Bramble Jelly

So I made bramble jelly from the brambles I collected whilst foraging and, as promised, here is how I went about it. It’s really really easy and if I can make jelly anyone can ( my marmalade needs work but that’s a story for another day).

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Lovely just picked Brambles 

To start, give the brambles a wash and place them in a jam pan along with some water and the juice of a couple of lemons. I had 5lb’s of brambles so used the juice from 2 1/2 lemons and about 3/4 pint of water. I simmered on a low heat until some of the brambles had started to become mush.

Whilst the brambles are simmering you should be setting up your strainer contraption. First time I used this my hubby thought I was using a pair of tights! You can probably see why he thought that!

DSC_0434Pour the bramble mix into the strainer and leave. I tend to leave this overnight surrounded by towels as it can splatter everywhere and make your kitchen look like a crime scene.

Once all the juice has been strained place the juice in a jam pan along with sugar. I use about 1lb of sugar for every pint of juice. Brambles are low in pectin so I used jam sugar instead of just normal sugar to ensure that it set. Yup, I cheated but hey it sets every time and takes the stress out of jam making.

I simmered the brambles and sugar, stirring until the sugar had completely dissolved and I then left to simmer until it has reached setting point. I test the setting point by dropping some of the mix onto a frozen plate ( remember to place a plate in the freezer before starting to make your jam) and pressing with my finger, if it wrinkles its ready. If it runs all over the place, it’s not. You can also use a thermometer and setting point is about 105C however when I use my thermometer it never ever ever reaches 105C, so I stopped using it and use the frozen plate method… sometimes the old tips are the best! But I suppose I really should just buy a new thermometer and get rid of the old one.

Once the mix has set place into sterilised jars. I got 4 jars from 5lbs of Brambles, which is an increase on last year, so I’m pretty happy.

I would love to know if anyone else has been foraging lately, what you’ve found and what you’ve made.

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Foraging Foray – Bramble picking

Brambles

After being away from this blog for a very very long time, its seems apt that my first post would be able foraging, scrabbling about ditches and bushes looking for brambles and being stung whilst doing so. This definitely feels like what I’ve been doing with my life lately!

Brambles (or some people know them as Blackberries) are usually in season August/ September and we are lucky that were we stay there are a number of bramble bushes and also that none of our neighbours pick them!

Last year, we (hubby and I) filled two ice cream tubs full, feeling very happy with ourselves, however it only made a jar and a half of bramble jelly. This year we set off with 4 ice cream tubs, feeling very optimistic and hoping to produce a whopping 3 jars of Bramble Jelly!

Hubby had spotted a new patch between the grain shed and the paddock so we headed for this new spot first but quickly realised a lot of the brambles were not yet ripe and some were way past ripe. We filled our tubs with a mere handful.

We then walked down to the bushes near one of the boundary ditches ( a place that last year had been abundant) but unfortunately we found the same situation, not yet ripe or had already been wasted.  We have seen record temperatures this summer I wondered if this had had a impact on the rate of bramble growth.

We moved onto the patch behind one of the sheds, where there is also a huge amount of nettles. Here we hit the the mother load! Lots of brambles were ready and our hands ( (and my sleeves) quickly became stained pinkish/purplish from the bramble juice as we filled our four tubs ………….hrmmm…. we should have brought more tubs.

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Hubby came in handy at reaching the bushes out with the grasp of someone who is 5’2″ and also trampling down the nettles. Despite this, I still received many nettle stings and scratches and half of one tub ended up tipped on the ground ( or rather violently thrown) when I was stung by a wasp. Fortunately there were still plenty left on the bushes that we were able to fill the tub back up very quickly and I’m sure the birds and other animals will gobble up the brambles I had thoughtfully dropped for them.

 

This batch was ear-marked for bramble jelly however as there are still more brambles left I’m going to head out later to gather more. Although I’ll wait until my hands stop stinging!

Bramble Jelly recipe to follow.

Cranachan

Disclaimer/ Warning: Some pretty dodgy and unflattering photos. This in no way is the Cranachan’s fault but rather this blogger’s ineptitude at photography, along with lack of space and light in the kitchen! Please note I did also over whip the cream.

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As I stated in today’s ” Burns Night Supper” post I made a Scottish dessert called a Cranachan to follow the haggis, neeps and tatties.

This is such a simple and quick recipe with only 5 ingredients, of which you more than likely have three of them in your cupboard right now.  Even in my cooking-phobic years (that’s totally a thing) I would make this and not get stressed out by it because its so easy. So easy really, it probably does not need a whole blog post!

Ingredients ( Roughly 4 portions)

80 grams of porridge oats

250 grams of Raspberries ( washed)- although you can add more or less.

300 grams of double cream

3 tablespoons of honey ( clear or heather, whatever you have really will do)

3 tablespoons of good quality malt whisky -well it is a Scottish dessert after all! You may want to start with one tablespoon and add more to taste. I have found other peoples versions of Cranachan the whisky varies greatly!

Oh and please ask the whisky drinker of the house before raiding and using the whisky stash. I made the mistake before of using some of hubbies “guid” whisky in a BBQ sauce and he was very unhappy about it ( it was an amazing BBQ sauce though!)  He has since struggled to purchase any more of that particular kind which has disappointed him greatly. Ironically for the Cranachan, I used a Japanese whisky that had been languishing in the cupboard and which hubbie deemed acceptable for cooking with. Obviously one he doesn’t drink then!

Or to save any hassle you could just buy a miniature of whisky instead.

Method

Lightly toast the porridge oats for about 5 minutes or so, until you can smell them ( a nutty toasty smell… if that makes sense??). I did this on the hob using a crepe pan, however I’m sure it could be done in the oven too.

Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks and try not to over whip like I did… and I said it was easy.Maybe I should have said, yes it’s easy but don’t get distracted by other things like I did! Pay attention to the mixer.

Keep back some of the raspberries to use as decoration. Add the rest of the raspberries to the cream, add the honey, whisky  and oats and carefully fold these into the cream.

Although I had Cranachan where the raspberries and oats were omitted from the cream and instead the separate elements layered  in the glass e.g add the cream/honey/whisky  mix into a glass, then some raspberries, then oats and repeat. The layers do look really pretty in glasses done this way, but it takes a bit more time and I’m more of a clash everything together quickly kinda gal!

Decant into serving glasses, you don’t need a huge amount three – four tablespoons of the mixture into each is a nice amount after a heavy meal. Also with whisky flavoured foods, I find it can be overpowering if there is too much of it. Add raspberries on top. Maybe add some oats if you have some left over or a dribble of honey.

It does taste a lot better than it looks, but if you don’t believe me then please give it a try.

 

Picture this!

16 days into 2017! Wow, this year is flying by mostly as I’ve been suffering from the “queens cold” for about 14 days  and only dragging myself to work and back to bed and not doing much else!

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year. Ours was spent with family and friends all over Scotland, hence alot of travelling in order to do so but so worth it.

I had promised a photo of my iced Christmas cake, unfortunately the photo was taken on hubbies phone and he seems to have managed to misplace or delete it. It was maybe for the best though, as I hadn’t time to finish the decoration with the 101 things I had to do so hubby took it upon himself to finish it. He’s lovely that way, it also kept him from getting under my feet. He’s very toddler like and can’t sit still for any length of time so needs tasks to occupy him. This can also be good for me as he does the housework.

Anyway, when the cake was unveiled at New Year ( not Christmas as we were too full after all the turkey, trimmings and chocolate orange cheesecake) I discovered he had decorated it with lovely snowflakes ( I had snowflake stampers) but also in the centre of the cake was a red tractor. I had a tractor stamper ( bought for decorating his birthday cake a few years ago) and he obviously decided “what says Christmas more than a tractor?” He also used a red icing pen on the tractor to convey his favourite tractor….a Massey Ferguson . I did say he was a bit like a toddler and this is obviously conveyed in his decorating  skills. Bless, he tried, he really did.

Note to self: Check when hubby decorates a cake unless I want all my cakes to have a red tractor on it. Hubby decorated it, then packed it and I didn’t see it until the grand unveiling and what an unveiling!

So you probably don’t actually need a photo to picture a white iced covered cake, with white snowflakes and a red tractor in the middle! Oh and no ribbon around the cake, as that was too ” girly”.

 

Let them eat cake and biscuits!

So this was a busy week for baking. After the Halloween cake, next up was hubbies birthday cake. As his request I made Guinness cake but minus 33 candles as that would be a fire hazard.

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Following this Carrot cake and Empire biscuits were made for a 30th Birthday party we were going to. I had to skip the Brownies as I just didn’t have enough time. These were both part of the dessert table. Much needed after a few Ceilidh dances and adult musical chairs!

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Empire Biscuits ( formerly known as German biscuits apparently renamed during World War 1) or in my house known as Vampire biscuits  ( hubbies childhood name for them!) are something I’ve only made once before, not too sure why as they are actually really simple. They are a really popular Scottish sweet biscuit.

I use a recipe that I’m not sure where it came from but it appeared in my recipe drawer written on a old scrap piece of paper. I presumably was given or wrote the recipe down and filed it away. Its a good and easy recipe to follow with few ingredients most of which are store cupboard staples and the recipe can be easily doubled or tripled.

One of my friends loves Empire biscuits, he is somewhat of an Empire biscuit connoisseur, it was his wife’s party we were attending and I couldn’t not make these. He also requested them when I asked what I could bring! He considers them an appropriate breakfast item too and I won’t say that he is wrong.

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Ingredients

250g of softened butter, 100g of caster sugar, 250g of sifted plain flour, glace cherries, raspberry jam and icing sugar.

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180° C and line baking trays with greaseproof/baking paper.

Cream the softened butter and sugar together. Add the sifted flour slowly until well blended.

Roll the dough onto a floured surface, roll out to about 4-5mm thickness or thereabouts. Using a 7cm diameter round fluted cutter ( or whatever size you want really but this will obviously effect how many biscuits you get out of the dough) to cut biscuit out of the dough. (No photos of this as my hands and me were covered in flour. I don’t do clean baking!!)

Then place them onto the lined baking trays evenly spaced apart. Pop in the oven for about 10 minutes. Some of them, the trays on the bottom of the shelf needed to go in for an extra couple of minutes. Keep an eye on them as they should only be very lightly coloured.( see photo below)

Remove from oven and leave in trays for 5 mins, then remove to a cooling rack.sam_7780

You want them completely cool before you start assembling them together.

Take one biscuit, place about a teaspoon of Raspberry Jam in the middle, take another biscuit and place on top ( I usually place the flatter of the sides facing upwards).

Make up your icing as per packet instructions and so the icing is not runny but can be spread easily.

Spread some icing on top of the biscuit sandwich and whilst still wet add half a glace cherry on top.  Repeat with remaining biscuits then leave them until icing has set.

Results of cake week……….

 

I’m back!!!

I have managed to entangle myself from the copious books, journals, interview notes and drafts at last. Masters ….. done!

Below is my study where I have been hibernating for the last few months…… sorry for the mess. I feel its a bit like those crime scene photo games where you have to look for clues.

The eagle eyed among you might find a few clues as to what has been fuelling my studying………….

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Looking forward to catching up with everyone, it may take a while. Feel free to leave me a comment about what you’ve been up to and what’s new with you all.

Sorry….

Sorry guys, its been so long since I last blogged, in fact its been so long since I did any baking worth posting about. Since returning from my holidays I have been buried under the research for my dissertation and I recently started a new job, so as you can imagine I’m slightly ( read very) stressed. Just thought i’d let you know that I was here, but not really here. The temptation is to get immersed in my blog and other blogs when I have a difficulty with my dissertation rather than persevering but this is false logic as I fall further behind my timetable, with time running out fast. I hope you all understand and can forgive my absence for a wee while I be very selfish,lock myself in my study and drink copious amount of coffee!

In the meantime here’s some of my holiday pictures…..

SAM_7334Guess where this is??

 

Fancy a bath anyone?

 

Lovely weather! We also copied the sheep and sheltered behind the standing stones!

 

Lots of programmes and films filmed here including Harry Potter!

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Of course, we had to take a walk over fields to see the cows,the quality of land and crops growing nearby… oh and a nosy to see what other farmers are doing!

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We also walked up hills to see the White horses ( and to have a look at the what the farmers were doing in the field below!)

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