If you happen to get hold of a couple of punnets of cheap strawberries, I urge you to have a go at making this easy homemade strawberry jam. No need to use jam sugar, preserving sugar or added pectin. It’s super scrumptious with a nice balance of sweet and tart notes and a bright jewel-like colour.
Well it’s been many a year since I made jam tarts, but I had a sudden urge to rediscover the joys of this classic little bake a couple of weeks ago. I had three jars of opened jam that I wanted to see the back of and a pot of clotted cream that I was finding hard to resist. Done deal. I bring you my easy jam tarts.
Another book that passed briefly through my hands recently was Miranda Gore Browne’s Bake Me a Cake as Fast as You Can. It has lots of easy to bake cakes which all sound quite delicious, but the one that caught my eye was Brighton Cake. It’s a very old fashioned and simple cake where you rub the butter into the flour rather than creaming it. A bit of nostalgia crept in when I saw it and a burning need to use up some very old jars of jam.
When I saw the recipe and accompanying pictures for baked jam doughnut muffins over at Lavender and Lovage, I knew it was only a matter of time before I tried them myself. As ever, Karen’s photographs are beautiful, but it was the recipe itself that enticed me. I love doughnuts, but never buy them as they are, somehow the epitome of junk food. I’ve been wanting to try some of these baked doughnut style muffins for ages, but as soon as I come across a recipe, I lose it again. This time I bookmarked it.
Well it seems jam isn’t as popular as I’d thought it would be – either that or you’ve all decamped to the beach to enjoy the rather brilliant September weather we’ve been having in the UK this year. So here goes with the small but very select number of We Should Cocoa entries this month. Please share the love and visit the blogs to find out more.
Orange flavoured sponge cakes with a note of cardamom, dyed pink with beetroot water and a surprise blob of plum jam in the middle. They’re topped with a creamy white chocolate and shocking pink beetroot icing. I’ve called them beetroot and orange cupcakes, not so much for the flavour, but for the colour.
As this is a We Should Cocoa anniversary, I wanted to do something a little bit special. I also had a cake to make for a friend. I knew I wanted to use the chocolate blackberry jam I made a couple of weeks ago; it’s not only rather special but seasonal too. Leafing through some of my baking books, I came across Ruth Clemens’ Ultimate Chocolate Cake recipe in her book, The Pink Whisk guide to Cake Making. The recipe looked good and as we are all in the throws of the Great British Bake Off, it seemed rather appropriate as Ruth was one of the finalists back in 2010.
I decided to follow the recipe for the cake batter and the ganache, but not the buttercream as I was going to use jam. I halved the ganache recipe and changed the cake recipe a little – I just can’t help it! I attempted feathering for the first time using the leftover blackberry white chocolate ganache from the blackberry puddings recipe I have yet to post.
This is how I made:
- Measured 220ml milk into a jug and added 2 tbsp of malt vinegar to make a quick version of sour milk. Gave it a stir and left to coagulate.
- Creamed 165g unsalted butter with 300g light Muscovado sugar and 30g of Molasses sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in 3 duck eggs (large hens eggs can be substituted) one at a time.
- Sieved in 200g plain flour, 80g self-raising flour, 60g cocoa powder (I used Food Thoughts fairtrade & organic), 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda and 1 tsp mesquite powder (optional – gives a slight caramel flavour).
- Folded in alternately with the soured milk.
- Spooned the mixture into 2 7″ oiled baking tins and 3 small rectangular silicone moulds filling them to about 3/4 full.
- Left to cool in the tins, then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Brought 140 ml of cream to the boil in a small pan with 1/2 tbsp golden syrup.
- Added 175g of 53% dark chocolate and left for a couple of minutes.
- Stirred until well mixed and smooth.
- Sandwiched the large cakes together with chocolate blackberry jam.
- Topped with the ganache.
- Piped lines of white chocolate ganache on top and then used a tooth pick to feather the lines – or at least attempted too.
- Cut the mini cakes in half, sandwiched with the jam then topped with the ganache.
The batter rose so well, that it annoyingly overflowed, which was not quite what I was looking for. The mixture was also a little fragile, so needed to be handled quite carefully when still warm. It was, however, very light and quite delicious. CT, who wasn’t party to the intricacies of the creation, was quite taken by the unexpected pleasure of the blackberry jam cunningly secreted in the middle – ooh he said.
Jam and chocolate? Yes, you read the title correctly. Who need chocolate spread? This seedless blackberry jam is made with apples to help it set and a big slab of chocolate for pure luxury. It’s a veritable breeze to make and it has a rich taste of both fruit and chocolate. Roll over chocolate spread.
I know it’s summer, but sometimes nothing will do but brownies. These blackcurrant brownies fit right in as blackcurrants are at their best in July. They’re sweet, rich and fudgy and permeated most delightfully by tart flavoursome blackcurrants. They’re also super easy to make.