Jane Austin, Good Friday & The Chelsea Bun!

One of my lasting childhood memories was the tradition of home baked Chelsea Buns at Easter, so guess its my turn to pass onto the next generation and have a go myself.

Doing some research, it seems in Jane Austin’s time, the Chelsea Bun was a favourite treat and if you were lucky enough to live in London, ‘The Bun House’ was the place to go as they were apparently invented at this fine establishment, with crowds of 1000’s milling outside waiting to purchase some.

Looking for a suitable recipe I turned to The Great British Book of Baking. There are some lovely recipes in this book and particularly one for Chelsea Buns. So where is my Kenwood Chef?

The Chelsea Bun is a simple rolled dough, risen with yeast and filled with dried fruit and spices. Tradition seems to suggest early versions used Lemon Peel, cinnamon and spices to provide a nice sweet spicy flavour. Brushed with cold water and sugar, a sticky glaze covers the top.
I allowed an hour for rising, parking the bowl by our open fire to provide some needed warmth, its rather cold for this time of year! Thinking of the lemon peel, I also decided to soak the dried fruit in some lemon juice as an experiment, and added a decent quantity of mixed spice too.
On the cooling rack!

The dough is left to rise once rolled, and layered with the fruit and sugar, after brushing with melted butter to act as a glue. Cut into strips and placed into a suitable baking tray for a second rise and then into the oven for baking.

About 5 minutes before the end, brush with a mixture of honey, castor sugar and milk, i decided to replace the milk with lemon juice to add a bit of zing.
They are truly delicious and worth the effort, and you know what has gone into making them, they look home made and no artificial’s in this recipe.
Happy Easter everyone……

The Barber of Seville

We’ve just come back from a week in Cyprus, 20 degrees and a quite a lot of sun was just what the doctor ordered. A week’s indulgence in a family orientated all-inclusive holiday was a fantastic experience, re-charging the batteries and vitamin banks on the freshest tomatoes, peppers, Feta cheese, Swordfish and the usual local delights made you feel really good. I’m proud to say I only had 1 full english breakfast during the week.

Driving around in our hire car was a truly fantastic experience, with the windows open, you could take in the aroma of fresh wild herbs, oranges, lemons and the wonderful smells of smouldering charcoal, used to cook Souvlaki and Sheftalia, a Cypriot skinless sausage.
So back to the UK, and this weeks organic veg box. Being inspired by the fruit trees in Cyprus, and seeing an offer for a “Seville Orange Marmalade” kit I decided to order one, having never made a preserve before and loving the bitter/sweet tang of  this particular variety it was a ‘no brainer’.

The Peel of 1.5kg’s Seville Oranges!
Oranges & 2 Lemons
Almost everything was to hand, except muslin, Google came in and after a few minutes looking at various options, a well known supermarkets baby section provided the desired result, cheaper than a cooking shop and on the shelf!

Following the instructions was dead easy, the smell of Orange filled the house during the 2 hours of simmering needed to soften and cook the peel.

After the simmer
2 Hours of Simmering with all the bits!
Once you have completed the simmering process you need to rapidly boil the mixture to get the pectin to work and set the marmalade.  As we are ‘au natural’, and using the pectin in the fruit to set the marmalade, we need to check every 15 minutes on a cold plate to see if a skin develops. depending on the fruit, this can take some time. When the setting point is reached, turn the gas off and let stand for 15 minutes removing any scum that may rise the the surface.
Rapid boil to get to a setting point.
Homemade ORGANIC marmalade.
To sterilise the jars, I put them in a cold oven and set the heat to 130 degrees. After 20 mins, I turned the oven off. The lids can be boiled in hot water for a few minutes and then dried, or in my case following the instructions on the Riverford website, once the jars were filled, put on the lids and inverted the jars for 5 minutes. The hot sugary jam does the job for you!
So there we go, a house filled with the aroma’s of orchards and 7 jars of proper organic seville orange marmalade, no artificial colours, flavourings or preservatives, go on have a go!