Jam. What a wonderful thing jam is!
It has such a homely feel about it all wrapped up in a beautiful vintage glass jar with a pretty label proudly noting what beautiful sweet fruit is inside. It can make a lovely gift for a friend, alongside some homemade chutney, biscuits and a slab of cheese. What more could you want in a basket?
Last weekend my parents came up to visit as Barnes Food Fair was taking over in the park by Barnes Pond and I thought we could spend a nice afternoon wandering round the stalls, choosing some lunch and no doubt picking up a few treats on the way round.
With Mum and Dad en route, Mum text saying ‘I have goodies’! This could only mean Mum had been baking and treats were coming to the Rolt household. On arrival a jar of plum jam and a jar of chutney were handed over. Perfect start to the day.
We had a lovely afternoon sampling the delight at the fair and it was nice to see so many different stalls rather than the usual names you always see making the rounds. After a hog roast and some ice creams, I was suitably full but still managed to pick up a giant sausage roll to take home for Will (if he promised to share some).
Back to the homemade plum jam waiting for me on the kitchen table at home.
Jam has so much versatility. Of course there is the obvious choice of slathering it on some freshly baked bread, but it is also lovely as a dollop on some porridge, or stirred through some Greek yoghurt to add some sweetness and flavour. It can also be a divine as the main flavour in cake rather than using fresh fruit.
Plums are in season and they are in abundance in the shops in various different forms, shapes and sizes. Right now they are beautifully moist, juicy and fresh and the jar of jam in my hands was so rich in colour and smells. I couldn’t wait to put it to good use.
With no pudding organised on Saturday night, I put the jam to work and made a spicy plum jam cake. Whilst I’ll admit that the spices give this cake a very Christmasey flavour, the plum jam remains the star of the show and it was a lovely dessert with crème fraiche or a tea time treat the next day.
You can add less jam, but I love the splodges of jamminess providing a burst of sweet plum flavour against the lovely cinnamon spices. The cake looks dark on the outside due to all the spices, but when you cut through you see the lovely light coloured sponge speckled with plum jam.
The sponge was incredibly light and airy and got a massive thumbs up from the husband. In fact, he went as far as to say “I think this might just be the best cake you’ve ever made”. Now that’s a statement!
Go make jam, or have a Mum that can provide homemade jam on a regular basis so that you can enjoy cakes like this.
Spicy Plum Jam Cake
(makes 1 loaf)
300g all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temp
250g granulated sugar
250ml rapeseed oil
1 jar homemade plum jam (supplied by Mummy Smith!)
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Grease a loaf tin with some oil and line it with parchment paper to prevent any jam sticking to the tin.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and salt.
In your mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until combined. Add the rapeseed oil. Slowly beat in the flour mixture followed by the buttermilk.
If you’d like to add the optional fruit and nuts, do so at this point by using a spatula to fold in the cranberries and walnuts.
Swirl in the jam in as few strokes as possible which should help encourage pockets of jam throughout the cake.
Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for 50 minutes to an hour or until a skewer comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the pan for about half an hour, then turn it out onto a cooling rack.
Serve either warm with a dollop of crème fraiche or enjoy slices with afternoon tea.