Category Archives: Jams & Pastes

bread & jam

the bread making bug is back!  after buying copious loaves of bread from my local bakery, and then watching half the loaf go moldy before i got to it, i decided to start baking my own bread again . . . for some weird reason which i haven’t quite sorted out yet, bread baked at home seems last 1 to 1.5 wks before going molding.  whereas the stuff i get from my local bakery, starts to catch that fuzzy green stuff within 3 days. hmmmmm . . .

i decided to launch the fall 2011 breadmaking season with KAF’s classic 100% whole wheat bread, except of course, i only had half the amount of whole wheat flour at hand and ended up having to substitute with bread flour.  their recipe (with my substitutions) turns out a fantastically rustic loaf with the slightest bit of nuttiness.  hubs and i have been eating the bread for over a week now…and it has yet to go moldy! yipee!

here’s the recipe. i used 200g of whole wheat flour and 200g of bread flour instead.  i also opted for the maple syrup rather than the molasses (since i didn’t have any of the latter on hand).

now, what i’m really excited about is how well my white nectarine jam turned out. it’s fruity, peachy and has just the right consistency for thickly spreading on a slice of homemade wheat bread.

i purchased a flat of white nectarines from costco, which turned out to be rather dry and tasteless.  and in my book, when life gives you tasteless white nectarines, you turn it into jam.

White Nectarine Jam
(makes about 1.5 quarts of jam)

White nectarines or peaches 1.5 kg (washed, peeled and cut into chunks; about 8-10 nectarines)
Seedless Grapes 0.5 lb (washed and de-stemmed)
Sugar 800g
Lemon Juice From 3 large lemons
Pectin (low methoxyl) 3 tsp (and a 2 tbsp of calcium water for activation), or follow manufacturer’s recommendations for usage of pectin.
  1. Combine all ingredients, except calcium water, in a large clean flat bottomed pot (i used a dutch oven).
  2. Mix together with a wooden spatula and let sit for 20 minutes.
  3. Bring the mixture up to a light boil and then turn off heat.  Allow the mixture to cool and then store in refrigerator overnight.  Place a clean white plate in the freezer overnight as well.
  4. The next day, pour calcium water into the mixture and bring to a boil. Stir constantly to ensure that the jam is evenly heated. Boil for 10 minutes or so.
  5. Then, take the pot off heat, and use an immersion blender to puree the fruit until smooth.
  6. Return the pot to the stove, and continue to boil / stir until the jam passes the frozen plate test.  (take the plate out of the freezer.  put a dab of jelly on the plate.  push the jelly slight with your finger. if wrinkles form as you push the jam, it is ready).
  7. Pour jam into prepared jam jars immediately.

from plum crumble . . .

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tart a-palooza

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grape jam rugelach with pecans and chocolate chips

i never realised how good rugelach can be until i bought an individual one for 90¢ at sarabeth’s bakery inside of chelsea market one weekend.  Continue reading

homemade grape jam

a few weeks back, hubs and i bought a big box of what we thought were sweet and juicy red seedless grapes.  they turned out to be juicy but not so sweet.  we picked at a few of them, but ultimately ended up letting the lot languish in the fridge uneaten for quite a few days.  being loathe to toss out an otherwise perfectly fine bunch of grapes, i decided to experiment with making grape jam. Continue reading

clementine marmalade

after a successful venture with nigella’s clementine cake recipe, i got to thinking about stewing up homemade clementine marmalade.  the thinking led to doing and lo and behold, i found myself hovered over the stove slowly stirring a pot of clementines with the marvellous recipe book (mes confitures) of christine ferber as my guide. Continue reading

earl grey mixed berry jam gelato

i started off intending to test out ciao bella’s recipe for strawberry gelato.  as i read the recipe, i realized that their technique for prepping the strawberries was in fact quite similar to jam making.   the strawberries are cooked with sugar and lemon but for a shorter amount of time compared to the jam making process.  rather than run out and buy a vat of strawberries, i spied the pot of earl grey mixed berry jam that i had made earlier and opted for a short cut. i took a cup of the jam, blended it with a quart of plain gelato base, and poured it into my gelato machine.  an hour later, i ended up with some seriously yummy stuff.  it’s got the light fruitiness one would expect of strawberry gelato but the addition of earl grey and jam making techniques, gives it what i’d describe as a sophisticated, caramelized fruit flavour after taste.  the kind of thing that is like a wisp of steam rising from a hot glass of fauchon’s pomme tea at the end of a meal.

Earl Grey Mixed Berry Jam Gelato
(makes 1 quart)

Earl Grey Mixed Berry Jam 1 cup
Ciao Bella’s Plain Base 1 quart  (leave out the green tea powder)
Fresh Strawberries (optional) 1 cup, sliced
  1. Combine jam and plain base in blender.  Mix until evenly combined.
  2. Pour into ice cream maker and add in fresh strawberries.
  3. Follow manufacturer’s instructions.

earl grey mixed berry jam

there’s been a strawberry glut going on, such that stores and street vendors (even in manhattan) seem to be almost giving them away.  i bought too many the other day, couldn’t finish them before traveling overseas, and decided to freeze them for another use.  as i was cleaning out my freezer this weekend, i discovered that i had built up a pretty mighty stash of frozen raspberries, blackberries and blueberries in addition to the latest strawberry addition.  there was really only one thing to do:  make jam! and if i’m going to make jam, i might as well brew up a flavour that i really like and can’t find in stores — hence the earl grey, an ingredient which really seems to enhance to aromatic properties of all sweet goods.

seeing the jam delightfully nestled in a fido clamp jar, i thought it only made sense to display the unctuous delight on a piece from my liberty print collection.  yay liberty! yay fido! yay jam!

Earl Grey Mixed Berry Jam
(makes ~1 quart)

Mixed Berries 900g or ~2 lbs
Sugar 600g (using ¾ the amount of sugar to fruit is usually a good rule of thumb to preserve the fruits; however, i like my jam less sweet and can usually get away with using 2/3rds)
Lemon Juice Juice of 1 lemon
Earl Grey Loose Tea Leaves 2 tbsp + 1 tbsp
Hot Water 1 cup
  1. Brew a very strong cup of earl grey tea using 2 tbsp and 1 cup of hot water, and set aside. I let my tea leaves steep in the hot water for 1 hour before straining out the tea leaves.
  2. Pour berries, sugar and lemon juice into a medium-sized bowl and combine with a wooden spatula.  Allow the mixture to macerate overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. Place a clean plate in the freezer.
  4. The next day, pour the berry mixture, brewed earl grey tea and 1 tbsp of dry tea leaves into a clean wide bottomed pot.  I usually use my 5 quart dutch oven or my copper lined all-clad stock pot.
  5. Allow the mixture to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring intermittently.
  6. When the liquid has reduced to half and the bubbles and foam begin to subside, stir more regularly and begin testing for “done-ness.” To do so, take your clean plat out of the freezer, put a small amount of jam on the plate.  Return it to the freezer for 1 minute.  Take your finger, and push on the jam slightly.  If it is done, you will see wrinkles appear on the jam.  If it’s not done, it will be liquid and run all over.
  7. Pour into a clean jar and close the lid. (Sealing in hot jam actually creates an airtight seal.  I get a popping sound when I re-open it later on). When cool, store in refrigerator.  (I’ve kept my jam in good condition in the fridge for up to 1 year.  For longer shelf-stable storage, refer to proper jamming techniques.)

a very berry jam square

the final leg of my rain saturday cookie-a-thon involved making these jam squares.  flo discloses in her book that she had admired these creations at a local coffee shop for a long time and when the baker, susie block, was getting ready to move to the midwest, she gathered up the courage to ask for the recipe.  and i’m sure glad she did!  my husband loves these jam squares. he ever so quietly popped four down the gullet before i even noticed.  they are fruity, rustic and crunchy — all at the same time.

once you get the pastry dough down, the recipe is highly adaptable. however, the recipe is really only as good as the jam that you use.  i still have a ton of earl grey blackberry jam that i made earlier this summer, and decided to pop that into the recipe. you really want to use a jam that has got more fruit than it has water / gelatin content.  the latter, once melted in the oven, would just turn the pastry dough soggy.

i decided that these were sturdy enough for shipping, and individually packaged them up in cellophane sleeves for my xmas cookie bundle.  they kinda look nicer once they’re separated into 2 inch small squares!

Very Berry Jam Square
(adapted from Flo Braker and Susie Block.  Makes about 24 squares)

Butter 2 sticks (225g)
Sugar 275g (amount decreased from the original recipe)
Eggs 2 large ones
Vanilla Extract 1 tsp
Flour 300g
Salt ½ tsp
Pecans 85g, chopped in a food processor (you can use any kind of chopped nuts. it doesn’t have to be pecans)
Jam 280g (about 1 cup) (you can use any kind of jam.  i used a blackberry earl grey jam)
  1. Line a 9x13x2 inch pan with foil. Leave about a 2 inch overhang on the short ends.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar using the paddle attachment until light and creamy.
  3. Add in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla.  Beat until smooth. Stop the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  4. On the lowest speed, add in the flour and salt. Mix until a dough forms.
  5. Divide the dough into 2 portions: one about 400g and the other 470g.
  6. Wrap the 400g portion in plastic and let it rest in the refrigerator.
  7. Take the 470g piece of dough and fit it into the bottom of a 9x13x2 inch pan.  The easiest way to do so is to use a soda can (wrapped in plastic) to roll the dough slowly out into a thin layer to cover the bottom of the pan.  You can also use your fingers to spread the dough around the bottom of the pan.
  8. Sprinkle the pecans evenly across the top of the dough, then spread the jam on top of the pecans using an offset spatula.  Some of the pecans and jam will intersperse together.  But it will all taste great, so don’t worry about keeping the two apart.
  9. Split the 400g piece of dough (that had been resting in the refrigerator) into 8 equal pieces.  On a well floured surface, roll each piece into a rope that is about 12 inches in length.  Fit these pieces of rope in a diagonal criss-crossing fashion across the top of the jam. You’re aiming to make a lattice window frame with the dough ropes, and should be able to see some of the jam and nuts through the “windows”
  10. Bake at 350ºF for around 40-45 minutes.  The jam should be set, and the tops and bottom of the jam squares will be golden brown.
  11. When the pan has completely cooled, carefully take the large jam square out of pan by lifting it out using the foil and a spatula.  Peel off the foil and discard.
  12. Cut into 2-inch squares using a serrated knife.
  13. To store, stack the cookies using layers of parchment paper to separate.  They should keep at room temperature for 3 days in an airtight container.

jackfruit cream tart

IMG_2544

my friend g is coming over to cook a malaysian smorgasbord of sambals and curries, and after playing around with making passion fruit curd, i thought i’d attempt to make a dessert that complemented those southeast asian flavours.  i settled on making a jackfruit curd tart. well, to be precise, it’s actually a jackfruit lemon cream tart.  i based the jackfruit lemon cream on pierre herme’s recipe for lemon cream from his book Desserts by Pierre Herme.  he explains in the preamble to the recipe that lemon cream is made with the same ingredients as lemon curd; however, the cream’s silky texture and true lemon flavour is achieved by cooling the cream before adding the butter, and “then giving the cream a high-speed finish in a blender.” and indeed, the resulting jackfruit lemon cream turns out to be quite thick and tangy without the richness of butter typically found in a curd.

i also whipped up a quick transparent glaze with which to top the lemon cream.  yes, it’s the transparent glaze that gives those tarts you see in french pastry stores that high gloss sheen. the glaze itself is easy to make and can be made ahead, but it does require one to mail order the key ingredient — oetker clear glaze, if you live in the US.  oetker’s clear glaze is a powder that comes in a small blue packet.  german in origins, it can be easily found in most german supermarkets.

The recipe for the jackfruit lemon cream and transparent glaze are below.  To assemble into the tart, blind bake a tart shell at 350°F for 20-25 minutes, using about 1/3 portion of the pate sucree recipe, and allow it to cool.  Pour about 2/3 of the the cooled jackfruit cream into the tart shell and spread it evenly with an offset spatula.  Then, pour the cooled transparent glaze on top of the jackfruit cream, spreading it carefully with the offset spatula.  Be sure not to mix the glaze and cream together.  The glaze should rest just on top of the cream, giving it a glossy finish. I made some heart shaped cookies out of the excess pate sucree dough that i had left over, and set the cookies on top of the glaze.

Jackfruit Lemon Cream
(makes enough to fill a 9-inch tart with a bit left over for toast, crepe filling, parfait layers or pairing with chocolate mousse)

Sugar 1 cup
Jackfruit 3 bulbs, pitted (I buy canned jackfruit.  There are about 7-8 bulbs per a can)
Lemon zest From 2 lemons
Eggs 4 large ones
Lemon juice From 2 lemons
Butter 2 ½ sticks, cubed
  1. In a blender or food processor, blend the jackfruit until it becomes a puree.
  2. Rub together the sugar, lemon zest and jackfruit puree in the bowl of your stand mixer until the sugar reaches the consistency of wet sand.
  3. Whisk in the eggs and lemon juice until everything is well combined.
  4. Place the bowl above a saucepan with simmering water (make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl).
  5. Stir continuously with a whisk until the cream thickens (it should reach 180°F at this stage if you’re using a thermometer). If you’re not using a thermometer, you will know the cream is ready when it leaves a coating on the back of a wooden spoon.   It could take up to 10 minutes, depending on the level of heat in your saucepan.
  6. Remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of a blender or food processor.  Let the cream cool to 140°F, stirring it occasionally or pulsing intermittently.
  7. When the cream has cooled to 140°F, add in the butter about five pieces at a time.
  8. Continue to blend the cream for another 3-4 minutes after the butter has been completely incorporated.  This will ensure a light and perfectly smooth cream.

Transparent Glaze
(enough for ~1 nine-inch tart; adapted from Desserts by Pierre Herme)

Sugar ½ cup
Oetker Clear Glaze 1 package (I mail-ordered mine from Amazon.com)
Water 1 ¼ cups
Lemon Peel From ½ lemon,
Orange Peel From ½ orange
Vanilla ½ tsp OR ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
Lemon juice 1 tbsp
Mint leaves 5 fresh leaves
  1. Mix together the sugar and glaze in a small bowl and set aside
  2. In a saucepan, heat the water, citrus peels and vanilla bean (if using) until just warm.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the sugar/glaze mixture while stirring constantly.
  4. Return the pot to the stove and bring the mixture to a boil.  Allow it to boil for 2-3 minutes over heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
  5. Add the lemon juice and bring to a boil again.
  6. Remove from heat and add in the fresh mint or vanilla extract (if not using vanilla bean).  Allow the mixture to infuse for at least 15 minutes.
  7. Strain the glaze into a container and let it cool to room temperature.
  8. The glaze can be stored in a refrigerator or freezer.  If it has set into a jello-like consistency, liquefy it by heating it in the microwave at low power for a few seconds.  The glaze should not be heated above 104°F.