Cinnamon apple jelly
You like cinnamon right? And you can imagine having hot buttered toast spread with a deliciously sweet and cinnamony apply jelly right? Well what are you waiting for? Go get some apples, preferably cooking apples, which for me means Bramleys, but any tart apple which cooks down into mush will do.
This recipe is easy peasy, and none of the stages require very much time, but overall it will take at least 24 hours from start to glorious finish.
- About 3lb apples, cut into bits – no need to core or peel
- thinly pared rind of 1 lemon
- about 2″ fresh ginger, squished with the side of a big knife
- about 8″ cinnamon stick, roughly broken up
- about 1lb sugar – but see exact requirements later
- Put the apples and 4 cups of water in a large saucepan. If your jeely pan has no lid, then put it to one side and find an alternative big pan, as you really need a lid for this stage.
- Add the lemon rind, ginger and cinnamon and bring to the boil, then cover the pan and simmer gently for about an hour, or until the apples are broken down into a smushy pulp.
- Set up your jeely bag. You do have a jeely bag don’t you? if not, off you go to your nearest jeely bag shop and get one. Or use some cheesecloth and a Heath Robinson contraption using broom handles and the backs of chairs. My nearest jeely bag shop is a wonderful old fashioned ironmongers in Lanark; it’s the sort of place where the two Ronnie’s might sell four candles.
- OK, now you’ve set up your jeely bag, spoon the apple-y mixture into it. Don’t press it down, just spoon it in (over a big bowl) and let it drip. And let it drip some more. And then just leave it for at least 8 hours, but preferably longer. Overnight is good.
Making apple jelly
- Measure how much apple-y juice you have made and then pour it into another large saucepan. In fact it may be the same large saucepan which you have washed while the bag was drip drip dripping.
- For every cup of juice, you need to add almost 8oz granulated sugar. I know this isn’t very scientific, but there you go, it’s the recipe I have and it works for me. And you know what? I suspect you’ll be ok with a teeny wee bit extra sugar, or a wee bit too little.
- Put a side plate in the fridge, or freezer now. It’ll become clear later why you’ve done this.
- Anyway, add the sugar into the pot, and slowly heat it up, stirring occasionally.
- Increase the heat and cook at a full pelt of a boil for about 10 minutes. Watch it ALL THE TIME. Don’t be persuaded to go and see if you can get that blasted printer to work. Your apple jelly will boil over as soon as you have distracted yourself with something else. Trust me, I know this to be a fact.
- After 10-ish minutes test for a set – I do this by dripping a small amount of jelly onto that cold plate, and then waiting 20 seconds. Then I push the jelly with my finger and see if it has wrinkles at the edges, or if it is still just liquid-y. You want the wrinkles. If there are no wrinkles keep boiling and test again in a wee minute. Keep boiling and testing till you have wrinkles. Well, not you, your jelly…
- Remove the scum from the surface with a holy willie. I’ve been through this before in a previous recipe. A holy willie is what you might call a slotted spoon. Anyway, use an implement to remove the fluffy scum – pop it in a wee bowl and use it on the next piece of toast you make. You’ll thank me for that tip.
- Allow the jelly to cool in the pot for an instant or two and then ladle it into hot sterilised jars. If you’re being fancy, pop a piece of cinnamon stick in each jar before you pour in the hot jelly – it’ll look artisanal, or at least as though you tried.
- Seal your jars and label them up
If you make them look pretty they are particularly nice Christmas gifts. You know, for the sort of people who appreciate a jar of something sweet, and think that Christmas is too commercial. Anyone else doesn’t deserve it, not unless you really love them.
Only give as gifts to people you really love
Thanks to Thane Prince and her ‘Jellies, Jams and Chutneys’ book for this recipe.
I love Christmas food.
Cranberry clementine muffins
Well, I love my sort of Christmas food – which is almost anything apart from traditional Christmas cake. I love warm and mellow Christmas spices; chestnuts thrown into all manner of leftover dishes just because you have them; turkey; glazed ham; mulled wine; spiced cider; and cranberries. I really love baking with fresh cranberries.
And I know it’s only just December, but I was in the wonderful Whole Foods Market in Giffnock again this weekend and they had ENORMOUS fresh juicy cranberries. I had to have them.
And I had to make muffins with them. I combined them with clementine zest and orange juice, for flavour. And a muffin batter which included extra bran and porridge oats to make them pretend they are somewhere further along that health spectrum than you might imagine. But then lots of melted butter to make sure they are still tastiness itself.
And now you can make them too. If you start now, they’ll be ready within an hour. Unless you have to go out and pick your own cranberries.
Cranberry & clementine muffins
Preheat oven to 375F / 200C / GM5-6. Prepare muffin tins, lining them with muffin cases. Makes about 12 regular muffins .
- 8oz plain flour
- 1oz bran
- 1oz porridge oats
- 3 tsp baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- 3oz dark brown or muscovado sugar
- 1 large egg
- 6oz fresh cranberries (you could use blueberries, or other berries of your choice)
- grated zest of 5 clementines
- 7fl oz clementine or orange juice
- 3oz melted butter (or 3fl oz veg oil)
- Mix together in a large bowl: flour, bran, porridge oats, baking powder and salt
- In a separate bowl beat together: sugar, egg, zest, juice and melted butter
- Pour liquid ingredients into the dry ones and stir until just combined, adding the berries towards the end. The batter can have lumps but there should be no pockets of dry flour
- Spoon into muffin cases (about 3/4 full should work, and produce nice full muffins)
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until tops are golden brown and the muffins spring back when you poke them gently
I didn’t mean to. I prefer to wait till 20 December for my Christmas preparations, as is traditional in my family. But there are some things that need time to reach perfection. And anyway, I enjoy pottering about in the kitchen.
So yesterday I bought some fresh cranberries and a bottle of vodka. Last time I made cranberry vodka it was far too sweet, but was a perfect late night (after too much wine) shot. So I’m trying it again. And plum brandy (if only because I have brandy in the cupboard and our plum harvest in the freezer).
The cranberry vanilla vodka starts with layers of sugary syrup, and lighter alcohol
Cranberry Vanilla Vodka
1/2 vanilla pod
160g caster sugar
You’ll need a kilner jar, larger than a 1l one. I think mine is probably 1.5l, but not entirely sure. Hey, it won’t really matter if your jar is too small, you just won’t be able to fit all the vodka in (so use slightly less fruit and sugar too).
- Here’s the slightly laborious bit, although I find it meditatively soothing. Prick each of the cranberries with a fork, and pop them in the jar.
- After you’ve added a cranberry layer, spoon in some of the sugar, then layer with more pricked cranberries and more sugar. Keep going till you’ve put in all the cranberries and sugar. And I know the pricking seems ridiculous, but really, if you don’t do it the flavour won’t leach out into the vodka so much, and you’ll end up with a disappointing drink, having saved yourself a mere 15 minutes sitting down listening to the radio.
- Now using a sharp knife split the vanilla pod lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds into the jar. Throw the empty pods in too, they still have lots of seeds and flavour left in there.
- Pour the vodka in on top of the fruit layers, seal the lid and give it a shoogle.
- Leave somewhere out of the way, but easy to hand – so it’s not in your way, but you can give it a wee shoogle every day for the next 3 weeks.
- Taste it. If you’d like it sweeter, then make up some basic sugar syrup, with caster sugar and water, and add it to the jar. If you like it as is, then bottle it up and put a pretty label on it.
Follow the basic method for Cranberry Vanilla Vodka. I only had a 1l jar, so I layered plums and soft brown sugar till the jar was about half full. Then I added a star anise and about 1″ cinnamon stick, followed by some brandy. We’ll see how it turns out… I suspect I’ll wish I’d put more star anise in it.
Jars of alcoholic tastiness
Next weekend I will probably turn my hand to a Stollen. I’ve never made one before, but much prefer stollen to heavy fruitcake. Mind you, I do have a recipe for a Christmas Cake which lasts like a normal cake, but is made of nice light fruit, like apricots instead of all that horrid stuff you usually find in a fruitcake.