Saturday, 15 February 2014

The Ranelagh Kitchen Diaries - part four

Ok, I know it is getting late in the day for marmalade recipes, but I made a big batch of my own marmalade over the weekend and it is, if I do say so myself, bloody fantastic stuff. Never mind Fosters, this stuff is the real amber nectar. Moreover, with the addition of a hearty slug of bourbon, if you eat enough of it, it might even have the same effect as a couple of tinnies.

Usually, I would launch in to some diatribe about how making your own preserves isn't actually an activity just for aged spinsters and something for hip young dudes as well. In this case though I think I would be fighting a losing battle. Marmalade isn't cool and lets face it, neither is marmalade making. But I don't care. I find it both a very satisfying and very relaxing way to spend a few hours on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. So ignore the naysayers and crack on because the Seville oranges won't be around for much longer (I was at the shops earlier and they still had plenty in though).

The recipe is easy, but does require a lot of juicing and chopping. I used my food mixer to juice the oranges, which was a real time saver, but if you don't have one a normal juicer or even a fork and a bit of elbow grease will do fine. Similarly, it might be tempting to use a food processor to chop the peel, but it is much better done by hand and if you have a sharp knife isn't too onerous.

Seville orange and bourbon marmalade

1kg Seville Oranges
1 lemon
1kg golden caster sugar
1kg soft light brown sugar
2.5 litres water
100ml bourbon or any other type of whisk(e)y

You will also need a very large saucepan, a piece of muslin or an old sock and at least seven or eight washed and sterilised jam jars.

  1. Get to work on the oranges, halving and juicing them in to a bowl. You want to reserve all the pips and pith and any other pieces of flesh in a second bowl and keep your bowl of juice free from all this detritus. Do the same for the solitary lemon too.
  2. Then comes the chopping. You need to slice all the orange halves into thin strips. These will end up being the nice juicy pieces of orange peel that liven up your marmalade of a morning, so the thickness of your strips depends on how thick you like them on your toast.
  3. Add the juice and the sliced peel to your large saucepan, cover with the cold water and bring to the boil. While the water is coming up to the boil put all the reserved pith, seeds and flesh into a piece of muslin, or if like me you don't have some muslin hanging around, use an old sport sock. Then tie up the ends to create a little parcel of pith and add this to the juice and peel.
  4. When the mix has come to the boil lower the heat and leave to simmer gently for approximately two hours. After the time has elapsed check that the peel is completely soft and cooked through then remove the bag of pith and leave to cool for ten minutes.
  5. At this point you can leave the marmalade overnight before moving on to step six. This is useful if you have a rugby match to watch like I did.
  6. When the bag of muslin is cool enough to handle grab it a give it a bloody good squeeze over the marmalade mixture. You want to get as much of the gooey gloopy stuff out of the bag as possible as the goo contains the pectin necessary to set the marmalade.
  7. Now bring the mix up to a simmer, add the sugar and stir thoroughly until the sugar has completely dissolved into the nascent marmalade. It is important that it does dissolve fully, so don't skimp on the stirring. Also put a couple of saucers into the freezer to chill.
  8. Now turn the heat up under the marmalade, bring to a rolling boil and leave to cook rapidly for at least fifteen minutes. This is to get the marmalade up to the setting point. For me this was a temperature of 109C, but start checking when the marmalade reaches 104C. If you don't have a temperature probe just start testing it after the 15 minutes.
  9. The best way to test if the marmalade has reached setting point is to put a teaspoon of the mix on one of the cold saucers and put in the fridge for a minute. The take it out and run your finger through the mix. If it crinkles, has formed a bit of a skin and your finger leaves a gap through the mix then it is ready, if not, let the mixture cook for another five minutes and try again. It might take up to half an hour, so be patient and don't be tempted to take it off the heat too soon or your marmalade won't set in the jars.
  10. When setting point has been reached, take the marmalade off the boil and leave to cool for 15 minutes, then pour in the bourbon and mix. Finally get the marmalade into the sterilised jars and seal.
It sounds like quite a lot of work, but everything is spread out over a couple of hours and the only sustained periods of action are at the start and the end. In any case, the whole process is thoroughly worthwhile and I've already worked my way through one jar and am on to my second.

A loaf of white on rye

If you saw part three of the kitchen diaries you will have read something along the lines of: I don't eat white bread and don't intend on making any bread with white flour. Well to be frank, that was bollocks and I did make a white boule seasoned with a smattering of rye flour last weekend. Moreover it was possibly the best loaf I have made yet. Proof that you shouldn't believe anything I write (maybe!).

Anyway, the method is almost exactly the same as the one in the previous post, but instead of the flour mix I suggest there use 400g strong white flour and 100g rye flour. Then instead of putting the loaf into a tin to prove, shape it into a sort of hemisphere or boule shape instead (see photo below). After the prove, slash the top a couple of times with a sharp knife and put it in the oven to cook for 35-40 minutes. Perfect toasted with butter and a good dollop of that bourbon marmalade.


  1. An old sock !!!!!!!! Very novel approach

  2. Up North your so called boule is a cob loaf.