I PROMISE this is the last bowl of blackberries. As I was out walking yesterday morning, I saw that the footpath was gorily splattered with the remains of kamikaze berries. It's a case of "If you don't find something tasty to do with me, I'm going to jump". I can't ignore the demands of fruit in peril so I've got another double whammy for you. The first is a blackberry crostata from How to be a Domestic Goddess made with a gorgeous blackberry and apple jam kindly donated by my new bloggily met friend, the lovely Sarah. We met up in Limerick's food haven the Milk Market on Saturday, a suitably public spot in case I turned out to be a bearded 6' 4", eighteen stone baker (I shaved off my beard last week). This remains my favourite part of blogging; getting to meet other food-mad people and free pots of jam. I also bumped into Val, and the Italian Foodies (princess included) whizzed past me at one stage, no doubt on their way to somewhere Italiany and foodie.
The crostata is a cross between a cake and a tart, golden and buttery with some lemon zest for a bit of zing. Accompany with a cup of tea or coffee of an afternoon or drowned in hot custard for dessert. The recipe down at the very end there is for a bramble (blackberries to you and me) jelly. This takes the very heart of the blackberry and pares it down to a beautifully smooth, deep purple haze of a jam/jelly. It is so simple but does require a little advance thinking. Give me a teaspoon and a toothbrush and I'll excavate a field but when it comes to food all my archaeological patience goes out the window. The blackberries are cooked gently then left to drip through a jelly bag overnight-I gave up after 2 hours. Just don't squeeze the berries or you'll end up with a cloudy rather than exquisitely clear jelly. I,sadly, only ended up with enough juice for a small jar, but it is tart and bursting with flavour. This will pair well with any bread-like vehicle you can think of though the recipe also recommends it with lamb, you'll have to let me know about that one.
So, it's good-bye to the last of the berries, rescue any you happen upon this week (they have so little time left). Gather enough of them and you can keep them in their various guises in your cupboard for the rest of the year. Then you get to start all over again.
Recipe from How to be a Domestic Goddess.
- 75g soft unsalted butter
- 150g caster sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 200g plain flour (preferably Italian 00)
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- zest of 1 lemon
- 200g blackberry jam
- Preheat the oven to 180 C and put in a baking sheet. Butter a 20cm high-sided fluted flan tin or a cake tin of a similar size.
- Cream the butter and sugar. Beat the eggs one at a time until the volume has increased. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder, and fold into the egg and butter mixture. Add the lemon zest.
- Spoon into the tin, spreading it out to leave a 2 1/2cm rim all around. Spoon the jam into the centre. Bake on the baking sheet for 35-45 minutes until golden and springy. Leave to cool in the tin before unmoulding.
Recipe from Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook.
- 900g blackberries
- Granulated sugar (for exact quantity see recipe)
- Juice of 1 large lemon
- Put the blackberries and 100ml of water into a pan and simmer until they are soft. Pour into a jelly bag suspended over a bowl or jug (I used a muslin lined sieve) and allow the juice to drip through overnight. Don't be tempted to squeeze the bag (no matter how impatient you are) or your jelly will lose it's beautiful clarity.
- Measure the juice and weigh out 450g sugar for every 570ml of juice. Warm the sugar in an ovenproof bowl in a very low oven for half an hour. Put the juice into a large saucepan with the lemon juice and warmed sugar, and stir over a gentle heat until the sugar has dissolved. The pectin in the lemon is essential to get the jelly to set.
- Bring to a rolling boil until setting point (or until a teaspoonful of jelly on a cold saucer wrinkles when pushed with your finger). Pour into warm, sterilised jars, cover and seal. Keeps for up to a year.
Makes around 5 jars depending on their size.