Jam: Round 1!

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For Christmas my friend bought me a jam making kit and up until two weeks ago I was yet to get around to using it! With so much end of summer fruit on offer I decided to give it a whirl and my first go was to be a traditional strawberry jam! While the kit I have is from Kilner and contains a funnel, jars, labels etc there is nothing to stop you using the contents of your own kitchen cupboards! You will need a solid, thick based pan to make the jam in. Don’t use a non stick pan because it will get ruined! You will also need some sterilised jars! You can re use old jam jars and sterilise them with boiling water or in a dishwasher. You can then dry them in the microwave so as not to contaminate them with damp dishcloths!

Aside from all the equipment the jam is actually quite easy to make! I used a Delia Smith recipe and made 3 medium jars. Before you start cooking the jam you will need to chill a small plate in the fridge or freezer. You will see why soon! So! Here’s how to do it…

Ingredients

450g Jam Sugar

650-700g Strawberries

Juice of 1 Lemon

Method

1. To begin the jam making you will need to clean and dry your strawberries and remove the stalk. Make sure you dry them! Extra moisture is a no no!

2. To prepare your pan you need to grease the base with a tiny bit of butter to stop the sugar burning then layer the fruit, sugar, fruit, sugar in the pan evenly. Delia Smith recommends leaving the fruit overnight to allow the sugar to draw out the moisture. This keeps the fruit more solid when the jam is made. I included the step but left the pan for only a few hours. I also kept my strawberries whole but if you wanted you could cut them in half which would give you a smoother jam.

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3. After the fruit has rested you can begin to heat the jam!!! Place the jam on a low to moderate heat to just melt the sugar and release some of the fruit’s juices. Try not to stir the jam too much as it will break up the fruit.

4. When the sugar has dissolved add the lemon juice (make sure there are no pips!). Next turn up the heat and get the jam really bubbling! (See below) When it’s really bubbling. Time it for 8 minutes!

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5. After the 8 minutes remove the jam from the heat and get your chilled plate! Spoon a little jam onto the plate and push it with your finger. If the jam is done you will see the surface wrinkle! If it doesn’t wrinkle heat the jam for another 3-4 minutes then repeat the process and look for the wrinkles! You can do this a few times until the jam is set!

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6. When you have removed the jam from the heat add a knob of butter and mix to disperse the scum from the jam. As the jam cools another ‘scum’ of bubbles will form on the top of the pan. To keep this to a minimum when the jam is slightly cooled fill the jars to prevent a large scum form forming. Leave the lids off and allow the jam to cool fully.

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7. As a final step when the jam is completely cooled use either wax discs or 2 layers of cling film cut the size to seal the top surface of the jam. Then pop on the lids and label! The jam should keep for a few months in a cupboard but once open keep in the fridge!

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Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Bites…

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After doing quite a bit of baking recently I felt like making something different and I spotted this cheesecake recipe online. I was a little dubious after the numerous fails I’ve had with American recipes in the past but this one was a great success! It can be found on ‘Brandy’s Baking Blog’ by following this link! While you can make these in a rectangular try and cut them into ‘bites’ it would also make a great round cheesecake to serve as a desert at a party!

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The ingredients are quite minimal and all in all the recipe is very simple to make! I used slightly less Oreo’s than stated in the recipe as they’re not the cheapest thing to buy! I used two standard sized packets (300g in total) for the entire cheesecake using just over one packet for the base and the rest for the topping. To help you on your way I have converted the ingredients list for you!

Ingredients

For the crust

450g Oreo cookies
75g unsalted butter, melted
For the filling
675g cream cheese, at room temperature
150g granulated white sugar
175ml sour cream or creme fraiche
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature

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When it comes to baking this cheesecake follow the recipe! When it says leave it wobbly in the centre don’t panic as this will continue cooking once removed from the oven. I slightly overcooked mine as it cracked in the middle but it made no difference to the taste and it was still amazing to eat! When it comes to removing it from the tin make sure it has firmed fully in the fridge and remember to cut right through he base! Good luck! It really is a recipe worth trying!


Decorating Ideas of the Cake Variety…

When I’m about to cook something I usually have a browse on the internet for presentation ideas. I often find I can easily follow a recipe but when it comes to plating up or decorating my food sometimes I run out of inspiration. That’s why its often good to have a clear vision in mind before you start! When it comes to baking a quick Google images search brings up great pictures! That’s where I found the inspiration for my Eton Mess Cupcake decoration. Here’s a couple of others I wanted to share with you!

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Key Lime Pie…

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I don’t know how many of my subscribers or readers are based in the UK but if you are I’m sure you’re familiar with the Great British Bake Off! Well this recipe is from Ryan a contestant on the show! If you’re not from the UK, Great British Bake Off is a television programme on the BBC where contestants battle each other each week in baking challenges everything from bread to meringues and usually the challenges are themed. About two weeks ago the challenge was an American style pie and one contestant, Ryan made a Key Lime Pie that the judges went crazy for, so I decided to try it! The recipe came from the BBC Food website I won’t write the recipe out but here is the link.

P1020008 The recipe itself is quite complicated but please don’t be put off! It says it makes 1 large pie or two small 9 inch pies. I made 1 9 inch pie and then used some pre-bought miniature pastry cases to make individual pies. The pie contains a twist with the addition of stem ginger in the filling and ginger powder in the pastry. Both of these can be omitted if you don’t like ginger but the flavour of it isn’t overpowering.

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The pastry for the pie isn’t too hard to make but making any time of pre-baked pastry base is always time consuming. If you are pushed for time but would like to make this for a dinner party you can easily use a pre-bought sweet pastry case. The topping is easy to make as long as you are careful with your measuring! It uses condensed milk which is very sweet and the recipe suggests you can add additional sugar but I chose not too as I felt it was sweet enough.

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The recipe suggested using a blow torch to brown the Italian meringue topping. I don’t have a blow torch so I placed the completed tart under the grill for about 1-2 minutes to brown the meringue and then placed it in the fridge to cool back down before decorating! It worked equally as well but you can of course ignore the meringue browning as with Italian meringue the hot sugar already cooks the egg white.

I hope these tips help! If anyone decides to try the recipe and would like some more advice just leave me a comment! It really is delicious and went down a storm!


How good does this look…!

No idea how to make it but this looks amazing!!! Yum yum! Oreos, and chocolate mousse!

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Apple and Plum Pudding…

This recipe comes from the Great British Bake Off cookbook and is a recipe for a delicious, very English warm fruit pudding. If your looking for a traditional desert with a bit of a twist this a great recipe to try. It is basically across between a fruit crumble and a cake and is amazing served warm with ice cream! Here’s how to make it!

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This serves 6-8.

Ingredients

115g Unsalted Butter, soft

175g Golden Caster Sugar

1 Medium Egg (beaten)

150g Plain flour

1 tsp Baking Powder

A Pinch of Salt

1 tsp Ground Cinnamon

1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg

100g Pecans (finely Chopped)

4 Green Eating Apples (Granny Smith, peeled, cored and cut into 1cm cubes)

3 Plums (ripe! Halved, stoned and cut into 1cm cubes)

2 tbsp Chopped Glace Ginger

Method

1. First off you will need an approx 22cm cake tin with a spring clip side. This needs to be greased with butter and the bottom lined with greaseproof paper! You also need to preheat the oven to 180C (Gas Mark 4)

2. To begin you need to prep your fruit and pecans. Now I know this is a pain and a lot of chopping but trust me when I say this is the hardest part of the recipe! Once this is done its plain sailing so please don’t be put off!

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3. Once you’ve got the feeling back in your hands from cutting up apples, its time to make the sponge mix. Its super easy! First cream your butter and sugar in a bowl with an electric hand whisk until creamy.

4. After this gradually add the egg beating well after each addition.

5. Sift in the flour, baking powder, salt cinnamon and nutmeg into the bowl and then fold in with a spoon or spatula.

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6.Now its time to add your fruit, nuts and ginger. Add it to the bowl and stir it well. The mix will seem very strange! There is a lot of fruit and not much cake mix but ideally you just want the fruit to be evenly coated with the mix. Don’t forget the cake mix will rise and expand and the fruit will shrink so don’t panic if it seems a bit strange!

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7. Next you want to spoon the mix into the cake tin and even though its hard try to smooth it out as much as possible. Press it down to make sure there are no huge air pockets!

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8. Bake the pudding in a preheated oven for about 40 minutes or until the sponge is golden brown and springy to the touch!

9. Serve still warm with ice cream, cream or custard! P.S You can pop any extras in the fridge and reheat it in the microwave later!

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Greek Stewed Apricots…

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I know everything seems to be Greek themed this week but I’ve been trying to avoid baking all the time! This is an amazingly simple recipe for stewed and spiced apricots that is perfect as a desert or snack. This would work really well as a desert for this weeks Pastitsio recipe! Here’s how to do it.

Ingredients (serves 3-4)

6 Apricots (its ok if they’re not fully ripe)

Ground Nutmeg

Ground Cinnamon or Cinnamon Stick

Ground Mixed Spice

2tbsp Caster Sugar

2tbsp Honey (plus extra for drizzling)

150ml Water

Greek Yoghurt

Chopped Nuts

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Method

1. Quarter your apricots, removing the stone and stalk. You don’t need to peel them!

2. Place a small pan on a medium heat and add the water, honey, spices and sugar to the pan and heat until bubbling. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes.

3. Add the apricots and simmer for ten minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.

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4. To serve the dish, place Greek yoghurt in a bowl. Add on top some of the cooled apricots and some of the juice form the pan.

5. Dress with the remaining honey and scatter over the chopped nuts. Enjoy!

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