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Bitter ––> sweet

[caption id="attachment_95" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Seville orange marmalade 'blessed' with Monbazillac dessert wine"]©William Thomas 2012[/caption] As a sort of footnote to my recent post about dessert wines (here), I just wanted to share with you my recipe for yesterday's homemade marmalade, which I 'pimped' with Monbazillac dessert wine. I've been making marmalade at home for a couple of years now. Really, if you're a fan, you've got to either try making it yourself or at least get hold of some good quality homemade stuff. The difference is incredible. In the past I've followed Delia's recipe, which always worked well and felt right as my Mum used to make marmalade when I was a kid, and was a big fan of Mrs Smiths. But this year I changed tack and went with Dan Lepard's recipe. I'm a huge fan of Dans, his recipes are always really well thought out, and I love the 'demystified' professionalism of them: the way he explains, in very simple terms, the underlying science of a recipe so you can understand it and adapt it to your own tastes. Seriously, if you're interested in baking, his book Short & Sweet is an essential purchase. But I had one problem: I'd bought too much fruit for one batch, and I didn't want to make two. So instead, I followed Dan's recipe to the sugar and water calculation stage, then cut back on both in order to fit the whole lot in one pan. This essentially gave me a super-intensified marmalade, with a far higher percentage of fruit than normal. Nothing wrong with that, plus I knew it would be much easier to set this way. And then I got to thinking, inspired no doubt by my recent musings on dessert wines, would the caramelised orange peel nuances of a botrytized sweet wine add another layer of loveliness to a marmalade? It's a pretty expensive experiment, but hell, no-one makes marmalade to save money, you do it because you want great quality, so why not push that as far as you can go? I actually consulted Dan on this idea, as I wasn't entirely confident about when to add the wine or if it was indeed a good idea. He very kindly got back to me and explained that by adding a tablespoon of the wine to the jar before pouring in the hot marmalade, I'd get the maximum amount of flavour into the preserve. And so that's what I did… The result? Well, I only made it last night and in my experience, marmalade improves greatly with a bit of 'jar age', but yes, it worked a treat. The tingling tanginess you get from homemade marmalade is buoyed by a cheeky, boozy edge, and you get nuances of those petrolly, grapey notes from the Monbazillac. Worth the expense? Hmm, probably not, but if you asked that question about everything, life would be pretty dull. So if you want a jar, let me know, I'm only charging £20. Bargain.

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