Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Sweet Treats

People who know me will know that I am by no means a natural cook. But recently I have been trying really hard to teach myself how to cook better, and amazingly its been a success! I've come across some great recipes and I'd like to begin sharing some of them here.

First up, a close friend of mine told me how for Christmas a friend of hers had made her a pot of homemade jam. I loved the idea - i think its so much more special when something is homemade - and I decided to try and make some strawberry jam myself. A few mishaps and burnt fingers later voila! I did it and it tastes damn good. Here's the recipe that I found on the BBC Good Food website:

Strawberry Jam

Time: 1 hour
Makes about 4 pots of jam


1.8kg of small whole strawberries
Juice of 3 lemons
1.84kg of jam sugar
Knob of butter


  1. Wash, drain and hull the fruit and put in a large non-metallic bowl. Sprinkle over the lemon juice and sugar, gently mix. Cover with a tea towel and leave overnight. (This helps keep the strawberries whole.)
  2. Put a saucer in the freezer. Tip the fruit and juice into a preserving pan or a 4.5 litre/8 pint heavybased pan. Heat gently, stirring, to dissolve the sugar. Do not boil until it has.
  3. Turn up the heat, then boil hard for exactly 4 minutes (use a timer). Take off the heat to test for setting point. Spoon a little jam onto the cold saucer. After a couple of minutes gently push your finger through the jam and if the surface wrinkles it is ready. If not, return to the boil for 2 minutes, then re-test.
  4. Take off the heat and swirl in the butter. If the scum doesn't dissolve, skim with a slotted spoon. Cool for 10-15 minutes. (Pot when too hot and all the fruit rises to the top.)
  5. Stir gently to distribute the fruit, then pour into warm sterilised jars. Put waxed discs on straight away, cover with lids or cellophane circles, then seal, label and wipe the jars. Keeps for 6 months in a cool dry cupboard.

Now having all this strawberry jam and wanting to make a dessert for Valentine's Day, I decided to make a Victoria Sponge with my own jam. I also got the recipe from the BBC Good Food website and it was just delicioussss! Really soft, sweet, and fluffy cake and just gorgeous overall with the jam and cream. Here's the recipe:

Victoria Sponge

Prep: 20 mins
Cooking: 20 mins
Cuts into 8-10 slices

  • 200g unsalted butter , softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 200g self-raising flour , plus extra for dusting
  • about 6 tbsp strawberry jam
  • 250ml double cream , whipped
  • icing sugar , for dusting
  1. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Grease and flour 2 x 20cm sandwich tins. Place the butter, sugar and vanilla extract into a bowl and beat well to a creamy consistency. Slowly beat in the eggs, one by one, then fold in the flour and mix well.
  2. Divide the mix between the cake tins, place into the oven and bake for about 20 mins until risen and golden brown. The cakes should spring back when gently pushed in the middle. When ready, remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 mins in the tin, before turning out onto a wire rack and cooling completely.
  3. Spread the jam onto one cake and top with the cream. Sandwich the cakes together and dust with icing sugar.

Oh so good! Hope you enjoy the recipes!

Photos Copyrighted 2011

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