Technically not a bake but as I set my own rules and disregard them frequently, I declare that making something on the oven is almost the same as in the oven. Why quibble over semantics?! Also jam making is a skill that I’m yet to master as my previous charred cherry remains and ruined pan are testament to. Watching a 10 minute River Cottage Preserves Programme does make me a jam expert. New baking commandment. Thou shalt not invent your own jam recipe. Disaster shall prevail if so….
Jam features in so many baked items so I think it’s essential to teach myself how to make it. Also I’m sure Holly Bell whipped up a quick pan of jam in The Great British Bake Off final therefore I can justify it.
I dug out my Mam’s proper cookbook. The original Prince cooking bible, complete with little Lauren scribbles and misspelt notes. (Mam must have been thrilled when I did that.) She taught me how to bake from this. I tried to help whenever I could with Graham Gingerbread, Carrot Cake and of course, Rock Buns.
My Mam has always been very good and artistic making impressive celebration cakes for the family. I was a very lucky child to have the Pink Panther, Hello Kitty and most recently Frank n Furter recreated in cake, icing, licorice and glitter for my birthdays. I wish I had some photos to share with you here! I tried to repay the honour by baking Mam her favourite, Christmas Cake. Unfortunately the marzipan snowman got a bit squashed when I pushed a tin lid on it…
I didn’t really appreciate the wonder of this Everyday Cookbook until I started looking through it over the last couple of weeks. I didn’t even know who Marguerite Patten was, or that she received for her contributions to cooking, a pioneer of economical cookery. A woman after my own heart.
With my remaining wedding apples I wanted to do something special. I LOVE apple and ginger jam and can’t find it anywhere apart from Tynemouth Market once, 2 years ago. But lo and behold Marguerite has a recipe for it!
Only one slight hand injury incurred during some late night apple chopping and I left the apples to marinade in a lot of ginger powder overnight. When I tried to measure out the sugar needed I realised that I had been looking at the wrong side of my scales and had over 1kg of apples, not 1lb that the recipe required. (How did I carry them all back from James and Lara’s wedding!?) It was a very close call and a good catch. I re-weighed everything and after a bit of mental arithmetic I worked out very roughly the proportions of sugar to apple that I needed to get the consistency right.
I know jam is a complicated and delicate process but despite not measuring things correctly, I then threw all of the sugar in at the very start. Upon re-reading the recipe I realised this is NOT what you do. It’s all about getting the magical pectin to seep out of the fruit to make it set, but I had probably ruined it. I followed the rest of the rules however and didn’t stir it once it reached boiling point and hoped that I wouldn’t have to throw out my best pan. Putting the lid on I watched it nervously steam and froth.
It didn’t take long, maybe 15 minutes at the most and then I had jam! But I wouldn’t recommend tasting it at this stage. It’s far too hot…
I got a bit carried away when jar shopping . Luckily I bought extra jars, just incase I made more jam than the recipe predicted. It’s almost like I’m psychic. The recipe was only supposed to produce 1lb of jam. I made enough to fill 2 1lbs jars!
I kept a little bit back to have on my toast for breakfast and it was fantastic! Real jam!
Now just to decide if I should keep it all for myself, bake it in a cake or give it away as Christmas presents… What could say ‘I love you’ more than a big jar of homemade jam or ‘I built you a cake?’ What you will need to make your own Apple and Ginger Jam
- 1lb of apples peeled and chopped in the cubes
- 1 tsp of ground ginger (although I added far more and think the more ginger the better!)
- 1lb of granulated sugar
- No extra citric acid is needed when making apple jam as its got enough pectin in the fruit to set the jam
This recipe yields 1 2/3 lb of jam in total. When I made it it filled two 1lb jars. Marguerite’s Jam Tips!
- Marguerite explains that although it’s best to use preserving sugar which has more pectin added to it to encourage the jam to set, you can still use loaf/granulated sugar (which is often cheaper) particularly when preserving fruits with higher levels of natural pectin such as Blackberries.
- Some fruits such as cherries have low levels of pectin and therefore you will need to use more fruit than sugar and add some citric acid, such as lemon juice to encourage it to set more.
- If using a fruit with high levels of pectin such as blackcurrants you should use more sugar than fruit. You should get better results when you use more sugar than fruit in any jam as this helps the jam to set.
- Stew the fruit slowly to maximise the vital pectin extraction