My mother-in-law used to make the most fantastic raspberry jam. She’d go out with a bowl everyday and pick a few ripe berries to freeze. When she had collected enough, she’d make another batch of jam. Mr. Fairweather remembers how he could only manage to wait long enough to let the jam half cool and then pile it on to a slice of freshly made brown bread slathered in butter. The still warm jam would melt the butter. All washed down with a mug of tea naturally. It was a feast for a king he insists.
My jam making isn’t quite up to her lofty standards but Mr. Fairweather has kindly agreed to be the guinea pig and chief taste-tester until I get it absolutely right. It’s not too shabby at the minute I think. Here’s the recipe I use. You try it and let me know what you think. You can do like Mr. Fairweather and have it with brown bread. Or give in to your sweet tooth and try it in a Victoria sandwich cake. Lately I am really liking Darina Allen’s recipe for her great grandmother’s butter sponge which I found in her book Forgotten Skills of Cooking. I finish it off slightly differently but either way works.
1 lb raspberries
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 lb sugar
2 small plates
glass jars with lids
Get a couple of small plates and stick them into the freezer. Either run jars and lids through the dishwasher or place into a pot of hot water to clean.
Put berries and juice into the pan and stir over a low heat for 10 minutes or until berries are softened (might take a bit longer if berries are frozen). Add the sugar and stir until sugar has dissolved, probably another 5 minutes or so. Taste a little and if needed, add in the lemon juice. Make sure and let the jam cool before tasting – that’s the voice of experience speaking there.
Bring this mixture to the boil for 20 minutes and keep stirring. Don’t let it catch on the bottom of the saucepan. Any scum that rises to the surface can be taken off with a spoon. When the jam starts to get gloopy and fall in big blobs off of the spoon you can test for the setting point.
To do this, place a spoon of warm jam mixture onto one of the plates from the freezer. Put it back in for 30 seconds or so. Then draw your finger through the jam. What you are looking for here is a skin to have started to form on the jam. So the surface of it should wrinkle up and the plate beneath should show clean. Once you see this, you can start spooning into clean warm jars and seal. I find it easier to ladle it into a jug and then use that to pour into the jars themselves but you might be more skilled at it than I am. If you are using metal lids, turn upside down for a minute or two and then right them again. If using the plastic sheets, place your wax disc, smooth side down onto jam surface, wet the underside of the plastic sheet and place over mouth of jar and secure with rubberband. If you don’t wet the plastic, it won’t seal properly when jam cools. You could label and date it but ours never lasts long enough to need that step.
4 1/2 oz butter, softened
6 oz caster sugar
2 duck eggs (3 hen eggs if you don’t have them)
6 oz plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp milk
1/2 pt whipped cream
1/3 cup shredded coconut
10″ round springform tin or 2 7″ round tins
Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and flour the tin(s).
Cream butter and sugar together until quite pale and light. Add in the eggs beating well between each one. The mixture should be quite light and fluffy and you should see the electric beaters leaving a lovely pattern in the mix.
Sieve flour and baking powder in and fold this gently through the creamed mixture. Add in the milk to loosen the whole mix up.
Darina would say to divide the mix out into the two pans and bake for 20-25 mins at 190C. You know the cakes are done when the centre springs back from touch and a skewer comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool, spread top of one with raspberry jam and cream and place the second cake on top.
I hate waiting for cakes to cool. They smell way too good and the whole process is a bit like torture. When I was little I used to shave off the sides of the cake as I waited. Just to even it out you understand. But then it would be lopsided and I’d have to shave off a bit more….
I digress. Back to the recipe. This time I spooned everything into the one larger tin and baked for 45 mins at 180C. You know the cakes are done when the centre springs back from touch and a skewer comes out clean. For the last 5 or 10 minutes of baking, put the shredded coconut onto a tray and pop this into the oven to toast up a bit. When the cake is done and you have turned it out of it’s tin, spread the fresh raspberry jam onto the top of it and sprinkle with the warm coconut. (Mr. Fairweather suggests flaked almonds instead of coconut.) Slice up and serve with the whipped cream on the side.
This is probably where you would be expecting a beautiful photograph of the finished cake or possibly a slice of it artfully arranged on a plate – a few edible flowers scattered or maybe an obligatory pot of tea visible in the background. Sadly not. My brother-in-law and his wife arrived over and we all sat down with a big pot of tea and demolished the cake as soon as I had the coconut sprinkled on top. Trust me it was fantastic. Next time I’ll make two.