Today I share with you how a mistake led to lots of beautiful Christmas presents. A few months ago, I’d left out a bag of frozen cranberries by mistake and had to figure out what to do with with them and fast. A quick google showed up cranberry sauce and jam, but I was worried that jam making would be complicated and difficult. Luckily, I hit upon a recipe from 101cookbooks.com (originally from Falling Cloudberries) that seemed easy. It was also convenient since we were having people over for breakfast the next day.
Anyhow, having people over was the perfect excuse to test out my new oven. Put freshly baked scones and freshly made tart cranberry jam together and slather with either clotted cream or butter for a glorious combination. Then have grilled mushrooms and crispy bacon as chaser and it’s a very satisfying breakfast.
Scones (taken from Nigella)
These need to be made fresh and eaten while still warm. If you have leftovers, they must be heated up in the toaster oven, otherwise will have an awful dense texture. Don’t keep them any longer than overnight because it just gets too heavy to eat then.
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
4½ tsp cream of tartar
125g unsalted butter (direct from the freezer, oh you mean you don’t store yours there?)
- Preheat oven to 220°C.
- Sift the flour, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar together. If lazy, just sift the baking soda and cream of tartar into the flour and salt, that bit is the most crucial.
- Cut the butter into chunks and use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour. Finish off the process by rubbing the butter into the flour with your fingers.
- Add the milk and stir quickly, kneading very lightly until it forms a dough.
- Press out (you can roll if you like, but I normally don’t bother) into about 3cm thickness or about as thick as one finger joint.
- Using a medium cookie cutter (5-6cm diameter), cut into 10-12 rounds. You’ll need to reroll for the last few.
- Glaze with some milk. I normally smear it on with my finger.
- Place on a cookie sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
- Eat as soon as you can!
Cranberry and Apple Jam (adapted from 101 cookbooks)
I used a bag of frozen cranberries and added some of my own spices. The first round, I used cinnamon and star anise and the second time, lemongrass, lime and clove. Try various combinations and see what works for you. If you’re going to make a lot like I did for Christmas presents, don’t worry about the proportion of apple to cranberry, just make sure you scale the sugar with the cranberries and it should be all good. Another tip: don’t taste the jam immediately after it’s done. It’s somehow very sour and a bit unbalanced then. Let it sit for 30 minutes at least if you’re going to eat it fresh. The flavours will mingle and the sharpness will mellow, then it’ll be all good.
340 g cranberries (one bag frozen)
spices – 1 stick cinnamon or 2 star anise or 5 cloves or 2 lemongrass sticks, bashed
grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
- Rinse the berries and get rid of the spoiled (brown) ones. Drain and toss with the sugar, lemon rind, its juice and whatever spices you’re using in a bowl. The original recipe calls for a non-reactive bowl, so anything plastic, ceramic or stainless steel is fine.
- Leave overnight and stir a couple of times if you remember to. Otherwise just give a good stir before you continue to step 3.
- The next morning, load your clean empty jam jar(s) into the oven and set the oven to 100ºC. Leave for at least an hour until you’re ready to bottle the jam.
- Put the chopped apple into a saucepan.
- Transfer most of the sugary cranberries into another bowl, leaving most of the juice and sugar behind. Scrape that juice and sugar along with a spoonful or so of berries into the saucepan with the apples, then add the water and simmer till the apple is soft or about 10 minutes. Squish the berries till most burst.
- Add the rest of the berries and cook, stirring gently till the jam looks thickened, about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Get the by now sterilised jar(s) out of the oven and scrape the jam inside. Screw on the covers firmly, but not too tightly and place upside down on a tea towel.
- Leave to cool completely, then wash away any sticky mess and store in the fridge or a cool place.
Makes 1 standard jar plus some for breakfast for 4.
I scaled up the recipe with these proportions: 1.5kg cranberries (4 bags of 340g each added up to that much after washing!), 600g sugar, 3 lemons, 6 lemongrass sticks, 6 star anise, 3 apples. It took longer to cook the apples down in step 5, about 30 minutes or so and the mixture only thickened slightly. Then it took 10 minutes for the cranberries to cook through. It made a huge pot that ended up with 4 big and 4 small jars of jam. Here’s what they look like upside down.