In summer and early autumn, the fruit and vegetables from the garden are picked and the house fills with the sweet smell of jam-making and the all-pervading vinegary aroma of chutney making. Fruit compotes, crumbles and pies are frozen, cordials and liqueurs bottled and tomatoes roasted and pureed so that by the start of winter there are jars and bottles stacked on the pantry shelves and the freezer is filled to capacity.
In theory, we should work our way methodically through this bounty so that we’re ready to start again the next summer. In practice, we start off with good intentions but there’s often a favourite jam that’s quickly finished while others languish on the shelf and unlabelled frozen lumps fall to the bottom of the freezer to remain hidden for months. In late February, with the hope that spring is just around the corner, I start to empty the freezer in earnest because I want to have a good break between eating last year’s crop and the start of the new crop.
We’ve barely touched the frozen raspberries so we’ve had a little run on them recently. Somehow, eating them with the sun shining through the window (even if it is blowing an icy wind outside) seems more appropriate than eating them on dark December days. We’ve eaten raspberries with yoghurt for breakfast and a wobbly jelly made from Rose Syrup (and a little dash of Rose Gin) with raspberries suspended in the scented jelly. For Sunday tea, a deliciously moist Raspberry Cake made up for the rather disappointing sourdough crumpets (I was sure the recipe book was wrong and wish I’d trusted my judgement).
This Raspberry Cake recipe works just as well with frozen or fresh raspberries and is a good way to use up the berries that get a bit broken up in the freezer. It’s also useful if you still have Seville oranges kicking around when you’ve finished making marmalade.
RASPBERRY LOAF CAKE
185g caster sugar
Finely grated zest & juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange (or 2 Seville oranges)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, beaten
185g Self Raising flour
40g ground almonds
185g fresh or frozen raspberries
Line a loaf tin with a baking case or parchment (mine is about 22 x 11 cm) and preheat the oven to 180C.
Gently heat the butter and sugar in a large saucepan until the butter has melted.
Stir in the grated zest of the lemon and orange with 60ml juice and then the eggs and vanilla extract.
Add the flour and ground almonds to the saucepan and beat until you have a smooth, runny batter. Reserve one third of the raspberries and lightly fold the remainder into the batter.
Pour the batter into the loaf tin, drop the reserved raspberries evenly over the top and bake for about an hour until browned (a skewer poked into the cake should come out clean).
Leave to cool in the tin.
Mix the remaining juice with enough icing sugar to make icing. I like a fairly runny icing that I dribble over the cake but you may prefer a thicker icing to spread. Or leave it out altogether if you prefer. When the cake is cold, top with the icing and leave to set.
Next on the list to be used are two jars of 2009 Plum & Mulled Wine Jam. It seemed such a good idea when I made it.
Do you preserve and use it in an organised fashion or do you have mysterious packages in the freezer and ancient jars of jam?