How to make easy jam: Rhubarb Jam recipe
Have you ever made jam?
I hadn’t until recently. I thought I needed a ton of equipment- a big pan (which has been tricky since getting an induction hob!) a thermometer, special spatulas etc. But, you just don’t need them. All you need is a regular deep saucepan, a wooden spoon to stir, a plate or two for testing and a clean jar to put it in with a sealable lid and a piece of waxed paper. That’s it. The process is super simple and the ingredients list isn’t very long at all.
You can print this recipe here
How to make easy jam
This recipe yields one large jar (¾ litre) or two regular jam jar sizes
- 445g Rhubarb
- Juice of one unwaxed lemon
- 225g Jam sugar (with pectin)
- Place 2-3 saucers in the freezer for testing the jam on later.
- Sterilise the jam jars. You can buy sterilising tablets and soak or submerge the jars in a pan of water and bring to the boil for 10 minutes, but if you clean and use them when they are still hot straight from the dishwasher that’s sterilised enough too.
- Cut the rhubarb into small pieces and place in a deep saucepan
- Measure the sugar and add it to the pan along with the squeezed lemon juice making sure there are no pips
- Add water to the ingredients till it’s just covered and place on a low heat.
- Once the sugar has dissolved turn the heat up so the ingredients are boiling for five minutes and the rhubarb is soft and mushy.
- To test if the jam is done and will set once cooled remove the pan from the heat. Use a tea spoon to place some jam on the back of one of the saucers from the freezer. Leave it for 30 seconds then push it with your finger. If it wrinkles up it’s ready. If it doesn’t keep boiling for another five minutes and try again on a fresh plate.
- Once it will set add the hot jam to warm jars and cover the ingredients inside the jar with a waxed disc of paper and close the lid. The wax paper is to protect and preserve the jam till it’s ready to eat. I don’t know why I bothered with the paper as I tucked into it that night! But if you are keeping it for longer or are planning to make some as gifts then seal it up well. This helps with keeping it sterilised.
- Once cooled store your jam in a dark place.
Tips when making jam
- Always keep your equipment super clean.
- Use the correct sugar. ‘Jam sugar’ has pectin in it which is a setting agent. Preserving sugar is something completely different.
- If you’re not planning to eat the jam straight away it is doubly essential that the jam jars are sterile and the seal with wax paper and lid are air tight. Jams can last years if unopened.
- Store unopened jam in a dark cupboard. Once open keep it in the fridge.
- Keep your jam mould free for longer by not allowing sticky kids to stick knives inside the jar when it’s covered in butter (we all know they don’t mean to but goodness me!) We have a tea spoon rule for jam in our house and it lasts a lot longer now. I tell them it’s what the queen / Kate Middleton do!
Last week I went along to a challah baking day at the synagogue which was organised by my mum. I don’t tend to make bread all that often – being an impatient, quick bake a cake so I can eat it now, kind of girl. So this day was a real change for me.
There were fourteen bakers on the workshop and the ages literally spanned the generations from a two year old right up to granny ages ( I won’t divulge!) We started out with all the ingredients measured into bowls for us and the lovely Israeli Dorit showed us what to do.
Bread dough feels so different from any other baking I do. It’s got a soft, squishiness to it. As a newbie I had no idea when to stop kneading and when to add flour, water or as was the case with one really sticky dough – oil! (yes we literally had the dough sticking to the table top then a dribble of oil and another knead and it was all together and smooth- no longer sticking anything not even our hands!)
After each stage we had to leave the dough to proove which meant tea and cakes with a good old natter while we waited. Once the Challah dough was ready Dorit showed us how to plait with three, four or more lengths. You literally just lift the right hand length then weave it under and over the other lengths. Then pic up the new right hand one and continue. The end result looked great once I had curled my plait into a circle.
Once out of the oven and smothered in honey the Challah was ready to be left to cool before eating – for once I waited! The bread was totally delicious.
You can print off this recipe here
- 9g (2 ½ tsp) dried yeast
- 25g (2 tbsp) sugar
- 400ml (1 ½ cups) of warm water
- 20g (2 tbsp) plain flour
- 940g (6 cups) of plain flour
- 135ml (⅓ cup) honey
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 medium egg whisked
- 100g soft margarine
- 1 medium egg whisked
- 2 tbsp honey (optional)
- seasame seeds or poppy seeds
How to make Challah
This recipe is enough to make one whoppa of a challah or two good sized ones.
- In a small bowl mix the starter ingredients together with just a little of the water. Mix it into a paste before adding the rest of the water. It will become slightly frothy. Set aside for 10 minutes.
- Place all the dough ingredients into a large bowl and mix with a spoon to combine then get your hands stuck in and knead it till it’s a ball of sticky-ish dough.
- Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm room (the airing cupboard is perfect) and leave for an hour till the dough has doubled in size.
- Knead the dough to knock the air out of it using a little olive oil if necessary. Set aside for another hour.
- Divide the dough into three equal balls, roll into long lengths then plait them together – tucking the ends underneath.
- Leave on the baking tray lined with baking paper for another 40 minutes so it rises even more.
- Heat your oven to 190ºC (Fan 170ºC). Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle seeds liberally over the top.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until the Challah sounds hollow when you tap it underneath.
- Brush honey over the top using a pastry brush as soon as the Challah comes out of the oven. Leave to cool.
Thanks mum for organising the Great Catford Challah bake. Everyone had a great time (and I hope we can do it again some time!)
p.s. A word of warning- Don’t bake bread on a Sunday evening, fall asleep in front of Downton Abbey and not hear the oven timer going off. The end result will not be good!
Chocolate Ganache Recipe
If you follow me on Instagram then you would have already seen this picture of the chocolate ganache I made for a birthday cake a few weeks ago. I totally love ganache. I mean what’s not to love – it’s chocolate and cream!
I thought I’d share my recipe with you as it’s really handy to have – especially at this time of year when you’re thinking about making chocolate truffles asChristmas gifts. Usually I use double cream but I had some dairy free soya cream alternative left over so I used that and it was absolutely delish. Soya milk and cream are so much more creamy tasting that regular ones. I think I’ll be using them every time in the future- what’s more it’s great to have a dairy free ganache in your repertoire- don’t you think?
Print off the Chocolate Ganache Recipe here
Chocolate Ganache Recipe
Ingredients (this recipe is enough to sandwich and cover an 8″ cake
• 200ml double cream
• 250g dark chocolate- broken into small pieces
To make the ganache
- Place the cream in a bain- marie over a low heat making sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water below.
- Heat the cream till very hot but not boiling – it will burn very quickly and you don’t need it that hot.
- Remove the bowl from the heat and add the chocolate pieces.
- Stir until all the chocolate and cream is melted and combined.
- Set aside to cool then pipe or spread over your cake with a palette knife.
Tips with Ganache
- You can add half as much chocolate again to your mix (ie another 125g) to make your ganache a thicker consistency. Much more chocolate than that and it will be very firm and won’t be easy to spread on a cake.
- For a dairy free ganache use dark chocolate (Bourneville is buttermilk free – most others aren’t) and a soya dairy free cream. Even if it is single cream the ganache will still taste fab – just add a few more squares of chocolate to thicken it up.
- Milk and white chocolate both work well with this recipe too.
- This recipe is great for making truffles. Simply add a tablespoon of flavour – alcohol always works well, once the cream and chocolate are combined. Set aside to cool then roll into balls. Cover in cocoa powder, icing sugar or anything your heart desire.
The Great British Bake off in numbers
I’m a big fan of infographics, aren’t you? So when I was sent this Great British Bake Off one earlier this week I just had to share it with you. I’m super excited to see the finale tonight (along with an estimated 12.29 million other viewers) but a bit gutted that I can’t watch it live- I shall be avoiding all forms of social media till I watch it.
Who do you think will win?
Lemon and Lime Madeira cake recipe
I’ve been wanting to test out this Lemon and Lime Madeira cake recipe for ages. I made it a few years ago for my sister’s charity cake morning but I didn’t measure the ingredients or take photos so when fellow Free Cakes For Kids volunteer Zowie had a Macmillian coffee morning this weekend I thought it was the perfect opportunity to make it again.
It’s a bit of a show stopper as this time I made it three tiers tall and I have finally worked out how to have a decent amount of buttercream between layers without it all squidging out from the sides.
Lemon and Lime Madeira cake recipe
- 170g Butter – at room temperature
- 170g margarine – at room temperature
- 400g caster sugar
- Juice 1 lemon and 1 lime (3 ½ tbsp cake, 1tbsp sugar syrup and 1 ½ tbsp buttercream)
- Rind of 1 lemon and 1 lime (½ for the cake, ½ for the buttercream)
- 7 medium eggs- at room temperature
- 510 plain flour
- 3 ½ tsp baking powder
- 7 tbsp water
Sugar syrup ingredients
- 40g caster sugar
- 40ml water
- 1 tbsp lemon & lime juice (taken from original fruit)
- 450g butter- at room temperature
- 450g sieved icing sugar
- 1 ½ tbsp lemon & lime juice (taken from original fruit)
- Lemon and lime rind
How to make the Lemon and Lime Madeira cake
To make the cake
- Line three 8″ cake tins with silicon paper and pre heat your oven to
180ºC (Fan oven160ºC). I use sunflower oil to grease the tins so the cakes stay soft. Butter tends to bake too quickly giving you a harder cake on the outside.
Start by creaming the butters together then add the sugar and beat till it’s pale and fluffy.
Very slowly add the eggs – a spoonful at a time. Add a spoon of the flour to prevent curdling if necessary.
- Grate all of the rind from the lemon and the lime then juice them both. Run the juice through a sieve so there are no pips or pith. These will be used for the cake, the buttercream and the sugar syrup so don’t put it all in the cake at once or you’ll end up with a very, very zingy cake! Put 3 ½ tbsp of juice into the cake mix and set the rest aside.
Sieve the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl and have the hot water ready. Add the flour and water in three goes. This produces the fluffiest and most moist cake rather than adding all the flour then all the water.
Finally fold in half the zests.
- Spoon into the three cake tins. The mixture should be 565g for each tin – if you want really even cakes.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out of the centre clean.
Don’t open the oven door for the first 20 minutes. It will make the cake sink.
Place the cakes on a wire to cool.
- Make the sugar syrup while the cakes are baking.
To make the sugar syrup
- Place the water and sugar into a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
- Simmer until all the sugar has dissolved then add the lemon and lime juice.
- Set aside and allow to cool.
- Once the cakes are out of the oven brush over the top of each cake with the sugar syrup. You only need to cover each area once. Don’t be tempted to put too much syrup on or you’ll end up with a soggy mess.
- Leave the cakes to cool for 15 minutes before turning them out of the tin to go completely cold before you arrange them with buttercream.
To make the buttercream
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and beat until light and fluffy. This will take 3-5 minutes. If using a stand mixer you can carefully place a tea towel over the mixer -around the outside of the bowl to prevent the icing sugar being thrown out all over the place. If using a hand held mixer loosely combine the ingredients before whisking.
Make sure the cakes are level by cutting off any domes from the tops
Fill a piping bag with a wide nozzle with the buttercream. Pipe dots all around the bottom cake layer then fill the inside. Use a spatula to smooth it a little.
- Place the next layer on top then repeat with the next layer of buttercream finishing off with the top layer of cake.
- Place in the fridge to chill for 10 minutes. This encourages the buttercream to harden up a little making it easier to spread buttercream on the outside edges.
- Use a little of the buttercream to spread a crumb coating on the top and outside edge – filling any gaps between the layers as you go, then chill in the fridge for 20 minutes. The longer it’s in the fridge the harder the coating will get and the easier it will be to add the next layer. I’ve been leaving the crumb coating a little bit rough (rather than smoothing it completely flat) recently and it’s made adding the outside coating much easier.
- Once the crumb coating is firm add a thicker outer coating all over the cake. Use a serrated ruler to create a design in the buttercream across the top and then on the sides.
- Place any decorations on the top (these Daisies were from Poundand) and then chill again for 10-15 minutes.
From what I tasted – I never leave an off-cut uneaten, that’s what buttercream is for isn’t it? this is one seriously zesty, moist cake.
Merry-go-round birthday cake
I can’t believe little Belle is 4! I mean it was only yesterday I made these baby cookies when she was born and now she’s started school. That’s just insane.
I was asked to make Belle’s 4th birthday cake and as you can see it’s a Merry-go-round cake. I decided to make the ponies into cookies that could be pulled off. I’m glad she wasn’t five or I might not have had room for all the ponies to fit on.
How to make the ponies for the Merry-go-round birthday cake
- I searched high and low for a pony – or even a horse cookie cutter I could use but none of them were up to scratch, so I decided to make my own- gulp! Armed with a google search and a pen I found a look I liked and used it to base my sketch on. I then cut out the paper pattern (which you can download here) and used it to cut around the rolled out vanilla biscuit dough (Vanilla cookie recipe here)
- Bake the pony cookies and make more than you need- just in case a leg falls off or anything. That tends to happen to me! Make the royal icing up. – Royal icing recipe here.
- First pipe the outline of the body in pale pink.
- Fill in the pink body with runny Royal icing. Add a small amount of water to the icing till the trace line disappears in eight seconds. (just in case- a trace line is when you lift a spoon out of the icing and the icing that falls off the spoon leaves a line in the bowl of icing below. The trace line is the line of icing that falls. You need to count how long it takes for that line to disappear. Once it takes eight seconds you know that your icing is runny enough to flood the cookie but not too wet to never dry)
- With a darker pink icing outline the mane and tail then flood. Leave to dry for at least an hour – over night is even better.
- Using a brown icing outline and flood the saddle and straps. With a thick brown icing pipe the bridle across the nose and up to the mane
- Give the ponies horse shoes
- To give them pretty eyes pipe a black dot of royal icing and use a tooth pick to drag tiny amounts away from the dot – creating eye lashes and making the ponies look very pretty
- Leave the ponies to dry thoroughly before handling. 24 hours is optimal.
How to make the Merry-Go-Round cake
- To give the cake a base make a deep 8″ cake and a more shallow 9″ cake. Cover with sugarpaste, stack and set on the covered cake board.
- Add a detailed trim along the base of each cake. I use these Edge Cutters which I picked up at a cake fair. Use royal icing to make them stick or dampen the back of each trim with water.
- Each pony sits on a pole which is really a pink and white straw. I use these ones from Talking Tables as they’re strong – also there’s loads left over for drinks afterwards. It’s really hard to push the paper straws through the dense Madeira cake so I cut off the bottom of a straw and stick it onto the base of the cake with royal icing. Flatten the top of this straw before you attach it to the cake so the pony can sit flat against it. I then pushed the top straw into the cake in line with the small one – just as much as I could without the cake being distorted or the straw poking through
- Make lots of pretty flowers using plunger cutters. Layer up difference sizes and add a pearl in the centre to finish them off. Leave to dry over night so they are easy to handle without breaking.
- Each pony is stuck to the cake using Royal icing. The pony cookies are quite heavy so use toothpicks to hold them in place until the royal icing hardens and the ponies are completely stuck. Two underneath where no one will see the holes should do the trick.
- To finish off the merry-go-round place a taller white dowel in the centre of the cake add ribbons to it. I glued the ribbons onto the central dowel before placing it in the cake to save on fiddling near the cake. Cut each piece of ribbon to length then stick to each straw around the outside. Make toppers with white sugarpaste. It’s a good idea to make the tops ahead of time so they can easily sit on the straws without breaking. Make holes in the bottom before you leave them to dry and then stick them in place with royal icing. Make pretty little bows and stick them on the outside of each straw.
- Don’t forget to make a topper for the central post too.
- Add the flowers all over the cake around the base and in the ponies manes.
- Lastly add the name to the base and the age – with a few more flowers for good measure.
Happy Birthday Belle