I love ginger. It is my favourite spice (for the record, basil is my favourite herb). I discovered this love during my Erasmus year in Paris, when my friends would deposit their pickled ginger on my plate when we went for sushi. I lived near Rue Monsieur-Le-Prince and some of the girls lived right above Yamamura, a fantastic place on Rue Bergere, so we ate a lot of sushi. And I ate a lot of ginger. So nowadays any recipe that includes ginger, be it fresh, ground, stem or crystallised, is all right with me.
So when the lovely Maxine from the Why I Am Not Skinny blog announced that the theme for the next round of the Buttles Great Bake Challenge was Scones and Jam, my mind went straight to ginger (it’s probably something to do with my red hair).
A little catch up: I signed up for the Challenge back in June, as one of my birthday week novelties. I came back to the office after getting a tattoo on my lunch break (!!!) and saw this blog entry from her and signed up then and there. The first session didn’t go ahead, because everyone was on holiday. The second one was chocolate themed, so I made my own Guinness and chocolate cupcakes for that occasion. Read Maxine’s rundown of that chocolate overdose afternoon here.
I’d never made jam before, but one of my favourites is rhubarb and ginger jam. Almost fatefully, I bought one of the wonderful Avoca cookbooks in Ireland and found there the perfect recipe. Fair play to Belgium, it came up trumps with providing muslin (étamine in French), the one item that I definitely did not have in my well-stocked baking cupboard:
Rhubarb and ginger jam
1.8kg rhubarb (trimmed)
1.8kg granulate sugar
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
50g fresh ginger, bruised
50g stem ginger in syrup, drained and chopped
Wipe the rhubarb and cut it into 2.5cm pieces. Layer it with the sugar in a large bowl. Add the lemon juice and zest, then cover and leave to stand overnight – or while you are at work, as I did.
When you come back to it, put the mixture in a preserving pan (I only had a really big pot, but that worked fine too). Add the fresh ginger tied in a piece of muslin and simmer until the mixture becomes a thick pulp. I forgot to time it, because I was faffing around the apartment and stirring it every now and then, but I’d say it took about 45 minutes to an hour on a low heat.
Test for setting point, by putting a little jam on a cold saucer from the fridge for a few minutes. Push the jam with your finger and if it wrinkles, it is set.
When this is reached, remove from the heat and stir in the stem ginger. Throw out the muslin bag (no way you can spread that on toast).
Pot the jam in hot sterilised jars and seal tightly. Now I did the whole sterilising thing (submerging the jars in boiling water for 5 minutes, draining them, handling them with a clean tea towel, and dry them by putting them in a low oven for 30 minutes). But really, nowadays when the jam can be stored in the fridge, is all that really necessary? It seems a lot of bother.
But look how impressive:
Also jam is a great present. I only have the little jar left and have Jelena’ name on it, because she has never tasted rhubarb jam. A travesty!!
Next up: scones.