Wednesday, 14 July 2010

More Raspberry and Blackcurrant Fare

The soft fruit harvest continues; so much this year that I foresee lots of jam making, freezing and possibly an attempt at bottling looming.

So far I have gathered ten pounds of raspberries and just over four pounds of blackcurrants. The redcurrants should be ready around the end of July; sadly the whitecurrants have been taken by the birds, but I can't really complain as they seem to have left the raspberries and other currants alone (for the moment!).

So more baking and preserving; this time a raspberry and blackcurrant jam. I used the same method as the Almost Seedless Raspberry jam with two pounds of raspberries and one and a quarter pounds of blackcurrants. This produced a slightly tart jam, just the way we like it.

I found a recipe on another blog for a cake using raspberry and blackcurrant jams with chocolate, so using Holly Grove R&B jam I got out the baking tin and tried out the recipe for Chocolate, Raspberry and Blackcurrant Cake. The result is a rich and dense cake, not too pretty to look at, to accompany the cake I made a raspberry couli and the Handyman added a little cream drizzled over the coulis. The resulting dessert tasted delicious - not sure the photo does it justice.

Raspberry Couli
Makes about quarter of a pint
8ozs raspberries, rinsed
1.5ozs castor sugar

Place the raspberries in a bowl and sprinkle over the sugar. Cover and leave for 30 minutes. Then place the contents of the bowl in a blender and blend until smooth.
Taste and add more sugar if required and blend again for a few seconds. Strain the liquid through a fine nylon sieve to remove the seeds. Put into a container, cover and store in the fridge until needed.

The coulis can be stored for several days and used over cakes, icecream, pancakes etc.

Note: if you don't want to get the blender out you could just press the fruit and sugar mix through a sieve, a bit more work but the same result.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Scones and Jam

Holly Grove kitchen garden has been swinging into full production; amongst the produce have been raspberries and blackcurrants...lots of the little blighters! Yesterday, though the garden was tempting me out, I remained resolute and stayed in the kitchen for a bit of baking and preserving.

Starting with the raspberries, I made a very simple fruit yoghurt - basically greek yoghurt layered with raspberries. I used the ripest berries for this, leaving it overnight for the juices to run into the yoghurt and ready for my breakfast this morning. One and a half pounds of raspberries I used to make raspberry jam, only a small quantity, but full of fruit. The remainder of the raspberries together with some of the blackcurrants were used to make another Berry Crumble cake.

Then on to the blackberries; aside from the small quantity in the cake, one pound of fruit was used to make Blackberry jam and the rest, about two pounds, was juiced.

With the jam gleaming at me through the glass jars I felt that I really ought to make some scones - you can't spend time making jam and not have scones to eat it on.

So a productive day in the kitchen and here are the recipes for scones and jam...

Almost Seedless Raspberry Jam

Makes about 1lb
1.5lbs raspberries
1tsp lemon juice
12ozs granulated sugar

Put the raspberries in a heavy-based pan and bring slowly to the boil, mashing the fruit with a wooden spoon to release the juices. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until the fruit is very soft and lots of juices have been released.

Press the fruit pulp and juice through a fine sieve into a bowl, this may take a while and you may end up with a few pips in the pulp if, like me, you press too hard to release the pulp for jam. Discard the raspberry pips left in the sieve and measure the pulp in a measuring jug - I had about three quarters of a pint.

Return the pulp to the clean pan and add the lemon juice together with the sugar - 1lb of sugar for every pint of pulp and juice. Bring slowly to the boil stirring to ensure that the sugar has dissolved. Boil rapidly until a set is achieved. Remove from the heat and stir in a knob of butter, this will help to clear the jam. The pour into prepared jam jars and seal and label.

Plain Scones

Makes about 8
8ozs self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
2ozs butter
1oz castor sugar
a little milk

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a food processor. Add the butter and blitz to fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and pulse to mix through the crumb mixture. With the processor running, slowly add a small amount of milk until the mix comes together forming a soft dough. Be careful not to over process or you'll end up with dry scones.

Turn out the dough onto a floured board and bring together into a ball. Gently press the dough out into a round about two inches deep and cut out scones with a two inch cutter. Place the scones close together (but not touching) on a baking sheet and brush the tops with a little milk.

Place in the preheated oven at 230C for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the baking sheet and place on a clean cloth on a cooling rack and cover with the cloth. This will ensure that your scones stay soft, that's if you can resist eating them almost immediately with that delicious raspberry jam that you've just jarred up!

You can, of course, make the scones without a food processor. Simply create the crumb mix by rubbing in the butter with your fingers to make the fine breadcrumbs. Then add the sugar and stir in. Finally bring the dough together by hand using a little milk.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Travellers from the North

My cousin, E, and her husband, S, live way up in the north east of Scotland so we don't see them very often; in fact only about 3 or 4 times in the last 20 years! So when they stopped over with us on their way to Spain it was reason enough to search out a dessert recipe for a celebration.

After much searching through my cookery books and favourite websites and perusing what might be available from Holly Grove's kitchen garden, I found Rachel Allen's Cherry Crumble Cake and modified it to use the berries available from the garden supplemented with some market produce.

The cake was served warm with softly whipped double cream. I'm already thinking about a rhubarb and/or apple version of this cake or what about plums?

Berry Crumble Cake

(Serves 6)
350g (12oz) ripe fresh berries (I used HG blackcurrants, raspberries and strawberries)
150g (5oz) self-raising flour
pinch of ground cinnamon
50g (2oz) caster sugar
1 egg
30ml (1fl oz) milk
100g (4oz) butter, melted
Icing sugar, for dusting (optional)

For the crumble topping
25g (1oz) plain flour
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
25g (1oz) caster sugar
25g (1oz) butter, cubed
20cm (8in) diameter spring-form/loose bottomed tin

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas mark 4. Butter the sides of the cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.

Prepare the fruit removing the stalks etc. Keep the fruit whole unless the strawberries are particularly large then half or quarter them. Set the fruit aside.

Sift the flour and cinnamon into a large bowl, add the sugar, mix together and make a well in the centre. Then whisk the egg, milk and melted butter together in another bowl. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix together to make a thick, smooth mixture, then spoon into the prepared tin and spread evenly. Scatter the berries over the mixture and gently press them in.

To make the crumble, put all the ingredients into a bowl. Rub in the butter to make a crumb-like mixture and scatter the topping over the berries.

Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until the top is lightly golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Leave in the tin for about 10 minutes until cool enough to handle, then run a knife around the edge and remove the cake from the tin. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Lightly dust with icing sugar and serve with softly whipped double cream or creme fraiche.
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