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Monday, 26 September 2016

Apple and Blackberry Jam

Bramble and Bramley Jam

I love September.
Apart from it being my birthday month,
I  have always enjoyed
how the month plays out.

It's that time of year when
you can feel the air is changing a little,
and it is just a little fresher
when we leave the house
in the morning.

The dark nights are creeping in and
the temperature is dropping
once the sun has gone.

I think Autumn maybe on it's way.

Following a recent day out
with my family
down to Bedale,
we made the
serendipitous discovery
of a huge Bramble bush
in the car park.

We always park down by the river
and it has become a ritual
to feed the ducks before we leave.

I make sure to empty the
bread bin before we leave
so that the children
have plenty of
treats to throw to the ducks.

Though I fear Little Bee was just a bit
over enthusiastic this time.
He threw in a whole bread bun,
much to the amusement of his sister,
and the ducks seem more than happy.

On returning to the car
Miss Bee commented on all
the black berries
which I must confess,
I had completely missed.

I discovered an emergency carrier bag
in the boot of the car
and berry picking commenced.

We managed to get quite a haul,
almost a full kilogram,
and some pretty purple fingers to boot.

I had a browse around my recipe books
at home and decided to try
this lovely recipe for
Bramble and Bramley Jam.

It is from Vivien Lloyd 
and is very simple
but tastes delicious.

I got about six medium size
jars of jam from this recipe.

They look beautiful stacked up on my shelf
and the beautiful deep, 
jewelled purple
colour looks so tempting.

I have given a couple away as gifts already
and the recipients seemed very pleased.

I have detailed the recipe below but the
link above will give you the same information.

You will need :

1kg(2lb) blackberries
200ml (7floz) water

340g (12oz) peeled, cored and sliced cooking apples ( prepared weight)

1.4kg (3lb) granulated cane sugar

1. Pick over the blackberries and place them
in a large pan with half the water.
I used my jam pan for this.

Bring to the boil, then simmer until tender.
Place the apples in a separate pan
with the remaining water
and cook until the fruit is pulpy.

Meanwhile warm the sugar
in a low oven,
140C/275F/Gas 1.

2. Place the cooked apples
into the preserving pan
with the blackberries,
Add the warmed sugar
and stir until it has dissolved,
then bring the jam quickly
to a rolling boil.
You benefit from a
thermometer at this stage.

This took about 5 minutes for me.

3. As soon as setting point is reached,
remove the pan from the heat and
leave it to stand for a few minutes.

I prefer to drop a little of the jam
onto a cold saucer and if you
get a little crinkle on the surface
when gently pushed with your finger tip
you know it's ready.

4.  Remove any scum with a metal spoon
by gently pushing out towards
the edge of the pan
and then scooping it  away.

5. Gently stir the jam and pour it into the jars,
 up to the brim.

Seal the jars immediately
with new twist top lids.
Leave the jars upright and
undisturbed until cold.

Label the jars and store in a cool cupboard.

These will keep for approximately
six months unopened
but they are perfect for gifts so
will they last that long?

Have fun with your foraging
and until next time,
enjoy your day.


Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Christmas Cake Fruit

It's that time of year.....
                          (Yes, it really is)

Please do not scream at the computer screen.

It really is time to start soaking your
fruit for your Christmas cake.

I know, I know,
you are shaking your head in disbelief,
but the longer you can leave
these jewelled gems to soak,
the better your cake will taste.

I have followed this recipe
for many years now,
and after playing around
 with it several times,
I feel I have finally cracked it.

I first read about a
'good, long soak'
in The Bourke Street Bakery recipe book.

It is a lovely,
if somewhat large,

With some delicious recipes,
it was their advice about fruit loaf
which really caught my eye.

They suggest a six week soak of the fruit,
in an alcohol and sugar syrup mixture,
so as to really get the fruit infused with all
the delicious flavours we
associate with Christmas.

The fruit is so soft and plump when
you come to bake with it.

I work on the basis of trying
to bake the cakes on
so counting back six weeks from
that is about now.

I pencil this into my calendar for September
every year.

It is terribly simple to do
and the rewards are well worth the little
bit of effort it requires.

You will need :

200g Sultanas
200g Raisins
175g Dried Apricots
100g Dried Dates
55g Glace Cherries
Juice (55ml) and zest of an orange
Cinnamon stick
170ml Dark Rum (or alcohol of your choice)
55g Caster sugar

You can use any combination
of dried fruits you prefer,
as long as the combined weight
is 730g.

1. Place the orange juice and caster sugar into a
pan over a low heat.
Warm gently until the sugar
has completely dissolved.

2. leave to cool for a few minutes and
add the rum.
Mix together and pour over the dried fruits,
cinnamon stick and orange zest.
Stir well until the liquid has coated all
the fruits.

Place into an airtight container .

3. Stir the fruit mixture every day for the first week,
and then once a week thereafter.

You will notice every time you open the
lid to stir up these glistening fruit gems,
the quite heady aroma that hits
It is delicious.

After approximately six weeks of lovingly
tending your rum soaked fruits,
they are ready for baking.

I will be posting details of the cake recipe
a little later,
so until then,

enjoy your day.