Category: marmalade

Fruit stoned.

I might be a summer baby, born on the 30th of July, but I’m not a lover of 95˚ F degree temperatures with dew points that make it feel like it’s 104˚ F. Basically all I want to do once the mercury goes up is… well… nothing. Seriously. I just want to sit and lounge in a cool, comfortable spot, drink frozen adult beverages and get fanned with palm fronds (preferably with Henry Cavill, Alexander Skårsgard and Brad Pitt doing the fanning) and I’d look something like this…

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You know, impossibly fresh-looking and relaxed, all my makeup in place, with not a drop of sweat to be found. But that isn’t always practical, as you probably well know. That’s a total dream sequence. I still have to work, and do gardening, and cleaning, and eating, and living. And you do too!

And since you’ve still gotta eat, no matter how hot it is, you probably still want dessert too. I know dessert is a must around here. Crazy enough, when you’re known for your baking and you have a blog where you showcase your baked goods, people actually expect dessert all the time! In the summer, especially these hazy/hot/humid “dog days” of summer, the best kind of desserts to make are the easy ones. Ones that don’t take a lot of time, ones that are made from fresh or in-season ingredients, ones that basically make themselves and ones that you can eat with a dollop of ice cream or fresh whipped cream. But more importantly: ones that still look beautiful (despite the ungodly heat) & make everyone think you slaved for hours.

And a galette is one of those.

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And right about now you may be wondering what the hell a galette is exactly. Well, I’m going to satisfy your curiosity…

Galette is a term used in the French cuisine to designate various types of flat, round or freeform crusty cakes,[1] similar in concept to a Chinese bing. One notable type is the galette des Rois (King cake) eaten on the day of Epiphany. In French Canada, the term galette is usually applied to pastries best described as large cookies.

Galette, or more properly Breton galette (French: Galette bretonne, Breton: Krampouezhenn gwinizh du), is also the name given in most French crêperies to savoury buckwheat flour pancakes, while those made from wheat flour, much smaller in size and mostly served with a sweet filling, are branded crêpes. Galette is a type of thin large pancake mostly associated with the regions of Normandy and Brittany, where it replaced at times bread as basic food, but it is eaten countrywide. Buckwheat was introduced as a crop suitable to impoverished soils and buckwheat pancakes were known in other regions where this crop was cultivated, such as Limousin or Auvergne.

It is frequently garnished with egg, meat, fish, cheese, cut vegetables, apple slices, berries, or similar ingredients. One of the most popular varieties is a galette covered with grated Emmental cheese, a slice of ham and an egg, cooked on the galette.[2] In France, this is known as a galette complète (a complete galette). A hot sausage wrapped in a galette (called galette saucisse, a tradition of Rennes, France) and eaten like a hot dog is becoming increasingly popular as well.[3]

There is a children’s song about galette: “J’aime la galette, savez-vous comment ? Quand elle est bien faite, avec du beurre dedans.” (“I like galette, do you know how? When it is made well, with butter inside.”)

-Wikipedia

My galettes aren’t exactly like the traditional galettes, they’re just puff pastry topped with stone-fruits: sliced plums, peaches & nectarines. But they’re pretty, and they’re pretty easy to make. Okay they’re more than pretty. They’re downright gorgeous. Like jewels laid out on pillows… (was that too cheesy? It sounds very cheesy in my head…)


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Okay, scratch that cheesy crap. This is some hardcore punk rock pastry! Better? No? Alright forget it.

Anyway, all I did was unroll one sheet of frozen puff pasty dough, and cut it into 6 pieces. I placed them evenly on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Then I melted some marmalade (I used this one, and heated it just enough so it was more liquidy & easily brushed on) and brushed it onto each piece. I pitted & sliced up some plums, a large peach, and some nectarines and placed them on top of the melted marmalade. I made a different galette for each, but you could make ones that consist of a variety of sliced stone-fruits. I sprinkled them with a little granulated sugar and baked them in a 375° F oven for 40-50 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.

You’re done!

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Remove them from the oven, let them cool for 5-10 minutes on the baking sheet, then remove to a rack unless they’re going to be eaten right then & there. If you leave them on the sheets, they’ll get soggy. Serve them plain, or like I said above: with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream and/or fresh whipped cream.

So yes, it requires that you actually put the oven on. And you have to melt the marmalade a little. But really, that’s a small price to pay for a dessert that looks like this. I guarantee you, if you serve these, someone will ask you what bakery you bought them from. Apricot jam works well too, if you don’t have marmalade. And any kind of stone-fruit works; plums, nectarines, peaches, pluots, apricots… whatever! A sprinkling of sliced almonds along with the sugar on top before baking would be a great addition. You could also spread some frangipane on the puff pastry instead of marmalade. And in the fall, the peaches & plums can be replaced with pears and apples, too, maybe with a sprinkling of cinnamon as well as sugar.Hell, I don’t see why you couldn’t use sliced strawberries either.

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Of course you can totally make your own puff pastry dough, too. I opted for frozen because this was a last-minute decision based on some peaches & nectarines that were getting too soft and needed to be used (and a kind of over-abundance of plums). It’s good to have some frozen puff pastry in your fridge, along with some crescent rolls and biscuits. They can be used at the drop of a hat to make an excellent breakfast or dessert.

That’s truthfully how I come up with most of my ideas; when I have fruit or something that needs to be used ASAP, and some kind of frozen pastry or crust, etc. I see what I have, what fresh materials are around, and I work around them. I rarely say, “Hey, this week I’m gonna make a stone-fruit galette so I better stock up on peaches & shit.” Nope. If I have strawberries that need to be used, I incorporate them into something. If I buy cherries because they’re on sale, I figure out what I’m going to make after I have them. That’s how it ought to be- you decide what you’re going to eat based on what’s available, what’s fresh, what’s in season. Eh. I’m not going to preach… I had both a big ass burger from Five Guys & a pizza with garlic knots in the past week.

That said, I’m already imagining this done with a thick layer of peanut butter-chocolate ganache and marshmallows on top. The fun ain’t just for fruit! And marshmallows are always in season.

Bloody Sunday.

In no way do I mean to make light of the actual Bloody Sunday (or the many others) by using it as a title. And in no way is this blog post about violence. It’s just that this is blood orange marmalade, I opened a jar of it on a Sunday, I’m posting it on a Sunday… and it made me think of the U2 song.

Well, I guess it’s kinda about violence- against blood oranges.

But there are many references one can use when making something out of blood oranges. The TV show True Blood, for one. You see, the Tru Beverage drink that HBO sells is a blood orange-flavored soda (of course it is!) so every time I use blood oranges I do think of these cupcakes I made. And Dexter, too. Blood oranges & Dexter definitely go together; think of the opening credits. Have I mentioned my crush on Dexter Morgan yet? Anyway… moving on. All those things are reminiscent of blood oranges, yes, but when you crack open a jar of blood orange marmalade & use it on a Sunday, it makes you think of the chorus from Sunday, Bloody Sunday, despite the serious subject matter it’s really about.

So yeah. Blood oranges. Blood oranges are delicious, and beautiful. Way prettier than regular oranges (sorry, dudes). If you’ve never seen one cut open, Google some pictures of blood oranges… you’ll see what I mean.

Gorgeous, right? And who wouldn’t wanna see a jar of this in their cupboard. It’s fantastical & intriguing, makes you want to taste it. I made a small batch, obviously, because I can’t possibly store or eat 16 more jars of marmalade, plus the fact that blood oranges here are pretty rare & fleeting. So if you can get your hands on 3 or 4 large, nice ones… consider yourself lucky. I had three pretty massive ones and that gave me almost 20 ounces of marmalade total (two 8-oz. jars and it didn’t quite entirely fill one 4-oz. jar). I used the same formula that I always use to make marmalade, and it worked pretty well for me (with the subtraction of using any rind in it and the addition of a bit of Certo pectin). If you’re anti-using commercial pectin in your blood orange marmalade, then you can use one lemon in it and keep the rinds in a small muslin bag during the soaking & boiling processes. That’ll add extra natural pectin without clouding the pretty color of the marmalade with the rind. I usually keep the rind in my marmalade but for this I thought it was too pretty to leave any in. If you’re like me, and would prefer to leave the rind out of the finished product, you can always use the rind to make candied blood orange rind, which is an awesome homemade candy idea. Waste not, want not.

This is amazing marmalade. The flavor of the blood orange is so present- not clouded by bitterness, stringy pith or too much sugar. Just pure blood orange. Just perfect.

Perfect. Something I am not. Something I am far from being. I know, I know, nobody’s perfect. Well, if you read food blogs (or fashion blogs, or any blogs I guess), you’ll be convinced of just the opposite. Perfect plates of perfectly prepared & perfectly plated food, perfectly photographed with perfect high-tech DSLR cameras in perfect lighting, photographed on perfect, neat counters or tables with just the right “ambience”; an expensive knife positioned just so, a cloth napkin folded just so, etc. And that may make you think, “Why doesn’t my jam/cupcake/roast chicken/homemade bread look like that?” I know that because I’ve thought it myself.

It’s bullshit, really. Because real life isn’t an issue of Bon Appétit or Saveur. I have no desire to impress you with my great photography skills or my awesome kitchen lighting. I live in a real house, with real lights and real counters and most of all- I do not have a $4,000 dollar camera with a light box & a huge set up just to get that perfect (there’s that word again) picture of a crumb cake. Truthfully? I use my iPhone ever since my camera broke. Yup. Just my iPhone in it’s little leopard J. Crew case. I e-mail the photos to myself, edit the pictures a bit in Photoshop a bit, and then I upload ‘em. But other than that, nope. Nothing fancy. What you see is what I see. No trickery, no optimizing, no fancy lights, no nothing. I have pets trying to jump on the table while I take photos, sometimes hungry people telling me to hurry up, and phones ringing. Sometimes I’m distracted by what’s on TV or by the music I’m playing. If it’s sunny out, you’ll see it reflected in the photo. If it’s dark, then you’ll be able to tell. My photos might have a golden cast from my artificial non-photographer approved kitchen light. Would I like a good camera? Sure. Maybe I’ll get one (not just for food photography, mind you) at some point. But honesty is why I’m here, and realness. And I’m always real with you- about my failures, my successes, my victories and my “wow, this sucks” moments. I’m here to show that ANYONE can do this. So to me, the idea of having a camera most people can’t afford so my cupcake photos look amazing, a light box set up at all times just so it’s all ready to catch just the right amount of steam coming off my soup or worse: a kitchen with lighting designed solely for the purpose of food photography… is obscene.

Everyone who has a food blog knows that chocolate NEVER photographs that well! It has a tendency to look… poo-ish?

Look, I am not Ree Drummond. I am not Rachael Ray. I am not on the Food Network. I do not have a chef’s kitchen with a Viking range. I’m a real person, with a real life, and a real-person’s kitchen. And I started this blog when people asked me to, to explain how I made homemade cupcakes so “easily”, on the premise that I’d be showing other real people how they can create these things, and that it isn’t as hard as they think it is. I didn’t start it with the idea that I would make people feel inadequate, or less than perfect, or that I would make so much money off of it that I could retire at 30. That isn’t why I’m here. So even if I get that camera, or even if I re-do my kitchen… I promise I’ll still have a stack of bills behind my jars of jam, you’ll recognize my plates from Ikea or that you’ll see my Christmas candles behind my cupcakes. I’ll never be perfect & my recipes will never be unattainably, crazily unreachable.

So just remember the next time you see a photo of something on a blog (even if it is mine!) & it makes you feel less awesome: real life isn’t staged. You’re no less awesome than you were before, & I guarantee you a DSLR & good lighting does not an awesome person make.

But in my opinion reading my blog does an awesome person make. And all of you awesome people make my plain lil ol’ boring blog worth it.

Good day, sunshine.

Like I said the other day, it’s definitely winter. The really cold weather held off until January here in New York for the most part, we were lucky. It was around 45°-50° F throughout most of November & December, with quite a few days in the high 60’s sprinkled in. But seeing how we had snow before Halloween, I think Mother Nature was just playing some little tricks. ‘Cause now there’s no doubt- winter is in full swing. Winter, with it’s 18° nights & -5° wind chills, has definitely made it’s entrance this week. I mean, seriously, look at this shit:

Ugh. That sucked. Needless to say, weather like that makes it hard to even get out of bed. Thankfully temps rose back up to the high 40’s again, but I know that won’t last forever. And so sometimes in the winter, you need a burst of sunshine. That can come from many sources, but in this particular instance… I’m talkin’ citrus. In particular, I’m talkin’ citrus marmalade. Lemon-orange, to be exact.

Nifty jar decorations, right? More about that later…

However… another little burst of sunshine whose sure to warm you up on a cold day is Remi. Remi is a sweet little miracle dog that my friend Ariana (& her man Elliott) saved off the street. Poor Remi is less than a year old, has terrible mange & is pretty underweight. He was found a few days before Christmas & taken to get some medical care that Ari used her Christmas bonus to pay for. Ari & Elliott made the decision that they’d stop at nothing to help this dog, even if they weren’t going to keep him. Remi has his own blog now, where they’ll be posting updates. If you’d like to help out with medical expenses, etc. then by all means feel free to contact her. I’m sure it’d feel great for you to start the new year off by helping someone else. What better on a freezing cold winter day than the story of a dog who was thrown away, who had a sad life on the streets, being given a bright future?

And not only that, but how about some bright, zesty, citrusy shots of marmalade to make you think of sunshine? Yep, they’re both pretty great ways to remind you that all is not cold & dreary this time of year. I’ve certainly made marmalade before, but those had extras added in. This is a true citrus marmalade: just lemons, an orange, sugar & water.

The principle behind marmalade is stupid easy. It boils down to a math equation, really, which I suck at… but luckily there are all sorts of iPhone/iPad apps & Internet web pages that can steer you in the right direction. Not to mention the good ol’ calculator. Thanks to this webpage, I now have a perfect marmalade-equation ready to be scaled down or up at a moment’s notice depending on who it’s for or how many/what size jars I have. I happened to make 3-4oz. jars of this lemon-orange marmalade using their method & this base recipe (except I used one large orange as well as a few lemons). You can add limes, grapefruit, clementines, etc. I got a shipment of Meyer lemons from the awesome Molly last week & I am totally psyched to marmalade the shit out of them. But that’s another post…

Drippy marmalade.

‘Cause see, truth be told I made this back before Christmas, and I just now opened it. The color & texture of this marmalade is just gorgeous. And the smell! Fuhgeddaboudit. It seems now that the little 4oz. jars I used were barely enough. I sorta wish I’d made more. Oh well.

Anywho, the concept is so easy it’s practically silly to cry over not making enough when I can make it in a snap any time. Here’s the basic idea just as it is, directly from Evil Mad Scientist:

The peels need to be cut into little slivers for the appropriate texture in the marmalade. If you stack up the pieces, you can cut a bunch at once.
Many recipes recommend removing the white pith because it is bitter. Other recipes recommend removing the pith and reserving it, cooking it along with the fruit in a cheesecloth bundle and removing it at the end, presumably to allow extraction of the pectin. Many jam and jelly recipes call for pectin to be added, but it isn’t needed for marmalade because of the amount of pectin already present in the skin and pith of the citrus fruit.
Some recipes call for a blanching or soaking stage. The primary purpose of blanching is to remove the bitterness from the pith and peel. We like bitter marmalade, so we left in most of the pith and didn’t soak or blanch the peels or fruit. That also keeps the recipe simple– just slice up the fruit and throw it in the pot with the peel pieces.
The fruit and peel are cooked in water until they’re good and soft. It takes a while (about an hour), but once you’ve got a nice simmer going, you can ignore it pretty well.
The sugar goes in. Lots of sugar. The original recipe calls for 4 cups of water and 4 cups of sugar (with ten lemons). The 4 cups of water barely covered the raw fruit (in a saucepan with roughly equal depth and diameter). For scaling the recipe up or down, you can use that as a rough guide: pour in water a cup at a time until the fruit is almost covered, then once everything’s soft add as much sugar as you did water. Stir in the sugar, and bring it up to a boil, stirring regularly.

You can add things too, of course. Star anise, cloves, a cinnamon stick, a tablespoon or two of whiskey or Grand Marnier, maybe even a little brandy, etc. You can 100% personalize the basic marmalade recipe to do amazing things. Anyway at this point, after it boils, using a candy thermometer you make sure it reaches 220° degrees (if you’re planning on making jellies & marmalades a lot, or if you’d like to venture into candy making at all, a thermometer is a must have item). Then let it boil it at 220° for a full minute. When the minute is up, test the set (there are numerous ways of doing this). If it hasn’t set, keep boiling. Eventually it will achieve the set & you can proceed with canning it.* I’d recommend processing for 10 minutes in a water bath canner, although many old fashioned marmalade recipes just require sterilizing, filling then sealing the jars. Better safe than sorry I guess, even with the high sugar content.

*Here I will state that I have read that sometimes marmalade can take up to 2 weeks to set. I never had such a problem, my marmalade has always set immediately.

If you’re wondering what exactly you can do with marmalade, besides using it on toast: you can use it to glaze a roast chicken or ham, melt it and use it to marinade shrimp, use it to make cupcakes or cake, use it as a glaze over warm pound cake, making muffins with it, whisk it into a vinaigrette to use as a salad dressing, etc. Once you use your imagination you can come up with tons of ways to use it! I ended up with a lot of jars of this since the summer, and of course I had to dress them up; using raffia & dried orange & lemon slices. I only show two jars because, well duh, I had to open one to eat it!

Winter outdoor shots are always fun. Especially when it’s freezing cold. But when you’re looking for a rustic look, you’ve gotta go the extra mile… or whatever. At least it wasn’t snowing! Although come to think of it, snow would’ve made a prettier backdrop. Anyway, the dried citrus fruit slices are incredibly easy to make, & make perfect decorations for anything: for decorating jars of marmalade, for tying on to a Christmas tree with ribbons, for decorating a gift (wrapped in brown Kraft paper with twine) or for hanging in a kitchen. Also they can be eaten, as any dried fruit can be, pulverized & the powder sprinkled on foods, or put into a jug of water for instant rehydration and flavoring. It takes a lot of time (unless you have a food dehydrator) but it’s worth it!

All you have to do is slice the fruit as thin as you can, preferably ¼” thick. Pat them dry with paper towels & gently press out as much juice as possible from each slice without ruining the shape. Either use a food dehydrator or put a cooling rack over a cookie sheet & bake them in the oven; 275° degrees F for the first two hours and then 250° degrees F for the next 2-4 hours. If they’re still not dry (test by “squishing” the pulpy part, if it’s moist or juice squirts out, they aren’t fully dried yet), then leave them on the rack in the oven & put the oven on the ‘warm’ setting (about 200-220°) for another 2+ hours. The least moisture left in there the better, especially if you’re using them for decorating. If you’re using them for food purposes, they can be less dry. Unless of course, you plan on storing them long term; then the less moisture the better. There are many different ways of doing it, mainly differences in time/oven temperature (Martha’s way differs from mine slightly, as do these directions) yet they all work equally well.

The best ones in my experience are limes & grapefruits. They both slice perfectly & never end up with holes or gaps when they’re finished drying. However, if you’re careful cutting them, they all look gorgeous once they’re finished. If you’re really nice, & after you used yours to decorate jars or gifts, & you’ve got a few left that aren’t looking that great or aren’t as perfect… try hanging them outside for the birds! I also heard that cats don’t like citrus fruit, so if you have a problem with strays marking your yard it might be worth a shot anyway (obviously on low-lying branches). My cat doesn’t seem to mind it at all, but she’s an anomaly. Tinfoil doesn’t frighten her either.

My next mission is to make some lime marmalade & tie a bunch of slices of dried limes to each jar, with green ribbon & instructions for using the slices long after the goods are gone. Sounds good, right? I haven’t made lime marmalade yet.

And in case you’re wondering- my pantry has exploded in the past 6 months. Actually, I’ve given away a lot… especially just recently at Christmas, but currently what’s there is plenty (yes, there was more than this): lemon-orange whiskey marmalade, c-lemon-tine marmalade (all clementine & just a bit of lemon), one lone jar of habanero pickles (the only pickles that seem to not be grabbed at too quickly, hence the fact they’re still here!), champagne jelly, gingerbread spice jelly, candy apple jelly, vanilla-brandy chestnut jam, basil jelly, habanero rosemary jelly, pickled red & green tomatoes, peppers in oil (& some in vinegar), Earl Grey’s nectarine preserves, Van Gogh’s strawberry jam with chocolate liqueur, vanilla vodka cherry preserves, fresh tomato salsa, amaretto cranberry sauce, mint jelly, caramel apple syrup, canned peaches in syrup, one jar of Lady Grey’s lemon & tea marmalade and last but certainly not least- a few jars of Meyer lemon curd (recipe to come!). Whew. Sorry I don’t have recipes for all of them posted. But I think you’re smart… you can figure ‘em out. Google is an amazing thing. Plus with amazing resources like Punk Domestics, Food in Jars & Hungry Tigress right at your fingertips, you’re golden.

If you’re thinking about getting into canning, I suggest you start off with a case of pint jars, the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving, some vinegar & some cucumbers & start off making pickles, then graduate to giardiniera or other pickled veggies, then to easy fruit-based stuff like canned peaches or blueberry or raspberry jams. Save the more complex jellies made with homemade or commercial pectin, more difficult jams & marmalades for later. Work up to them. And, if you’re looking to buy jars but aren’t sure of what size(s) you want/need, Food in Jars made a handy guide to the available Ball & Kerr jars; but keep in mind there’s Weck too, if you like a fancier look (for a much more expensive price). I’ve also heard of Better Homes & Gardens brand jars but never seen them (they’re made in China, FYI). I’d prefer to stick with Ball® or Kerr® myself. They’re made in the U.S.A., readily available, have a long history of doing it right & they’re affordable (which is important regardless of how much canning you’re planning on doing).

You put the whiskey in the marmalade…

And mix it all together! That sounds way better than “You put the lime in the coconut…” doesn’t it? Ever since I started canning I’ve been on a sort of mission to find unique (or at least fun) recipes to make, most of which so far have come from Punk Domestics or Food in Jars. However, I stumbled on this recipe while looking for something else, & as soon as I saw it I was done for. Lemon-Orange Whiskey marmalade.

Yes, I wrote Lemon-Orange Whiskey marmalade.

Do I really need to say anything else about this? No. I think not. But I will anyway. My very first encounter with marmalade was reading Alice in Wonderland as a child. Oddly enough, I don’t remember it from the movie, but I seem to remember from reading my very favorite version of it as a little girl that as Alice was tumbling down the rabbit hole, she saw a jar of orange marmalade. But alas, the jar was empty. This isn’t Alice’s kind of marmalade, though. And unless that white rabbit was knocking back a few down there himself, I doubt he had any whiskey marmalade. Though if he did it would make a lot of sense, actually…

Illustration by Marjorie Torrey © 1955

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Not that that ever made me want to try it, especially once I found out it was like jam, which I hated as a kid. And jelly too- I never even liked PB&J’s. However as soon as I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it, no matter what.

Unfortunately, as with most newspapers today, the Times now charges you to view the content online, but I had found the recipe & printed it out before that. Please, UK Times, don’t sue me. For £1 (which is what, like $1.60 American?) you can subscribe to it online & view all of their other recipes (& I think there are quite a few), which, if they are anything like this one, are well worth it.

LEMON-ORANGE WHISKEY MARMALADE (adapted slightly from the UK Sunday Times recipe, by Jill Dupleix, Nov 2004)

Makes 4 16-ounce jars

Ingredients:

  • 2 lemons
  • 4 oranges
  • white granulated sugar (see recipe)*
  • 2 tablespoons good whiskey**
  • 4 16-ounce screw-top jars, sterilized

Directions:

  1. Scrub the fruit well, and dry. Cut off the rinds and cut them into thin strips. Finely chop the fruit, placing the pips in a small muslin bag tied with string†. Place the fruit, rind and pips in a large bowl and cover with 1.5l of cold water (about 6 cups). Cover and leave to soak overnight. Transfer the mixture to a heavy-bottomed pan, and bring to the boil. Simmer gently until the fruit is soft, about 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the muslin bag and discard the contents. Weigh the fruit mixture, then measure out three quarters of its weight in sugar‡. Add the sugar to the fruit, stirring enthusiastically until dissolved, and boil rapidly for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until you reach setting point (place a little of the mixture on a plate and freeze for 2 minutes — if set, it will wrinkle when moved).
  3. Add the whiskey and stir well, cool only slightly, then ladle into warm sterilized jars and seal, processing in a waterbath for about 10-15 minutes.
* I used half-white sugar, half-turbinado; I thought the deepness of the turbinado would compliment a whiskey-marmalade well, hence the darker color.
** I used Jameson Irish whiskey.
† I used a metal “tea ball” spoon that you’d use for loose tea.
‡ I basically eye-balled & guessed this part, based on other marmalade recipes, because I only have a small scale & so I used about 5 ½ – 6 cups sugar. If it’s runny after 20-30 minutes, I’d add a bit more. You can’t skimp on sugar with marmalade or else it won’t set & it’ll be way too bitter, especially if you’re using the rind… however add too much, and you’ll end up with candy.
Before settling them, removing the air, wiping the rims & putting the lids on…

I let it sit for 5 hours, but not overnight, per se. Just during the day while I did other errands, etc. I’d recommend you do that & not skip that step. It really helps to release all the pectin in the skin/pith of the citrus fruit. Citrus fruit peels have a whopping 30% pectin content! Don’t let that go to waste, take advantage of it. Without pectin, whatever form you get it in, you can’t have a successful jelly, jam or marmalade.

Pectin (from Greek πηκτικός – pektikos, “congealed, curdled”[1]) is a structural heteropolysaccharide contained in the primary cell walls of terrestrial plants. It was first isolated and described in 1825 by Henri Braconnot.[2] It is produced commercially as a white to light brown powder, mainly extracted from citrus fruits, and is used in food as a gelling agent particularly in jams and jellies. It is also used in fillings, medicines, sweets, as a stabilizer in fruit juices and milk drinks and as a source of dietary fiber.

Wikipedia

I did not need to use added pectin with this, nor do you usually with any marmalade, but I have seen recipes with the addition of some added pectin. I suppose it also depends on how thick you like it or how much you want to leave things up to nature (see next paragraph down re: marmalade not setting fast). I also added the waterbath part, being an overly-anal and neurotic American, I’ve been tortured by fears of food poisoning & botulism so I figured the extra 10 minutes in boiling water couldn’t hurt matters any. Next time I’d also use wide-mouth jars, as for stuff like this I imagine it’s easier getting every last bit out, and perhaps use the 8 oz ones, since then I’d have more to share. It’s supposedly good for 12-18 months unopened, stored in a dark, cool spot.

Immediately after the waterbath, while cooling.

This marmalade did not have the “set” my previous marmalade had. On that note, I’ve read that sometimes marmalade takes a while to “fully set.” Meaning, in the jar directly afterwards, it will appear on the runny side, but after 2 weeks it should be fully set. Apparently, if your marmalade doesn’t look right, just store it in a cool, dark place and wait. Now I don’t know how scientifically sound that is, so don’t hold me responsible. Although the freezing test included in the recipe is an excellent way of judging, it’s not always a perfect method. Of course mine wasn’t 100% set right out of the gate, but it seemed like it was on the road there. I was a bit concerned because my lemon marmalade was set immediately, but after a few days of receiving this one (which was about a week or so after me making it) my mother opened her jar & said it was amazing. However… I would say let it rest at least a few days before opening it anyway. If after a week you turn the jar upside down, and it takes a while to slide, it’s good. If you turn it upside down and it just sloshes, or the liquid runs quickly, it’s not. If it never seems to set in the jar, it won’t be a marmalade, but that doesn’t mean it’s a waste! You could try opening it, reboiling it and totally re-canning it, using all new lids/rings, but I can’t tell you how to do that ’cause I never did it. Do a Google. Or… as long as the seal is good, you could save it & use it as a lemon-orange-whiskey-syrup thing or a glaze on cakes (like Julia Child’s gateau a l’orange from Mastering the Art of French Cooking… this in syrup form would be to die for poured on that cake while the cake is still warm, as a matter of fact, even in marmalade form it would be amazing on that cake!). So either way, all is not lost. From what they say on this forum, this website & this website, apparently marmalade is a notoriously slow setter, so don’t be alarmed. If it isn’t set after 2 weeks, try waiting another 2. If not, start making that orange cake!

Requisite lid labels!

Imagine if you will, how warming & delicious this will be on a cold winter day. Or even a fall day. Truly. Although, it was pretty damn bad-ass right now on some toast, too (see below). Other uses for marmalade: a delicious glaze for chicken, a filling for little tortes or tarts, on an English muffin/scone/crumpet, mixed into a muffin recipe, and some people use it on ham as well (as a glaze with honey). It will not go to waste, because even if you’re like me & think you don’t like marmalade, you’ll probably like this one. Maybe it’s the whiskey, maybe it’s the extra added lemon-y flavor, who knows. But I thought it was excellent. Speaking of whiskey, I used Jameson because I personally cannot handle Jack Daniels, but you could use any good-quality whiskey you like, including Jack. Just don’t use shit whiskey, it’s not worth it, you’ll wreck the marmalade. If you wouldn’t want to drink it, why the hell would you want to eat it!? Another idea: adding little things to it, like cinnamon or rosemary or a sprig of mint. I left mine plain according to the recipe, but many people like to sneak a little something extra in. I figured the Jameson was extra enough!

All melty on warm toast…

If you had told me 11 years ago that my Saturday’s would now be spent making marmalade, Googling Rick Bayless’ habanero hot sauce recipes (to use my homegrown hab’s) or searching for good plum jam recipes, not to mention that I’d get excited over a KitchenAid mixer or a 12-pack of wide mouth 8oz Ball® jars on sale, I’d have told you you were nuts. But really, you can spend your days doing meaningless shit with people you don’t give a fuck about & spend your nights getting hammered, or you can do something worthwhile & enjoyable. And at 30 years old, if you’re spending most of your nights getting hammered anyway, you sort of need a reality check. Or to just grow up. Unless you’re a rock star- then you’re exempt from judgement. However personally these days I take my whiskey in the form of marmalade. Or cupcakes *ahem*

Oh and by the way-

“Pip” is the correct term for the seed of a citrus fruit such as an orange, lemon or lime.source

Just in case you were wondering.

Cupcakes in boxes for a Cupcake Rehab birthday.

If you’re a baker like me, or rather, I should say a person who enjoys baking/does it all the time/bakes for birthdays & holidays/gets requests all the time/pretty much rocks at it, then you know that there are serious problems presented when it’s time to transport said baked goods. Sure, you can use the old school way: a plate covered in tinfoil. But that’s kinda, well, ghetto. Or you could buy one of those silver foil take-out containers, or use a disposable foil cupcake pan… but those are also kind of cheap. And sure, you can go the “mom” route & buy one of those cupcake carriers (which are no doubt awesome, useful & very easy, but they’re kinda ‘bake sale’ & not very ‘bakery’). But you could also get yourself some bakery boxes.

How professional looking, right?

Recently, I was lucky enough to be sent a large box (yes- a box of boxes!) from Bake-A-Box. Inside was a variety of different-sized bakery boxes. Needless to say, I was super excited about this. And when presented with an opportunity to go somewhere for dinner, I decided to bring some cupcakes in my nifty new boxes. Killing two birds with one stone; bringing a lovely dessert to my host & also testing out these convenient little portable cupcake containers. Not to mention the fact that this coming Monday, September 12th, is my blog’s 4th birthday! Usually, I do a giveaway or a big birthday bash, but this year I just wasn’t into it. However, at the very least, I thought we I deserved some prettiful cupcakes after almost 4 years of bloggin’, rockin’ & rollin’… & beating people with whisks.

So me & Lola got to work.

Lola lookin’ foine & reppin’ Sourpuss Clothing! Have you met Lola?

You have to make a pretty dynamic cupcake to have it be prettier than Lola, just saying. My first attempt (strawberry shortcake cupcakes) was kind of a failure. Not for any other reason than they just weren’t “post-worthy.” They looked okay, tasted awesome, but just didn’t have enough oompf or pizzazz to blog photos of ‘em. I mean, look at these cupcakes I posted last week. They’re perfection. I can’t follow those up with average-looking, amateurish cupcakes. But not being one to waste perfectly good food, I packed up the boxes with them anyway to give to another deserving person. Not someone any less important, mind you, just someone who appreciates the taste more than the aesthetics. Then I went to Plan B: lemon marmalade cupcakes, all of them piped high with seven-minute frosting; some topped with marmalade, frosted, then toasted & some not topped with marmalade, but with candy lemon slices on the frosting. Ta-da!

See, I had an open 16 oz. jar of strawberry jam in the fridge & the urge to use it. Sure, it’s being eaten on toast & scones & bread, etc. But I wanted to bake with it. So the first batch was a vanilla cupcake filled to the bursting point with this strawberry jam, then topped with a Swiss meringue buttercream. Seeing as how those weren’t photo-worthy, I went on to make these, crossing my fingers they’d be better. But… the jam was mysteriously much emptier when I went back to use it. Not wanting to open another jar, I used the lemon marmalade I’d made recently instead of the strawberry jam (recipe here). The cupcakes are bright, lemony, sweet & tart yet had a slight complexity from the tea; plus they’re vintage-y looking. They were basically the perfect cupcake to showcase these awesome boxes- and celebrate 4 years of Cupcake Rehab!

LEMON MARMALADE CUPCAKES

Makes about 18 cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 8-oz. jar Lady Grey’s lemon marmalade
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees F. Line cupcake or muffin tins with papers; set aside. Into a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg & mix thoroughly. Combine vanilla with milk in a glass measuring cup.
  2. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk mixture and starting and ending with the flour. Do not overbeat.
  3. Add ¾ cup marmalade, a ¼ cup at a time, until combined.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared tins, filling cups about ¾ full. Bake until a cake tester inserted near the centers comes out clean and the tops spring back when pressed lightly in the center, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven; spoon a teaspoon of marmalade on top of each while still hot, then remove from pan after 10 minutes. Let cool completely out of the pan before frosting.

..

SEVEN-MINUTE FROSTING

Makes about 4 cups, plenty of frosting for 18, possibly 24 cupcakes depending on how high you frost!

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature

Directions:

  1. Combine ¾ cup sugar with the water and corn syrup in a small saucepan; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling, without stirring, until syrup reaches 230° degrees.
  2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add remaining tablespoon sugar, beating to combine.
  3. As soon as sugar syrup reaches 230° degrees, remove from heat. With mixer on medium-low speed, pour syrup down side of bowl in a slow, steady stream. Raise speed to medium-high; whisk until mixture is completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl) and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 7 minutes. Use immediately.

For those of you who have trouble with 7-minute frosting: the key is to accurately measure the temperature of the boiling sugar/water mixture. It MUST reach 230°! If not, the frosting will probably not work. I’ve never had a failed attempt at 7-minute frosting, and that’s because my candy thermometer is my best friend. If you don’t have one- get one. Especially if you plan on ever attempting cooked frosting’s or if you want to start to make candy or begin canning. Also, you probably need a stand mixer to make it. If not, your arm will most likely become numb & fall off long before the frosting is done. Have you ever tried to mix something with a hand mixer for over 7 minutes straight? You can also double the above recipe for frosting layer cakes or 24+ batches of cupcakes. Also, when it says use immediately, it means immediately. Do not wait. If you wait even a little bit, it’ll get clumpier and not pipe as smoothly. So make this frosting only when you’re 100% ready to use it.

Anyway, I piped the frosting high with my favorite tip, then toasted it slightly. For the rest, I used a quartered slice of candy lemon. Then of course I put them in my new Bake-A-Box boxes for delivery. Thanks to Lyns for the cute little yellow scalloped liners; they were perfect with these! Not only did the scalloping match the boxes, but the yellow was just the right color.

The thing I hate about most boxes- the assembly- was a cinch with these. And they were really cute! Not boring or plain, even though they’re white they’re attractive. People even asked me where I got them, or suggested I bought the cupcakes at a bakery *gasp* AS IF! So yes, I’d definitely buy from them, and yes, I’d encourage my fellow bakers to do so as well. The cupcake holders inside pop in and out, so you could fill them with cakes, cookies or brownies too. And they come in a ton of different sizes. The shipping was super fast too! Go visit Bake-A-Box & tell them I sent you (I always wanted to say that).

Anyway, I love the yellow sunshine-y-ness of these cupcakes. The scalloped edges of the liners & the box not to mention the colors remind me of my marigolds.

It’s been a tough summer, and I know that there’s more rough spots ahead. And between my grandma’s passing, my crazy neighbor’s antics (another story for another day), an East Coast earthquake & then a friggin’ hurricane, it’s been full of excess drama & bullshit that I really didn’t need. But I’m making the best of things, and trying to enjoy at least a little bit of every day. I want to thank Nicole at Bake-A-Box for sending the fantastic boxes… all you bakers out there, go buy some! They’re awesome. And I want to thank all my readers & followers! You guys are the best & you make every blog post worth it, not to mention the past 4 years.

I may not have the most popular blog ever, I may not make the most beautiful or most creative cupcakes (however I do happen think they’re pretty amazing), I may not have the best or even the funniest blog (although, shit, I think I’m fucking HILARIOUS), I may not get so many hits my server overloads weekly, I may not have KitchenAid giveaways weekly or 560 comments kissing my ass on every post. But none of that has ever been important to me, nor was it why I got into doing this. I got into it for fun, all I really wanted to do was to bake fun stuff & share it with other cool like-minded people. So to me the fact that I have almost 1,000 Facebook fans & over 800 Twitter followers just blows me away. Every single time I get a comment or an e-mail that praise me or compliment me or the blog in the slightest, it automatically turns into a good day. That’s how much I value all of you. And don’t worry- I’m doing just fine in the visitors department, by the way, of course I ain’t on Dooce level… but who is? Other than Dooce, I mean. So no, I don’t make so much money off the blog that I can retire at 30, I don’t get any huge compensation for it, I don’t get money or trips thrown at me, nor is it always easy to do this; between the tech aspect, the design aspect, the social media aspect & the recipe aspect itself, it’s actually like a full-time second job. But I adore it. And it’s my personal opinion that anyone in anything JUST for money or fame is a phony, so rest assured when you read this blog, you’re reading the work of someone who puts 100% into it just for the fun & enjoyment of it, and for the community of it, not for any monetary gain. Not that that’s a bad thing at all… it’s just not where I’m at. I don’t give a shit about getting a TV show that might air after The Neely’s, getting an advertising deal with Le Creuset, or that I may have too filthy of a mouth to impress Martha. But again, I don’t give a flying fig about that or anything else; especially what people may think of me. Never have, never will. I’m in it for my amusement & yours, and that’s all, whatever positive things come from that are greatly appreciated & welcomed, but definitely not needed. I’m having a blast just the way things are & I hope my readers are too. The day it becomes a chore or just a way to make a buck is the day I quit. I enjoy it, I hope you do too, and I hope it continues for a long time.

So it’s been four whole years! And I, for one, am not going anywhere. Not anytime soon. But I just want to thank you all… you all who’s e-mails & comments make it doubly & triply worthwhile… all of the amazing bakers & cupcakers I’ve gotten the chance to “meet”… all the great businesses who I’ve had the pleasure of discovering… THANK YOU! YOU LIKE ME, YOU REALLY LIKE ME!

I look forward to spending many more with you.

The Lady Grey’s lemon marmalade, super small-batch style.

You may remember when I posted about Earl Grey’s nectarine preserves way back when (a.k.a. two weeks ago, haha). Well, I’d been thinking of those preserves, the reception they received when opened, and how good they smelled while cooking. I had also been itching to make something new involving tea. So inspired by all that, this time I made a femme version for the Earl’s (I’m sure) lovely wife; Lady Grey’s lemon marmalade. So named after the tea used to make it, Lady Grey by Twinings.

Mary Elizabeth Ponsonby Grey, a.k.a. Lady Grey

Lady Grey tea is a delicate, fragrant variation on the more famous Earl Grey blend, sold by Twinings. It consists of black tea scented with oil of bergamot, lemon peel and orange peel.

Lady Grey tea was named after Mary Elizabeth Grey, the wife of Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, for whom Earl Grey tea is named. Mary Elizabeth was the only daughter of William Ponsonby, 1st Baron Ponsonby of Imokilly.

‘Lady Grey’ is also a registered trademark of Twinings. The Twinings blend contains black teas, Seville orange, lemon, bergamot, and cornflower.

The tea is very similar to Earl Grey, except with more of a citrus-y punch because of the lemon & orange peel additions. I personally require a little more sugar in Lady Grey than in Earl Grey. But I figured it’d make a terrific compliment to a lemon marmalade because of that very reason. Lemon marmalade, is, by it’s very nature, bitter.

I have no use for large batches of things. I make things in little increments, usually give them away, and then get back empty jars (and more requests). So whenever I see a recipe that makes 8-12 pint jars full of wonderment, I groan a little bit inside. I mean, 12 jars!? Unless you’re seriously putting up for the winter, or you live in a place with a huge root cellar/pantry/storage area, how in the hell can you make (and store) 12 jars of everything? Maybe that’s just the New York in me talking. Even us New York suburbanites have a space-issue- we want all the space to be ours but yet always feel we don’t have enough. Like for instance my neighbors & their wacky ideas on property lines. But I digress. When I make my own recipes, I start small. First off, I’m not sure how it’ll turn out, so why waste good product & time on it. Second, like I said, I don’t have unlimited space for my jam experiments. Even though most of my creations are passed on to family/friends, I still couldn’t possibly house a dozen each of every idea I’ve had. So when this little idea came to me, I knew I’d have to make a small batch of it, and lucky for me I had these cute little quilted jelly jars. Cue the “awww” sound…

I was also inspired by this little still life; comprised of my grandmother’s vintage jadeite bowl filled with lemons, and her vintage Pyrex measuring cup.

Marmalade is a fruit preserve made from the juice and peel of citrus fruits, boiled with sugar and water. The benchmark citrus fruit for marmalade production in Britain is the “Seville orange” from Spain, Citrus aurantium var. aurantium, thus called because it was originally only grown in Seville in Spain; it is higher in pectin than sweet oranges, and therefore gives a good set. The peel has a distinctive bitter taste which it imparts to the marmalade. Marmalade can be made from lemons, limes, grapefruits, mandarins and sweet oranges or any combinations thereof. For example, California-style marmalade is made from the peel of sweet oranges and consequently lacks the bitter taste of Seville orange marmalade.

In languages other than English, “marmalade” can mean preserves made with fruit other than citrus. For example, in Spanish the term usually refers to what in English is called jam (and “jalea” is similar to the English jelly). In Portuguese “marmelada” applies chiefly to quince marmalade (from “marmelo”, quince).[1][2] In Italian too, marmellata means every jam and marmalade.

Marmalade recipes include sliced or chopped fruit peel simmered in sugar, fruit juice and water until soft. Marmalade is sometimes described as jam containing fruit peel but manufacturers also produce peel-free marmalade. Marmalade is often eaten on toast for breakfast.

Pre-processing…

The set on this marmalade is amazing. As soon as I took it off the heat, it started to “wrinkle” when stirred. However, I did use really large-sized lemons that had a lot of thick white pith. But really, in general, marmalade is very easy to make, especially with lemons, because of the super crazy high pectin content. No extra pectin is needed at all, and it comes together really quick. And the smaller the batch, the quicker it does. So this small-batch recipe is done really really fast. Although it can also be doubled, tripled or quadrupled with excellent results… just remember to factor that into your blanching/cooking/boiling/etc time. Each time frame I give in this recipe will have to be extended as per the amount of marmalade you’re making. People seem to have a hard time with marmalade’s, I don’t know why. There are tons of websites & forums that talk about how it can take up to three weeks to set, etc, etc. Didn’t have a problem myself, & I’m really new to all of this. Who knows!? Maybe it’s like the mystery of where your socks disappear to in the dryer; totally unexplainable.

Also, clearly, one of my tea bags had a little hole in it. Heh. Tiny little bitty tea leaves snuck out into my marmalade. Oh well, no biggie. If that bothers you, check them first or strain your tea before mixing it with the rinds & pulp.

LADY GREY’S LEMON MARMALADE

Makes one 16-ounce (1 pint) or two 8-ounce (half-pint) jars

Ingredients:

  • 3 large lemons
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Lady Grey tea bags

Directions:

  1. Pour the water into a small saucepan. Place the tea bags in and boil. After it boils, wiggle the tea bags around to get the tea flowing, the water should get darker. Allow it to cool completely.
  2. Meanwhile, slice the ends off the lemons, scoop out the pulp, and remove the seeds, careful not to lose all the juice (do it over a bowl). Place the seeds (or pips) in a small pouch of cheesecloth or a muslin bag and set aside. Slice the lemon rind into thin strips, removing large chunks of pith but not removing it all (unless you like a sweeter & less “set” marmalade).
  3. Place the lemon juice, the pulp and the rind into a medium saucepan, along with the bag of pips. Pour the cooled tea over all the lemon and squeeze the tea bags gently over the lemon mixture to get any remaining tea out. Throw away the used bags.
  4. Allow the mixture to sit for 10-20 minutes. Then heat to medium-high and simmer until the rind is soft (mine took around a half hour). Once it’s soft, remove the bag of pips and add sugar, stirring and cooking until it’s dissolved. Once the sugar is dissolved, heat to a boil and then reduce just so the mixure gently simmers. Boil this way, uncovered & stirring frequently, until a candy thermometer says the mixture has reached the magical 220° degrees (anywhere from 20-25 minutes, perhaps even less). Once it’s reached that point, boil for one full minute. Check for set.
  5. While that’s going on, sterilize your jars and place lids in a bowl of hot water to soften sealant. If set, remove from heat. Ladle into jars, leaving ¼” headspace, wipe rims, and place lids/bands. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Remove & cool. Should be eaten within 12 months of making.

So easy. SO EASY. I used some of it in another capacity (which you’ll read about soon!) and it’s deliciousness translated so well. Excellent on toast, a scone, or even just bread or a roll. Also excellent spread on a warm slice of pound cake, served with a cup of tea. Cheerio!