Sunday, January 25, 2015

Marmalade and Burns night

I wish I could say that my preserving habit was under control and that I could stop at any time but it looks a lot like that would be a lie. Inspired by Sarah Randell's book and the appearance of blood oranges I've been making blood orange and vanilla marmalade, toast and marmalade tart, and today there is the intention to make Seville orange marmalade - I have the oranges but am short of jars, unfortunately I'm even shorter of freezer space. It's not my finest moment organisation wise.

Randell uses bramley apples (presumably fir the pectin?) in her blood orange marmalade which I didn't have so instead I used Pam Corbin's recipe from a River Cottage handbook as a starting point. 1 kilo of fruit, 2 kilo's of sugar (1 granulated, 1 demerara, a sachet of pectin for each to be sure of a good set) 100mls of mixed lemon and lime juice, 2.5 litres of water, and a split vanilla pod later I had a 11 jars of marmalade - more than anticipated. Just as well it's good.

The toast and marmalade tart is also Randell - it's a treacle tart with marmalade (delicious, but with a frightening sugar content). I'm very partial to treacle tart without embellishment but am now sold on the marmalade version. My flan dish has roughly the same dimensions as the one in the recipe but didn't look like it was going to accommodate the stated amount of ingredients so I adjusted a bit and am happy with the result. For a dish 23 cm across and about 3 cm deep... Blind bake a pastry case. Meanwhile turn roughly 125g of white bread into crumbs and then lightly toast them under a grill. Warm about 3/4 of a 454g tin of golden syrup with 3 tablespoons of marmalade, take off the heat and
add the juice of a lemon (grated zest optional, my lemon had reached an age where whilst still juicy on the inside it was somewhat wizened on the outside so zesting was pointless), the toasted bread crumbs, about 40mls of double cream, and a beaten egg. Fill the tart case and bake at 180 - 190 degrees C for half an hour or until done. Randell also uses a pinch of ginger, but it's not something I'm over fond of so I haven't. Her book is excellent, I really recommend it.

I'm not celebrating Burns night in any particular style this year - the prospect of an early start and work in the morning makes even mild whisky consumption feel unwise. Burns night isn't the same if you can't drink enough to be grateful for a slow start to the next day (by which I mean roughly one drink more than is sensible or just enough to make declaiming poetry in a dodgy Scottish accent in mixed company fun - not all out debauchery, and certainly nothing that would lead to a hangover). Still it was the extra prod to make this tart - my pudding of choice post Haggis has been a rhubarb cranachan which is great but this fulfils my Burns menu criteria even better.

For me the point of Burns night is that you get something to look forward to at just the stage of Winter when you need it most; the dark nights and mornings may be receding but it's still a good month before we can really think of spring being properly on the way. The other great thing about it is that it can be done on a tight budget and is all the better for it. Haggis neaps and tatties couldn't be less demanding to cook, and in short I can't think of any other dinner or party that's easier to throw together. This tart combines the virtues of taste (it's delicious), good looks (it's glowing golden colour is very cheering), and economy. It's also simple to make with no last minute demands so you're free to enjoy the company of friends and possibly a small dram.


  1. I haven't had a decent treacle tart for year - *drools*...

  2. Still got a slice left. Delicious but not good for you - definitely a favourite!