This month is preserving month (for #CBpreserves!), but in hindsight I think it would have been better to preserve things in March or April when we still had nectarines and mangoes and peaches. The end-of-summer fruit haul is already over. The citrus fruit and persimmons are here, along with apples, pears and pumpkins. This means: citrus curds and butters, pear or apple pastes to have with cheese, big autumnal salads featuring persimmon for good measure – because what the heck else do you use persimmon in? Please advise. Oh, and pumpkin butter. Definitely pumpkin butter.
What did I do when I decided to make some preserves, though? Fixated on the idea of a berry jam in the complete wrong season, I ignored all of this blissful produce and headed for the frozen blueberries, of course.
This blueberry jam is great on toast with butter (duh), but I wanted to put it to use in something baked. A whole 8 oz jar of jam got wasted on a blueberry bakewell slice that failed in almost every way possible. I tried again and realised that what I was aiming for all along was this exact thing: a soft, buttery, spongy base, a layer of jam, and a crispy, oaty, crumbly topping. It also happens to be super easy to make. Half of the mixture is used as the base, and the other half is used as the crumble, with the help of some oats.
Other baking adventures of late: made this carrot cake from the archives, in a gluten-free way, using almond meal and all-purpose gluten-free flour. I expected it to be inferior to the gluten-containing version, but it actually turned out to be AMAZING. So amazing that I’ll probably make it gluten-free in the future. Also I’m trying (for the second time) to make a sourdough starter and, once again, it’s a failure. I wish I could communicate with those little yeasties and find out what they need to propagate. I even have the benefit of a fermenting fridge since Maths Dude is a brewer. Nothing helps.
Have a good week, peeps!
- 2 cups / 300g plain flour (plus an additional 2 tbsp flour for later)
- ¾ cup / 175g caster sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 175g unsalted butter, cold, sliced into 1-2 cm cubes
- 1 extra large egg
- 8 oz / 225g / 1 small jar blueberry jam (recipe below, or use storebought)
- 1 cup / 80g oats
- Preheat the oven to 180C/200C fan-forced. Grease and line a 27 cm x 17 cm brownie/slice tin.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together the 300g plain flour, caster sugar, salt and baking powder.
- Add the cubes of butter, and use your fingertips to rub it into the mixture until it forms a rough, shaggy heap and the butter is all but incorporated. This takes a few minutes!
- Add the egg, and use a wooden spoon to mix. It should form a thick paste.
- Spread half of the mixture into the tin using a small offset spatula. It's quite thick so I find the offset spatula is very effective at smoothing it out!
- Spread the blueberry jam over the bottom layer.
- To the remaining batter, add the cup of oats and remaining 2 tbsp of flour. Mix with your fingertips until the mixture forms a crumble.
- Sprinkle the crumble evenly over the top of the jam, and press it down lightly.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown on top.
- Allow to cool slightly in the tin before removing and placing on a cooling rack to cool completely. Slice into bars and serve.
- 1 kg blueberries (fresh or frozen)
- 1 kg jam sugar
- juice of 1 lemon
- Place a small saucer in the freezer.
- Add the blueberries, sugar and lemon juice into a large stockpot or saucepan over high heat.
- Bring to the boil, stirring often, and then turn the heat down to medium and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- To test if it's set, remove the saucer from the freezer and place a small dollop of jam onto the saucer. Place in the fridge for a few minutes. It should then feel gel-like to the touch and the surface should wrinkle when touched. If it hasn't set, test it again at five minute intervals until you are satisfied it has set.
- Funnel into six sterilised 8 oz jars, seal, and store in the pantry for up to a year until ready to use or gift.