Scones

You just can’t beat a scone with raspberry jam and clotted cream.  This is my Mum’s recipe, you can find a recipe for the raspberry jam here.  I dare say you can probably make your own clotted cream too if you’re really keen, but I’m afraid I haven’t ventured into anything that advanced… yet.

Scones

Makes 8 large or 16 small

250g / 10oz plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
50g / 2oz unsalted butter
2 tbsp caster sugar, plus a little for dusting
100ml milk, plus a little for glazing

1. Preheat oven to 220°C / 428°F / Gas 7.
2. Put flour and baking powder in a bowl.  
3. Cut the butter into small cubes and rub in. 
4. Stir in the sugar.  
5. Mix in the milk until the mixture comes together to form a nice dough. 
6. Knead a little then roughly pat down until about an inch high all over. 
7. Cut out scones, reforming the dough until it is all used up. 
8. Place scones on a greased tin, glaze with milk and sprinkle with sugar. 
9. Place in the oven for 12-15 minutes. 
10. Smother with clotted cream and jam and scoff with a nice cup of tea.

Easiest ever chocolate brownies

This may not be the ultimate brownie recipe, but it is really easy, and the low oven temperature and long cooking time result in a beautifully crunchy on the outside, gooey on the inside cake which is just brilliant.

Easiest ever chocolate brownies

makes 12-16

200g / 7oz caster sugar
2 eggs
110g / 4oz unsalted butter
3 tbsp cocoa powder
90g / 3oz plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 150°C / 300°F / Gas 2.  Beat eggs and sugar together.  Melt butter in a small pan and add the cocoa powder.  Pour into the egg mixture and stir to combine.  Sift in flour and baking powder and mix.

Pour into a 15 x 25cm (6 x 10 inch) tin, lined with greaseproof paper and bake for 45 minutes.  Turn out onto a cooling rack, remove paper and chop into pieces.

Lemon curd

Another slow cooker recipe. Although you use it more as a bain-marie than a cooker, so you could just balance a bowl over a saucepan of water instead.  There is a lovely point where it becomes curdy as you heat it at the end, which is very satisfying.

Lemon curd

makes 8 x 190ml jars

finely grated rind of 6 large unwaxed lemons
the juice of above lemons (about 400ml)
900g / 2lb caster sugar
a pack of unsalted butter, diced
6 medium eggs, beaten

Put the lemon rind, juice, butter and sugar into a heatproof bowl small enough to fit into the cooker. Pour hot water into the ceramic cooking pot until it reaches half way up the bowl.  Switch the cooker to high and leave for 15 minutes, or until the butter has melted and the sugar has completely dissolved.

Remove the bowl and allow to cool. Sieve in the eggs and whisk to combine. Switch the cooker to low and replace the bowl, covering with foil and cook for 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally until it thickens.  I usually have to pour the whole lot into a pan and heat it gently to get it to thicken up, but that might just be me.

Once the curd is the right consistency, pour it whilst it’s hot into warm, sterilized jars. Strain through a sieve before potting if you prefer a smoother curd.

Cover each jar with waxed disc and lid. Store in a cool, dark place or in the fridge and use within 3 months. Once opened, use within a week.

Marmalade

This January, preserve the glut of seville oranges you no doubt have in the garden by making lovely marmalade in a slow cooker.  The first time I tried this recipe I just used any old oranges and it worked perfectly well, so don’t worry if you can’t get hold of sevilles.

Marmalade

makes 6-8 jars

1Kg / 2 lbs  seville oranges
1.7 litres / 3 pints near-boiling water
juice of 2 lemons
2Kg / 4 lbs sugar

Wash and scrub the oranges.  Cut them in half, squeeze the juice and keep it somewhere for later.  Remove the membrane and pips and tie them up in a piece of muslin.  Slice the orange peel into strips, chunks, or whatever you prefer.  The slices you cut at this point will determine the size of the shreds in the finished marmalade, so it’s up to you, and don’t feel you have to put it all in.

Put the peel and the muslin bag full of pips and orange flesh into the cooking pot of the slow cooker.  Pour over the water and lemon juice.  Cover and switch to high, leave for 6 hours (you have to get up early for this one.)  The peel must be really soft before adding the sugar.

Remove the muslin bag and leave it until cool.  Squeeze the liquid from it into a large pan.  Add the rind and cooking liquid from the slow cooker, and add the sugar.  Finally pour over the orange juice you squeezed from the oranges earlier.  Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.  Stick a plate in the freezer at this point to test the setting point later.

Bring to the boil and keep boiling rapidly for 15 minutes until the marmalade reaches 105°C/220°F on a sugar thermometer.  If you don’t have a sugar thermometer, you can put a few drops of the liquid onto your frozen plate out of the freezer, and leave it for about a minute.  Push it along a bit with a finger.  If the liquid wrinkles then it has reached the setting point.  If not, keep boiling.
Once the setting point has been reached, turn off the heat and skim off any scummy nastiness from the top.  Leave it all to cool for about 15 minutes.
This is a good time to put your jars into the oven, at about 120°C/250°F, so that they are hot when the hot marmalade goes in later.

Stir the marmalade to distribute the peel evenly, then ladle into the heated jars.  Seal with waxed paper, clean and leave to cool with a cloth over the top.  When they have completely cooled, top with jam pot covers and lids and label.  Store somewhere cool and dry and use within a year.

Raspberry jam

Needless to say my own diminuitive haul was not quite enough for a whole jar, so we went to a pick-your-own farm in Essex near Him Indoors‘ Mum’s house to pick enough raspberries for an afternoon’s jam making activities.

Raspberry jam

makes about 15 190ml jars

2kg raspberries

2kg preserving sugar (the kind without pectin, raspberries have enough pectin in them not to need extra)

The exact quantities aren’t important.  Just use an equal weight of sugar to the weight of the fruit.

Preheat the oven to 100°C / 210°F / Gas 2.  This is partly to heat the jars themselves up so that when you pour red hot jam into them they don’t shatter into a million pieces.  First of all, put all your jars on a baking sheet or similar and put them in the oven to warm up.

Pour the sugar into a tin, and put this into the oven with the jars.

Pour the raspberries into a big pan and turn up the heat.  Use fresh, dry, slightly under-ripe fruit it possible.  Don’t wash them first because you don’t want excess moisture when the berries are cooking.  If you do have to wash them, dry them thoroughly before use.
When the raspberries have lost their shape and have turned into a wonderful red foamy mass, add the sugar and stir. Heat the mixture until frothy and then boil for four minutes.  Stir only if you think the fruit is sticking to the bottom of the pan at this stage, you don’t want to knock the air out of it.
Test the jam is at the correct setting point.  Pour a little onto a cold plate and let it cool.Then make a trail through the jam with your finger.  If it crinkles up around your finger, it is ready.  If it all joins back together again, it isn’t quite ready.  Boil for a little longer.
When the jam is at setting point, turn off the heat.  Skim the surface with a metal spoon to remove any scum off the top (adding a small knob of butter to the fruit can prevent scum forming apparently, although I haven’t tried this.)Pour into warmed jars, and add little waxed discs to the top of the jam to keep it fresh. Then add a plastic lid by wiping the lid with a cloth and stretching it across the mouth of the jar. Secure with an elastic band.

There’s an article about UK PYO sites here.