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.
It’s the last day of National Cupcake Week and I’m just getting in by the skin of my chinny chin chin. With the Great British Bake Off in full swing everyone seems to have gone baking mad. Home Bargains is one such and they have given me a helping hand with my cupcakes by sending a box full of baking goodies. Their brief was to create a Home Bargains showstopper.
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.
We Should Cocoa has been running a stunning four years now and today celebrates going into its fifth year. Yes, it was five years ago that Chele and I started this monthly chocolate challenge. Chele kicked us off way back then with raspberries and it’s been a continuous journey ever since. In 2012 Chele withdrew from the challenge and it has subsequently been kept alive by many wonderful bloggers who have kindly taken on guest hosting duties. This has added an extra element of creativity and interest as every host has such different ideas as to what the ingredient or theme should be. It is with deep gratitude that I’d like to thank all of the hosts and the many other bloggers who have been involved with this challenge over the years and have contributed to making it such an enjoyable and successful blog event. Do please keep those offers of hosting coming in.
If I need to make brownies in a hurry, my go to recipe these days is for chocolate fudge brownies from Charlotte Pike’s wonderful book Easy Baking in The Hungry Student series. I first made these for an event last summer where they proved to be extremely popular. Then, last week, I made some for my birthday party. This week, I’ve omitted the coffee, used some different sugars and added blackcurrants. I also always use wholemeal flour or wholemeal spelt which I feel gives me a few brownie points (haha). The method I use is my favourite one pot wonder.