This year, the summer holidays started very early in our household. We collected our youngest from university in mid-June and our eldest arrived home from working in Spain at the beginning of July. As no one had any holiday plans, I hastily arranged a family break in Portugal (warm, sunny and very relaxing) but this has meant we were back home at the end of July, having already had our break, with most other people still with their holidays to look forward to. Never mind, we thought. August at home can be lovely – warm, sunny, places to go. However, this has not been the case.
After the deluge on Wednesday, Thursday had a distinctly autumnal feel to it. The plants in the garden look washed out and battered, as they tend to look in October just before the end of the season. The tomatoes on the plant on my patio are just not ripening.
I have had a busy time baking cakes for The Earl Grey Tearoom – eight cakes and some flapjacks since our return from holiday. As these are freshly baked to order, there is no problem with having leftover cakes to sell. I have also started making more chutney as I delivered another order to Southborough Butchers last week which used up my stock. The autumn fruits are ripening much earlier than the last few years so I ordered two more huge boxes of jam jars ready to be filled with various chutneys – rhubarb & coriander made this week, plum apple & chilli, pear & apple, apricot apple & hazelnut and other flavours to follow over the next couple of weeks and spiced redcurrant jelly, apple & chilli and apple & mint jelly to follow. I have seen cobnuts, rosehips, elderberries, sloes and blackberries already waiting to be picked on my walks in the area. This must be at least 3 weeks earlier than the last few years. I even made a blackberry and apple crumble at the weekend with fruit picked that morning.
When I started ‘Too busy to make’, I hoped it would give me a chance to make foods that I enjoyed making and to sell them to people who would enjoy eating them. Since I have had the regular outlets, this has certainly proved to be the case. I am looking forward to a busy late summer and autumn, making foods to sell at Penshurst, at the Country Fair and Christmas Market at Chiddingstone, at Southborough Butchers and other local outlets.
The Seville orange season is short, so in January or February when they make their brief appearance in our shops, I buy some to make marmalade and a couple of family favourite puddings.
However, like many, I don’t usually eat toast in the mornings so jars of marmalade accumulate! This year, I decided to try using marmalade in other recipes to see whether they would taste good.
First, I made a bread and butter pudding by spreading marmalade on panettone that was left over from Christmas, and baking with a mixture of eggs and cream. It was so delicious that it was eaten before I could photograph it! I made a second and the same thing happened. The fruit in the panettone meant I didn’t add any extra but I chopped the strips of orange peel in the marmalade into small pieces before adding them to the pudding.
Second, I tried a marmalade drizzle cake, using my normal lemon drizzle cake recipe and replacing the lemon zest in the sponge with Seville orange zest and spreading a mixture of marmalade and Seville orange juice over the top of the cake as soon as it came out of the oven. I think the cake works very well – the bitter orange tang comes through the sponge making a delicious variation on drizzle cakes.
I usually freeze the zest and juice of Seville oranges to use later in the year and will report back on future experiments with marmalade and the zest and juice.
I am holding two ‘Open House’ sessions before Christmas so if you would like to try before you buy, then please come along to 72 Prospect Road, Southborough on
Friday 9 December between 4pm and 8pm or on
Wednesday 14 December between 11am and 1pm or between 4pm and 8pm.
I will have a number of chutneys, jellies, jams and marmalades open for tasting as well as some biscuits and cakes. Most will be available to take away but I can make more Panforte or biscuits to order.
I look forward to seeing you soon!
Some of my chutneys and jellies are also available to buy at Southborough Butchers on London Road, Southborough.
I have made our Christmas puddings for a number of years. I have tried a few different recipes but prefer this one as it is less sweet, having no additional sugar. It contains raisins, sultanas, currants, candied peel, cherries and flaked almonds. Vegetable suet and breadcrumbs are mixed in, along with eggs, brandy, Guinness and spices and the puddings are steamed for hours. I will now mature them in a cool dark place until Christmas Day.
We only eat one pudding each year but they last so well that I make and store one for the following year. This year I have made 4 additional small puddings which are available to buy. They each weigh 600g and come in a reusable pot. They will need to be steamed for another 1 ½ – 2 hours and then you can enjoy it with your favourite accompaniment whether it is brandy butter, rum sauce or custard! Each pudding will provide 8-10 servings and costs £10.00.
If you would like to buy one, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.