Tag Archives: lemon juice

Mixed Apple Jelly

While I’m feeling organised I thought I’d get this recipe up before I forget all about it.  I found a hedge full of crab apples while out walking the dog a few weeks ago and although I didn’t know if they were edible I picked as many as I could get.  Luckily they turned out to be very edible!  I didn’t actually manage to get that many so I bulked them up with cooking apples that I couldn’t store as they were bruised windfalls.  Then I had 2 quince laying about so I chucked those in too.  It was a bad year for quince round these parts it would seem.  So mixed apple jelly was born! It’s a beautiful colour and smells divine. 

The best book on preserves ever is Let’s Preserve It by Beryl Wood.  Alas it is out of print so I may have to “borrow” it from my mother at some point in the future.  If I want to put something in a jar this book is my first port of call.  It’s magic!  This has been my first year of making jams, chutney and other things and I’m starting to get the hang of it now.  I used to be terrified of boiling sugar but now I’m a dab hand!  On the subject of sugar a lot of recipes I’ve googled say to use caster sugar.  Don’t.  Use granulated.  It’s much cheaper, which is great when using in these quantities,  and the size of the sugar crystals makes for better jams and other preserves. 

Quantity varies according to how much apple you start with. 

mixed apples: crab apples, cooking apples, eating apples, even quince
granulated sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
a knob of butter

– Chop up the apples into chunks, don’t bother to core or peel them. 
– Put them in a very large pan and cover with water. 
– Bring to the boil and simmer until soft and pulpy, about 30 minutes -1 hour. 
– Line a seive with muslin and suspend over a large mixing bowl. 
– Tip the apple mixture into the seive and cover with the corners of the muslin to keep flies off.  DO NOT PRESS OR SQUEEZE or you will get cloudy jelly. 
– Leave overnight to drip into the bowl. 
– Measure how much liquid you have and add 1 lb sugar for every pint of liquid you have.* 
– Put these together in a large pan and add the lemon juice. 
– Bring to the boil and simmer at a good rolling boil for 10-15 minutes until setting point is reached.** 
– Skim off the scum until you reach a good violent boil then add a knob of butter.  This jelly does throw a lot of skum so you have to call it quits at some point of you’d be there forever! 
– Decant into warm, sterilised jars and put the lids on while hot.  This jelly sets fast so work quickly. 

*I got a perfect 1 1/2 pints and so added 1 1/2 lbs.  Usually I’m a metric girl but often jams just work better in imperial, imperial seems more fitting to me anyway. 

** I am now a convert to the sugar thermometer.  I didn’t want to be but it does make things a lot easier.  Mine has all the necessary points marked on it and is made so you can’t touch the nib to the bottom of the pan and also has a very useful clip to attach it to the side of the pan. 

To test the if the setting point has been reached hold up the spoon and see how the drips form.  If they’re slow and large then test it.  Keep a saucer in the freezer and place a small amount of the jam on this, leave it for a moment then push your finger across the saucer.  If the jam wrinkles ahead of your finger it has reached setting point.  The bubbles are also a good indicator, they should be big, about 1cm, not tiny little ones.

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Filed under Jams and Preserves, Moderately easy, Uncategorized

Rough Puff Pastry

I could make puff pastry from scratch the proper way… but I haven’t yet found a dish where I think it’s actually worth it!  This is a perfectly acceptable ‘rough’ puff pastry.  I saw Nigella’s recipe for making puff pastry in a food processor and started off with that but then went by way of this ancient tome “Farmhouse Cookery” we have because it was much more helpful in the method.  I did use the food processor to do the first bit but frankly5 minutes and a knife would have the same effect.  Yes, it would technically take longer but once you factor in getting the food processor out, set up, used and washed up you’re probably more than even.  But I’m washing up phobic so I always choose the method with the least amount! 

250g strong plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
250g butter, cut into 1/2 cm slices
1 tsp lemon juice
5-6 tbsp chilled water

– Mix together the flour and salt. 
– Add the butter and either pulse 3-4 times or cut the butter into the flour repeatedly.  Chunks of butter will still be visible. 
– Add the lemon juice and enough water to bring the dough together. 
– Get in there with your hand to bring the dough together in a ball. 
– Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
– Unwrap the dough and roll out on a floured worksurface into a large rectangle 3 times longer than it is wide. 
– Fold into thirds (bring the right third over onto the centre third then the left side over on top of that), turn 90* and roll out again. 
– Fold into thirds again, turn another 90* and roll out again. 
– Repeat another 3-4 times.  The dough will become harder and harder to roll out as you go and the buttery chunks will disappear. 
– Fold the dough again and rewrap in clingfilm and chill for another 30 minutes. 
– Unwrap and roll out the dough to your desired thickness on a lightly floured surface.

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Filed under Basic, Moderately easy

Mincemeat Recipe

Right, that’s it I declare it to be Christmas time!  Today I went out and gathered holly, ivy and teasles from the village, I found holly with berries on it!  I’ve lived in this village for 20 years but I never knew that there was a holly tree with berries on the edge of the green until we got the dog and he tied his lead round it!  I was after just a few sprigs for a small arrangement but got a bit carried away.  I came home with my basket and got on with making the mincemeat in preparation for Christmas.  This needs to mature for 2 weeks so this batch will be ready for the 4th, if you fancy having a go I suggest you make it now before it’s too late! 

Makes 750ml (ish)

750g mixed dried fruits
100ml brandy
a scant 50ml lemon juice
300g shredded suet (I use veggie just in case)
1 large bramley apple, peeled and grated
250g dark brown sugar
1/2 a small nutmeg, grated

– Mix together the dried fruits, brandy and lemon juice in a large bowl. 
– Leave to sit for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. 
– Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly.  
– Spoon into sterilised jars. (Putting them through the dishwasher is easiest or wash them in hot soapy water then dry them in the oven for 10 minutes.)
– Press down with the back of the spoon to get all the air out of the jar. 
– Put on the lids and leave in a cool dark place (read cupboard!) for 2 weeks then make mince pies!  Yum!

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Filed under Christmas, Easy, Jams and Preserves

Butter Cut Out Biscuits

I finally got around to trying out a recipe from Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess but as always I changed a few things round and the method is my own words.  I have been looking for, and been disappointed by, recipes for cut out biscuits for years now and with this one I may have just about cracked it!  My previous attempts have always been to crunch, too soft or plain just didn’t taste any good!  This biscuit comes out beautifully, neither crunchy nor squishy it is just a simple, flakey butter biscuit.  The point, of course, of cut out biscuits is to have something to decorate.  They really are just a vehicle for pretty icing.  These certainly fulfil all of their obligations.  My icing isn’t any good yet but that will come with practice and until then I get to eat lots of biscuits! 

The other excellent thing I found with this recipe is that it’s designed to make double what you’ll need (unless feeding a very large party) and you then freeze the second lot until later when you just defrost and off you go.  I love to cook but I managed to give myself a blister from too much creaming butter and sugar by hand when I made these (I was on a bit of a baking bender!) so I’m very happy to think that all the hard work has been done and there’s a fresh batch of biscuits just sitting there waiting for me in the freezer. 

I made these in the recent Halloween Extravaganza so spooky shapes they were.  I’m sure eating this much black icing is bad for me but I’m pretty certain that these biscuits are getting better as the days go by.  Obviously I’ll be doing this again at Christmas!  One word of warning though, make sure the icing is totally dry before boxing them and if you have anything like the cats here with narrow extremities then be very, very careful as they will snap quite easily.  I have a box full of deformed cats now! 

Butter Cut Out Biscuits

Makes 2 large baking trays worth (the number depends on how big, or small, your cutters are)

175g butter
200g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
400g plain flour (you will probably need more, I needed another few good spoonfuls)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
300g icing sugar
a few tbsp lemon juice
food colouring

– Cream together the butter and the sugar until pale and fluffy. 
– Beat together the eggs and vanilla and gradually add to the creamed butter and sugar, mixing thoroughly between each addition. 
– Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix well until it forms a soft dough.  You will probably need to add more flour to get it to the point where the dough stops sticking enough to roll it out.  It will be chilled so don’t add too much flour, just enough to make it more of a dough
– Halve the dough, form each half into flatish discs and wrap each half in cling film. 
– Chill for at least 1 hour.  If not using freeze one half. 
– Meanwhile heat the oven to gas mark 4 and prepare two large baking trays. 
– Lightly flour a surface and rolling-pin and roll out one batch of the dough to a thickness of about 5mm.
– Cut out your chosen shapes and place on the prepared baking trays leaving a little space between each. 
– Bake for about 12 minutes until the edges are just turning golden brown.
– Take out and leave to cool completely on a rack. 
– To make the icing mix the icing sugar with a little lemon juice until a soft paste forms.  Divide up into whatever colours you want. 
– For more accurate icing it may be best to first pipe an outline round the biscuit with slightly more viscous icing then flood the inside with more liquid icing guiding it slightly with a toothpick to fill out to the edges.*  Alternatively you can just  carefully spoon icing over let any excess drip off to be cleaned up later or even use icing bags for the entire thing if more intricate patterns are required.  If doing this with kids I suggest buying a few tubes of writing icing and just letting rip, it’s much easier than trying to control errant icing bags.  After you’ve iced your biscuit add any other decorations you like before the icing sets. 
– Leave to set and then keep in an airtight container until needed. 

*This is what I did although I’ll certainly be considering ‘cheating’ and buying writing icing next time!

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