Autumn in a Jar
Stepping into December, and with snow falling like it did today, Autumn is definitely a foregone conclusion. But luckily, we can continue to experience some of those vibrant flavours of the harvest season through preserves - a tradition, and no doubt also a wisdom, that our ancestors has passed onto us.
Excursions is a series that documents the slightly wilder flavour experiments going on in the kitchen, as the word itself implies a certain element of unexpectedness or even surprise. For our first trip, what better companion could one take on than the trusty old friend from the pantry, Marmalade. To me, marmalade is like Autumn in a jar; it captures the fruits of harvest, preserves them and lets their flavour develop into something rich and complex.There is something about that deep, bitter-sweet flavour, which stirs up many great childhood memories, and brings the warmth and comfort you need for a frosty afternoon.
Marmalade, Citrus + Poppy Seed Loaf
The original recipe only used orange as the main flavour, but to add an extra layer of citrus tone and bitter-sweetness to this loaf, I used a combination of grapefruit and orange, i.e. either grapefruit marmalade with orange zest + juice or orange marmalade with grapefruit zest + juice. I used plain instead of self-raising flour, and reduced the sugar and butter content. I also experimented with using either yoghurt or crème fraîche, both of which worked really well, although the latter version seems to add just a little more richness to the loaf.
- 3 tbsp thick marmalade (I used Jake's Grapefruit Marmalade for one version and Frank Cooper's Thick Cut Oxford marmalade for another)
- 150g natural yoghurt or crème fraîche
- 3 eggs
- 130g (golden) caster sugar
- 200g plain flour
- 2 ¼ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 125g butter, softened
- zest 1 orange/grapefruit
- 2 tsp poppy seed, toasted
For the sticky topping
- juice of ½ orange/grapefruit
- 3 tbsp marmalade
Heat oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Butter and line a 2lb loaf tin (about 20 x 10cm, measured from the top).
Put the marmalade into a small pan, heat gently until melted. Beat in the yogurt, then let cool for a few mininutes.
Measure out the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and mix well.
Cream together butter and sugar in a separate large bowl and beat with an electric hand whisk or paddle attachment in a stand mixer on medium speed (4).
Add in eggs one by one, and then gradually add in the flour mixture, mix until smooth.
Quickly beat in the yogurt and marmalade mix, then pour into the prepared tin. It will be quite runny.
Bake for 1 hr-1 hr 10 mins until golden and well-risen; a skewer should come out clean. Take a look at the cake after 45 mins; if it has taken on a lot of colour, loosely cover with foil.
Meanwhile, heat the orange/grapefruit juice and marmalade in a small pan over a gentle heat until the marmalade melts. Set aside to cool, stirring now and again, until you have a thick, but still runny, glaze.
When the cake is ready, cool in the tin for 10 mins, then turn onto a rack. Spoon the topping over the cake while it’s just warm. The cake is best served the day it’s made, but will keep for up to 3 days tightly wrapped in an airtight container.