Sunday, 26 August 2012

Dan Lepard's Plum Glitter Jam

Had I known about (and watched) Julie and Julia before starting this challenge, I never would've made it past the first post, let alone be just thirty more recipes from The Last Post.  I knew the name of the film and that it was about cooking, but that was all.  It wasn't until I met the lovely Edinburgh Cake Ladies in June that one of them told me about the plot and recommended that I watched it.   A few weeks later, one of the ladies at my cake club also asked if that was why I was doing this.  So I bought it on Amazon and finally settled down to watch it on Friday night.

Glittery jam
For those of you who have never heard of it, it's a real life story about a writer who challenges herself to cook her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  Or to put it another way 568 recipes in 365 days.  That's pretty serious commitment.  The rules for my own blog were pretty loose, but some of the highlights in the movie included boiling lobsters, making seven lots of things in aspic (nope, not going there - too much like pet food) and learning to bone a duck.

I was amused by the similarities.  Julie is apparently rubbish at housework and blames it on her ADD.  Her husband tells her she won't see the year out as she loses interest in things quickly.  Her mother doesn't understand why she's doing it when she has a full time job, a husband and a cat to fill her life.  She refers to childish and teary outbursts when it all gets too much.  Her husband calls her a selfish bitch at one point.  I sat there, transfixed, mentally ticking off each of these things in my own life.  Swap the cat for a toddler and two dogs and set the scene in Wiltshire and I am Julie.

Actually, I the 'selfish bitch' thing only came out on Friday.  I went up to bed and bumped into the husband (we generally only inhabit the same room at the same time when there's dinner on the table).  He asked if I'd enjoyed the film (I'm rarely allowed the luxury of the tellybox to myself in the evening). I started raving on about how spooky it was that it was just like the last eleven months of my life (the lobster episode is coming next weekend) and I said that the only differences were that a) my husband wouldn't rescue me from an exploding pot of boiling lobsters and b) he hadn't (yet) called me selfish.

"Oh yes," said the husband "you have been really selfish.  In fact I'd go so far as to call you a selfish bitch."  I missed the point there by excitedly replying "Yes, that's exactly what her husband called her" rather than taking the insult at the face value that it was said with.  In case you've not read any other posts, we have a few "issues" with each other.

Anyhow, here I am, counting down the days and realising that there are still so many things on my foodie bucket list that I won't tick off in thirty days.  To be honest, the doing something every day got boring about six months ago, but I'm determined to prove to the husband that I can actually see something through - especially if it means I can ignore the mounting housework.  So I'm looking forward to just doing something new once in a while and writing a slightly different blog.

Plus, I still have a small number of hurdles to get over before this year is out.  And when my grandad offered me 3lb of Victoria plums and a pile of Bramleys earlier this week, I couldn't refuse and didn't want to make plum and apple crumble so picked a couple of new recipes to try with them instead.

First up was the jam.  I had originally Googled recipes for Dan Lepard recipes for cakes using plums and Bramleys (I didn't have Short and Sweet to hand) but when the glittery jam recipe came back, I knew I had to do that.

Two years ago, I made my very first batch of jam and at the time had a glass thermometer which was housed in a test-tube style contraption (also glass).  As it neared setting point, the outer tube burst into my pan of jam, meaning I had to throw the whole lot away.  This time, with my trusty Heston Precision Thermometer, and a Dan recipe in my armoury, I knew it would work.

Some of the harvest from Grandad's garden
It's such a simple recipe - although I guess most jam is.  What I liked was not having to faff around with the 'wrinkle test' and to keep freezing tea plates, testing bits and then finding out it didn't wrinkle and starting again.  If you're going to do this kind of thing, I would definitely recommend investing in a decent thermometer.

And the glitter just makes the jam look that bit more special.  I used up the rest of the gold stars I had left from my Jubilee Bundt Cake.  I didn't realise, but not all edible glitter is actually really edible.  I've got several pots as free gifts from various places, all of which say that it's just for decoration.  Erm, what's the point of that?  You dust your cupcakes with it and then can't actually eat the frosting?  I guess it's good for people who are on a diet...

Having burnt my tongue licking the spoon just after putting the jam into jars, I then had to toast a piece of yesterday's eight strand plaited loaf just for jam testing purposes.  Perfect.  Just the right amount of cheek tingling sharpness.

I will definitely be doing some more glittery jam in preparation for Christmas.  The non-fruiting ornamental cherry tree we bought from B&Q when we first moved here also grows greengages (I swear it will be like The Faraway Tree in a hundred year's time) so when they're ripe, I will be harvesting them and using this recipe to start prepping for my festive hampers.

You can find Dan's recipe online here.


  1. I LOVE what you're doing here... what a great idea for a blog... I did see Julie and Julia and it inspired me to start my blog a couple of years ago... although to cook something everyday is a big challenge... well done you!

  2. Thanks Dominic :)

    Keep meaning to join your cookbook challenge - will give me something to look forward to once this year is over!


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