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Ingredients

300g plain flour
½ sachet of baking powder (1 sachet = 11g)
150g sugar
100g butter
1 whole egg
2 egg yolks

Quantity of any good jam for the filling ( I used strawberry here)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.  Line a tart mold with baking paper or you could simply grease a baking tray if you want a true rustic crostata.

Place the flour, baking powder and sugar in a food processor and pulse till the mixture just comes together.

Make a well  in the centre  and add the butter and egg and egg yolks and mix in gently until combined but not overworked.

Roll out the dough roughly  – remember this is not a precise tart – and line the tart mold. Or gently shape the dough into a round with a pastry rim on the baking tray. And prick the base – something I forgot to do this time!

Fill the tart with the jam and bake for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is golden and the jam bubbling.

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