life on a smallholding

not quite a business, but more than a hobby

Jamming — Sunday, 25th March


Apricot Swiss cake
Apricot Swiss cake

This week’s weekly bake-off from Mary Berry’s 100 Cakes and Bakes, was apricot Swiss cakes.  A very similar recipe can be found here HERE, but they are not cakes in the sponge sense, much more like Viennese whirls.  For me there was an additional challenge, I just had to make the jam.

Pretty Swiss cakes
Pretty Swiss cakes

I didn’t have any apricot jam and jam is one of the things I never buy as I have a larder full of homemade stuff.  As it isn’t the season for apricots, my little tree has only just blossomed, I turned to the dried ones.  I made the decision not to chop the apricots as I thought a whole one would look best in the middle of these cakes and that was my undoing!

The were so easy to make and I was delighted that I had the chance to pull out my piping bag to get the mixture into the cases.  I used cup cake cases but I think the smaller fairy cake cases would have been better as they did sink a bit when they came out of the oven.  Also if I made them again, I wouldn’t move them from the bun tin to the wire rack until they have a had a chance to cool a bit as they did tend to crack while hot.

Cake cut
Cake cut

When they were unveiled for the tasting, I was a little concerned as they resembled jam tarts and Himself is not keen, however when it came to the tasting, he loved them.  The score was 9/10 and the only reason I lost that one point was because I didn’t chop the apricots.  When he bit into them, the whole apricot came with the first mouthful not leaving any for the rest of the cake.

Apricot jam

Dried apricots
Dried apricots
  • 400g dried apricots
  • 400g sugar (I used a mix of jam sugar and caster sugar)
  • 900ml water
  1. Put the dried apricots in a large bowl and add enough water to cover them (if you want to chop them, do it before soaking).
  2. Leave to soak overnight.
  3. Transfer the apricots and any water that hasn’t soaked in to a thick bottomed pan and add the 900ml water.
  4. Bring to the boil and simmer for around 15 minutes until the apricots are soft.
  5. Add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved.
  6. Simmer the jam for around 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Bring to the boil and cook until setting point is reached.
  8. Ladle into sterilised jars and seal.

Dried apricot jam
Dried apricot jam

Come and join in!

A very white ice —

A very white ice

A simple Vanilla gelato
A simple Vanilla gelato

Today I found another exciting challenge online, this time it was all about ice cream, on an excellent blog entitled Kavey Eats.  It must have been fate as it was a scorcher of a day here in sunny Scotland (yes I know that’s hard to believe) so ice cream was just what we needed.

The theme of the March challenge was to recreate a favourite childhood ice cream experience or flavour.

I thought back to my childhood ice cream eating days and remembered that I had an obsession with white ice cream, not just vanilla, this ice cream had to be brilliant white, I wouldn’t eat the yellow Cornish types and I wouldn’t even look at strawberry or chocolate ices.  I’m certain I must have driven my mother mad.

I have been making ice cream for years now, will try just about any variety and since the arrival of my cherished Gaggia ice cream maker, I have been virtually unstoppable, experimenting with all sorts of flavours.  I’ve since learnt that egg yolks give it a yellowish tinge and that the ice cream I loved all those years ago was almost certainly an Italian gelato.  To recreate my childhood favourite I used raw milk from my goats, powdered milk, a minimum amount of sugar and Vanilla extract rather than a pod, as I would never have tolerated black seeds ruining my perfect white ice.

I was delighted with the finished ice cream, it turned out well and tasted just as I remembered and bought back lovely memories from days gone by.  It must have been good, we scoffed the lot in one sitting!

Vanilla gelato
Recipe Type: Ice Cream
Cuisine: Pudding
Author: Sharon Wells
Prep time: 45 mins
Total time: 45 mins
A light, summery and refreshing ice cream
  • 400ml raw goat’s milk
  • 4tbls dried milk powder
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1tsp Vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  1. Pour the milk into a bowl, add the milk powder, sugar, Vanilla extract and salt.
  2. Give it a good stir and leave to stand for around 15 minutes.
  3. Stir again to ensure that everything is dissolved in the milk.
  4. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and put on for 30 minutes.
  5. Serve slightly soft and melting.