February, 2013

Feb 13

Marmalade Monday with Vivien Lloyd

Last Monday, I returned to Vivien Lloyd’s Somerset home to participate in one of her seasonal workshops on how to make marmalade. Vivien is one of the UK’s leading preserves experts, and won the Best of the Best category for her Seville Orange Marmalade at the World’s Original Marmalade Festival in 2008, so I knew I’d be in good hands.

Viv’s legendary marmalade has featured on The One Show and Channel 4’s Four in a Bed recently, and is so widely regarded, I couldn’t wait to see what we managed to make for ourselves.

Preparing our Seville oranges

It is, of course, marmalade season at the moment, which runs from late December to the end of February, so if you’re ever going to make the traditional Seville orange marmalade, now is the time of year to try and get your hands on the exquisite Seville oranges, which are now making an appearance on the shelves of an ever-increasing number of supermarkets and farm shops nationwide.

Viv showing us what to look for

As a novice marmalade maker, I was feeling a little daunted as I arrived at Vivien’s house. Preserving can feel rather intimidating, and I was a little apprehensive about my lack of knowledge about the process. I was warmly greeted as I arrived at Viv’s beautiful Somerset farmhouse with a cup of coffee and some delicious homemade chocolate brioche spread with some homemade Seville marmalade. This first taste of Viv’s legendary marmalade really blew me away. Sweet, sharp, bitter, tangy with meltingly soft pieces of peel, it was unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before, and in a league of its own.

Viv instructed me to bring a plastic container with me on the day, as it turns out that making marmalade is a two-day process, following her recipe in First Preserves. So, firstly, we started to prepare our Seville oranges according to Viv’s exacting instructions for the best results. She carefully showed us how to prepare our oranges for the best results and then guided us through the process, showing us precisely what to do. We then set aside our prepared fruit to take home and complete the recipe the following day, and picked up the recipe at a later stage with fruit that Viv had prepared in advance.

The prepared fruit, ready to cook

This was the stage I was most apprehensive about, cooking the fruit and finding the setting point. I need not have worried, as at every stage of the recipe, we were shown what to look for, how the marmalade should look and feel.

We then potted up the marmalade and moved on to other preserves, including a delicious curd, some amazingly good marmalade muffins, and some scrumptious homemade ice cream.

With a stop for a delicious homemade lunch, and plenty of opportunities to ask questions, I left on a high, feeling excited to return home and eager to make my first batch of marmalade for myself.

So, the next day, I set about making the marmalade for myself at home. I made very few notes on the day, as I had everything fixed in my mind. I followed every step carefully and potted my marmalade, leaving it for a few hours to cool and set. It looked stunning sat on the side waiting to cool: a beautiful amber-like colour, with the transluscent strips of peel evenly distributed throughout the jar.

Then, the moment of truth: had it set? Well, yes it had done. Perfectly. I was so chuffed that my marmalade had worked. And I thought it was pretty much as good as they jar I had taken home from Viv’s the day before.

It was a genuinely exciting moment, and I have since gone on to make five subsequent batches from Viv’s book this week alone. The process has crystallised in my mind, and I feel as though I have the knowledge and skills to successfully make marmalade at home.

My homemade marmalade at home

Of course, marmalade does not just have to be made from Seville oranges, but they do make the ultimate traditional marmalade. Vivien’s fantastic preserving book, First Preserves (Citrus Press, 2012) features a whole range or jam, marmalade and chutney recipes using a variety of fruits and vegetables. I have subsequently made a number of recipes from the book most successfully at home, including grapefruit and lemon, made using pink grapefruits, and lemon and lime.

This year’s Dalemain Marmalade Awards take place on 2nd and 3rd of March in Cumbria.

And if you are thinking of investing in a book to guide you through the process, I recommend First Preserves most highly, which is also available as an iBook. Complete with a wide range of excellent recipes, helpful guidance and plenty of photos of every stage of the process, it really is the only preserving book you’ll ever need.

For more information, please see: www.vivienlloydpreserves.com

With thanks to Vivien Lloyd for an exceptionally informative and fun day.

Feb 13

Clandestine Cake Club Cook Book

It’s here at last! This week marks the publication of the most eagerly awaited cookery book of 2013 so far: the Clandestine Cake Club cookbook.

The Clandestine Cake Club, for those of you who have not heard of the baking phenomenon rapidly spreading across the world, was started in 2010 in Leeds by Lynn Hill, a retired Yorkshire woman with a passion for home baking. Having run a secret tea room at her home for some time, Lynn decided to branch out and create a club, where fellow cake lovers could meet once a month, bringing a cake to share with fellow bakers. The club operates in a secret location once a month, and there are now clubs in every town, city and county of the British Isles and beyond.

The club is run by volunteers (I run the Dorset branch), and the only rule is that you must bake a large cake fitting with the event’s theme which changes every month. So no cookies, brownies or cupcakes are allowed. Although this can be a challenge, as you never know quite how it has worked out until you cut it on the night, it adds a great opportunity to experiment and try things you would not normally attempt to bake at home.


So, Quercus released the Clandestine Cake Club cook book on 14th February, which features a huge range of cakes written by club members and Lynn herself, to celebrate the club and inspire home bakers.

When I received my copy of the book, it took me around two hours to put it down. It is a mesmerizingly beautiful book, which is packed full of so many recipes I instantly wanted to bake. Consisting of 8 chapters, the book is packed full of mouthwatering, beautifully presented and photographed recipes from traditional bakes you may have enjoyed years ago, to wild and wacky bakes inspiring you to try something different. There are recipes suitable for special diets, too, and include a traditional cherry cake, a blood orange and rosemary cake, Chai-soacked vanilla sponge, Smoked chilli chocolate cake and rose, raspberry and cardamom cake.

The cakes are not technically difficult to make, but are visually stunning, and the combinations of flavours in the selection of cakes in the book are exciting and interesting. My instant reaction was that I pretty much wanted to bake everything in the book.

Although I am a member of the Clandestine Cake Club, and could be accused of being biased, I really do feel as though this is the single most inspiring baking book I have seen in a long time. Every recipe seems achievable, and yet there are a plethora of fresh, inspiring flavour combinations to try.

Feb 13

Valentine’s Day Chocolate Mousse


If you’d rather stay in and cook on Valentine’s Day, why not try these simple yet special chocolate mousse. They make a sumptuous but light end to a meal and are extremely easy to prepare – you can even make them the night before. What’s more, you can be sure to impress – chocolate mousse is much easier to make than you might think.

I like to make two flavours, dark chocolate and orange and white chocolate and rose which are great for sharing. As desserts go, they’re pretty good for you, and are suitable for many special diets.

Individual desserts can be rather twee, but I do think this is the one time of year you can get away with it, and these little ramekins from Le Creuset are perfect for the job.

Here is the basic recipe. Just vary your flavourings accordingly. For the best results, buy the highest quality chocolate you can, and make sure your eggs are as fresh as can be. Either make one of each, or double the recipe accordingly. Top with a little whipped cream to make these desserts even more indulgent.

Valentine’s day chocolate mousse

Serves 1


40g chocolate, either 70%+ dark chocolate or top quality white chocolate, plus extra to sprinkle on top

1 large free range egg, separated

1 tbsp icing sugar, sifted

1 tsp flavouring, either orange extract or rose extract (I used Neilssen-Massey)

50ml double cream, whipped (optional)


Melt the chocolate either in a bain marie or in the microwave. Allow to cool for a few minutes.

Once the chocolate has cooled, beat the egg yolk and sugar into the chocolate until smooth. Add the flavourings and beat again. Set aside.

Whisk the egg yolk using an electric whisk until it forms stiff peaks. Gently fold a tablespoon at a time into the chocolate mix, ensuring to mix gently so as not to knock out too much air.

Spoon into your heart-shaped ramekins, cover with cling film and chill for at least 3 hours – overnight is ideal though.


Feb 13

St Clement’s cake

St. Clement's cake

St. Clement’s cake

This is one of my very favourite recipes to make at this time of year. Oranges are at their peak and this freefrom recipe makes the most of them by using them whole. You’ll need an electric mixer to purée the cooked fruit, as it needs to be as smooth as possible.

It makes a great cake for every day eating with a cup of tea, a delicious dessert or even a birthday cake, studded with gold candles.

St Clement’s Cake

Makes one 24” round cake – serves 10-12 people

N.B. recipe uses UK metric cups


2 small oranges
1 lemon
1 cup Doves Farm plain white flour
1 Tablespoon gluten free baking powder
4 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups golden caster sugar
1 1/2 cups ground almonds
2/3 cup olive oil

Zest of 1 large orange and some flaked almonds to decorate


1)     Cut the lemon into quarters and throw out the pips. Cut the orange into eight and discard the pips

2)     Put the oranges and the lemon in a large pan and add enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil, then simmer and cook uncovered for 30 minutes.

3)     Drain and allow to cool.

4)     Put the citrus into a food processor (the Vitamix is amazing here) and chop it up finely, then set aside.

5)     Preheat oven to 160 C (350 F)

6)     Sift flour and baking powder together into a bowl and set aside.

7)     In the electric mixer, combine eggs and salt, beat until foamy for 2 – 3 minutes

8)     Gradually add in the sugar, and continue to mix. Gently fold in the flour mixture using a spatula. Stir in chopped oranges and lemon, almonds, and olive oil until just incorporated.

9)     N.B. Mix very carefully and quickly as it is easy to over mix.

10)   Pour the batter into a greased tin.

11)   Bake for about 40-50 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean and the top is nicely golden.

12)   Allow to cool on in the tin for 20 minutes, then remove the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack for a further hour. Decorate just before serving

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