Wow. Marmalade. It's a lot of work. This time last year - almost to the day, in fact - I made marmalade. It was a disaster. I couldn't get Seville oranges so used Navel, which made a syrupy-sweet preserve; it didn't set, and I cut the peel too thickly so it was basically chunks of orange skin floating in a sweet orange liquid. We've almost used up the six jars I made by eating a lot of marmalade bread and butter pudding and as a topping for orange almond cake, so it wasn't wasted, but still. I felt I needed to try again.
This year I was prepared. Seville oranges were finally located in Marks and Spencer's at £4 for 2 kilos or 4.4 lbs. I used this excellent Delia recipe and I followed it religiously, even hand cutting all the peel. So much peel! It took me an hour. Next time I'm putting it in the food processor. Even with my sharpest knife, an hour of finely slicing orange peel left me with back ache, a numb index finger and a sore wrist. And Seville oranges taste really sharp! Lemony sharp. I didn't realise that and that explains why they make such delicious marmalade, as they give that citrusy bitterness which offsets the huge amount of sugar you need. Anyway, it set nicely without me needing to add any additional pectin which pleased me, and I had some this morning for breakfast and it was very good. Next time I might use a darker brown sugar to give a darker colour and depth of flavour (I used white granulated) but otherwise it's all good. I made proper marmalade! I am happy. The recipe yielded seven jars, which including sugar, works out at around 50p a jar, which is excellent value as a really good jar of shop-bought marmalade might cost £2. It did take all day, but luckily I think it's a good way to spend a wet Sunday.
With the last jar of last year's batch, I made Nigel Slater's Frosted Marmalade Cake. It's the first time I'd tried this recipe and it's going to be a keeper, definitely one to make again.
Ok, it's not going to win any presentation awards, but trust me, it's wonderful. The sharp icing is more like a glaze, and cracks when you bite into it like a glazed doughnut would.
The weather has been so cold and wet, with sleety showers and high winds, and we've not been out much. It was a weekend of pottering indoors. We gave the Hama beads a rest and played with modelling clay instead. I used to spend hours with this when I was little, making accessories for my Sindy house and food for my Sindy dolls to eat.
Bella made snowmen.
And I made a necklace, inspired by Christina Lowry's beautiful work. It looks nice with a plain black t-shirt, or a Breton striped top. Luckily I've got about ten of those.
And of course there was tea and crochet. I've almost finished this project - I hope to be able to show you it soon. I am in love with the colours and it's been a joy to work up.
Wishing you all a wonderful week.