Some smells, some tastes, have the power to anchor you in a past mood more forcefully than a thousand words or even a picture can do…
Last summer, I brought back in my luggage a small jar of gold: a precious jam bought before an evening picnic on the Plage de L’Espiguette… As my childhood friends will know, and as I keep repeating to my children every time I take them there, l’Espiguette is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. That evening, the evening of the picnic with my friend Caro, you could see the purple shadows of the Cevennes to your right, the golden reeds of the Camargue to your left and the vastness of the Mediterrannean in front of you, jutting into the horizon until the African coast! And before you, you had the luxury of hundreds of meters of soft, sandy emptiness… We threw a blanket on the dune and opened a cool rosé. Caro went straight into the water (as she always does) and I read a bit in my jumper before thinking ” What the HEll!” and plunging into the waves where the sun was setting. But what about the jam…
This pear, apple and salted caramel jam, in that gifted pot, was a wonder and a challenge to me. I was determined to achieve the same luxurious,indulgent and silky taste… And here it is! With Sticky toffee sauce instead of salted caramel, because I needed to make it mine with a little anglophile twist…
Sometimes living in two languages is a mixed blessing. At worst it can feel a bit schizophrenic ; at best you create a great mix!
You will need a jam pan and 6 clean jars. A jam thermometer is also a great help!
- Lemon 1
- Pears 3 (best seasonal ones like Williams)
- Apples 4 (again, fresh and seasonal is best: Cox here)
- Brown caster sugar, 2/3 of the total fruit weight (so about 660g for 1kg of fruit)
- Vanilla pod 1
- Two spoonful of Sticky Toffee sauce (Thermomix recipe) or bought caramel sauce or 4/5 caramels
The day before (that’s best but not an absolute): Peel and chop the fruit, squeeze the lemon juice over and cover with the sugar. Leave overnight covered in the fridge.
On the day: Clean in the dishwasher 6 to 8 Pots for 1 kg of fruit.
Put the macerating fruit into your jam pan and get to a rolling boil. Leave boiling at jam point (just over 100°) for 10 minutes.
Turn down. Add your caramels or 2 spoonfuls of the toffee sauce . Slit the pod and scrape the vanilla seeds into the pan.
Boil to jam point again for 5 minutes.
Put straight away into clean jars: I use a long ladle and a jam funnel to get the boiling jam into each pot quickly. This way the jam is sterilising its own pot! All you have to do is screw the top over the pot and turn it upside down on a kitchen towel. Write some nice labels and marvel at the sight of your pots- That’s what I do! I put them in a special basket at the bottom of my baker’s shelf so I can reach for one easily when I want to please a special guest…
As for a treat to my reader, I give you the best Christmas windows in London: Fortnum and Mason on Piccadilly have wonderfully girly scenes and here are some photos just for you.