And then back to the day job in the morning, working on Saturday is a pain sometimes not least because I’ve tried to pack in two days worth of household activity into the part of Sunday left after waking up late. I’ve shopped, made jam, baked a cake, cooked a chicken, sorted out laundry (ok so I gathered all the clean laundry from its drying perches and dumped it on my bed which has promptly disappeared, and I still have to actually sort it but at least I Made A Start) finished a book, and created more washing up than I could have believed possible. I still have to do another load of washing, catch up with the Scottish one, wash my hair, and excavate my bed. I will be exhausted by the time I go back to work tomorrow.
The cake baked is a chocolate Guinness cake, not my sister’s version but the original Nigella version from ‘Feast’. I wanted to be sure which was best, and although the Nigella one rises beautifully and is commendably light and fluffy, it lacks the dense black chocolaty richness that makes my clever little sister’s one so good and which gave it a real Guinnessy feel.
The jam is cherry and redcurrant, made with the cherries I picked on Thursday and so far I’m not very happy with it. Such a shame because the cherries were so lovely – plump, juicy, scarlet and burgundy coloured jewels and the jam seems a bit like wallpaper paste. This is my second attempt at cherry jam and I seem destined to fail with it.
The last lot I made a year ago with cherries from my mother’s tree, the recipe said sugar, so I used sugar – ordinary granulated sugar. I have not yet forgotten the two hours spent pitting cherries, or the mess it made, or the further hours spent trying to get a bubbling cauldron of blood red goo to set. It wouldn’t set and wouldn’t set and finally I had to heed the call of nature. Gone for not more than a minute after an eternity of waiting and the whole lot has caramelised into a thick toffee mess (If I can’t spread it on a croissant – which I can’t, it does make an acceptable addition to brownie mix) so I added a not to my recipe – PECTIN.
Today – cherries lovingly pitted (leaving my apron, kitchen table, and self looking like extras in a slasher film), redcurrants de stalked and all softening up nicely I add what I think is a carefully worked out weighed and measured quantity of pectin infused jam sugar. The moment it hits the pan it becomes clear there is far, far too much of it and that redcurrants are little pectin bombs which negate the use of special sugar. Bugger.
I’ll reserve judgement until It’s all cooled down and I’ve tried it, but so far I’ve never seen a stickier denser jammier jam and I’m not feeling very optimistic – although at least it’s not burned this time... The price of cherries being what they are I won’t be having another go until next year, and then only if I can get a free crop – hopefully third time will be a charm, but in the meantime I’m going to have cherries as nature intended – straight, unadorned and in no way fiddled with.